Finding Truth Through Science

Priest-Scientists Search for God

Over the centuries, thousands of priest-scientists have searched for the truth in nature using scientific principles and contributing significantly to human knowledge. The Augustinian abbot, Gregor Mendel, determined the basic laws that govern the passage of traits within a species. It was his discovery of dominant or recessive genes that became the key to modern genetics. For this reason, he is called the Father of Modern Genetics.

A Belgian priest, Georges Lamaître, a professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven, first proposed the Big Bang theory as the origin of the universe. He called his work a “hypothesis of the primeval atom” or the “Cosmic Egg.” Lamaître was also the first scientist to conclude that through this “creation-like” event, the universe was not only expanding, but that the expansion was actually accelerating. The latter contention was confirmed in 1990 with the Hubble Space Telescope.

From its very origins, the Church has supported and encouraged scientific discovery for the knowledge gained helps us to better understand the nature of God. We learn who he is by studying his creations. We believe that the Holy Scriptures, the prophets, and Jesus Christ told us about God and what it is that he wants from us. The apostles and their successors, our bishops, carry this message forward. They are supported in their efforts though supernatural events, miracles generated by Jesus Christ. Christians contend that miracles are divine interferences with the physical laws of nature. They are preternatural, which means beyond nature, and visible. Is this God’s way of saying, “Pay attention”? Certainly our priest-scientists are interested in anything that challenges the laws of nature. If it were possible to prove the miracles of Christ were natural events, they would like to be the ones to do so.

Hellenistic Jews & Christianity

The Dept Owed to the Greek Bible

Before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, Aramaic-speaking Jews read and taught from the Hebrew Scriptures. Many books were considered religious in nature, but there was no precisely defined Jewish Canon of the Scriptures. The Jews of Samaria believed only the first five books of Scripture (Torah) were divinely inspired for they were the teachings given to Moses. However, the wider-held Pharisaic Tradition believed that the oral law, passed down from the time of Moses, including all the explanatory and supplementary writings deriving from it, were just as inspired and authoritative as the Torah.

The Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria wanted the Septuagint to include translations not only from the written Torah but also from the books derived from the oral law (those of the Pharisaic Tradition). There is no question that the quality and style of the translations in the Septuagint vary considerably from book to book. After all they were translated by many different hands over more than two centuries.

When the translations began in 280 BC with the Torah (Pentateuch in Greek), few objections were voiced by Jewish authorities overseeing the project. The Septuagint was so highly regarded at the time of Jesus Christ, that the evangelists used it as their source document in writing the Gospels.
When Jewish scholars met at Jamnia in the last decade of the first century, the number of Hellenistic Jews in the Diaspora using the Septuagint significantly exceeded the number of Jews using the Hebrew Scriptures. The growth of Jewish conversions to Christianity owed a great debt to the reading and preaching from the Septuagint. Read more from Rock of the Apostles: A Brief History of Catholic Tradition (goo.gl/MPqLV6).

U.S. Nun a Media Mogul

A World-Wide Conglomerate Begun in a Garage

About fifteen years after the conclusion of Vatican Council II, Mother M. Angelica, a cloistered nun, turned the garage of Our Lady of Angels monastery in Irondale, Alabama into a television studio. She had two hundred dollars and twelve cloistered nuns with no television experience to assist her.

On January 27, 1981, the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) received its FCC license and became the first Catholic satellite television station in the United States. It began broadcasting pre-taped programs to sixty thousand homes four hours a day.

By its thirty-third year, EWTN had grown to become the largest religious media network in the world using satellite television, AM and FM radio networks, a worldwide short-wave radio station, an Internet website, and a publishing arm. It is available to over 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories.

EWTN offers a wide variety of both taped and live programs in English, German, French, and Spanish, commercial free, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. All are family and religious programs from a Catholic perspective.

