Friday, September 21, 2018

How Science Gets God Wrong


To the scientific community, religion is a mystery that should not exist. The greatest mystery is the God problem. There must be some kind of scientific explanation to account for why people believe in God.
Since the Enlightenment, secular scientists have held that God is an imaginary being, created by weak people who need psychological support to deal with the stress of life.  However, this weak thesis falls apart in the face of so many religious people (including famous Catholic scientists) who have strong personalities and experience no problems adjusting to life.

Solving the Mystery of God
Nevertheless, this very unscientific myth never seems to die. A reincarnation of this opinion can be found in a recent University of Michigan study. The team of researchers concluded that “friending” God can restore purpose in life for those who are lonely or anti-social. Once again, it seems the mystery of God is solved.
The study is the result of surveys from three separate studies, in which 19,775 people discuss their purpose in life, loneliness, friendships and religious beliefs. The study team found that those who lack purpose and friends see God as a means to fill the void in their lives.
“For the socially disconnected, God may serve as a substitutive relationship that compensates for some of the purpose that human relationships would normally provide,” lead author Todd Chan explained in a university release.
The new study builds upon prior research that concluded that socially disconnected people will often project human-like qualities upon pets, imaginary beings and God. However, the study warns that trust in God in no way compensates for being socially connected with real people.
“These results certainly do not suggest that people can or should rely on God over people for purpose,” adds co-author Oscar Ybarra. “Quality human connections still remain a primary and enduring source of purpose in life.”
What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?
In other words, believers are simple-minded misfits who cannot integrate themselves into modern society. God may be “friended” as if on Facebook, but such a link is a poor substitute for being part of the fashionable crowd.
Pitying Secular Scientists
Such scientists are to be pitied. The first reason is that they are not real scientists. Their premises are biased against the existence of God. Theirs is a depressing materialistic outlook that, if taken to its final consequences, strips purpose from life and creation.
These scientists have blinded themselves to the existence of a spiritual world. Instead, they try to project their materialistic premises upon a spiritual realm. This also is unscientific. Real scientists need to apply the right criteria and methods to the circumstances. They also need to be aware of all possible causes—even those outside their field of competence.
What does Saint Thomas Aquinas say about Marriage?
This spiritual world has never been the product of the imaginings of weak individuals. Ancient philosophers taught long ago that man is a composite being made up of body and soul. It has long been held that man has a spiritual side that is superior to the material. This superior side of man’s nature is recognized as that which makes every man unique and gives him dignity.
This spiritual side gives rise to political, social, cultural, and religious activities and sciences that tower above the physical and exact sciences of these scientists. Indeed, they satisfy the innate need for the good, true and beautiful and ultimately prepare the way for eternal salvation.
Without this spiritual side, man is reduced to matter, chemical reactions, evolutionary meanderings and algorithms. Indeed, some postmodern scientists have affirmed this as the logical consequence of a world without the soul.  No person, however socially active, will find purpose in a life thus conceived.
Getting It All Backward
The most tragic aspect of these scientists is that they have it all backward.
They try to make God the creation of human imaginings when it is the other way around. Man is the creation of an unimaginably magnificent God.
They imagine the fickle affections of others to be the highest social achievement. They cannot imagine the affections of a God (who defines Himself as Charity) that unites himself to the faithful in prayer and the Holy Eucharist.
Scientists try to explain backward that which is already known. In times of great trials, including the breakdown of relationships, people have recourse to God. However, this is not to compensate for lost love, but to ask for a superior aid that human relationships cannot provide.
God answers prayers and showers blessings upon those who call upon Him. The testimony of countless faithful Christians is evidence of real benefits and even miracles received. All of this is documented should these scientists wish to see it.
A society centered on God will radiate Christian charity and improve relationships for all. Modern society is a dog-eat-dog world of clashing self-interests.
Those who truly love God are commanded to love their neighbors as themselves. The Church is the source of vibrant community, not a collection of socially challenged misfits.
Discovering the Real Purpose of Life
Scientists need to understand that the soul is made for God and will never find rest and happiness outside of Him. As social beings, people need others to help them in their quest for sanctification. However, they are just the means to a much higher end, God. The purpose of life cannot be social fulfillment in a life that is so fleeting.
The purpose of life is to know, love and serve God in this life and to be happy with Him in the next. Anything less will only lead to unhappiness.
Scientists studying the purpose of life might start by seeing the role of science as a means to help others understand better God’s creation. Their purpose should not be that of creating a God that validates their unscientific myths.
As seen on CNSNews.

