Faith and The Cosmos
Can Catholic universities foster dialogue between religion and science? [from America, April 4, 2011; letter response to an article by Ilia Delio]
K.I.S.S. “Keep it simple stupid!” A directive it has always been my misfortune to neglect. Above all, religious teaching in all evolving institutions of spirituality have frequently deviated from their founders’ teaching through grinding out thousands of volumes of theologies and liturgical laws and customs which tended to divide and separate peoples into orthodoxy and/or heterodoxy and heresy which in turn generated centuries of wars and hatreds lasting right up into the present day. The fear of breaking a rule or a law is a minimal response to an invitation to love.
In the simplicity of Zen meditation, the focus of one’s attention is not on ideas one has of God, but rather on the being of God in present moment; the here and the now, at the point of no dimensions which lies within each and every person and thing. This point of no dimensions is the same dimensionless point from which emanated all of what we call the entire cosmos.It seems to me, that the Buddha’s teaching is radically simple. He simply held up a blossom from the lotus plant and those who were enlightened, understood. The lotus itself is a plant which produces beautiful flowers which rest upon muddy waters. It is a symbol of a spiritual reality, the reality of Divine birth, the spontaneous generation, total spiritual perfection. In a like manner, Jesus’ teaching is essentially the same in its simplicity. In the very earliest gospel written, Mark’s, circa 65-75AD, Jesus’ opening words, his “keynote address”, as he entered Galilee were: “The present moment is the right time, the kingdom of God is within you, [‘Metanoieite’] change the way you think about reality and believe this good news.”[Mk.1:15] To try to conceptualize this “Kingdom”, Jesus often used the simplest analogs of nature, “…like a tiny mustard seed, the smallest seed in the world…” [Mk. 4:31]; which children understand: the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these[children] [Mk.10:15].
Current astrophysical understanding of the cosmos and its origin also point to an inconceivable reality which many have termed a “NON-DIMENSIONAL POINT” from which emanated all matter and energy which today constitutes this entire vastness which today we call the Universe. Now this is impossible to understand from purely scientific mode of thinking. “Nothing comes from nothing” is the expected reply to that astrophysical statement. A non-dimensional point does not mean very small, it means no size. That seems to be the same as “no thing”.
The greatest Catholic theologian of all times is recognized as Thomas Aquinas. Near the end of his life, Thomas put down his pen and stopped writing the third volume of his Summa Theologica. When asked why he stopped, Thomas is reported as having said, “Compared to what I have seen, this is all such straw.” Thomas died in the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nova. In other words, Saint Thomas literally ran out of a vocabulary which was great enough to capture the inconceivable, ineffable, Reality called “God”. Thus, Science, Zen, the Keynote words of Jesus and the greatest attempts at theology all converge on the same reality, The Reality Here, Now, and within all.
Charlie Mc, B.S. Ch.E., Northeastern University ‘60
M.S. Dogmatic/Systematic Theology,
Saint Louis University '70