Don’t fall into the Gospel by way of scientific holes.

Most of us, most of the time, don’t fret about the foundations of empirical science. We’re grateful that it works and rather naively believe that science can answer any question. If not today, then soon enough. That confidence conceals a mistake, made by many. Science is a method, not an acting agent. Science doesn’t work, and science doesn’t answer questions. People do, using science.

It’s helpful, however, to note how our contemporaries insert the term “science” where once they might have used the words “God” or “nature.” Same sleight of hand. God and nature aren’t agents either, at least not in this world. Nature is a pattern we perceive. It doesn’t “do” anything. And, on this side of the grave, even “God,” –for us at least—is more a way of approaching the world than an actor, or agent, within the world.

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But since most of us aren’t worried about the foundations of empirical science, we might not be all that disturbed by Spooky Action at a Distance, a new book by George Musser, a contributing editor of Scientific American magazine (2015). The title is taken from Albert Einstein, and here is how Musser first introduces the problem.

The world we experience possesses all the qualities of locality. We have a strong sense of place and of the relations among places. We feel the pain of separation from those we love and the impotence of being too far away from something we want to affect. And yet quantum mechanics and other branches of physics now suggest that, at a deeper level, there may be no such thing as place and no such thing as distance. Physics experiments can bind the fate of two particles together, so that they behave like a pair of magic coins: if you flip them, each will land on heads or tails—but always on the same side as its partner. They act in a coordinated way even though no force passes through the space between them. Those particles might zip off to opposite sides of the universe, and still they act in unison. These particles violate locality. They transcend space.
Evidently nature has struck a peculiar and delicate balance: under most circumstances it obeys locality, and it must obey locality if we are to exist, yet it drops hints of being nonlocal at its foundations (3-4).

 

Enough of science. Let us pass to God and the Gospel, first noting that the foundations of science, or lack of them, do not prove the existence of God. “If science can’t explain its very self, then God must exist,” is an assertion that accomplishes nothing. The non-believer hasn’t been given an answer to the problem of foundations, and the believer has done no more than to assert that the answer has a name, which is God. But a name without a profile has no real identity. It’s not an actor in the world.

No, you don’t fall into the Gospel by way of scientific holes, black holes in space or philosophical ones. It’s the heart that trips you up. See the great sorrow of a mother burying her child; acknowledge it as the unbearable annihilation of the deepest bond, which two humans can share. Then you’re ready to hear the call of the Gospel and to comprehend its claim on our lives.  

I want you to know, brothers and sisters,
that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin.
For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it,
but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12).

 

When Elijah restores breath to the widow’s son, the skeptic might argue that the boy was only on the brink of death. Saint Luke, however, is clearly claiming that Christ restores a son, who was dead, to a grieving mother. The love of mother and child, received into the arms of the savior, is stronger than death.  

In either case, we don’t have a scientific explanation for what happened. Theories can be proposed, but, as none can be falsified so, none can be accepted. That’s the way science works: what can’t be ruled out can’t be ruled in. On the other hand, lack of a scientific answer doesn’t mean that something didn’t happen. It means that we lack an explanation for it. Put another way, to say that Christ didn’t raise the widow’s son has no more scientific merit than to say that he did.

The question of scientific proof for a question of history is a dead end. You can hypothesize about the past, but you cannot experiment with the past. But follow the road opened by revelation itself, and read the signpost in a Gospel key: love is stronger than death. A dead boy is restored to his mother. The Gospel is teaching is that relationship is the most fundamental realm of reality, deeper than time or space. Fascinating, that the Gospel assertion parallels science itself. Relationship is the most fundamental realm of reality, deeper than time or space.

Distance and decay, death itself, cannot conquer life and its love. That’s pure Gospel. Something science will never prove, because those of us who have lived and loved know that we can’t be explained away by science. Science isn’t our master. It’s only a method.

1 Kings 17: 17-24  Galatians 1:11-14a, 15ac, 16a, 17, 19  Luke 7: 11-17

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Bruce Snowden
1 year 11 months ago
“It’s The Heart That Trips You Up ”is most interesting and stirs from me a speculative response. I can’t say I disagree with any part of the article, because there is much I don’t understand, and if I did understand there would probably be less to disagree with if any. A good question would be, Then, why write?” Maybe because speculative thought intrigues me. Or maybe Emerson answers for me. “Do not follow where the path may lead, but go instead where there is no path and you leave a trail.” So, here goes for whatever its worth. Maybe with a “tripped up,” or is it a “screwed-up” heart? Respectfully, I don’t understand why nature cannot be seen as an agent in the hands of GOD. Everything that exists needs a foundation and more. That “more” is God, Whom I think, roots materiality towards individual and collective fulfillment, call it “locality.” “There” and “Let’s do it “ is God-talk saying to every leaf, blade of grass, grain of sand, or whatever, “You speak for me. Be creative!.” This points I suggest to a scripted materiality producing dependency one thing to the other and this dependency is called evolution. Using human expression, evolution, is a God-idea, understanding that God doesn’t suddenly get an idea and fulfills it. No, whatever exists has always existed in the mind of God and forever will. This includes if I may suggest, God having a human heart. God’s plan, Fall or no Fall, was to have a Heart as in Jesus’ much revered Sacred Heart. Long before creation and the Incarnation, the heart of Jesus pulsated in the life-stream of the Triune God, the Blessed Trinity an Evolutionary Heartfelt, or Heart-led Spirit, the Three Persons proceeding or eternally “evolving” one from the other without beginning, without end. At least so it seems to me. One more thing. That two particles bonded “like a magic coin,” landing on the same side as its partner, is simply I think, Trinitarian methodology complementary to the construction of creation’s scaffolding dripping with the nothingness” from which it came, guaranteeing the intended outcome no matter the zig zag evolutionary dance. It was a dance led by God with arms wrapped around all that He would eventually call “Good!” He loved it, later giving His word in the OT, that “His delight was to be with the children of men” as if they were trees, but walking around, as in the NT delighting in all creation! Not very much, but something I wanted to say, hopefully not babble. Thank you Fr, Klein for an interesting point of view. Has my heart tripped me up?

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