Exit Stalin, Enter Stenger. Further Reflections on Atheistic Materialism

As I read the linked material in Didymus’ post, I remembered and dug out this thin little pamphlet that I had found tucked into my copy Our Bishops Speak, which is a compilation of the letters and reports of the American Hierarchy during the first half of the 20th century.  The pamphlet is a reprint of the 1954 Statement from the bishops.  Note the emblazoned subtitle, the words of which sparked my memory:


 Great quote from the bishops (14 signed the Statement)…

“Shallow men prattle of a shadowy world spirit or essence of things; of a dim projection of the ego, of a hypothetical construction of the mind for the purpose of explaining the hidden laws of nature.  The reality is so inexpressibly greater, warmer, more uplifting, more comforting, more profoundly influential in our lives.”

The statement itself refers to the dangers to America of the growing domination of communism, and of the failure of Western society to maintain and practice Christianity.  Indeed, although the Soviet Union might have since fallen there is no doubt that in the intervening 60 years since the bishops warned us,

“A weak and vacillating Christianity, a partial, truncated Christianity, paying lip service to God and to the Spirit, but devoted in practice to man and matter, can never triumph in the battle with total, determined materialism,”

we have, in our hubris, allowed the false promises of a spiritually sterile technocracy to feed both our egos and our complacency.  The Reds forced atheism onto its people to destroy hope and engender the hard-hearted civil order of secret police and intra-family snitches.  Now, the next wave of godlessness is hitting us armed with telescopes and quantum theories.  Exit Stalin, enter Stenger.

Scientists do a laudable job investigating the universe, of uncovering the amazing properties of subatomic particles and immense galaxies millions of light years away.  It’s important work that speaks to our adventurous and probing hearts.  But many are trained in a sort of hyper-rationalism that presupposes the human intellect capable of answering any question if given enough time, an embedded arrogance which by its nature stubbornly (and perhaps fearfully) ignores the supernatural, as if belief in a singularity of infinite density popping suddenly into existence requires less faith than in a higher power that is outside of time and space causing it to happen.  Or, could it be that an Almighty God is the only rationale that ties the singularity/big bang mathematics together?

Practical Catholics should learn the basics of Aquinas’ arguments for God’s existence, and how to construct a few basic ways to charitably approach an atheist (especially a trained scientist) about the truth contained in the Church and the limits of human scientific endeavor.  As practice, read the original Stenger article and formulate a concise response to each of his debating points.

In the 1954 statement, the bishops thus conclude:

“In the sign of Christ’s Cross our ancestors in the Faith conquered the ancient paganism and gave mankind the golden ages of the Christian era.  We in our day shall conquer the new paganism, atheistic materialism, in the same triumphant sign.”

We better start conquering.

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