Its website (www.ewtn.com) is the largest Catholic website in the United States. The EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network broadcasts through over 235 affiliate radio stations, Sirius XM satellite radio, and such apps as EWTN Network, iTunes Radio, iHeart Radio, and TuneIn Radio. More than five thousand affiliates worldwide are now connected to a conglomerate that was started in a garage by a Catholic nun.

There are numerous other television and radio stations that carry Christian programming, from theological debates and biographies of the saints to children’s stories. Even the Vatican has its own television station (www.ctv.org) created by John Paul II in 1983, two years after Sister Angelica started her network.

This story and many more concerning the history of the Catholic Church may be found in Rock of the Apostles: A Brief History of Catholic Tradition now available through Amazon.com ( click on goo.gl/w9h5H2 ).

The Inquisition

How Christians Dealt with Heresy

Heresy has been with mankind for millennia as have courts dealing with it. Early in the second century, the philosopher Celsus wrote that Christians persecuted dissidents with death, burning, and torture based on the Old Testament. The Christian apologetic Origen answered Celsus by explaining that one must distinguish between the law received from Moses binding on all Jews, and that given by Jesus Christ, which was binding on all Christians.

Origen, the most influential Christian in the third century, claimed that Christians were no longer bound by the Mosaic Law, and therefore no longer required to kill, burn, or stone violators of the Mosaic Law. The law they followed was a Christian law established by Jesus Christ to love even our enemies. Saints Augustine, Ambrose, and Leo agreed with Origen.

However, beginning in the twelfth century France there is no question that Christians ignored this commandment of Christ and were in fact burning and killing. The Church had ordered the inquisition to find whether the accused is guilty or innocent of heresy and nothing more. To their shame, the inquisitors sometimes exceeded this duty. Yet, the secular authorities were more than willing to take up the slack on their part and that reflected back on the Church. That they were a creature of their time is no excuse.

Remember Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and their adherents all believed in punishing heresy with death. Even Heinrich Bullinger, the successor of Zwingli as head of the Zurich Protestant church, announced the principle that heresy could be punished like murder or treason. It is not to the credit of the Catholic Inquisition that other religions held this principle, only that it reflected society in the sixteenth century.

Most of the time the penalty for those found guilty of heretical actions, but who repented, seems to have consisted of penances like wearing a cross on one’s clothes, going on a pilgrimage, ect. When unrepentant, the heretic was usually turned over to the secular authorities for final sentencing, which depending on local prescriptions, resulted in such findings as banishment, imprisonment for life, or burning at the stake. The inquisitors knew what to expect from the local civil authorities and so did the heretics.

For more on the life and times of the mid-sixteenth century, read The Hidden Saint: The Sixteenth Century Church in Crisis. For Amazon pricing go to goo.gl/MJaXfs. To join my facebook page go to goo.gl/2lWm2v.

The Monastic Movement

How Hospitals and Universities Came To Be

In the sixth century, St. Benedict (480–543/4) wrote monastic rules which would be applied not only in the monasteries he founded in Italy, but in most of the monasteries established throughout Europe. Even today, fifteen hundred years later, his Rule is the most common set of instructions used by monks and monasteries. His directives for moderation and reasonableness reduced the excessive asceticism found in some of the early hermits.

The growth of communal living among the monasteries following the Benedictine Rule was immense. As the years passed, those entering the monasteries were younger than the first monks and this necessitated they be given an education. The ability to read and understand Scriptures was paramount, of course, for Origen had written: “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

However, the abbots of these monasteries recognized the value of studying medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and Greek philosophy as well. Care of fellow monks and the general population required that someone read about and practice the science of herbal medicine and surgical procedures. Astronomy allowed the monks to know when the calendar required religious practices to take place. Philosophy and logic permitted the student to argue and understand the reasoning behind much of the orthodox, heretical, and schismatic movements as well as the thinking of Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato.

In effect, many of the monasteries from the sixth century to the Middle Ages became the forerunners of universities. Not only were the monks taught religious and secular subjects, but many of the scholarly types from the secular world came to these monasteries to learn as well. The education formerly found only in such schools as the Catechetical School of Alexandria had spread throughout the Eastern and Western Christian communities.

