Science and Catholicism: a brief reflection

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The natural sciences, and philosophical reflection upon them, have been an integral part of the Catholic intellectual tradition since the time of the Copernican revolution. Indeed, Catholic priests and clerics played a central role in the development of natural science. For example, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), the originator of the heliocentric universe and its mathematical justification, was a minor Catholic cleric. Nicolas Steno (1638-1686), a Catholic Danish bishop, is acknowledged to be one of the founders of modern stratigraphy and geology. The Augustinian monk and abbot Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) is recognized as the founder of modern genetics. Msgr. Georges Lemaître, a Belgian priest and colleague of Albert Einstein, is acknowledged to be the founder of contemporary cosmology through his discovery of the Big Bang Theory in 1927.
(source CWR: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3029/neil_degrasse_tysons_icosmosi_filling_in_the_intellectual_gaps.aspx#.UzfihDfCvU1)

It’s become trendy in our televisual and internet age to mask the achievements of science in Catholicism. It’s also becoming a reflex to snigger and chide Catholics in public places. The record above shows that science has had some outstanding contributions from Catholicism.

I remember being in The Defectors Weld, Shepherd’s Bush about two years ago and chance-chatting with a couple of scientists. When I mentioned Christianity and the Bible one of the scientists started to snigger and treat me as an ignoramus. His girlfriend was more polite and less dismissive. I had to tell him that there wasn’t a problem with evolution per se.

What’s upsetting is that many scientists don’t read much and so believe the cliches they get fed about Christianity and science. The subtle aggression and hostility is shocking and should have no place in a democracy; there is no reflexivity partly because there is no questioning of deep human behaviour; they are biological animals: philosophical reflection, if it applies, only applies to questions of science not to questioning science or reflecting as Aristotle did on virtue, on what is good. Only one credo counts, one foundational assumption courtesy of Richard Dawkins: religion is bad – no further thought about it required.

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Extract: Titanbots in Wands of Destruction

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10

Ben rolled outside the cave and bounced.  He gained height and then whoosh … Eerad boosted him to a speed of eight times the speed of sound — Mach 8.  In seconds they were in Landanium.  They passed over Titanbot-1 which registered the supersonic movement overhead.  But it could not send out its Saucerbots quickly enough.

Eerad had decided to send Ben into the palace.  This was a mistake.  Ben shot through the open window of the counting house and hit the floor, then smacked against one of the walls.  Because Eerad had boosted him to such a high speed, Ben could not brake yet.  As soon as he hit one wall he was uncontrollably bouncing off the one opposite.  The whole room was shaking.  Plaster fell from the ceiling.

Titanbot-1 and Titanbot-2 stomped towards the disturbance in the counting house.  If the room was shaking because of Ben, the whole palace and its surrounding shook even more because of the massive weight of the two enormous machines. 

The Titanbots were thirty storeys high.  Each one had two arms and two legs.  Richard and Toadias controlled them.  The eyes in their heads were cameras that Toadias and Richard used to see what the Titanbots were seeing.  These Titanbots were very powerful but because of their size they were slow.  To make up for their slowness, inside each Titanbot were four Saucerbots.

The Saucerbots, as the name suggests, were flying saucers that could move and manoeuvre in all directions at great speed using jets and boosters.  They were fitted with harpoons and nets.  They weren’t equipped with flamethrowers yet, but could easily be fitted with them by flying into the holding bays inside the Tiantbots.  Richard, if not so much Toadias, still wanted to capture Ben.  Toadias was getting to the point where he thought it would be much less trouble just to melt Ben with flames.  Both Titanbot-1 and Titanbot-2 sent out a couple of their Saucerbots towards the counting house.

Eerad had gone to find Doe-Ray-Mi-Jar.  He blipped from room to room.  While he was blipping, he remembered that he hadn’t helped Ben to brake.  He blipped back to the counting house as the Saucerbots were about to fly through the window.  Eerad magicked the window shut, made it stronger than super reinforced concrete.  The two Saucerbots slammed into it, one after the other and smashed.

Eerad made Ben brake.  Ben was out of breath but there was no time now to relax.

“I’m not going to be able to fight in these spaces.  These rooms are too small for my bouncing manoeuvres.”

“OK man, I’ll get Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar.  Just wait a mo…”

“Be qui…”

Eerad had blipped away before Ben finished his sentence.  Ben had seen with some dismay that Eerad had already gone half blue and his moustache was drooping.  Half his powers had already been used up.  Richard and Toadias were in their control tower watching their screens and monitors.  On the monitors they could see through the camera eyes of the Titanbots and also the camera eyes of any Saucerbot that was launched.  They had seen the crash of the Saucerbots that had been dispatched to the counting-house.  Now, while Richard the Ringer guided both of the Titanbots towards the counting-house, Toadias rewound some earlier footage of the moment Ben was being boosted over Landanium.  He replayed it in slow motion and when he saw Ben in the frame he got Richard’s attention.

“That’s him!” screeched Richard the Ringer.  Luckily, throughout the footage Eerad was hidden behind Ben.  If Richard the Ringer and Toadias had spotted Eerad they may have made some quite different decisions.

As it was, they now ordered both Titanbots to continue to the counting house.  Titanbot-1 was instructed to lift the roof off the counting-house and capture Ben.

Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar was inside the trapping-robot bin, in a sealed vault in the long annexe that led from the palace to the nuclear power station.  Eerad zapped the robot bin and freed Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar and blipped with her into the counting house with Ben.  Titanbot-1 at that instant tore off the roof like the lid of an easy-open can with a ring pull.

When it had been ripped away, Titanbot-1 stood towering over Ben and Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar.  Evilly, it stared down at them, the roof still in one of its gigantic hands.  Eerad had wisely decided to make himself invisible.  Titanbot-2 now appeared next to Titanbot-1 and blocked out all the remaining light. 

Saucerbots blasted out from the Titanbots like cannonballs.  They headed directly for Ben and Do Ray Me Jar.

“Good luck guys,” said Eerad.

Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar jumped inside Ben.  They were now like one being: Ben&Doe we shall call them when they are in this mode.

Battle commenced.

 

11

The Saucerbots were closing in fast.  The sounds they were making were deafeningly loud and strange.  For a moment Ben and Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar felt great confusion and felt as if they couldn’t even move.  A harpoon was fired from one of the Saucerbots and from another a net was fired.  Ben&Doe roused themselves and dodged both.  They bounced onto the top of the wall.  From the top of the wall they bounced right up to strike Titanbot-1’s left side camera-eye.  As they hit against it they also sang several chords.  Two of the chords were at a high frequency and the third was of an extremely low frequency.  Titanbot-1’s left camera eye instantly shut down.

Both Ben and Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar were amazed at their combined speed and agility now.  It was not just this new found speed which was remarkable but the power and number of sounds and music they were able to make.  As they bounced away from Titanbot-1, from the side of its head another Saucerbot shot out and slammed against Ben&Doe.  Four metallic flexible arms shot out from the Saucerbot’s casing.  As it let out a shrill screech to damage Ben&Doe’s musical abilities, these Saucerbot arms coiled tightly around the two musical heroes in a split second.  With jet boosters on full, Ben&Doe were hurtled towards the ground.

As they sped downwards, Titanbot-1’s hand changed into a huge racquet, like a tennis or squash racquet.  Ben’s eyes widened in astonishment as the strings of the racquet got nearer and nearer until Whack! Ben&Doe were sent flying towards Titanbot-2 whose hand had also changed into a gigantic racquet.  Thwhack! Ben&Doe were sent spinning back to Titanbot-1.  But this time Titanbot-1’s hand was not a racquet but a mitten, rather like a baseball glove. 

Before they reached it they gathered themselves to take action.  Ben opened his mouth and Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar used some of her forcefield she had to slice through the arms of the Saucerbot.  Ben then kicked away from it.  This helped to avoid the glove narrowly.  They hit Titanbot-1’s wrist area and bounced away sideways. 

Another Saucerbot was on their tail immediately.  But Ben&Doe moved at superspeed and span googly as well.  This made it much harder for the Saucerbots to follow them and they moved so speedily that Ben&Doe reached the Opera House Football Stadium minutes before the Saucerbots.  Straight away Ben and Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar began an incredible version of the special song Ben had taught the Boson household: “Awake from the spell you’re under”.

Ben&Doe sang it to all the workers forced to toil and sweat to build the Opera House Football Stadium.  Many of the troops were enchanted by the music.  Everyone except a few music-haters felt joy, excitement and a mixture of deep emotions.  The troops, the workers and the prisoners were so engrossed by the music that they did not pay much attention to the arrival of the Saucerbots.  There were seven of them and Ben and Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar did notice them but they carried on with their song.

The eighth Saucerbot was hovering in front of Titanbot-1’s camera-eye and repairing it but this did not stop Titanbot-1 and Titanbot-2 from storming towards the Opera House Football Stadium.  The other seven Saucerbots hovered on the opposite side of the stadium, waiting for orders to attack.  Ben&Doe were on the alert and aware of every movement they would have to use to win this war.

Suddenly, the Saucerbots broke into sounds of ugly mountainous chords of their own which were meant to disintegrate the song being sung by Ben&Doe.  These ugly and frightening sounds prevented the birds from helping Ben&Doe.

Ben&Doe used these ugly chords and sounds of the Saucerbots to make their song even more fascinating, beautiful and moving.  (Unfortunately they were unable to undo the fear the birds felt.)

Richard the Ringer and Toadias were watching their monitors with rapt attention.  They needed to decide on their next move.  As a lover of music Richard the Ringer was engrossed.  He was also jealous of the genius quality of what he was hearing.  But both he and Toadias were aware that they could lose everything if they did not stop Ben and Doe-Ray-Mi-Jar.  They looked at each other.

“It has to be done,” said Richard the Ringer.