How Science Gets God Wrong - Return to How Science Gets God Wrong Science Gets God Wrong. To the scientific community, religion is a mystery that should not exist. The greatest mystery is the...

Monday, September 10, 2018

On Those Things a President Cannot Solve

by John Horvat II
There are many issues that President Trump can solve. His first great accomplishment was solving the election. Almost all conservatives adopted a thank-God-it’s-not-Hillary approach to the Trump presidency. There was a general sigh of relief over a bullet dodged.
As time passes, the administration now stands on its own merits beyond being not-Hillary. In this respect, President Trump’s economic policies have helped expand the economy. His pro-life stances have been encouraging. His choices for justices are significantly improving the makeup of the Supreme Court. While there are many good things to celebrate, there are also those things that President Trump cannot solve. And these issues are tearing the nation apart.

It should be stressed that this is not the president’s fault. His actions can influence these issues but not fix them. His efforts may improve the situation but not solve it. Government action or legislation alone is not sufficient to change things. These are festering matters left unsettled for decades that are now coming due.
A Generalized Moral Rottenness
Perhaps the best way to describe the situation is to say that there is a generalized moral rottenness that permeates all of society. It has found its way into every political current, social class, and institution. It corrodes every type of relationship and dealing.
Everyone senses it. It wounds and lacerates the hearts of many who see this moral rot in youth, their children, marriages, and the general tone of life. Ask anyone, and each will have a story to tell of this breakdown. It comes as no surprise since the nation’s moral decline has long been acknowledged especially since the sixties.
The Difference Between Deterioration and Collapse
However, what is new about this moral decay is its present phase. A process of deterioration can take decades or generations before things collapse. For many years, a decaying house, for example, might appear sound to the superficial observer and then suddenly come crashing down. When that happens, all the ordering structures collapse and turn against themselves. The falling beams that once provided support now become agents of destruction.
Inside a collapsing building, trust is broken. Hatreds and resentments arise as each frantically blames the other for the disaster. The whole cooperative framework breaks down.
What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?
Processes of deterioration still follow the logic of the structures they undermine. At least they maintain the same form. However, when collapse takes place, things follow no logic. There is no form, and everything becomes much more complex and unpredictable.
This collapse is now happening in America. Not to be overdramatic, there are still some structures in place, especially economic ones, that survive. However, even these remnants are ticking time bombs corroded by debt, fevered speculation, overregulation and bad economic policy. In many other fields, the deterioration phase is ending, and the collapse phase has begun. Things are falling down, fragmenting and coming apart—and there is little the president can do about it.
The Social Collapse of Society
This moral rottenness is mainly found in the social sphere. This is amply documented by many sociologists who study the collapse of society. People’s lives are shattered by an unbridled culture of intemperance in which people want everything, instantly and effortlessly. Thus, individuals, who should integrate themselves into society, seek only their gratification. When their individual lives collapse, they are like drug addicts who turn against their best interests and those of society. They become agents of their own destruction.
What does Saint Thomas Aquinas say about Marriage?
As a result, things are collapsing around us. There is an epidemic of loneliness affecting tens of millions. One-fifth of the adult population suffers from some form of mental illness. Some 45,000 Americans take their lives annually.
A similar thing is happening with the intense sexual instinct God gave the human race to form the families that should make up an ordered society. These constructive impulses have become destructive in the form of an alphabet of “genders” that are exploding notions of reality, identity, law, and community. The family, which should be the basic building block of society, is likewise unraveling and turning against itself. It is often a place of abuse, violence, divorce, and abortion.
