What Prudential Judgment Is and Is Not

Over at The Catholic Weekly, I write (in part):

One of the little mottos that comes down to us from the Tradition is “In essential things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity”.

It conveys the wonderful sanity and freedom of the Catholic tradition and is one of the many things I have always appreciated about the Catholic mind.  Such an attitude is light years away from the cramped worldview of Heresy and its evil step-child Ideology.

Heresy and Ideology are both attempts to imprison the understanding of a large, complex, and mysterious universe in the cage of a small, All-Explaining Theory of Everything.  For the heretic and ideologue, everything is electricity, or economics, or evolution, or some other mania by which all other things are measured.  And when the facts don’t fit the simple All-Explaining Theory of Everything, the facts are thrown out because the Theory is all in all.

In contrast, the Faith, while it adores God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, is curiously circumspect.  The Church’s approach is to essentially say, “We don’t know much, but we do know that we believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth” and to go on reciting the rest of the Creed.

But that said, pretty much all the rest of every form of human knowledge is left to the experts in their respective fields to suss out. There is no Catholic Math, no Catholic Physics, no Catholic Organic Chemistry. But there is Catholic wisdom on what to do with these disciplines, such as “Don’t use math to send missiles full of nukes or chemicals to kill populations.”

The Faith is unafraid that science and reason will somehow discover something that disproves the revelation because God is both the Creator of Nature and the Revealer of the supernatural truths of Jesus Christ.  So it takes the attitude of the author of Proverbs who said, “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out”.  Every scientist, philosopher, artist, and theologian who has ever sought to penetrate the truth of things in this world is exercising the royal dignity of the human person to understand the amazing world God has made and find out what he is up to in the great act of Creation.

Much more here.


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