Let us propose an idea: We are surrounded by Harvard University, an esteemed institute of higher learning which has a long history here in the United States. So let us pretend that in the physics labs there they invented a time machine in which we can travel back to the early years of the then college in the 17th Century. We decide to bring with us our cell phones to show them this powerful technology. The idea is that if they have the technology in the 1600s, when we return to the present day, our technology will be so much even further advanced.
So, we arrive and we walk on the campus showing everyone our cellphones before the batteries run out. However, instead of amazement, there is great fear and suddenly we hear people wanting to kill us as witches. We hope the modern-day people running the time machine can bring us back before the rabble kills us.
Why did that happen? Simple their understanding of science was not well developed. To give you an idea of this time, St. Alphonsus Liguori, who lived one hundred years later, writes about the process of leeching which is the old medical practice of using leeches to draw viruses out of your body. That is one hundred years after my scenario.
No Martians after all
83 years ago this October, Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air convinced people that we were being invaded by Martians. Today that would not be possible because we have seen for ourselves that there are no Martians. Our Science is so developed.
So we looked at two scenarios that demonstrate an imbalance of faith and science. We can look around our world today and see we are living in the opposite scenario from the Harvard one I gave earlier. Now science is strongly developed and faith not so much. So now we live in an era of the science-only ethic where people understand “Follow the science” with no other amplifying information.
You know where I stand on science, and when I am done with this homily you may all want to be scientists. Science is extremely essential to who we are as human beings. Our race has gone from a faith-based existence as in my scenario of 16th century Harvard to a science-based existence as the follow the science concept declares.
The doctrine of the Holy Trinity invites us to deepen our faith
Today’s celebration is of the Holy Trinity the reality that God is three persons in one God. We cannot grasp that full understanding. How can we believe in this one God who is also three persons? However, that is the point. God is beyond us and we cannot fully understand Him. As I explain often, faith begins with the understanding that there are realities beyond our ability to perceive them. Just as in the physical world science rightly so calls us to explore the mysteries of the material universe, the Holy Trinity reminds us to explore the mysteries of the Spiritual universe as well in Christ. Jesus came to teach us the truth for he is the truth the whole truth. It is not a superficial truth but it is profound in something that we are still seeking Generation by generation in learning more and more each and every year.
Science is about seeking the truths of the material universe, Faith is about seeking the truths beyond that. We as humans are encouraged to pursue it all to discover the fullness of truth.
Our ability to understand grows and deepens. So just as how we understood our world in the 16th century is different than how we understand our world now, so we are encouraged to deepen our pursuit of Christ and expand our knowledge and understanding of Who God is and who we are. We are not only able to do this, but we are also encouraged. God does not change but our ability to know God does. It deepens over the ages.
Atheism makes no sense to me
I am not an atheist and to be honest, I consider atheism to be rooted in flat earth thinking. It does not make sense. As a Catholic, I embrace science and I explain that you truly cannot believe in evolution and atheism at the same time. It makes no scientific sense. Evolution says we are still evolving and atheism says we can comprehend everything in the known universe those two statements are mutually exclusive.
We now live in a science-only ethic, we must not discredit science we must build and deepen our faith for science and faith work well when they balance each other. Faith without science leads to the inquisition and science without faith leads to the holocaust.
Let us never forget that St. Thomas Aquinas summed up his great theological work Summa Theologica as nothing but straw. There is so much more to understand about God and the universe he created. This is the point of the Holy Spirit to help us explore the powerful truths of the universe and learn and understand them. This is why you living your faith is so important and if you choose to study science bravo to you.
The mystery of the Holy Trinity reminds us that we need to continue to deepen our understanding of faith so that we grow deeper in our understanding of God and ourselves. China just landed a rover on Mars. They joined us in discovering other worlds, humanity can only benefit from this. However, as the Chinese philosophers warned a long time ago that country is officially atheist but ours is turning that way. That will lead us to a road as dangerous as the 17th-century scenario I brought up at the beginning. We need both. As Catholics we believe in scripture and tradition, it is built into our faith to embrace a growing ability to comprehend the mysteries of the physical and spiritual universe. This day, we celebrate the reality and recognize the potential. We root ourselves in Christ and seek the fullness of truth to which he leads us that is also our destiny especially surrounded by these institutions of higher learning here in Boston.