Weinsteinization of All Things Rotten
So it is with many institutions, manners, and relationships that once were part of liberal society. The extent of the corruption is coming to light in the Weinsteinization of all things rotten in business, government, academia, and Hollywood. Social institutions are hollowed out and cannot bring about the needed changes. Liberal courts and secularist ideologies do everything possible to deny government any morality-building role it could have.
The crisis extends to rotten elements in the Church and religious communities that usually would serve as crucial ordering agents in times of crisis.
This putrefaction has also entered the political process and thrown it into convulsions. It affects all political currents, in differing degrees. Politics, which should be directed toward the organizing of society for the common good, has turned upon itself within a polarized climate where all is sensational, shallow, and fake. The post-war political order is in a meltdown.
The Limitations of Government Action
Thus, the things that President Trump can solve should be recognized. These involve those fields in which common sense might still prevail. The accomplishments in these areas (and they are not small) should be applauded. These efforts are essential and must be pursued with all vigor.
However, it is unfair to hold President Trump accountable for the things he cannot solve, which are the result of lengthy processes of moral rottenness that have now reached a point of collapse. His action might retard or mitigate the fragmentation, but nothing can be reconstructed from rot.
A society in a state of moral rot cannot be rebuilt, reversed or restored with the external means of money, jobs, government programs or executive orders. Even renewed economic growth will not long endure in this climate of rot and acrimony.
The Need for Moral Regeneration
The only way to fight moral rottenness is with moral regeneration.
Moral regenerations involve organic internal processes whereby people realize the need to reform their lives in accordance with moral law and principles. They usually happen during times of collapse, not in periods of decay. The circumstances compel people to act since there often is no other alternative.
Unfortunately, there is so little to work with today. The shortcomings of institutions, even the Church, have never been greater. These would be the normal catalysts to lead a moral regeneration.
Likewise, a culture of unrestraint keeps people from thinking of the present crisis correctly. The idea of sin, repentance and conversion is foreign to this frenzied society. Few in leadership positions, whether it be government, academia, or industry, speak in terms of calling upon God’s mercy.
Factors Favoring Regeneration
However, some factors favor regeneration. There are still many Americans scattered through the nation who see the present crisis and are saddened. These Americans grieve for the sins of the country; they pray and act, working toward a restoration of the moral law, so well expressed by the Ten Commandments. They desire an explicit return to God without whom nothing might be done.
The continued actions of these individuals are crucial because they attract blessings upon the land. Moral regenerations rely upon the work of God’s grace upon souls. Grace multiplies the capacity and efficacy of any action, no matter how small, and makes regeneration possible. Those who fight for America in this manner can also confide in the fact that God will not despise humble and contrite hearts.
What usually sparks moral regenerations is some kind of reckoning in times of collapse and ruin. Like it or not, America will face a moral reckoning to set things right. Everyone senses the need for it to happen. It will be a crisis that will unify the nation, galvanizing it to see things in a different light. Indeed, the times call for the perspective of Our Lady of Fatima who, in 1917, spoke of these things and offered solutions that can no longer be ignored.
As seen on Crisis Magazine.
On Those Things a President Cannot Solve - Return to Order: On Those Things a President Cannot Solve There are many issues that President Trump can solve. His first great accomplishment was solving the election...

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

New Book: Lighting the Way to a Life That Makes Sense

The new book Lighting the Way: Stories that Show How Our Culture Went Wrong and How We Can Restore Order is a collection of stories arranged to illustrate an idea.
The idea is that of the organic Christian society. That is an unfamiliar idea to many, although we live in and around many such organic communities or situations.

