Creation and the Big Bang | Faith and Science

Episode 44 July 25, 2023 00:52:07
Creation and the Big Bang | Faith and Science
Catholic Theology Show
Creation and the Big Bang | Faith and Science

Jul 25 2023 | 00:52:07


Show Notes

Can we believe in the Big Bang Theory and God's Creation? Today, Dr. Michael Dauphinais and Sister Mary Elizabeth Merriam, O.P., discuss how the union of faith and science reveals the intelligibility of creation, particularly in the Big Bang and its Catholic origins.



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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 I love studying faith and science, and I'd heard about Father La Mitra. I love studying Catholic scientists. Mm. And often had my students do poster projects on Catholic scientists. And so I just wanted to learn more about him. And the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. Yeah. And just realize he had a deep, optimistic understanding Mm. Of how faith in science go together and he could do science, understanding the way the world works and realizing that that glorifies God. Speaker 2 00:00:32 Welcome to the Catholic Theology Show, sponsored by VE Maria University. I'm your host, Michael Daphne. And today we are joined by Sister Mary Elizabeth Miriam, a Dominican sister of the, uh, Dominican Sisters of Mary, mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Welcome to the show. Thank Speaker 0 00:00:50 You so much. Speaker 2 00:00:51 Great. So it's so great to have you on the show, sister, and you're, uh, giving, uh, the annual Paula casting lectures at Mir University on faith and science. And so we're so glad to have you here on the show, uh, this year. And, uh, you know, it's really fascinating. Right. So you're a religious sister. Yes. Um, and you also have a PhD in electrical engineering mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. So you've really gone deep into both. Right. Very deep into kind of right faith mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and yet also deep into this scientific understanding of the world. Yes. Right. And, uh, so we just wanted, you had a chance to talk today. Uh, and, and just to kind of begin, maybe I think a lot of, maybe young people, sometimes you hear it like in school or high schools or colleges, and I know you've worked, you teach now in a Catholic high school, right. St. Michael, the Archangel in Missouri. Yes. And, uh, and have also done a lot of work in colleges and universities. Uh, a lot of people I think just have this vague sense that, uh, you know, science, modern science is somehow disproved. Christianity, modern science is in conflict with Christianity. Uh, maybe this is through evolution cosmology, uh. Right. How would you, how would you respond to, uh, somebody comes up to you and asks you that question? Oh, no. Speaker 0 00:02:12 It's not possible for them to be in conflict because God is the author of all that exists. And so, like, we know truth can't contradict truth. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So what science, authentic science discovers about the universe has to be in accord with what our faith teaches us. Speaker 2 00:02:28 Yes, yes. Yes. It's, um, actually, I think it was, uh, Einstein who said that when we discover the very intelligibility of the universe, there must be a mind behind the universe because we don't see the world as, we see the world as intelligible. Right. And so, I just think that's a beautiful thing. Science itself is fundamentally right. Means the word to know. Yes. And so we're not simply manipulating things. We're coming to know and understand the underlying principles. And it's those underlying principles that in a way are almost kind of like the divine fingerprints, if you want to put it, you know, on the, uh, on, on the universe and Right. Where they're fingerprints. Right. There's a crime <laugh>. Right. You know, there's a criminal. And in those fingerprints of the universe, so to speak, we see somehow, not all of God obviously, but we do see a little bit of the mind of God as displayed in his creation. Yes. Speaker 0 00:03:21 Yes. We can see the beauty of creation. Yes. The truth of creation. So we know, and that, as you said, the intelligibility, that that, that there is understandable and it's understandable to us humans. Yeah. There has to be a reason for that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we know that Yeah. God is the creator. Speaker 2 00:03:37 Right. Yeah. And some of the science is based upon the idea that there is an underlying rationality to the universe that often exceeds our ability to understand it. Which again, also kind of points to the idea that whatever mind behind the universe must be bigger than ours. Yes. Speaker 0 00:03:52 Yes. You can't do science without trusting that the universe is intelligible. Speaker 2 00:03:57 Wow. How, how, how beautifully put so, uh, to continue, uh, you're gonna be s one, one of your lectures, uh, that you'll be delivering as part of the series is on, uh, co it's on the Big Bang. Yes. Right. Uh, creation and God's action, and Right. You, you, you tell a fascinating story about that. That Right. The Big Bang was developed by a Catholic priest. That's right. It's also Right. One of the great cosmologists of the 20th century and Right. And even before we talk a little bit more about that, uh, I just think it's interesting, uh, somebody was, I remember hearing, uh, Steve Barr, who's written a fair amount on Yes. Uh, theology and Science mm-hmm. <affirmative>, who's a physicist. Um, but he talked about, I think it's something like out of the 25 major, uh, in scientific discoveries of the last 400 years, I don't know, something like almost 20 were made by Catholics. Speaker 2 00:04:53 That's awesome. It's, yeah. But I don't know exactly, but just some of them. Louis Pastore right. Is a mm-hmm. <affirmative> devout Catholic, definitely. Who comes up with microbiology and vaccination. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Andre Marie Amper basically ends up dev developing the whole field of electro math magnetics, also a devout Catholic Greg or Mendel, a Benedict and Monk develops our whole understanding of genetics. Al Elois Alzheimer's, interestingly discovers, well, lo and behold Alzheimer's dementia, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in Alzheimer's disease. Uh, you have Pascal Martin Mee, who was a mathematician, who develops basically a whole new understanding of prime numbers. Uh, and even I think sometimes when people think about, oh, the church is against science. Cuz the church, uh, criticized Galileo. One thing that's interesting is that Copernicus, who was the one who came up with the understanding Yes. That the, the, our solar system rotated around the sun and not the earth. Speaker 2 00:05:44 Mm-hmm. That was actually rejecting really fundamentally a Greek view of the universe mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which, which of course the, the, the entire, uh, developed world had accepted Yes. Until Coper took Coper, sorry, Copernicus, who was a Catholic Catholic actually Right. Showed the Yes. Began to come up with another, and then Galileo himself again, a Catholic mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, who develops a, a, a deeper understanding of this idea. Mm-hmm. And yes, there were other churchmen who disagreed at times about what should be taught and how it should be taught. Um, but fundamentally, these are all views of people that are kind of devoutly Catholic. And I remember even Galileo, uh, has this line where he says, write the Bibles teach us how to get to heaven, not how the heavens go. Yes. Uh, and it's interesting, I noticed that later, and we can talk about this, that, uh, George Lara, uh, actually, uh, also has a similar quote mm-hmm. Speaker 2 00:06:32 <affirmative>, where he says, um, something along the lines of the Bible. The church says, the church has always taught that the Bible teaches salvation, salvation, not science. That's right. Right. That's not in a certain sense, we don't, science is wonderful, but we don't need it to solve the existential pain in our hearts. Yes. Right. That is something only in awake God's mercy can solve. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that's the story of the Bible. Science is part of just the goodness of creation that we can begin to understand. Uh, so just, so it's kind of fun just to kind of put it a little bit in that context, that how do we, if, cuz again, if this is something that people almost like drink like water, and it's in the air, one idea won't, won't overcome it. So in a certain sense, the fact that Catholic soil, devout Catholic soil turns out to be a great place. Yes. Not only did to do science, do science, but to advance science. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, how, how, how wonderful. So, um, maybe could you tell a little bit about how did you get interested in George, uh, Lara and the, and then a little bit of his story? Speaker 0 00:07:32 Sure. I, well, I love studying faith and science and I'd heard about Father Lara. I love studying Catholic scientists. Mm-hmm. And often had my students do poster projects on Catholic scientists. And so I just wanted to learn more about him. And the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. Yeah. And just realized he had a deep, optimistic understanding of how faith in science go together, and he could freely do science, understanding the way the world works and realizing that that glorifies God to study his creation and to learn about it. And then at the same time, as you said, he, he was a devout, he was a very devout, he was a priest. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, he celebrated daily mass. Wow. Um, you think he had a daily holy hour or, or periods of prayer, he went to annual retreats. Mm-hmm. So he lived a full Catholic faith life, um, and made major physics discoveries. Speaker 2 00:08:22 Wow. So can you tell us a little bit about, uh, what's his timeframe? When was he born? When did he do his, um, you know, research? What were some of his major discoveries? Speaker 0 00:08:33 He was born in the late 18 hundreds, and then he passed away in 1966. So that's mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the timeframe he was living in when he was about 10. I think Einstein had published his special theory of relativity. Um, and then 10 years later, Einstein published the general relativity, and that kind of took space time matter energy and showed the way they're interconnected mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which is a fundamental, like shifts our worldview and we don't think about it on a daily basis, but how they all interact with each other. And Einstein and most scientists at that time thought we had a static universe, um, one that wasn't really changing. So Einstein actually, uh, fudged his equations a little. They added in a, what's called the cosmological constant to, to help make his equations match a static universe. Speaker 2 00:09:23 Oh. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So what's a, just real for, for listeners or yours? What's a static universe? Speaker 0 00:09:30 So a universe is not, it's not expanding, it's not contracting. It's, it's kind of like the way it's always been. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So if you observed it now, and if you observed it years from now, or in the past, you'd kind of see the same sort of universe. Okay. You'd expected to do the same sort of things mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but several scientists looked at his equations and started pointing out, actually the universe might be doing other things. It might be expanding. So one scientist came up with the fact that you could solve those equations and you could have, you know, an, an empty universe. Um, but that's not very practical. It's not, it doesn't really match reality. Yeah. Um, so something that father the nature was able to do is to show how Einstein's equations actually work for our universe, and that our universe is expanding Speaker 2 00:10:15 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So in, so in, that's a, he is kind of maybe, um, like a second gener, like the Right, the generation that's receiving Einstein's. Right. Great discoveries. Yes. Um, but great discoveries Right. Are never total, they're never complete. They have to be received and he is Right. Applies his. And now is this time, is he a priest yet? Is he a physicist? No, don't, don't worry if you don't know. But, uh, that basic idea is like, so he then is studying though, as a physicist at the Right. In the major universities in, in Europe. So Speaker 0 00:10:52 He had, he went to college mm-hmm. <affirmative>, then World War I happened. So he actually served in World War I mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then he came back. So he had started college, he started with engineering <affirmative>, and he went back into math and physics. Mm-hmm. So that time he was studying relativity. When he was studying physics. Then, um, once he finished that degree, he entered seminary. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, they had a special program because of the war for delayed vocations, he was able to complete seminary in three years. Oh, okay. Um, and then he went on to get two PhD degrees. <laugh>. Wow. So he was very academic. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, Speaker 2 00:11:24 It's also interesting too that, I mean, that also just kind of shows something that like, right. Is that, uh, bishops or, or religious orders allow people who are totally dedicated to the church and to God Yes. Encouraging and to ministry to mm-hmm. <affirmative> to, you know, not, not all the time Right. But sometimes to seek these advanced degrees. Speaker 0 00:11:45 Yes. Yes. So he had that opportunity to study at Cambridge, and then he actually studied here in the us Um, he studied at Harvard Observatory, but, um, since they weren't giving PhDs, he got the PhD through m I t. Speaker 2 00:11:57 Okay. So, wow. Yeah. That's amazing. And then, so, so this understanding is this, is that when he is able to kind of save Einstein's equations by a adjusting them, is that the moment in a way that he discovers, like what we call now the Big Bang theory? Speaker 0 00:12:16 So it kind of happened in two phases. Okay. So he went back, um, to Belgium, to University of Lava mm-hmm. <affirmative> and started teaching there. And then in 1927, he published in French, um, his first major, what we consider now his like first major work about how the university is expanding and Einstein's equations. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, not many people actually saw that article because it was in French, in the Belgium art. And so Hubble two years later mm-hmm. <affirmative> publishes basically the same thing. And that's why we know Hubble's Law. Oh, okay. Which as we simply renamed Hubble LoRa Law. Speaker 2 00:12:50 Oh, interesting. Speaker 0 00:12:51 So to acknowledge the fact that Lamare actually had published at first mm-hmm. <affirmative> and just people hadn't realized. So that was republished Eddington was, which was one of his research advisors, was able to get it republished in an English journal, um, in 1931. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and that same year, father, the Matra, he had been, you know, thinking about this. Well, if the universe, if you went forward in time, is expanding, what if you thought about going backwards in time, you would be contracting. What if you went back far enough? Everything, all of the matter, and the whole universe, all of the space, when I say the universe is expanding, I don't just mean things are getting farther apart. Like you have an empty stage and the actors are moving away from each other. I mean, the whole universe is expanding. Space itself is expanding. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the stage is expanding. Yeah. So if we went back in time, everything would be contracting. And so he was like, well, everything came back to an initial quanta or few quantums, like an a singularity. And it's so mind boggling. Mm-hmm. It's hard for us to con, to actually conceive, um, the scientific community actually wasn't sure if they should believe this mm-hmm. When they first came up with it. Speaker 2 00:13:57 Yeah. I heard that. I don't know if you, maybe you could say more, but I heard that at first, uh, they were suspicious because that sounded a, they, they, they thought that this scientific theory was just a way of trying to, um, say what Genesis already said. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, when Genesis right. Says Right. You know, God said, let there be light. And he created everything. And so at first, the Big Bang theory was actually almost was kind of somewhat not accepted because it sounded too Christian, too Catholic. Speaker 0 00:14:28 Yeah. You're exactly right. And it's interesting, cuz actually Father the mare was very clear this did not come from his Catholic beliefs mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that this was a purely scientific understanding of the world. And he distinguishes, he's a, this is a beginning, but it's not creation. There was a, uh, particularly Fred Hoyle, um, proposed an alternative model of, um, a universe that was, it is called a steady state model. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> the universe, not changing sizes. And in order to do this, he thought this was better than having a beginning. He said, um, well, the universe is expanding, but the density needs to be constant. And the only way for the density to be constant if space is expanding is new matter is actually coming into existence. So this was a simplified version of Fred Hoy's alternative theory to Father La Maitre, because he didn't like the idea of having a beginning because it sounded too Christian. Speaker 2 00:15:23 Interesting. Interesting. And, uh, and then what was the scientific discovery that kind of shifted the scientific consensus back in favor of Speaker 0 00:15:34 Yes. So they were able to realize, okay, if if this really happened, if everything happened, there would be able to be, um, like background radiation from the original event. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and scientists were able to discover that background radiation to confirm Father Lara's work. Speaker 2 00:15:50 Yeah. So that is kind of a neat, uh, it's a neat little, uh, indication Yes. Of his, of his work. And, um, and although we shouldn't try to, we don't want to conflate theology and science. Right. We shouldn't, um, be afraid of fi following scientific discoveries. Right. You know, even if they might sound to people as though they're, you know, uh, Christian. So, but you raise a, a very key distinction there. Yes. Between be the universe having a beginning and the universe being created. Um, could you say more about that distinction? Yes. Speaker 0 00:16:25 Um, let me give a little analogy first. So one of the books I enjoy reading is The Lord of the Rings. And the beginning of the book starts with Bilboa, the a hobbit planning a birthday party. Um, well that's the beginning of the book, but that doesn't explain the existence of the book. I need the author Tolkien mm-hmm. <affirmative> to explain the existence of the book. Now this analogy is limited as, as all analogies, because once the book exists, it, it doesn't need Tolkien to keep the existing, but with contingent beings, which we are. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> we're, we, we don't have to be, we can be or not be. And my parents didn't have to like, meet and get married and I could not be here right now. Um, we need an A cause outside of ourselves for our ongoing existence. So a beginning in time is when something starts, but creation is actually the, the sustaining, the giving of being and sustaining in being, um, the sustaining in existence of somebody. Speaker 2 00:17:24 Yeah. I, I think that example of the author is a, a very helpful one because you can also see that, uh, I think in your, I think you, you, you can also extend that to the idea of like, the time of the author doesn't really fit within the time of the story. Yes. Right. You know, it may have been years before between like, um, he, when he writes the story, when he thinks and starts writing the story of the billbo of, of the birthday party, uh, it might have been four years before he actually then wrote about the, the, um, fireworks mm-hmm. <affirmative> from Gandolph and the Dragon come in. Yes. Right. You know, or something like that. And Right. Just cuz they're, they're not at the different levels. But the question is within the story, can I say it has its logic. Yes. It has its inner meaning. Speaker 2 00:18:09 And so it has a beginning, it has a middle, it has an end, it has a purpose. The story is real. Um, then you have the author though. Yes. That is clearly outside the story, bringing it, thinking mm-hmm. <affirmative> these ideas. And then of course, as the author, and that's why Tolkien would describe it, writing as, um, a myth making as a Yes. Sub creation, because we create a story within God's larger creation. So Right. We still have to mimic mm-hmm. <affirmative> the basic reality of the real creation. Uh, but I think that is a really powerful idea. So, uh, I I, I know that when, uh, QAs, uh, would look at Aristotle's teaching on the idea that, well, when we see things in the world, uh, that are real, we see bunnies that cause other bunnies. We see trees that cause other trees, right? Speaker 2 00:19:03 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, they have seeds, and then you get more trees, and where do things come from? They come from other things. And so, you know, Aristotle thought the world was eternal mm-hmm. <affirmative> and had lasted forever like this and still thought there needed to be a first cause, a primary cause that somehow brought, like, held all these things in being mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, so Right. And, and Aquinas would then say, even, uh, when we see the natural world, we could, Ima you still, even if the world were eternal Yes. It would still need a creator. That's Speaker 0 00:19:35 Right. Because Speaker 2 00:19:36 The world itself is still in a way secondary. So it turns out the world does have a beginning mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which, um, we believe from scripture, Aquinas teaches. Yes. Uh, and you know, ironically, now science tends to hold a similar view at the beginning, but that's distinct from the idea that the creator is actually holding things in being is right. Uh, that, that, that the being that we receive, the order we receive is not an order that we generate mm-hmm. Speaker 0 00:20:04 <affirmative>. Right. In a way, it's like we're continually receiving existence. Yes. It's not just, I received existence when I began to be, it's, I'm receiving existence at this moment now, which means God's that close to me right now. He's not some far distant God, he's mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he's with me now. Speaker 2 00:20:21 Yeah. So I think maybe when sometimes people think then about God as a creator, uh, they sometimes think about this idea of like, God as a watchmaker, if I see a watch, there must be a watchmaker, uh, God wound up the universe and then he kind of sets back and Right. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, he kind of gave us, the university gave us our intelligence. We should figure it out on our own. How would you describe that, uh, view of creation Speaker 0 00:20:45 To, to me, that that gives creation a self-sufficiency, but that's, that's an illusion. Creation is not self-sufficient, and we are dependent and we're continually dependent upon God. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I actually love this concept of dependence, dependence in our world. Today's sometimes kind of like, people don't wanna be dependent, they wanna be independent. Yes. But if you think about being dependent upon the one who loves you into being mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's awesome. Yes. <laugh> like God is willing me into being right now. He's loving me, knowing me into being right now. And if he stopped thinking about me, I would just, I wouldn't die. I just would be annihilated. I just wouldn't exist. So I love the fact that I'm dependent upon God right now, and that we don't have the watchmaker model mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that God is involved in every single, you know, every single moment of my being and also every single act. Speaker 2 00:21:34 Yeah. That's, uh, that's so well put. I like the, the image that, uh, that in a way we wanna be independent and maybe partly the reason why we want to be independent is because, uh, in a way people often let us down. Yes. Right? And so, this beautiful sense that when we're dependent upon God, right. God is the, in a way, the only one in a certain sense in whom we can completely trust. Yes. Because Right. Uh, he, he, he exists eternally. Yes. He has, uh, he's all merciful, all powerful, all good. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. He's the one in a way who can, uh, completely hold us. And, and, and, and in a way, this is something so we, it we move there easily into a theological religious understanding of God who has spoken to us and revealed his mercy. Yes. But this is already, in a way, revealed philosophically through the understanding of creation, which is that Right. Speaker 2 00:22:26 Um, I don't exist on my own. Yes. I came from my parents. They came from their parents. They came from their parents. Right. You know, you can't go back to all sorts of contingent beings as you put it. Yeah. There has to be, you know, a cause And I think maybe one, uh, thing I remember hearing, uh, early on when I was studying faith and science is just this very simple idea that science can determine Right. Changes. Science is very good at looking at how things change from one state to the next. Uh, and that's really amazing. And it's incredible that not only are things happening, um, randomly, but they're, they're intelligible patterns. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and ordering that we can discover. Uh, but at the same time, creation is asking the question. Right. Not how do things change, but why is there something rather than nothing? That's right. Why is there anything at all? Speaker 0 00:23:21 Yes, definitely. Speaker 2 00:23:22 And, and, and that gets into then even on the natural level, a certain sense of wonder mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. And awe. Yeah. Uh, so let's, um, let's, uh, take a quick break and, and we get back. Let's, uh, continue to discuss this, uh, understanding about how is it that then if God doesn't wind up the universe and just let it wind down, um, if God's constantly active, then how, how do we understand God's action kind of in relationship to ours? Speaker 0 00:23:49 Sounds good. Speaker 3 00:23:57 You're listening to the Catholic Theology Show presented by Ave Maria University. If you'd like to support our mission, we invite you to prayerfully consider joining our Annunciation Circle, a monthly giving program aimed at supporting our staff, faculty, and Catholic faith formation. You can visit [email protected] to learn more. Thank you for your continued support. And now let's get back to the show. Speaker 2 00:24:23 Welcome back to the Catholic Theology Show. Today we are joined by Sister Mary Elizabeth Miriam, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, mother of the Eucharist from Ann Arbor, Florida. Uh, and we've been discussing faith and science specifically, uh, the understanding of creation and the scientific theory of the Big Bang. And, uh, the Catholic priest, George Lara, who Yes, uh, really, uh, developed this and, uh, discovered it. Uh, and so been talking about that under understanding. And so, again, thanks so much for being on our show today. Speaker 0 00:24:58 Thank you for having me. Glad to Speaker 2 00:25:00 Be here. Excellent. So we're trying to get, in a way, one of the difficulties I think is that like we understand changes, we understand how to take clay and make it into something else. Yeah. We can imagine it. Uh, we understand how to make a, how to have a 3D printer and have it build something. We understand how to build a house. We're used to making things all the time. Creation is at the edge of making Right. <laugh>, it's the bringing into existence. It's not the, uh, we, we, it, we, we can't imagine it. It's at the edge of our ability to comprehend. Right. We really have to just affirm that these things that are have received being, they do not have perfect being. They've received their being from perfect God. And so I think it's so important to really remember that this is kind of, it's something more than the, the making of things that we are used to seeing that we can kind of comprehend how did it happen? In a way there is no how to, how creation happened. Speaker 0 00:26:04 Right. Right. Yes. Cause change is a process. Yes. And I think that, that sometimes we take the ideas of change and we try to apply them to creation. Yes. Change takes time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, so you take the clay and you have to push it, and you have to pull it, and you em mold it. But creation doesn't take time. Creation's not a process. And God created ex nihilo with out of nothing. He didn't start with, nothing's not something preexisting. And I really mean nothing. No. Not just no matter, but no energy fields, no space. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, no. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he, he creates on nothing. Um, and he, and the creation isn't just bringing into being, but that ongoing holding in existence. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:26:42 Like Right. Which is why we can continue to have changes now Yes. That are, that are real mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, that I'm really contributing doing something. Uh, and yet at the same time, God is also at the, at the same time creating and holding and being, because these are non-competitive. So, uh, and, and you know, it's wonderful as a, you know, as a Dominican and as as a great student of St. Thomas as you are. And, uh, I have a, a big fan of, uh, St. Thomas's theology as is the church, uh, that in a way his philosophical understandings of creation help us kind of maybe, I mean, how would you say that this allows us, how is it, why is it aquinas's understanding is particularly helpful for understanding the way God's relation to mm-hmm. <affirmative> the world, uh, in a way that maybe some, that there's some other ways of thinking about it that might get us into kind of trouble. Speaker 0 00:27:40 Yes. Yes. I think when Aquinas thinks about God acting in the world, he, he really means God acts in the world. And all the time we talked about the watchmaker model of God before, where God kinda like sets up the world and like gives it the push start and then the world's on its own. And that's not Aquinas's view, but another view that's also not Aquinas's view is almost the opposite. It's occasional wisdom in this view. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, it looks like the creature does something, but really God's doing it all. So like if you strike a match, you're actually not causing activation and energy to be achieved. Or like the friction isn't really doing anything. Mm-hmm. God just happens to cause the fire when you strike the match mm-hmm. Here, that, that would be God doing everything and the creature actually not being a cause at all. Yeah. Um, so the optimistic perspective is it's both. And with so much of our Catholic faith mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, God works in and through us, but we can be real causes. God gives us our being, but he also gives us our nature and our ability to act. And in all of our acts, he is working so that we can act. Speaker 2 00:28:42 Yeah. So I think it's, uh, in Aquinas summa theologian in, uh, the early parts of, uh, the Summa. Anyway, he has this beautiful line where he talks about God gives to his creatures the dignity of causality. Yes. Um, CS Lewis has a wonderful way of putting this in mere Christianity where he simply says, this is not a toy world. Speaker 0 00:29:02 No. A Speaker 2 00:29:03 Real world. It's not a toy, it's a real world. And so our actions have real consequences. Yes. Um, when we do something, it really gets done mm-hmm. <affirmative> and if we don't do something, it really doesn't happen. Doesn't happen. Yeah. Right. If an earthquake happens, it really happens. All these things, both things happening. Well, and then also somewhat happening, like, not well <laugh>, um, like, you know, when, when, uh, when things fall apart mm-hmm. <affirmative>, all of these things are happening properly be in a way because of the created order. Yes. That is, you know, sometimes houses fall apart because they were built poorly. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, sometimes they're built poorly because people were confused. Other times they were built poorly cuz people took bribes. Mm-hmm. Right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, those things happen. Um, God's not actively making those things happen as though he is pulling strings as though it's a puppet. Speaker 2 00:29:53 And yet at the same time, God is somehow holding, holding in, being. Yes. Right. All of creation. So that Right. Uh, it's, it's, uh, you know, that this action that we see in the world is both, uh, kind of the expression of God's goodness. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and his action and order. And at the same time, also part of the right bunnies cause bunnies. That's right. Right. That's right. God is also call holding the bunnies and being That's right. But it's also true that the reason why you have little bunnies is cuz you have a mom and a papa bunny, at least for a, a moment or a, you know, a little, I don't know if they raised probably their litters together or something, but you know what I mean, but it's like, but this idea that, so it, the, it's a hundred percent the bunny and a hundred percent God, Speaker 0 00:30:38 That's a very important way to, to put it. And I think two words or two terms can be helpful here. Primary and secondary causality. Um, so both, it's both God and the creature. God is primary cause. Yeah. And the creature as secondary cause. And we can see this in the world, like, I'll ask my students like, what do saws do? And they're like, look at me like cut wood. I was like, yeah, cut saws, cut wood. Um, but they cut wood because you hold it and you move it back and forth on the wood. So you're the primary cause of the wood being cut. Mm-hmm. And the saw is the secondary cause. Yeah. Of the wood being cut. Mm-hmm. You know, similarly, when you, you know, if a child scribbles with a crayon, you know, the cran makes marks mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but the child is also making marks. So it's both the child and the cran having that action Speaker 2 00:31:24 Come to be. Yeah. Yeah. So, so in a way, God, as you, as you're putting it here, as you're describing it through the primary and secondary causality, it means the, the world as we understand it, is a world of secondary causes. Yes. Is that a way of, maybe, is that a helpful way of putting Speaker 0 00:31:40 It? Yes. So science can study secondary causes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> science can study the change that, that we cause, you know, and again, it's studying change science, studies change. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:31:49 Okay. So science in a way is investigating secondary causes. And all of these causes are at the same time, cuz they're totally real. Speaker 0 00:31:56 They're Speaker 2 00:31:57 Real. And at the same time they also, uh, kind of give witness to, on a philosophical or theological level, uh, primary cause the Speaker 0 00:32:06 Primary causes God. Speaker 2 00:32:07 Right. Yeah. And I think one of the difficulties, uh, and I don't know how would you respond to this, is I think sometimes when people think of like a first cause was that maybe they'll describe it or the primary, cause we immediately want to imagine it as the first in time, the first in sequence that's more like the beginning as you put it. How do we try to think about the primary is constantly, always Yes. Acting. Speaker 0 00:32:32 I think the model you're describing is the domino model. Yeah. So someone sets up the dominoes and gives the first push, and that doesn't account for why the dominoes are still in existence. Why don't, why, what's holding the dominoes in being mm-hmm. So god's the one that holds us in being right now and gives us our natures and gives us our ability to act right now. Speaker 2 00:32:52 Yeah. I, you know, maybe it's like in some ways if you're thinking about, uh, two models of, of how this could work, you could, I was thinking about maybe, you know, you could have like two people rowing in a boat. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. That's the idea of, well, two people who are rowing in a boat, they're both contributing 50%. Yes. Right. Uh, and so they're in a way, side by side, they're in a way in competition with one another. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> doesn't have to be negative. Right. One, but if one is stronger, maybe they should grow more. Yeah. <laugh>. Right. You know, that sounds good. And these sorts of things. Right. And uh, but I was also thinking about maybe another image would be something like the idea of a, you know, if a flower is growing, the flower is genuinely growing on the flower own. Yes. But the flower can also only grow because the sun is illuminating it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Right. Without the sun, the Speaker 0 00:33:39 Flower's not Speaker 2 00:33:39 Gonna grow. The flower's not gonna grow. So, but the flower's genuinely growing mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, and so it's not, again the, these are still creature, it's within creaturely, but there's something like that. Yeah. So that the flower becomes more properly the flower when the sun illuminates it. Yes. When it has water. So creatures, uh, become more properly themselves, the more they can turn mm-hmm. <affirmative> to the extent they can, to God, Speaker 0 00:34:08 To God. I think another, uh, image that can help us understand like how we need God to hold us in being as one frank she uses of a mirror. So you can stand in front of a mirror and that your image doesn't appear in the mirror until you stand there. But as soon as you leave, your image goes away. The image can't, isn't self-sufficient, it can't stay there on its own. You even just give it a push start to get it started and have it stay. You have to continually be there for the image to continually stay. So it's kinda like that with God in the world. We need God's continual presence in the world. Acting in the world. You know? Speaker 2 00:34:44 And, and there's a beautiful psalm, uh, Psalm 19, uh, and I want to just look quote it or might make sure that I get the quote right. But it's just has this beautiful idea. The heavens are telling the glory of God, the firmament proclaims his handiwork, uh, right. The he the heavens, the stars. It's interesting. This is right. 3000 years ago, you know, or something that this is being written in. Yet still today we are, we find the stars fascinating. We do, we love to see. And the more we learn about the stars, we find them even more fascinating. They, we realize they're like, you know, they have star nurseries where they're born. Yes. And then they grow up and they become, you know, and then they eventually die. We realize they have life cycles. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, how wonderful. And then that only makes them even more fascinating, glorious. Speaker 2 00:35:27 And so, right. This basic idea that a Dan today pours forth speech, night to night declares knowledge, there is no speech, nor are their words. Their voice is not heard, yet their voice goes out to all the earth. So there's this idea that the stars, and it's interesting, by the way, remember if we think about the ancient world mm-hmm. <affirmative>, well the ancient world, uh, was often thought that the stars and the planets were gods. Right. They were semi divine. They had power and authority. They should be worshiped. The sun and the moon were often worshiped. Yes. Uh, that's why in Genesis, they're just called the bigger light and the lesser light. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they don't even get names cuz God's the only God. Right. So in a way here, what we're saying is no the God, the A the the created world is not a God. Yes. The created world, in a way it doesn't speak, but it does. When you see the created order, you're kind of hearing the speech of God, Speaker 0 00:36:25 Of the Creator. When you look at a painting, you see something about the artist. Yeah. Yeah. When you look at creation, you see something about the divine artist. Speaker 2 00:36:31 Yeah. And then if you go back to Genesis, what did Genesis say? It's God speaks creation into beings. But we sometimes think that happened in the past, but it's more that in creation we hear God's voice. Uh, and then when you get to say, John, in the beginning was the word right? In the beginning, yes. Quoting Genesis. But in the beginning was the word, the very speech, the logos, the word of God through whom God created the world was with God in God. And everything that was made was made through him, through him. Uh, so, so this idea in a way of trying to see the world as not, not idolatrous, which is very dangerous as though it's divine. That would be cuz it just turns out planets are fun and they're great to look at, but they just, they they can't save us. No. Speaker 2 00:37:17 They, they can't, they can't forgive our sins and they can't save us. Um, so we need to discover they are only icons, they are only images as you put it. Right. They're not God. Right. Uh, and that's very important. But I think in a way today, maybe people might be, although who knows, there are a lot of people actually who, you know, follow astrology a lot. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> who might want to kind of see the planets as gods. And uh, what is, I don't remember who it was, but somebody said like, once we, people stop believing in, in kind of in, in, in credal faith, they'll kind of, it's, they'll believe in anything almost, you know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, but, but there's also a deep sense in which kind of people who want to see the universe as all there is. Yes. It's kind of almost an imp It's, it's not a worship, but it is kind of, it's kind of like a soft idolatry because what you're saying is the highest thing is not God. It's not even my logos, my intellect. No, it's not human love. The highest thing there is is kind of dirt following, um, cosmic dirt following cosmic principles. Yes. Speaker 0 00:38:24 Matter. Speaker 2 00:38:24 And, and in a way that is, that is like, that's kind of like the same thing. So it's thinking that's all there is rather than seeing it is wonderful. Yes. Right. And what a beautiful thing that people dedicate their lives to studying it. Speaker 0 00:38:38 It's, yeah, science is worth studying and God made it and it, he made it good and it's, it's a joy to be able to study. Speaker 2 00:38:43 Absolutely. But in that sense in which it's speaking for it. So I do, I think that's just a helpful way of, of, again, God didn't just speak creation and to being at the beginning, but he continues to speak it. And if we listen to creation, we can kind of almost hear his word. You know, this is, and this is the weird sense in which Aquinas, maybe you could talk a little bit about this. Aquinas is not a pantheist No. Um, at all. But on the other hand, if you read Aquinas a little bit, you could almost think he's a pantheist. Would you just say a word about that? Well, Speaker 0 00:39:11 I think I wanna go back to what you were talking about the models of like how Christianity and the Judea Christian heritage have helped us to real, to to, to say that okay, the sun's not a God, the moon's not a God. And we have to be careful that we don't try to put God into the world as a force acting among the world. Because so often that's our tendency when we we're thinking about science and faith is, well, where's God acting in the world? Is he acting in the electron spin? Is he acting in chance? Is he acting in? And it's like, that's making God another force within the world. Yeah. And kind of lowering him to the level of a creature. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and just something else that's like you said, a puppet. Yeah. A puppeteer pushing and pulling strings. Um, but, but God transcends the world mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So he is outside of the world and holding it into being. So I think that that's an important Speaker 2 00:39:58 Distinction. Yeah. And so because he's so transcendent, he can also then be so imminent. Imminent. Yes. So he's present in the very being Yeah. Of the creature. Speaker 0 00:40:08 Right. So like we can be next to each other. Yes. And that's as close as creatures can get mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But God can work in my very nature. Speaker 2 00:40:15 Yes. Speaker 0 00:40:16 So that's way closer. And he can only do that because he's transcendent. Speaker 2 00:40:19 Yeah. Yeah. And that, and that's where a Aquinas will say that God's god's existence is, is in things. Right? Yes. Our, the, the very being we have the shape that we have, the form, the, in the, the, the nature we have is actually, um, not our own. Right. It's, it's kind of obvious in a way that, you know, the, if you look at a building, a building doesn't have its own kind of architectural plan. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it receives that plan from the architect. So the very nature that I have is something that I receive, um, from God in a way as actively being thought. So God is intimately present to me, not only in my being, um, but in a way, in the kind of being that I have. Yes. Right. And so in a certain sense, each created thing we can say Yes, that is not God. But on the other hand, God is in that thing, in that thing being the kind of thing it is. Yes. Right. And whether or not this is so the God is not, um, the bird is genuinely flying. Right. God is not birds flying. So to be holding the bird in there. And yet on the other hand, there's also a certain sense of which God is present in the bird's ability to fly. Speaker 0 00:41:29 Yes. Which is, I mean, it's just fascinating and amazing. This goes to the Co, the four causes and of Aristotle, which St. Thomas took and the, you know, material. Cause God is not our material cause because God's pure spirit. Yes. Um, and he makes everything out of nothing. But there's formal cause, efficient cause, final cause. And we've talked about efficient cause already where we're talking about primary and secondary causality and how we can act mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, because God's acting in and through us. And then you were just bringing up formal. Cause God is our exemplar cause you know, he mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, we imitate him. You know, he gives us the ability to be causes. So we are actually like, that's a gift, a participation in his causality, um, through that. And then he's the final cause like he's our goal, our purpose, our all like, and especially for, well for all of creation, but especially for us rational creatures. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he wants us to come, you know, to be in communion with him. And that's, that's really the ultimate, ultimate all of us. Speaker 2 00:42:26 Yeah. Yeah. So now Lara by the way, speaks a little bit about this doesn't, he says like the idea that yes, there's a big bang, there's a, uh, cosmic explosion that is our very universe, but he also says that view is compatible with the idea that God organizes or somehow is the principle of all that. And yet, right. I mean, cuz I think some people, once they start thinking about 4 billion, 14 billion years old, hundreds of billions of Galax, you know, just, I think it was Carl Sagan who used to just talk about billions and billions of stars and billions of, billions of galaxies as though somehow, you know, like he had also discovered the insignificance of humanity. Right. Which of course absolutely. It's funny, it's right. All of the psalms ev everyone's already figured out that we're pretty insignificant. Uh, and I think it's Psalm eight, right. That says, right. What is, when I look at the heavens and this moon and the stars, right. What is man that you are mindful of him. Yes. Right. And yet you have made him, you know that yet you are. So how does you know f elementary Right? This brilliant physicist show that this understanding in a way of god's of the cosmic history. Speaker 0 00:43:29 Yeah. I mean, I think what Speaker 2 00:43:30 You just, um, is somehow connected to us. Speaker 0 00:43:32 I think what you just brought up actually made me think of the incarnation. And Father LaMere mentions you know, about that and how like God does take care of us and so much that God became man. Mm. Like that's how much he loves us. He wants us to know who he is, and he's gonna come up with a way for us to be able to understand who he is. Speaker 2 00:43:49 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. And it's in, in a way all of creation speaks God. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and therefore in, you know, you wanna put in the garden, God, we, we in the garden, we could, we would've been able to unhear God in creation. But because of sin, creation becomes dark, our hearts become dark. We no longer speak, we no longer have ears to hear or eyes to see. So what does Jesus do? And a lot of his healings, he gives people sight. Yes. And hearing He lets us speak. Right. And so he has to kind of recover us in this understanding. Yes. So that now right in the incarnation, God does what we need through sin, is we rediscover this communion, this communion with him, with God. And you know, one theme that I love, and the catechism talks about this in, uh, paragraph 3 0 2. And I, I just least when I've taught this theme, I I've found it very helpful is that it says that God did not create the world perfect. He did not create it complete. He created it in a state of journeying in statu va in a state of journeying. Uh, could you explain that or just say a little bit about that and how does that help us understand maybe both the, the cosmic evolution of the universe? Yes. And, and even maybe the presence of suffering. Speaker 0 00:45:06 Yes. I mean, I just love, I love that passage in the, in the catechism because it shows that God made us causes and that we're able to act. And you think about Father, the ma matrix discovery with the Big Bang, and that the universe has not always been the way we observe it today. And he talks about the initial beginnings of the universe, how it's so inconceivable, you know, we're trying to understand it with modern physics mm-hmm. <affirmative> and it just acts very differently. But God gave all of the matter and the energy, the nature that it could come to where we are now. Yeah. And so we can see it's maybe from the secondary causes, you may not, or you may not see on that level the directedness, but we look at God's level, we see what's totally directed to human life. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> to, he wanted rational creatures. Speaker 0 00:45:51 And, and God's love for us isn't just general like, oh, I want humans, but he wants us individually and, and personally. Wow. And I think that that's, that's important. And Father, the major talks about the Christian researcher is always God's child when he is looking under the microscope, when he is doing any daily activity. And that importance of the personal relationship. And then I think Yeah. With suffering, um, that's a really big question. Right. Like, and there's no ultimate answer. The cross is the best Yeah. That we can come to. But thinking philosophically, if we have contingent beings, then they can actually do stuff. If I'm gonna actually be able to do something, um, I'm gonna, I can change things. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, well, if I can change things, that means I can cause something to be, I can also cause something to stop. So, I mean, this could be the lunch I'm about to have mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I'm nourished, the food disappears. Um, yeah. It, I mean, it, it could be natural disasters, you know, like mm-hmm. <affirmative> forest fires or whatever. But then you can think about the new life that comes and the life cycle of a fire, of a forest. Um, so whenever there's contingent being that can actually cause stuff Yeah. You have that possibility of, um, physical evil mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which is aside from Yeah. Moral Speaker 2 00:47:05 Evil <laugh>. Yes, yes, yes. So, well anyway, thank you, uh, so much for that. And, uh, maybe just to, you know, uh, shift gears a bit to, uh, as we kind of begin to kind of work towards our conclusion now you teach, uh, high school at the moment and, uh, you're also working with the, I think it's called Open Light Media, uh, which is a organization for trying to help optimistic evolution on understanding of this. Would you wanna say a little bit more about the work you're doing? Speaker 0 00:47:34 Certainly. So, open Light Media is the publishing group for my community. Okay. And then a optimistic evolution is a group I'm also working with where we're trying to take a Catholic principles cause optimistic principles and how to explain evolution in a Catholic setting. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and taking the principles we've been talking about today was primary and secondary causality and the fact that God sustains us in being as and is always involved in what we're doing, but also gives his creation the ability to act and, and to do stuff. And the, the fact that the world is in a state of journeying and taking those principles and helping to communicate them to youth Speaker 2 00:48:07 Today. That's great. And is there maybe one, one last, if you had to kind of summarize maybe people who maybe are kind of sympathetic with these ideas, but they might have, you know, a high schooler or a college student, um, what would you say would be a, a a maybe either a resource they could look at or, or, or the sort of questioning when you get these sorts of questions, how do you try to help people understand them? Speaker 0 00:48:31 I mean, I, I think Catechism is always a great place to go. Like some of the quotes that we've been talking about. Um, and then the Catechism Church documents are always wonderful places to go. Yes. But there is a lot of work with, um, our Open Light media has a lot of resources. Mm-hmm. Uh, the Dominican Friars have a lot of resources online. Yeah. So there's just so many things electronically now. Speaker 2 00:48:52 That's great. That's great. Uh, well, uh, again, thanks so much. I wanna ask you just three quick questions as we, uh, finish up our show. Uh, first, what's your, what's a book you've been reading? Speaker 0 00:49:03 Oh, I've been reading Father Michael Dodds Unlocking Divine Action, which really takes all of these principles and applies it to mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, the Science of Today. Speaker 2 00:49:10 So that's, and what was it? So that's, uh, father Michael Dodds and Speaker 0 00:49:13 Unlocking Divine Action. Speaker 2 00:49:15 I see. So kind of that sense in which God's action is not in competition with ours. Yes. But is the very worst kinda source of our acting. And that's really, that's that's great. And, uh, second thing, um, obviously as a religious sister, I'm sure you have many, uh, you know, practices every day. Maybe what's one practice that you, uh, find, uh, helps you to, you know, draw closer to God? Yeah. Speaker 0 00:49:38 Well, of course you istic adoration. I, we have daily Holy Hour, so that's certainly, and then in terms of like a shorter one, I just, I love the Christie prayer. Mm. So Speaker 2 00:49:48 That is, that is a beautiful one. Um, and that's a, anyway, it's a great one. I, I find it's beautiful too. It has that has that line in there where he says intro tool, inter intra tool Right. Within your wounds, hide me. Uh Right. It's kind of like, as strange as it was, yes. The world is beautiful and yes, the world is amazing and the world is filled with suffering. And so when God comes to us, he says, I'm gonna make myself vulnerable for you vulnerable. Yes. You know, that sense. Yes. I'm gonna make myself wound able for you, cuz I know you are wounded. Yeah, right. And I just, I, anyway, I always like mm-hmm. <affirmative> anyway, it's just such a beautiful, uh, prayer. Speaker 0 00:50:24 I, I love the image of those wounds being the access to his heart. Speaker 2 00:50:28 Yeah. Wow. That's, that's wonderful. And uh, finally, um, what's maybe a, what's a view or like a belief you held about God, uh, that you later discovered, uh, you know, that was kind of false and you'd, what was the truth you discovered? Speaker 0 00:50:43 Um, I think it's kind of what we've been talking about today with not understanding how active Leah involved, how close God is to me all the time. Like I thought, like yeah, God's involved in the world and like he can do miracles mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but they're kind of like interventions into the world. They're like against the world, but that's not what a miracle is. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> a miracle. God's causing something without the normal secondary causality. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it could be beyond or within the scope of creatures, but he is doing it without his creatures. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but that's not contrary to nature because he's the author of nature. So I think that's one of the, one of the things I learned. Speaker 2 00:51:17 Oh, that's beautifully put. Uh, well, uh, sister Mary Elizabeth, uh, Miriam, uh, thank you so much for being on our show. Um, for people who are interested in the, uh, open light media, Speaker 0 00:51:30 We can go to our website, open light and, and they can search for evolution there and they'll find the domestic evolution site. Well. Speaker 2 00:51:36 Excellent. And, uh, thank you for all your work, for your witness and for your prayers and, uh, all your teaching. And, uh, thanks so much for being with us on the show today. Speaker 0 00:51:45 Thank you so much for having me. Speaker 3 00:51:48 Thank you so much for joining us for this podcast. If you like this episode, please rate and review it on your favorite podcast app to help others find the show. And if you want to take the next step, please consider joining our enunciation circle so we can continue to bring you more free content. We'll see you next time on the Catholic Theology Show.

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