Monday, May 10, 2010

Random Questions

It seems students in the middle of exams don't always have religious questions to ask. These are a few of the random questions we've received...
  1. What is the square root of PI? ~1.7725
  2. What is 365 x 7? 2555
  3. What is the chemical formula for table salt? NaCl
The ones in bold we got right - GO TEAM!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Do Catholics believe in Creationism or Evolution?

I'm not sure my response was the best one for this, for I replied that I believed in creative evolution. I didn't get much of a chance to explain after that, as he seemed shocked and walked away.

Basically, the Catholic Church says that all of creation is being held into being by a Creator God. God chose to create the entire universe out of nothing, set all the physical laws into place, is intimately connected with the continuation of creation at every moment and will choose at one point in the future to bring it all to a close.

Science is the study of how creation works, all the laws which God has put into place to make the universe and ordered and non-chaotic place. Evolution is the theory for how our universe went from a primordial (life-less) soup to a place that is host to a world teeming with such diverse forms of life. I've not heard of another scientific theory that explains how this change has come about and until I do I have no qualms with supporting it.

So there are two questions you can ask, "how does creation work?" and "what is the purpose of creation?" Science answers the first and religion the second. They don't contradict because they ask different questions. The only time they appear to contradict is when one field tries to answer the wrong question. When science tries to answer questions on the purpose of creation or when religion tries to answer questions on the how of creation, then you run into problems.

The apparent contradiction comes about from just this problem, where both sides stepped outside of their field of expertise. Some scientists have said that evolution removes the need for a creator, when that is simply not the case. To say that is like saying that because you understand art theory and know all the techniques used in creating a painting there is no need for a painter.

Some religions have also made the same mistake when they tried to turn the Bible into a science textbook. The Bible is the story of salvation and while it is possible that it contains scientific truth, that is not it's primary purpose nor should it be used that way. The purpose of Genesis is to let us know that God created everything out of nothing and to tell us why (so that all of creation may be in union with God and share in divine love).

Properly understood though they build upon each other and enlighten the other. As JPII said, "Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes"

Further resources to learn more about the relationship between the Catholic Church and Science can be found at these websites:

Awesome Evangelization!

My primary evangelization partner from last semester came back to into town this past weekend, so we of course went out to share our faith. With three days of questions I have plenty of content and I've promised followup on a couple of these, so look forward to new blog posts!

Pray he has a safe trip back home and that in this new location he'll continue to share his faith!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Porn Is More Addictive Than Cocaine or Heroine!

We have known for years that porn is destructive to marriages, families, individuals, and society. We also know that is is addictive - more so than crack or heroine. Science is just now finding out just how destructive it is to the brain. Using pornography radically changes the neuro-pathways in the brain by causing the body to inject strong neuro-stimulants directly into the pleasure center of the brain. Repeatedly doing this means the structure of the brain itself is altered and the effects are devastating.
Read more

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Society is starting to realize that the pill is bad.

Finally, after 70 years of poisoning women, society is starting to ask if this is healthy. No, sinning is never healthy.
In one of a pair of recent articles by major Canadian media exploring how women are increasingly turning away from hormonal contraception, the executive director for Sexual Health Access Alberta (formerly known as Planned Parenthood Alberta), bemoans the lack of information about natural family planning...

Featured on the homepage of SHAA's website is a link to a November 2009 Maclean’s Magazine article, describing why women are “ditching” the pill. They point out some of the health concerns that have been raised, such as the April study from Texas A&M University that linked the pill with poor muscle growth, as well as mentioning parenthetically the research that has linked the pill with breast and cervical cancer...
Read more from Lifesite News.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What's wrong with Euthanasia

The problem with euthanasia is that it sends a message that some lives are worth living and others are not and that it is up to man to decide which. Once you say that person A can be killed because condition X makes his life not worth living, you've allowed person B to be killed because of Y. By making the value of a life contingent on something you devalue all life. It's not just a slippery slope, but a jump off a cliff.

Furthermore, by telling someone that suicide is an option what are you telling them? It says that the loneliness and despair they feel is all there is. There is no one who loves them, no one who cares. You are in effect telling that person that their life is unwanted, that they are useless consumers who should be killed for the convienence of others. I can't think of a more hateful thing than to say "yes, you're right, you're life isn't worth living."

Additional comment from a friend:
Something to add would be how difficult it can be to determine a person's true level of cognitive impairment, which seems to be a big factor in determining whether or not a person can CHOOSE whether or not they want to die (otherwise, it falls on a family member I suppose...). This is pretty important when you consider how many individuals who are euthanized have some type of cognitive deficit.