Co-authors John Horvat and Norman Fulkerson are very familiar with the topic. Mr. Horvat is the author of the award-winning book, Return to Order, and Lighting the Way is intended to be its companion book. Mr. Fulkerson is the author of An American Knight: The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC. Both men have extensively studied and written about the present deterioration of Western culture. Both are members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, which is the publisher of the book.
The Organic Society
The idea of organic communities is unfamiliar because modern life has conditioned us to think in terms of large institutions and the bureaucracies that come along with them. We are surrounded by governments on the national, state, and local levels. In addition, there are partially independent government agencies like school boards and road commissions. All of those can be impersonal and inaccessible.
There are also large corporations that dwarf us. We shop at stores whose owners we will never see. Since the rise of the Internet, we do not even know where those businesses are located. We buy products and often do not even know in which country they are produced. When we have a problem and call customer service, we are often connected to a call center in Asia.
In this environment of “bigness,” we know that we long for something else—something deeper and more personal. Consciously or unconsciously we seek them out. We might have a favorite waiter, cashier or teller. Many gravitate to farmers’ markets, flea markets, and other settings for that personal touch. Unfortunately, those relationships are often short-lived. The waiter or cashier gets a better job somewhere else and they disappear from our lives without any notice. The booth at the market closes or moves away.
What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?
Many of these harmful effects of an impersonal society are discussed in John Horvat’s earlier book Return to Order, which calls us to return to a more natural and intimate setting which he calls “organic society.” However, many readers found that idea so unfamiliar as to be confusing. “How,” some readers asked, “can we build organic societies if we have never even seen one?”
The companion book, Lighting the Way attempts to show us that we have seen or experienced aspects of organic society throughout our lives.
The “New” World That Is All Around Us
The book is divided into five parts, each with its own theme—although there is a fair amount of overlap between them.
The first section borrows another idea from Return to Order, that of frenetic intemperance. This is the all-too-common desire to have everything that we want instantly and effortlessly. Our society conditions each of us to consume products at an ever increasing rate. We want to do more, have more, know more, experience more, to make our own rules.
What does Saint Thomas Aquinas say about Marriage?
In real life, we rapidly find that we are limited by the amount of time in our day, expense and responsibilities. We also find out that we want many things that are not good for us—either on a moral or physical plain. Part one shows us why those restraints are often helpful and that ignoring them can be disastrous.
The most helpful and readable section may be the second. Here we can see how others have embraced or created organic structures. Most of these are very practical. Mr. Fulkerson introduces us to cheesemakers, curers of hams, distillers of bourbon, bakers of cakes, and restauranteurs who have carved out for themselves niches in the economy in which their skills have made them prized members of their communities. In so doing they have improved the quality of the lives of others and created financial security for themselves. The “lesson” is that each of us has a particular set of God-given strengths that help us to find our place in life.

In the third section, we learn how fairness, justice, and service sustains organic societies. These situations have an incredible range. We see stories of a king and a family of financiers. We also see a “good” computer hacker and a dedicated owner of a shoe repair shop. The context may be national and international. It also may be very, very local. However, that is less important than the idea that a sense of justice should permeate all that we do.
Section four discusses “representative characters,” those leaders that can be found in every walk of life. These people make the best of their own world and come to be recognized by their peers and others as the best of what they are. There is a happy and knowledgeable taxi driver. At the other extreme is a eulogy for a departed king. Many of these stories are about soldiers who, like the subject of Mr. Fulkerson’s American Knight, leave us speechless when they show their leadership through sacrifice.
The last part is about dreams and aspirations—the good that happens when individuals commit themselves to a passion that enriches the lives of others. Among these stories, two stand out. Samuel DuPont of the vast Longwood Gardens and Helen Widdowson of The Black Rose of Hanover, a tearoom in a Pennsylvania town, have both done the same thing, albeit on very different scales. Each found a goal that guided them to create a place in which others can find beauty and refreshment for their souls.

