One Incarnation is Enough to Save the World
One of the pleasures about being a Catholic is the treasure of theology. It enables people of faith to know that the understanding of Jesus Christ handed down in an unbroken line from the Apostles precludes reincarnation. Jesus died once and for all: no second life is necessary. If, as Dostoevsky mused, much has gone awry since the first Ascension Thursday, it is the fault of we who follow him.
Notice, however, that this dismissal out of hand only regards Catholic theology. Science and religion represent another matter. In contrast to the capacity to decide matters a priori in theological terms, Catholicism has no easy path when it comes to scientific facts and social situations that are: 1) either not found in Scripture; or 2) not explained by current science. Being Catholic, at least in theory, if not always in practice, requires that faith seek understanding. Where science is involved, the principles of nature offer an explanation that Catholics are taught to prefer, instead of turning to reliance on merely scriptural texts. The worst situation would be to trust in the interpretation of such texts spun out of current needs or individualistic whim. Jesus warned of this danger when he put up the amber light on false prophets.
What amazes me is how rationalists, most of whom profess to be atheists, put the Catholic equation backwards. Some will mock theological assuredness as a submission of the weak-minded to authoritarianism. I can see that if you don’t pay the price of the ticket of faith to get into the theological convention, you wouldn’t understand what is going on among the experts. But common sense would suggest an agnostic attitude to live and let live.
In contrast, when there is an unexplained phenomenon – levitation, for instance – the rationalists are the first ones to pull out a priori put-downs. “No, such things can not happen,” is a common declaration, even if there are facts suggesting the opposite. In contrast, the Catholic Church investigates each and every occurrence, and in our days, with great reluctance to declare miracles. Using science and reason, ironically, shows the defects of science and reasoning in summing up the complexities of the human condition. And for the record, the frequency of levitation, wherein a person floats in the air, are inescapably proven to any one intelligent enough to put two and two together. Moreover, there is a tendency among a growing number of Catholics to avoid using the label “miracle” even when the phenomenon is basically unexplainable. Miracles, it is argued, are signs that help people believe and need not be events without scientific explanation.
Ironically, in this as in many other instances, adopting religious faith makes more sense than believing that nothing is worthy of belief.
Posted by: trailing begonia | March 11, 2008 12:20 PM
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