Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is Religion a Myth? Talk at NMU (Northern Michigan University) Catholic Campus Ministry

Yesterday evening the above unfortunates had to endure my rabbiting on about science and religion, evolution and the interconnectedness of everything in the universe, how everything in the universe is contingent and must have a cause, how the observability of law and order in the universe demonstrates the existence of an Intelligent Mind behind it, and that there is clearly a design and purpose in the universe which indicates the existence of a Mind that directs the unfolding of that purpose.

Much of what I spoke about can be heard in talks given by speakers at Faith conferences, some of which can be downloaded at the Faith movement website.

Useful pamphlets can be downloaded here.

I recently purchased a copy of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. He makes the following assertion about religious believers:
Of course, dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument, their resistance built up over years of childhood indoctrination using methods that took centuries to mature (whether by evolution or design).
We must prove Dawkins wrong about this. Catholics must be prepared to debate the findings of science on science's own grounds, using the rules of science and appealing to the use of reason.

Pope Benedict spoke in Westminster Hall about the "corrective" role of religion vis-a-vis reason:
The role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these (objective moral) norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers - still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion - but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles.

On the other hand, the Pope also spoke about the "purifying and structuring role of reason within religion" which is necessary to counter "distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism."
These distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion ... reason ... can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils... That is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith - the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief - need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilisation.
Such a dialogue is also essential between the worlds of science and faith. Both can experience a mutual "purification" and "correction".

I mean, how can Dawkins posit this as a valid hypothesis:
Any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive lat in the universe, and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it.
Therefore (so Dawkins is saying) there cannot be a God, an intelligence, who put the universe there in the first place.

This from Kevin McKenna of The Observer January 2nd 2011:
The Pope's visit (to the UK) was great but tinged with sadness because it reduced that once-great biologist Richard Dawkins to a rambling and wild-eyed madman hurling foam-flecked adolescent insults at the Roman holy man. I trust someone is giving the scientist his soup and caramelised biscuits as he recuperates. I even hear of a Richard Dawkins care fund. Could someone forward me the address? So the award must go to Craig Levein, the Scotland international football team coach.


  1. Fr. John,

    We were MOST pleased and honored to have you join us yesterday! I'm not sure what "rabbiting" on is all about, but I thought your talk QUITE interesting and challenging! The students often bring up questions of faith and reason, evolution, etc!

    God Bless,
    Fr. Ben

    P.S. It seems that the various animal behaviors vary considerably in their rhetorical value on the two sides of the pond!

  2. Is religion a myth? The other way to ask this question is to ask: is theology a valid human intellectual endeavor? History may be about to answer both of those questions:

    What science, religion, philosophy, theology, psychology, Hawkins or Dawkins thought impossible has happened. History now has it's first fully demonstrable, Christian proof for faith. And it's called The Resurrection. And coming from outside all existing theologies, clearly has 'tradition' in the cross hairs. To test or not to test, that is the question?

    "The first ever viable religious conception capable of leading reason, by faith, to observable consequences which can be tested and judged is now a reality. A teaching that delivers the first ever religious claim of insight into the human condition that meets the Enlightenment criteria of verifiable, direct cause and effect, evidence based truth embodied in experience. For the first time in history, however unexpected or unwelcome, the world must contend with a claim to new revealed truth, a moral wisdom not of human intellectual origin, offering access by faith, to absolute proof, an objective basis for moral principle and a fully rational and justifiable belief! " And it's called The Resurrection!

    If confirmed and there appears a growing concerted effort to test and authenticate this material, of which I am taking part, this will represent a paradigm change in the nature of faith and in the moral and intellectual potential of human nature itself;  untangling the greatest  questions of human existence: sustainability, consciousness, meaning, suffering, free will and evil. And at the same time addressing the most profound problems of our age.

    While the religious will find this news most difficult, those who have claimed to be of an Enlightenment mind should find it of particular interest, for it represents the means to finally reconcile science and religion. But if they are unable to appreciate this change in the historical faith paradigm, to one that conforms precisely to a criteria subject to test and confirmation, then their own 'claim' to rationality is no more than pretension nor better then those theological illusions they find so abhorrent.

    A unexpected revolution appears to be under way. More info at


Please avoid being 'anonymous' if at all possible.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...