Stories that Show How Our Culture Went Wrong and How We Can Restore Order

Companions and Connections
Even though they are companions, Return to Order and Lighting the Way are connected by their ideas and messages. They are, however, very different books. One is theoretic, and the other is practical. Depending on the reader’s frame of mind, either could be read independently of the other. However, much is to be gained by reading them both. Which one should be read first depends on your inclination. Those who prize the concrete application can read Lighting the Way first and then turn to Return to Order with a sense that the ideal world discussed in the second book is possible. Those who enjoy playing with ideas would probably prefer Return to Order and then use Lighting the Way as a kind of list of suggestions or an aide to explaining the ideas to others.
The important thing is that both of these books mark out a path in the hectic world in which we can all-too-easily come to see ourselves as cogs in a great machine that is spinning out of control. One often hears people yearn for a simpler, more virtuous life. Applying the ideas in both of these books can help get you there.
Lighting the Way to a Life That Makes Sense - Return to Order: Lighting the Way to a Life That Makes Sense. The new book Lighting the Way: Stories that Show How Our Culture Went Wrong and How We Can Restore Order is a …

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Why I Use the Word Catholic to Describe the Ideal Economy

The adjective Catholic is rarely employed to describe the ideal economy we need. Many would see its use as mere window dressing to make the free market appear a bit more compassionate. Everyone knows that the business of creating wealth comes from industry and business. The accountant’s ledger is the only true measure of this wealth. Catholic can only be, at best, a timid adjective that modifies the more efficient noun, economy.
I am the first to recognize that that the role of economics is to define norms by which goods and services are produced, exchanged and consumed. These norms are reflected in ledgers. However, economic activities also involve moral acts that are influenced by our free and rational nature and the pull of our sentiments. Thus, the Church can play an important role in the concrete functioning of an economy, although it is often hidden.

Generating Wealth in a Catholic Society
I was reminded of this fact by a news item that triggered these considerations.  A 2017 Merrill Lynch report found that some 34.2 million people provide unpaid care to older people in America. Most of these caregivers are family. Together they form the backbone of the nation’s long-term elderly care system, supplying an estimated $500 billion in free care every year. This is three times the amount spent by Medicare’s long-term care budget.
I was struck by this example of a current economic problem – the cost of caring for the elderly. It is resolved with almost medieval means by non-monetary processes.  While not all these care-givers are Catholic, their actions are modeled by Christian virtues reflecting the Church’s charity and solicitude for the suffering. This charity can far outperform government programs at no cost to the taxpayer. It provides better and loving care. There is no question that this care helps the formal economy.
And that is where my Catholic economy offers great benefits. In a Catholic society, there are many social and cultural structures like the care-givers that generate enormous value. The non-monetary processes found in family, religion and communities are sources of immense material and spiritual wealth that largely go uncompensated, remain unrecorded, or defy quantification. Saint Thomas Aquinas called this economic activity, economia pura. It is that pure domestic economy that modern economists ignore because it cannot be found on spreadsheets. French historian Fernand Braudel claimed that one third or more of dealings in modern industrialized economies are found in this sector.
I believe these vast sectors constitute the heart and soul of all economy and merit my use of the august adjective of “Catholic.” Perhaps the most productive thing a person can do to fuel prosperity is to help make the economy more Catholic.
Defining These Areas
These wealth-generating social structures can be found everywhere in Catholic society. Most of them were unknown in pagan society, At the same time, they are systematically rejected and disparaged in our neo-pagan modern culture.
The first institution is the family based on the Catholic insistence of the indissolubility of marriage. This extremely stable relationship is a dynamic source of uncompensated activity that freely provides its members with shelter, nourishment, education, affection, and healthcare.
The Church raises marriage to the level of a sacrament and thus, provides the couple with the necessary graces and strength to bring new souls into the world and provide for their formation and education. The Catholic family becomes not just a basic social unit but an economic unit that generates and distributes wealth and benefits to its members.
There are other lesser institutions influenced by the Church that display similar qualities. We can refer to local, cultural, or religious associations that generate arts, civic spirit, and works of charity that enrich the community in ways that cannot be quantified. This can also be seen in any kind of organic neighborhood or ethnic community where inhabitants receive the great benefits of solidarity and a distinctive local identity.
Inside a climate of mutual trust provided by the Church, common local transactions, barter, or acts of neighborliness are clearly valuable actions that strengthen economy. We might also point to the long history of the Church’s support of agriculture where the land, besides freely giving its fruits and creating abundant wealth, also creates a sense of self-sufficiency, the development of character and a strong attachment to property.
All of these institutions and activities enrich society and culture. They have an indirect impact upon the formal economy and truly nourish and sustain it.
The Church Enriches Culture
However, it is the Church that is the principle agent in this society that supports the economy. It is not just a generic “Christian” outlook that made Western civilization economically great. The Church served as the foundation for our civilization, which includes our economy. That is why I use the adjective Catholic, and not the ecumenical Christian, to modify the ideal economy we need.
In the first place, the Church is an institution that enriches culture and generates enormous value in society in the spiritual sphere. We can look at Her liturgical, moral, and religious acts that communicate untold spiritual benefits to a community. Giving meaning and purpose to life is a priceless commodity in today’s world of depression, hedonism and loneliness.
What Does a Society Based on Faith and Charity Look Like?
The Church further gratuitously bestows culture, charity, and learning upon Her children and society as a whole. It was the Church that first established universities and hospitals. Her religious orders freely served the poor in their hospitals and even went to the point of seeking out patients in the highways and byways. The Church has the unique ability to get people to think of serving others for the love of God.
 Direct Support for the Economy
These indirect means are joined by more direct means by which the Church helped facilitate the smooth running of economies.
Transactions depend upon trust and honesty.  As guardian of the moral law, the Church naturally issues objective norms that concretely help identify and denounce injustice in the economy and create a climate of trust. In addition, the Sacrament of Confession not only insists upon honest dealings but enforces restitution for theft or damage done.
Even in the field of economic theory, it was the Church that led the way.  Contrary to the popular myth, the science of economics was not invented by Adam Smith (who saw Catholic charity as disruptive). The early foundations of economics are found in the writings of medieval figures like Saint Bernardine, Saint Antoninus, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and other early Scholastics.