Medical wings for ill monks became hospital wings for the local population and then separate hospitals for the larger community. Expertise in medical practice became almost the exclusive property of the monastic community. How quickly we forget who and how care came to be given to the general population from a selfish generation.

For a more complete picture of such benevolence, read my book Rock of the Apostles: A Brief History of Catholic Tradition by going to goo.gl/w9h5H2.

Arguing Biblical Tradition

How the Common Latin Version Came About

In 382, Pope Damasus asked his secretary, Jerome, to take the four Gospels, then found in Old Latin with loose translations from the original Greek, and put those four Gospels into a coordinated and more elegant Latin version. Many different hands had translated the earlier version without any central control and the result had been numerous translation errors and a vocabulary of local colloquialisms. The opposition, particularly in Italy, was enormous for the Old Latin version was considered sacred writing and to change it was considered sacrilegious.

However, the pope wanted to adhere to the basic intent of the ancient Greek writers, and if this meant to change the Old Latin version where the original purpose was clearly at variance, then so be it. When the upset population insisted that tradition required continued use of the Old Latin version, Jerome responded that he was not flouting tradition, but restoring tradition.

To that end, Jerome did not write the Gospels in the order of Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark as the Old Latin version did, but restored the order of the earlier Greek version; that is from Matthew to Mark, Luke, and then John. The pope’s motive for the rewrite was to have the readings in the liturgy be as uniform as possible whether in Gaul, Egypt, Rome, or Cappadocia. Too many local variations had popped up and heresies were not easily defeated.

When the New Testament was completed and long after Damasus had died, Jerome began translating the books of the Old Testament into Latin. These books had been written in Greek about six hundred years earlier, and some scriptural books in Hebrew and Aramaic had been written as much as a thousand years earlier. Jerome knew four languages and studied the original documents, especially the Greek and Hebrew documents. He also consulted with Jewish and Greek specialists regarding the Old Testament scriptural books. Once completed, his clarity of exposition and elegance of diction soon overcame any objection to his Bible.

The resulting Bible called the “Vulgate” or “Version Commonly Used” Bible was adopted by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century as the official Latin Bible of the Catholic Church. Numerous versions have been published since to take into account the latest in linguistic and biblical studies.

To learn more about the life of Jerome and his works, read my novel The Scholar’s Challenge.  Go to goo.gl/MPqLV6 to acquire it or to read more about it.

The Sanhedrin

A Governing Body

When Jesus was born, the son of Herod the Great, Archelaus, was ethnarch of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea and Augustus was emperor of Rome. Archelaus had the army and strength of Rome behind him, but the Sanhedrin had the people of Judea. Anytime the Sanhedrin wanted a protest, riot, or insurrection, the people of Judea would follow the decision of the Sanhedrin.

Who were these Sanhedrin? Seventy in numbers, they were appointed from every area of Israel to make decisions affecting social as well as religious activities. While Archelaus ruled from the palace, the Sanhedrin ruled from the courtyard of the Temple. If someone wanted to be a member of the Sanhedrin, he must not only be recognized as religious, but also as political. If Archelaus wanted to follow the dictates of Augustus, he had to consider also the opinion of the Sanhedrin. His failure to do so….

For more interesting discussion of this period, read my novel Eugenios: Servant of Kings. To go to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00FBD7KK4. To go to my facebook page: goo.gl/2lWm2v.

