Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Written Step by Step

I have developed an extraordinary respect for Msgr. George Lemaître, a belgian priest and physicist better known today as being the first to propose what we now know as the theory of the Big Bang of the origin of the universe. His writing offers a wealth of information, not only in regard to his science, but also into his embrace of the necessary complementarity of faith and reason.
Our world is now understood to be a world where something really happens; the whole story of the world need not have been written down in the first quantum like a song on the disk of a phonograph. The whole matter of the world must have been present at the beginning, but the story it has to tell may be written step by step.

- from “The Beginning of the World from the Point of View of Quantum Theory” Nature 127, 706-706 (09 May 1931)
Lemaître was quite conscious of the fact that the universe is intelligible, that is, it is rational and capable of being understood by human beings insofar as human beings are gifted with reason and cognition.
Scientific progress is the discovery of a more and more comprehensive simplicity... The previous successes give us confidence in the future of science: we become more and more conscious of the fact that the universe is cognizable.

— from O. Godart and M. Heller (eds.), Cosmology of Lemaitre (1985), 162.
The human endeavor into the study of science is a challenge incumbent on us to pursue and embrace. In short, if truth is one, nothing we discover in the natural world scientifically that is true will contradict what has been revealed supernaturally by God. This relatively simple principle dwells at the heart of the Catholic Church's centuries-old engagement with science, physics, astronomy, and medicine. As Blessed John Paul II was fond of asserting, Be not afraid!

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