One of the surprising things that MAGA antichrist religion is demonstrating to the world is that science, no less than religious traditions, depends on faith and trust in order to function properly.
Science is done by humans, not machines, and, most importantly, its results are received by humans whose social networks are lubricated by trust–or not. You can have the most solid science in the world with irrefutable and reproducible results, but as the idiocy of the anti-vax movement and the climate change denialists and the six day creationist and flat earth movements (movements as much at war with Pope Francis as they are with the results of scientific research) bear eloquent witness, if trust has been poisoned and perverted by paranoia, lies, and perverse spite, your science will no more be received or heeded than the Apostles Creed. Radical skepticism turns out to be, not the chastity of the intellect, but its sterilization. The idiot who “does my own research” because he believes he and he alone is the only one qualified to know the Hidden Truth, turns out to be as full of folly as the one who spits at Jesus Christ. Faith turns out to be a basic condition of human life, even if you have not gotten around to acknowledge that faith in God is part of that.
Now the extraordinary thing about our time is that the people who understand that (judging from their behavior, whatever their words may be) are very often people who see themselves as having no faith, while those who habitually boast of themselves as the Greatest Christians of All Time have proven (by their actions, however loudly they scream “Lord! Lord!”) that they have no faith in either the science or the Christian revelation. Mike Lewis discusses this over at Where Peter Is:
In his Sunday reflection, Fr. Alex Roche wrote about the way our scientific knowledge, like our theological knowledge, is accumulated and built on trusting the work of those who came before us. He explained that “trust is not some irrational concept, foreign to empirical knowledge; it is what binds us who seek knowledge together.”
Those of us who profess the Catholic faith have put our trust in the testimonies of the disciples who said that they witnessed the Risen Lord. We put our trust in Saint Thomas, who doubted until he saw the marks in Jesus’ hands and side, after which he proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).
Unlike the disciples, we have not seen the Risen Jesus with our own eyes. Unlike Thomas, we will not see his wounds up close. We are separated by many miles and many generations. Those of us who are Catholic must place our trust in the reliability of the successors to the apostles—the bishops. We must especially place our trust in Peter’s successor, the pope, under whom the Church teaches that “the Catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished, and sacred doctrine been held in honor.” To do this is to trust Christ himself, who established that the “See of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Savior to the prince of his disciples.”
When individual members of the Church decide to reject the instruments of authority and transmission of the faith given to us by Christ, the result has historically been chaos and division. We see this today in the many Protestant denominations that reject the papacy and have been divided many times over. We see it happening in real-time in the various strains of radical traditionalism and reactionary Catholicism, where fierce arguments erupt over the legitimacy of Francis’s papacy, the number of heresies he allegedly holds, and what they should do about all of it.
Like Protestants, the traditionalists have become untethered from the rock, and they hold a wide range of novel beliefs and doctrines that are incompatible with the traditional Catholic faith. They are left facing a future without a clear path back towards full communion with the Catholic Church and the Successor of Peter. They lack trust in the Apostolic See, which was established by Christ as “the rock which guarantees a rigorous fidelity to the Word of God against arbitrariness and conformism.”
As Fr. Roche points out, our understanding of science is also based upon trust, noting that a lack of trust in the scientific knowledge and expertise that humanity has acquired over many generations can cause great damage. He writes:
Consider the scientific method for a moment. Scientific inquiry involves experimentation, falsification, gathering data, and drawing conclusions. But this process is not intended to be undertaken by isolated individuals. How would scientific progress be possible if every scientist felt compelled to prove that the earth was round, or that the sun was at the center of the solar system? How could scientists develop human knowledge if they did not accept germ theory, the existence of electrons, or gravity? Without trusting what others who went before have already discovered and reported, humanity would be limited to what could be confirmed by a single generation. Science tests hypotheses, yes, but it also requires trust. The breakdown of this trust has catastrophic results for science and for society at large.
This point can be applied to the current debate surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, public health restrictions, and the use of Covid vaccines. In the United States especially, every aspect of the official response to Covid—from wearing masks to lockdowns to social distancing to the safety and efficacy of the vaccines—has been vigorously contested by large groups of people challenging the experts and the status quo. Some even deny the existence of Covid-19 altogether.
Resisting Science and the Church
The Catholic Church has not been immune to such resistance. Even though Pope Francis and many of the bishops have repeatedly encouraged Catholics to get the vaccine, and even though the Church explicitly teaches that receiving the vaccine is morally licit and serves the common good, many Catholics still ignore or reject Church authority and have refused to be vaccinated or to take public health precautions.
And is it no surprise that many of the Catholics who most vigorously oppose the positions of the mainstream scientific establishment are also vigorously opposed to the teachings and decisions of the institutional Church? From Patrick Coffin to Tim Gordon to Taylor Marshall to Eric Sammons to Leila Lawler to Fr. Dave Nix to Bishop Joseph Strickland, there appears to be a strong correlation between Catholics who are passionately opposed to Pope Francis and those who publicly reject the scientific consensus on how we should respond to Covid.
This correlation prompts some questions. For example, is there a logical connection between a lack of trust of Church authority and a lack of trust in the scientific establishment? Where do those who think we should ignore mainstream scientific positions recommend that we place our trust?
Current events prompt even more questions. Was Pope Francis’s decision to enact strict Covid restrictions in Vatican City reasonable? Was an unvaccinated cardinal really denied entry to the Vatican because he didn’t have a valid Green Pass? If Covid is as serious as they say, then why doesn’t Pope Francis wear a mask all the time?
This peculiar situation of non-Christians and even atheists being champions and defenders of both the Pope and the compatibility of science and the Faith while the Greatest Catholics of All Time make idiotic war on both is, so far as I can see, an historical anomaly. I can’t think of a time like it, but then I can’t think of a time when so many Catholics were so dumb about faith and reason. Recently, an atheist reader of mine wrote that
in the intersection of religion and politics I recently came across this article by Rebecca Hamilton:
GQP Whore Bishop Alert: What’s Happening to Disney Can Happen to You.
Her article could be considered prophetic, given what has followed soon after:
Marjorie Greene’s DELUSIONAL Rant On The Catholic Church
It serves as a reminder that for many of these politicians, Catholics are merely tools of convenience, to be disposed of at the earliest opportunity, should one arise.
Seriously, how twisted things have to be for outspoken atheists on a political commentary show, to come out in defense of the Catholic Church and Christianity in general? Its as if the baseline for what was universally seen as moral has receded considerably on one end, to the point where there is less distance between atheists and the Catholic Church, than there is between the Catholic Church and what passes in the US for “Conservative Christianity”.
It goes to show that the labels and categories we use to describe different ideologies can often fall short or be completely misleading when taken at face value.
Indeed. For Jesus, what matters is not what we yak about, but what we do because what we do reveals for certain what we actually believe while what we say is often a very uncertain barometer of that. So he tells, not unbelievers but believers:
“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’” (Mt 7:21–23)
Conversely, to those who are not believers, the goyim or the “nations” outside the visible Church, he declares that they will be saved on the basis of what they do, not on the basis of what they say. That is the point of this:
“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Mt 25:31–46)
This is not the opposite of salvation by faith. Rather it is demonstration that there was faith in the light shed by the Holy Spirit in the heart of the sheep, even if he never heard the Name of Jesus or thought erroneously about Jesus due to bad information. In the end, the only thing that will matter is that sheep did his will, which is the measure of all true faith in him whatever our ignorant or accurate theological opinions about him happen to be.