Friday, February 25, 2011

Here it is: conversation between Dawkins and scientist catholic priest Coyle

As some of you know I will be going to a conference on Science and Religion. For the people interested in this topic here is a nice conversation between Richard Dawkings interview with Father Coyne.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Latin mass

Last Tuesday I went to a Latin Mass with the Tridentine Rite here in the Portsmouth Cathedral. There were about thirty people, of all ages.

Regardless of the different underlying theological focus between the Tridentine mass and the Novo Ordo 'usual' masses I want to rise a question on language. When Jesus disciples, after the resurrection, followed Jesus' command of braking the bread and sharing the cup, they surely did this in aramaic, as Jesus had done. Nevertheless, when Paul celebrated the Supper of the Lord in the home of gentile christians, in the cities of Greece that he was visiting, he did tell the last words of Jesus in greek and not in aramaic, since he would not be understood otherwise. This was a good pastoral and theological move. Pastorally it was good because it allowed people to understand, and theologically it was good because in a sense it mimicked the incarnation of God, that being of divine nature, became one of us. Later, in the places where greek was not spoken, the mass was said in latin. People did not understand greek, but did understand latin, thus latin became the language of the mass. And, not so long ago, following this flow of a more incarnated liturgy, we got the vernacular languages into the mass. So my question is, regardless of the rite, should we not aim for a mass in the language that people understand? I see no grounds for a mass in latin, and I would appreciate anyone disagreeing  to put forward any theological argument in the comments, which as always, are very welcomed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Agustine on the omnipotence of God

The City of God, Book V: The freedom of God

His [God's] power is not diminished when we say that He 'cannot' die or err. For this is impossible to him in such a way that, if it was possible, He would have less power. He is indeed rightly called omnipotent even though he cannot die or err. For He is called omnipotent because he does what he wills and does not undergo what He does not will: if this were not so, He certainly would not be omnipotent.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The challenge of those who don't believe in God. (invited post)

What I believe in

I believe in doubt and I don’t believe in God. I believe doubt is the basis of knowledge, and thus the basis of humankind. Whatever is not doubted may eventually be misused. This isn’t a declaration of principles. The first time I met a believer, I doubted whether to use the scientific method –I still doubt it. I’m a bit of a spiritual person and I often go with the flow. I’m also a scientist. Relaxing my thought patterns and pursuing different motivations become essential in my personal life. Eventually, I’ll always be willing to go for a theory based in reasoning and doubt. I don’t want to judge here people in terms of whether they believe, in non-reasonable things, or not.

Those who believe divide the world into believers and non-believers, those who smoke, into smokers and non-smokers, and so, those who study aliens. They seek common features among people with the aim of “being part of” or “belonging to” a group. Other activities like eating peanuts or playing squash don’t create community. Users know that nothing but the activity creates bounds amongst them.

I hate labeling people and beliefs; I both love and dislike many communities at the same time –my feelings vary depending on who describes the community and what the context is. Labeling informs you about something we don’t need and something it may not be true. It’s different to be physicist among artists than among engineers; or to be a New Yorker in Paris than in Texas. Labeling depends too much on the context. I prefer to use more precise adjectives like happy, nervous, stubborn, or coward rather than physicist, New Yorker or atheist.

I consider religion both a label and a community where disagreement is hostile. I consider religion harmful for rational thought and for creativity. I’d invite everyone to give up their beliefs.  Take whatever is good from religion or whatever you’ve learned and get out of the closet; should you like communities, seek one that accepts doubt. We have too much to understand and too much to discover (as human beings and as part of the universe) to do it with restrictions and credos. 

Once I talked with a friend about people who undeniably did good wherever they went. He said that undeniably those people were guided by God. It could be. It could be though there were other reasons. In science, sometimes a similar thing happens to me; to understand an experiment I use a theory (an existing explanation) and I focus so strongly in the theory that I lose sight of the original objective, the experiment –this is one of the first lessons of a scientist.

written by Ferran Macià