Until this huge problem of the metaphysical identity of the atom, and its ever-growing families of particles is solved, cosmology will continue to spin its many wheels, allowing an increasingly ominous technology, and an even worse enslavement to it, which resonates most stinkingly throughout the moral dis-order. The title of Dr. Hart’s “Back Page” column, in this issue of FIRST THINGS, also drew me to the lack of clarity in his thinking. And reading on, I find it becomes even more unclear. To deny the obvious “intellectual hegemony of theology” – even in the discourse of a natural theology, such as that of William Paley, is to deny the hierarchical unity of the sciences - a fact that even modern cosmologists and physicists keep discovering, in spite of their overt or covert atheism. For they cannot help classifying the sub-atomic particles in terms of their increasing mass. (See Scientific American, Extreme Physics.)
Even the science of mathematics is hierarchical, from + to – plus to minus and 1 to infinity. It is impossible to escape the 4th Way of St. Thomas’s Proofs for God’s Existence, which is based on the “grades of perfection” found in the real world. The title of Dr. Hart’s column is “Purpose and Function”. I expected at least some reference to Form. In the moral sphere, this would require, I believe, some reference to the formal aspects of the human ACT, - a subject about which St. Thomas has great detail, and which involves both intellectual knowledge and willful consent. But, I think I grasp Dr. Hart’s main point. He seems to be saying that there is no purely – natural argument for a moral conclusion anywhere. I maintain that there is. And one must recognize that the inference, the affirmative judgment of the human mind, or the intuition, as Bernard Lonergan would call it, of God’s existence and His main attributes, while not self-evident, as St. Bonaventure believed, are, nevertheless, accessible to the natural reason without the aid of Divine Revelation, or Faith, but by the very natural created structure of the human mind, (reason plus will) and its co-naturality with the structure of the created world. (The science of Epistemology has also been lost.)
It is a real perversion of the wholly natural activity of the human mind to hold, as the modernist scientific method insists, that nothing be admitted to “science” that cannot be verified by measurement or some other appeal to the sensory apparatus. If electricity could not be measured, it too, would be denied existence – despite the evidence of its most marvelous effects. And so, it is most regrettably a fact that modern science (falsely so-called a knowledge by St. Paul to Timothy 6:20), denies the existence of God – despite the abundant evidences of His effects in creation (Cf Romans 1:20). St. Paul speaks of the purely natural knowledge of God as the Efficient Cause and End of all things. Why, then, does modern science exclude His causality – which is known by natural reason alone, without reference to Divine Revelation? I challenge Dr. David Hart to answer this question.
Furthermore, is it not incumbent upon the Catholic scientist to defend this very natural recognition of God’s existence, not only on the basis of traditional Church doctrine (e.g. very prominent in St. Thomas and in the OATH AGAINST MODERNISM, required of all Catholic teachers under Pope St. Pius X, and not abrogated until Pope Paul VI, who abolished it), but on the basis of scientific truth?
I speak from experience. I was born into a family of atheists on my father’s side and of lapsed Baptists on my mother’s. My parents separated when I was 5 and divorced when I was 7. My father worked hard to dissuade me from even considering any “organized religion.” He worshipped “nature” and was really quite a good writer of sonnets. My mother was quite adamant that I would join “no religion”, until I was 16. My mother had custody, but my father was very strong about his “visitation rights”. My mother and I lived in Washington DC, (where I was born), but my father lived in Takoma Park with his brother and his wife – a suburb of D.C. It seems they had all lived together until my father and his brother left for Europe without telling their wives. This, I gathered, was the main cause for my mother to divorce my father. I had to travel by street car, and later by bus, to visit my father whenever he requested, which was usually weekly. But the point is that all this time I was wanting to join the Church. It may have been the influence of my cousin with whom I spent some summers in Martinsville, Virginia, but I distinctly remember knowing with total certitude – that I was supposed to worship this God that I instinctively knew. I never remember anyone telling me that. In fact, my mother, whom I adored, and my father, whom I greatly feared, both were always telling me quite the opposite.
I could multiply anecdotes, as I am sure everyone else could also. What kind of perversion is it that denies this natural knowledge of the human soul?