“It has to be done,” said Toadias nodding.  “We should’ve done it earlier.  Much earlier.  You’re a fool Ringer.  A fool.”

“Shut up, Toadias.  Let’s give the order.”

Toadias gave instructions to all the robots.

“Destroy.  Use all available methods especially flame throwers.”

Toadias was itching for the moment when the wands would be recharged.  Then with the new power they would be full of, these idiotic singing things could be got rid of and maybe Richard the Ringer could be magicked away, too.  Toadias was absolutely sick of him.

“An hour to go, an hour to go till the wands are charged.  Yessssss!!!” Toadias thought. 

And Richard the Ringer was thinking the same thing but he was also now hoping and willing the destruction of the troublesome Semibreve and the strange jar shaped companion that was inside him.  Many of the workers and the slaves were now openly singing along with Ben and Doh-Ray-Mi-Jar and even some of the soldiers were humming along, but in secret.

Outside the Opera House Football Stadium people were gathering to see what was going on.  The Bosons had been teaching everyone they trusted the “Awake from the spell you’re under” song.  All of a sudden, in an ever widening circular ripple, the song spread round the Opera House Football Stadium and then through Landanium and beyond.  Almost everyone was singing it.  But there were some troops who warned their comrades who were joining in with the song to stop immediately. 

But the troops Ben had saved from Shapalop the Cyclops were having none of it.  Until now they had been reluctant to tell of the time when Ben had saved them from the Cyclops because they had been threatened with severe punishment if they did.  Now they were not afraid and would soon tell everyone around them about what Ben had done for them.

There was more bad news for Richard the Ringer and Toadias.  The dungeon guards reported the escape of the King and his family and Aston.

“We’ll send two Saucerbots to zap them,” said Toadias.

“We need to get our robot King to make an announcement on TV.  He will say that any king that looks like him in the streets is a fake and an impostor,” added Richard the Ringer.

12

King Peterson the Unpampered was in the globular forcefield with the Queen, Princess Sandia and Aston.  They were rolling down the street being chased by some soldiers who did not know what to do.  On seeing the King passing by one elderly lady shook her walking stick at him and said: “You’re a disgrace.  You have been mucking things up.”

The forcefield was rolling too fast for King Peterson to reply and explain that he was not to blame.  All of a sudden moving at alarming speeds the two Saucerbots came into view.

“What are they?” asked Princess Sandia.

“If events of late are anything to go by,” said Aston, “they can’t be anything good.”

As he said this, one of the Saucerbots flew down and slammed against their globular forcefield.  But when it was clear that this was having no effect, another Saucerbot joined it and together they lifted up the globular forcefield and took it to Titanbot-1 who tried to crush it in its hand.  When that also failed, the ball shaped forcefield was placed in one of the holding chambers inside Titanbot-1.

At the same moment as the forcefield containing Princess Sandia and the Royal family was being hidden away from the public, the robot double of King Peterson appeared on TV and on screens everywhere including a screen on each of the Titanbots’ chests.

“This is the King, Peterson the Unpampered —.”

“Boo, boo,” the people cried out.  And then they all started to sing: “Be yourself the wonder.”

“Go back to your homes,” said the fake King, whose words were really from Richard the Ringer.  “This singing Monster is dangerous and is poisoning your minds.  Stop up your ears and GO HOME!!! This is an order.”

More boos followed.  Ben&Doe now sang very loudly:

 

“That is not the king

The real king he is not

What you see is a thing

In fact it is just a robot

Being controlled by Todias and Richard Ringer

One is a wandmaker, the other is the famous music bringer,

But disaster is what they have brought

Just so that they could have power, music and sport

At your expense and the world’s resources

Using bad magic and all its forces…

Awake from the spell you’re under”

 

And everyone sang the last line together:

“Be yourself the wonder.”

And now Ben&Doe added:

 

“To the palace to find the real King

Let’s all take our song to sing.”

From the Opera House Football Stadium they sped to the palace.  The Saucerbots did not give chase.  They flew back to the Titanbots.  Flame throwers were fitted into their machinery.  The Titanbots themselves were near the palace and ready to defend it against the people who were outside the palace gates already.  Thousands also were rushing towards the palace behind Ben&Doe.

While the Saucerbots inside Titanbot-1 and Titanbot-2 were fitted with flamethrowers, the Titanbots themselves each took out a long thick pole from the right sides of their bodies.  From their backs they each took out a massive brush and fixed these brushes to the poles.  Then, as they clumped into the precincts near the palace, they used these gigantic brooms to sweep aside the people beneath them with the loud mechanical order: “GO HOME!” 

I haven’t had my snack yet

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My snack is it ready said the snot-drip monster to his wife
No more snacks till you slim: your unhealthy appetites
Will shorten your life

I am the snot-drip monster extrodinaire: Never will I die!
Just then the Chief of handkerchiefs sailed in on a gust of wind
And wiped away the monster off the face of many faces.
No more snacks for him;
And his widowed wife is remarried
To a monster very slim.