Another Newspaper Article

https://www.ericksonliving.com/tribune/neighbors/charlestown

There are nineteen Erickson Living communities across the nation with 24,000 residents. Their paper The Erickson Tribune chose your humble servant to cover for the July issue. It is a beautiful story written by Danielle Roxrode with an excellent picture taken by Mel Tansill, the publicist for the Erickson communities. I feel blessed to live in a gated retirement community where the daily cares of my wife and I are taken into daily consideration. It is never too late to think about your retirement and what you will do or not do in that retirement. Perhaps there is another author out there reading this. Who knows? To see the article go to:

https://www.ericksonliving.com/tribune/neighbors/charlestown

Rock of the Apostles

A Brief History of Catholic Tradition

My latest book Rock of the Apostles: A Brief History of Catholic Tradition has now been published and is available on Amazon.com. Anyone who believes they do not need the institutional Church with its priests, bishops, popes and 2,862 paragraphs of the Catholic Catechism should read this book. Without the Scriptures and the teaching authority of the Catholic Church for the past 2,000 years there would be no foundation with which to believe in a “spiritual church.” One can claim the ability to have a spiritual relationship with God, one without walls or dogma. However, that relationship is built on shaky imaginations, temporary and ever adjusting to current tides of fantasies–certainly not Christ’s revelations which are built on Scriptures and a Living Tradition.

Rock of the Apostles describes how the Catholic Church countered two millennium of heresies, schisms, and slanders through a Tradition developed by the Early Fathers, Monastics, Doctors of the Church, theologians, ecumenical councils, and a long line of Apostolic teachers. It is an enjoyable and fascinating explanation of how the same, unending Deposit of Faith is transmitted over the years to new cultures, new languages, new ways of exploring the road to salvation. It covers current topics such as abortion, contraceptives, and divorce and reveals how the Church has not changed its position on these topics and why it cannot change its position.

The book has been granted an imprimatur by the Archdiocese of Baltimore and is aimed at high school students, CCD, and home school students. However, any history buff or Catholic adult will find in it an excellent overview of the religious influence wielded by the Church over the years–an influence that cries out for acceptance in today’s secular world.

The cover portrays an 19th century oil painting by Francesco Bergametti found in the church Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie in Bergamo, Italy. The scene represents The Little Jesus in the Temple explaining the word of God to the scribes while Mary in the background listens. How better to begin the history of Church teachings than by seeing it’s foundation from the lips of Jesus Christ? To see more visit goo.gl/w9h5H2.

Jalsa Salana Convention

Muslim Sect Believes Shroud Authentic

The Ventral Image on the Shroud of Turin as it appears on a photographic negative

Thanks to my good friend, Barrie Schwortz, world-renowned lecturer and photographer of the Shroud of Turin, I recently learned that at least one Muslim sect believes the Shroud to be the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ. This year Barrie will give his third keynote address to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at the Jalsa Salana Convention in Hampshire, near London. This convention is attended by 35,000 people a day over three days. The largest tent seats 10,000 people and they are enthralled by a Jewish man (Barrie) speaking about a Christian relic before one of the twenty-seven sects of the Islamic faith. The Ahmadiyya Muslim sect has 150 million followers in 200 countries and is the fastest growing sect in Islam.

Their philosophy is “Love for all, hatred for none” which is also the address of their website: www.loveforallhatredfornone.org. Because this sect interprets some mainstream Muslim philosophies differently, they have been labeled heretics, ostracized and marginalized by the mainstream Muslim world. We rarely hear about Muslims expressing love for all, but instead hear about the Sunni and Shi’ite sects that have been violently battling one another for many centuries.

The Ahmadiyya accept that Jesus was crucified and buried with the Shroud. However, they believe the Shroud proves he survived all the tortures and escaped from the tomb to die in India. Today, we can visit the tomb of “Jesus” in Kashmir according to the Ahmadiyya.

As owner and manager of the largest website dedicated solely to all of the scientific and other evidence concerning the Shroud (www.shroud.com), Barrie gives his personal opinion to the convention attendees, that, based on expert opinion, the man of the Shroud was dead while he lay in the tomb. The convention is televised internationally and Barrie will give a report on his 2017 address at his website in September. You can also read his reports from the 2015 and 2016 conventions on his website (www.shroud.com).

My latest novel, The Hidden Saint, includes a historically accurate account of the huge crowds that gathered when Archbishop Charles Borromeo visited Turin shortly after the Shroud arrived there in the 16th century.  For additional information about the book, go to Amazon.net: goo.gl/MJaXfs