The “about me” section of this blog says I am a retired Cold Warrior and a devout Roman Catholic. How can it be that a fellow with one bachelor and two masters of science degrees; a fellow who has used the scientific method consistently throughout his 40 year aerospace career; and a fellow who teaches others the scientific method; how can this fellow be a devout Roman Catholic?
Actually, it is very common. I have met and worked with hundreds of devoutly religious people in my career.
Popular culture nowadays creates an atmosphere of “things people just know without needing to talk about”. One of those things we all know without discussing is that you can only really know something if SCIENCE has investigated it and made public its judgment.
There are so many things wrong with this idea that it could only thrive if it is never taken out of the closet and examined. Let’s do that, shall we? Let’s examine this silly idea.
First, most people get their “science” by reading about it in newspapers or hearing about it on TV or perhaps getting hit with a meme via social media. Then they feel all superior and scientific. None of these sources provide the strict rigor and precise definition inherent in a scientific technical publication that lays out what is really known. And they are rife with speculation about what it all might mean. Just to take one point from above, consider “precise definition”. Ask your friends to define Darwinian Evolution. You may start to understand why so many argue about evolution when evolution means such different things to different people. And, by the way, Roman Catholics have no trouble with the Theory of Evolution and are not against it being taught in schools. However, evolution is no substitute for God. Which leads to…
Second, SCIENCE is not a deity to be worshiped. It is what happens when the scientific method is applied. Part of the method is openness to reasoned criticism. You know you have departed from the method when you hear someone say: “…most scientists believe…” or “…the debate is over…”. Real scientists listen to criticism to make sure they have the points covered. They don’t blindly follow the latest trend. For an interesting but scary trip, look into how many scientists believed in the science of eugenics before WWII. Look at what they were willing to do back then. Consider this, many are willing to do it today. Which leads to …
Third, ethics. Let’s use some of that scientists. Really. Now. Please.
Fourth, science does not exclude intuition as a tool. Many scientific breakthroughs appeared on the scene when intuition has led a person to see things a bit different. They postulate a radical hypothesis that gets proven with experimentation, peer review, and replication. Galileo is a great example of that. He was unable to explain why his theory of the Earth orbiting the sun did not result in shifting views of stars due to parallax. But he (and many other respected and learned Roman Catholics of the time) felt they were really on to something. Too bad his ideas leaked over into his theology and personal interactions. (Try not to piss off a Pope, if you can. Bad form. Makes for a real bad time by all.) Which leads to…
Fifth, people are limited. Science will tell you that. Our eyes are easily fooled. We have our little preconceived notions that sway us. We tend to believe as true what reinforces our current lifestyle. And so on. When contemplating important truths about you, the human race, and all of creation, the scientific method breaks down because you can’t conceive of the hypothesis or the experiment to be performed to nail down the existential questions of life, the universe, and everything.
So if not science, then what? Let’s not summarize all of Salvation History and Christian thought here. I am almost out of space. But a key concept in Christianity is looking at what the “fruits” of your efforts have yielded. Is what you are doing yielding “good fruit”?
I am a Roman Catholic because I have learned that paying attention to the Church’s teachings, reading the bible, and praying leads me (and others around me since I’m not as big a dick as I might be otherwise) to a better, happier life.
COMING UP: It’s not all religion in this blog. Future blogs will cover stuff all the way from my “war stories” in-flight refueling SR-71s to how the Department of Defense spends our money. Perhaps I’ll even share my Dad’s memoirs from WWII.