Libertarians, the Austrian School of Economics and other economic schools all trace their origins back to Spain’s School of Salamanca (1500-1650). Its Dominican friars developed complex economic concepts like the theory of utility, the quantity theory of money, opportunity cost, and liquidity preference long before modern economists.
We cannot underestimate the role of the traditional teachings of the Church in forming modern economy. This same moral guidance is still much needed in increasingly impersonal economies run by algorithms and quarterly earnings reports.
The Limitations of Catholic Economy
However, there are limitations to a Catholic economy.
Economy must be governed by justice, whereas the Church depends much upon charity and poverty. That is why an economy cannot be governed by charity lest it leave the marketplace in the hand of those who would take advantage of the honest.
The Church is limited to creating the conditions for economy to flourish. It can do no more. The marketplace can never be a church although markets were often situated in the Church squares. Nor can a Church become a marketplace.
What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?
“Catholic” must always be an adjective to the noun economy. Whenever this adjective tries to become the noun, it quickly leads to the money changers of the temple who Our Lord so violently casted out.
 A Terrible Alternative
I fear for the time when all vestiges of the Church are scrubbed from economy. Then there will be no more caregivers. The family will be reduced to a mere collections of selfish individuals. The moral law will be erased by the unbridled passions of frenetic markets. The marketplace will once more be left to the dog-eat-dog brutality of those who seek only their own profit. Society will fall apart, as it is today, and no amount of tax dollars, jobs or economic policies will put it back together.
That is why I use the adjective Catholic to describe the ideal economy we need. When the Catholic element is expunged, the heart and soul of economy will also be gone and we will be left with the terrifying ledger of a world without God.

Why I Use the Word Catholic to Describe the Ideal Economy -