Working with communication disorders, it's really easy to see how something as simple as a hearing loss can exacerbate a person's state of confusion. Many patient's just try to fake like they understand what you're saying or they are so demented that they really don't have the ability to tell you what's wrong with their hearing. Either way, bad hearing can make a person's cognitive status appear MUCH worse than it actually is.

Another point to take into account is that once someone has it in their mind that "hey, this person's pretty demented," it can make it VERY difficult to change their mind. One of my previous supervisors told me about how there was a woman on the Alzheimer's ward at her nursing home that really wasn't that demented and really didn't NEED to be there and didn't want to be there. There were one or two higher staff members there that said the woman was very demented and needed to be on the Alzheimer's ward. From the sounds of it, one of the staff members just had it in her mind that the lady was demented and not much could be said to change her mind. Eventually it WAS determined that the lady really was pretty with it and was taken off the ward.

The point I'm trying to make is that you can't always tell how cognitively impaired someone is just by looking at them or having a conversation with them, and many people in nursing homes could be taken advantage of due to this. While we'd like to believe that there's always going to be a nice clean procedure in determing whether or not someone should be euthanized, it won't always be. In the end, regardless of whether or not someone believes euthanasia is equivalent to murder, people WILL be murdered because there are going to be times when proper procedures won't be always be made.
Some other resources:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Is Mary the Ark of the New Covenant?

This is a great question to address. Lets start with the Ark of the Old Covenant; what was it? It was just a pretty box with some stuff in it right? Lets check out Exodus 25:
"You shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, one an a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high. Plate it inside and outside with pure gold, and put a molding of gold around the top of it...You shall then make a cover of pure gold, two cubits and a half long, and one and a half cubits wide. Make two cherubim of beaten gold for the two ends of the cover, fastening them so that one cherub springs direct from each end...[and more details]"
Within this chapter we find that the ark was more than "just a pretty box," or at least God thought so. He laid out very detailed measurements for it and how it was to be made and the area it was to be kept. When finished it didn't just hold "some stuff," but three items: the ten commandments (Dt 10:2), the Rod of Jesse (somewhere in OT), and manna from the desert (Ex 16:34). It was this that was overshadowed by God and He dwelt among them.

Now when we consider the things that the ark held we see that they were all types of Jesus. Jesus is the true Manna come down from heaven of which we eat and never die (John 6). Jesus is the true high priest who offers the one sacrifice (Heb 4:14). And Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1). Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT types, so one begins to wonder what the fulfillment of the ark is. What is it that was overshadowed by God and through which He became man and dwelt among us?

In Luke 1:35 we find the angel telling Mary "...The holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God." Well, it would appear that Mary is a likely candidate for the New Ark of the Covenant, is there anything else to support this?

Yes! Luke continues with the travels of Mary, how she journeyed to the hill country to visit her cousin Elizabeth. At her greeting John the baptist leaps for joy and Elizabeth cries out "How should this be that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" Mary remains there for three months and I'm sure brought blessings upon the house.

In the OT we hear the Ark's journey in the hill country (2 Sam 6). The ark was being brought away from the Philistines to Jerusalem when Uzzah reached out and touched it when he wasn't supposed to. Upon his death David cries out "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?" The ark is then taken to the home of Obededom and left there for three months during which it greatly blesses the household. At the end of this time David brings it into Jerusalem leaping and dancing before it.

The parallels are clearly there, is it enough? Is there anything else?

Well, the ark of the OC had exact specifications and was carefully made, without flaw. Christians (at least until after Luther) believed that Mary was carefully made by God so that she would be without flaw and a fitting dwelling place for God.

And finally we come back to Revelation and the Ark and the Woman. If we put ourselves in the mindset of the Jews of the time what would they have heard? That John saw a vision of the Ark of God! The ark that has been missing for years and is a powerful weapon of Israel, leading them in battles. How marvelous and exciting! What does it look like (is it as glorious as described)? Where is it? How do we find it? Oh how exciting!

Yet John doesn't describe it. He describes everything else, every other vision is full of eyes and wings and fiery wheels, but this vision that the Jews would have been drooling over to hear more gets only a couple lines? There is an ark and some loud thunder...quite a let down.

But if we remember that at the time the bible was written there were no chapter or verse dividers there is the possibility for more. Could it be that John is describing the ark when he describes the woman? "The Lord's temple is opened and you could see the ark within the temple, a woman clothed with the sun..."

This makes sense to me, but this isn't new teaching (if it were I would doubt it). There have been Christians throughout history who've seen this connection.
Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296-373) was the main defender of the deity of Christ against the second-century heretics. He wrote: "O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O [Ark of the] Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides" (Homily of the Papyrus of Turin).
This is just a brief post, there are others who've written whole books on this topic (and done a much better job). Further readings: