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The Cosmos as Memento Mori The U

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					      The Cosmos as Memento Mori:
        The Ultimate Significance
           of Modern Science
                                    Bryce Christensen

“IN TERMS OF FULFILLMENT of declared inten-         ten prevails. After all, science can now
tions,” writes medical researcher and               explain the beginning of the universe in a
Nobel laureate Peter Medawar, “science              pre-Big Bang fluctuation in a quantum
is incomparably the most successful en-             vacuum, can account for the origins of
terprise human beings have ever engaged             species (including Homo sapiens)
upon. Visit and land on the moon? A fait            through the winnowing effects of natural
accompli. Abolish smallpox? A pleasure.             selection on random mutations, and even
Extend our human life span by at least a            appears close to linking the physics of
quarter? Yes, assuredly, but that will take         relativity to the physics of quantum me-
a little bit longer.”1 Even in the late nine-       chanics through the sophisticated eleven-
teenth century, science had accom-                  dimensional mathematics of String
plished so much that Friedrich Nietzsche            Theory. Science has grown so conceptu-
feared that the boundless philosophical             ally powerful that many regard other
“optimism” inherent in “the spirit of sci-          sources of truth as quite superfluous.
ence” had driven all sensitivity to trag-           Many of those well-versed in the sciences
edy out of Western culture.2 And writing            regard religion and theology as particu-
at the beginning of the twenty-first cen-           larly irrelevant. As twentieth-century
tury, neo-Darwinian philosopher of sci-             American physicist I.I. Rabi once declared
ence John Gray has complained that many             in the youthful exuberance of his initia-
people now suppose that “science prom-              tion in astrophysics, “It’s all very simple,
ises that the most ancient human fanta-             who needs God?”4
sies will at last be realised. Sickness and            Such sanguine scientific godlessness
ageing will be abolished; scarcity and              strengthens what Polish sociologist
poverty will be no more; the species will           Florian Znaniecky identifies as the cen-
become immortal.”3                                  tral belief governing modern scholarship:
    When the focus shifts from the techno-          namely, “the deeply stimulating convic-
logical to the theoretical, from what sci-          tion that man...can alone and unaided by
ence can do to what it can explain, the             any divine grace or revelation reach in
same attitude of triumphal optimism of-             thought the Absolute, discover the ulti-
                                                    mate nature of the world and his own
BRYCE CHRISTENSEN teaches writing and litera-       nature.”5 A hopeful scientific atheism also
ture at Southern Utah University and is author of   swells the litany of beliefs that philoso-
Divided We Fall: Family Discord and the Frac-       pher Leszek Kolakowski characterizes as
turing of America (Transaction, 2005).              a type of modern Prometheanism: “Hu-

220                                                                                Summer 2005
man self-creativity has no limits, evil and        Science writer A.K. Dewdney likewise
suffering are contingent, life is infinitely    attacks cultural relativists who would
inventive...the human mind does not need        dissolve all objective truth in a sea of
any revelation or teaching from without.”6      cultural relativism. “A stone thrown in a
   However, the modern confidence in            vacuum will [actually] execute a parabola
science as a prop for ebullient atheism         with a precision great enough to rule out
turns out to be grievously misplaced. For       any other polynomial function as a pos-
only a shallow and largely technological        sible path,” Dewdney insists, as he mocks
perspective on modern science harmo-            the cultural relativists who suppose that
nizes with a godless optimism. The theo-        “Galileo and Newton lay this fantasy upon
retical pioneers of modern science actu-        us because they were Italian or English”
ally offer cheery-minded atheists very little   or because they were “expressing a post-
to support their optimism. Instead, these       Renaissance yearning for perfection.”9
scientific pioneers actually confront           Philosopher Robert Fogelin highlights the
those who are deeply knowledgeable with         epistemological importance of science
their findings with a stark choice: either a    in an age of skeptical relativism when he
rigorous and exclusive reliance upon sci-       discusses how the initial failure of the
ence within a universe of hopelessness,         Hubble Telescope “illustrates what is it is
barren of any ultimate grounds for mean-        like to encounter reality—to be con-
ing or morality and doomed to eventual          strained by it.... There are certain things
extinction, or a chastened and partial          that you can’t talk your way out of.”10
reliance upon science within a universe         Fogelin thus takes the Hubble episode as
endowed with hope, meaning, and moral-          paradigmatic of the way empirical sci-
ity by a Deity whose wondrous powers            ence “provides a check against our
transcend scientific categories.                thought,” its experiments bringing us up
   To their considerable credit, scientists     against an “external permanency...some-
do force hard choices by insisting on hard      thing upon which our thinking has no
realities. Unlike the many modern schol-        effect.”11
ars who have reduced truth to mere indi-           By bringing us into contact with “exter-
vidual interpretation, socially negotiated,     nal permanency,” science thus over-
scientists still dare use the word truth        throws the fantasies of intellectuals who
without the skeptical quotation marks           suppose that hermeneutic communities
now de rigueur among academic sophisti-         are entirely free to construct their own
cates. Biologist Richard Dawkins, for in-       realities through imagination, interpre-
stance, ridicules modern sophists whose         tation, and dialogue. “Empiricism,” the
doctrines of the cultural relativity of all     scholar of science W.E. Hocking remarks,
socially constructed meanings imply that        “is...a form of self-denial, a moral will to let
“a tribe which believes that the moon is        the object speak for itself. Empiricism
an old calabash tossed just above the           holds that if we allow it to do so, the
treetops...[holds a view] just as true as       object will speak, i.e. that truth is acces-
our scientific belief that the moon is a        sible.”12 Expressing the deep scientific
large Earth satellite about a quarter of a      faith that objects can speak to us in ways
million miles away”7 Such theorists,            that transcend individual and cultural
Dawkins asserts, betray the falsity of their    bias, the American physicist Joseph Henry
doctrines every time they make a journey        invoked theological language just before
by relying on aerospace engineers rather        performing an important scientific ex-
than flying-carpet fabulists. “Show me a        periment: “We are going to ask God a
cultural relativist at 30,000 feet and I will   question. Let us pray that we do not miss
show you a hypocrite,” he writes.8              his answer when He gives it to us.”13

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   The problem for those who would take          logical selfishness of individual genes
science as their guide in seeking some           can still actually foster cooperative and
pattern of hope, meaning, and morality in        even altruistic behavior in the right so-
the universe is not then its objectivity.        cial environment, must concede that to
That objectivity is a virtue, a strength.        shape our social environment in ways that
Such objectivity can at least challenge          will elicit congenial behaviors while also
the solipsism and cultural relativism now        suppressing certain genetically-pro-
widely prevalent in a truth-averse world.        grammed traits of brutality, greed, and
Rather, the problem with taking science          rapaciousness, social engineers must de-
as a guide to hope, meaning, and morality        liberately propagate untruth. Though he
is that the objective truths of modern           admits that “it is a distasteful idea for those
science are utterly lacking in metaphysi-        of us who think the truth is more interest-
cal content. Indeed, on its own terms,           ing than lies,” Ridley’s neo-Darwinian eth-
science cannot even give a satisfying ac-        ics compels him to conclude that “the first
count of human beings as seekers of truth.       thing we should do to create a good soci-
Within the neo-Darwinian paradigm, all           ety is to conceal the truth about
human behavior—like the behavior of              humankind’s propensity for self-interest,
every other species—ultimately derives           the better to delude our fellows into think-
from the quest for reproductive success,         ing that they are noble savages inside.”17
nothing more. “Darwinian theory,” Gray               In any case, Ridley’s elitist, manipula-
writes, “tells us that an interest in truth is   tive, and deceptive attempt to rescue
not needed for survival or reproduction.         goodness from the mixed ethical patri-
More often it is a disadvantage.... In a         mony of evolutionary biology finally ex-
competition for mates, a well-developed          poses the ultimate amorality of his scien-
capacity for self-deception is an advan-         tific premises. As political scientist John
tage.” Because “truth has no systematic          G. West has pointed out, “Almost by defi-
evolutionary advantage over error,” Gray         nition in Darwin’s system, whatever ex-
draws the only scientifically consistent         ists must somehow be good in a biologi-
conclusion: “The human mind serves evo-          cal sense. So, of course, biology supports
lutionary success, not truth.”14                 traditional morality—just as it supports
   A science that denies humans the              traditional immorality. Every trait that
power to seek truth must inevitably also         survives, after all, is somehow a product
deny them the power to seek virtue and           of natural selection.... When modern
goodness. Thus sociobiologist E.O. Wil-          boosters of evolutionary psychology....
son explains that “all higher ethical val-       argue that rape, infanticide, and adultery
ues” are “constrained in accordance with         are fundamentally the products of natu-
their effects on the human gene pool....         ral selection, they are simply following in
Human behavior—like the deepest ca-              Darwin’s footsteps.... Darwin’s theory
pacities for emotional response which            makes it [much] harder to argue for natu-
drive and guide it—is the circuitous tech-       ral distinctions between virtue and
nique by which human genetic material            vice.”18 And it is with neo-Darwinian ruth-
has been and will be kept intact. Morality       lessness that Gray delivers the coup de
has no other demonstrable ultimate func-         grâce to any traditional conception of
tion.”15 Dawkins puts it even more bluntly:      human virtue: “We are far more like ma-
“We are survival machines—robot ve-              chines and wild animals than we imag-
hicles blindly programmed to preserve            ine.”19
the selfish molecules known as genes.”16             Just as morality disappears in an exclu-
   Even a neo-Darwinian commentator              sively scientific world view, so too does
like Matt Ridley, who argues that the bio-       any coherent understanding of or appre-

222                                                                               Summer 2005
ciation for human language. Even an ag-         bilities, is built into the very structure of
nostic linguist such as Noam Chomsky—           conscious, voluntary, intentional human
who attributes the human capacity to            behavior.” Nonetheless, Searle discounts
speak to “random mutations”—admits              that “experience of freedom” as illusory
that modern science can give “no idea           because “the bottom-up conception of
why or how” humans speak.20 In a compel-        physical explanation...on which the past
ling refutation of all scientific attempts to   three hundred years of science are based”
explain language origins, Chomsky con-          can only mean that “psychological facts
cludes apodictically: “Neither physics nor      about ourselves...are entirely causally
biology nor psychology gives us any clue        explicable in terms of and entirely realised
as to how to deal with these matters.”21        in systems of elements at the fundamen-
Nor should it be forgotten that Darwin—         tal micro-physical level. Our conception
who vainly expended tremendous effort           of physical reality simply does not allow
in trying to account for language origins—      for radical freedom,”23 meaning the only
himself experienced a “curious and la-          kind of freedom that gives human nature
mentable loss of the higher aesthetic func-     moral dignity. Gray follows a similar line
tions,” aesthetic functions necessary for       of scientific logic in discarding freedom
the appreciation of the most refined form       of the human will: “Autonomy,” he writes,
of language: namely, poetry. Darwin             “means acting on reasons I have con-
traced his eventual loss of responsive-         sciously chosen; but the lesson of cogni-
ness to poetry to a single-minded focus         tive science is that there is no self to do
on science that had transformed his mind        the choosing.”24
into “a kind of machine for grinding gen-           Because it denies the mind the power
eral laws out of large collections of facts,”   to pursue truth, the soul the agency to
and he worried that this loss of respon-        choose its own path of action, a modern
siveness might possibly be “injurious to        science divorced from all other sources
the intellect, and more probably to the         of truth must rob thought of meaning and
moral character by enfeebling the emo-          purpose. If not complemented by other
tional part of our nature.”22                   sources of truth, modern science indeed
    But then the miracle of literary artistry   pushes the thinker trapped within its
can hardly stir a sense of wonder in the        metaphysically barren limits toward what
minds of scientists whose theoretical           G.K. Chesterton aptly called “the suicide
premises deny to the poet—and to every-         of thought.” Chesterton perceptively ana-
one else—the volitional autonomy tradi-         lyzed that suicide as the consequence of
tionally central to human dignity. Poems,       “modern fashions of thought” that de-
like all other products of human activity,      stroy intellectual life by fostering the
inexorably emerge from a neural biochem-        belief that “there is no validity in any
istry that simply plays out the possibili-      human thought.” The radical scientific
ties scripted in the probabilistic equa-        skeptic, Chesterton points out, must ask
tions of quantum micro-physics. The free-       “Why should anything go right; even ob-
dom of the will foundational to any sense       servation and deduction? Why should
of human dignity simply does not fit            not good logic be as misleading as bad
within modern science. “For reasons I           logic? They are both movements in the
don’t really understand,” remarks biologi-      brain of a bewildered ape?”25
cally-minded philosopher John Searle,               But then how can human thought not
“evolution has given us a form of experi-       risk self-extinction so long as it remains
ence of voluntary action where the expe-        within a modern science that views hu-
rience of freedom, that is to say, the expe-    man consciousness itself as a scandalous
rience of the sense of alternative possi-       puzzle? By the mid-nineteenth century,

Modern Age                                                                               223
the origin of consciousness already            [Earth]...for a brief 10 billion years will
loomed as a problem that biologist and         have long disappeared.” At that point,
co-discoverer of natural selection Alfred      Krauss muses, “The memory of the galaxy
Wallace regarded as an insoluble riddle        that housed the sun will have long disap-
within “the physics of the brain.” This        peared. Even the light from all of the stars
riddle, in Wallace’s view, counted as strong   in the universe may have long disap-
evidence that “man does not owe his            peared.” And then the time comes when
entire physical and mental development         even the subatomic particles left over
to [evolution’s] unaided action.”26 Writ-      from the now dark and lifeless universe
ing in the late twentieth century, physi-      begin to disappear: “The Process will
cist Andrew Zee still identifies “the exclu-   continue until…all atoms in the universe
sion of consciousness” as “a fundamental       are no longer.... [When] protons and neu-
guiding tenet of science,” as he marvels       trons cease to exist, they may in turn
“that science in general, and physics in       decay into electrons and their antipar-
particular, do not address this most strik-    ticle partners, positrons. By this time, the
ing of all observable phenomena.”27            universe will be too diffuse for electrons
   But if science remains mute when con-       and positrons to find each other in the
templating the origins of human con-           desert of largely empty space.”28
sciousness, theoretical physicists have           Prometheus, it would appear, has
much to say about the ultimate destiny of      stumbled into a very dark and dreary
that consciousness. And in what modern         place!
scientists have to say about mankind’s            Though he disapproves of their labors,
ultimate destiny, they make science the        physicist and Benedictine priest Stanley
ultimate source of despair, not hope. For      Jaki does see some physicists trying to
as physicists look into the far-distant fu-    dispel this ultimate darkness by trying
ture, they anticipate not a vista of per-      “to give eternity to the universe” with
petual progress but rather a vista of utter    “steady-state” and “oscillating” models
extinction. They anticipate the extinc-        for the universe.29 But because physicists
tion of not only all of mankind, but also of   lack any empirical evidence for these
all this planet’s other life forms. They       models, physicist and Anglican priest
indeed foresee the eradication of all life     John Polkinghorne sees empirical obser-
everywhere in the cosmos; they even an-        vations compelling “most cosmologists”
ticipate the eventual extirpation of all       to accept the ultimate future sketched
sources of light and energy in the uni-        out by Krauss, a future in which the uni-
verse. In the very end, they anticipate the    verse “grow[s] steadily colder and more
dissolution of the very atoms that make        dilute.” In any case, Polkinghorne adds
up the universe. Thus chemist Lawrence         that in the only other cosmological sce-
M. Krauss pauses only briefly to remark        nario now claiming any scientific plausi-
that “our home [Earth]...has been unin-        bility, “the universe implodes into a cos-
habitable before, and it certainly will be     mic melting pot.” “However fruitful the
again,” before hurrying on to contem-          universe may seem today,” Polkinghorne
plate “the dying solar system” in which        remarks, “its end lies in futility,” with
this Earth spins. Finally, Krauss ponders      universal death awaiting mankind in all
how “the very processes that created the       of the “certain prognostications of the
matter that makes up the universe of our       cosmic future.”30
experience will one day slowly return our         A rigorous and probing investigation
dust to nothingness.” He thus peers into       of science thus thoroughly dispels the
a far distant future when “all memory of       optimism surrounding the scientific en-
the star that sheltered the planet             terprise. Based on mere fascination with

224                                                                           Summer 2005
technological marvels or on superficial         conceptual parsimony to cut away from
knowledge of a few explanatory sche-            their scientific world view every bit of
mata, such optimism disappears from a           poetry, religious doctrine, or imaginative
science that strips man of all moral dig-       vision not testable in the laboratory or
nity, grants no secure place for conscious-     demonstrable through mathematical
ness or free will, and consigns all life to     proof. But whether they initially realize it
eventual oblivion. Even the Baconian slo-       or not, those who make this choice finally
gan “Knowledge is power”—so useful to           trap themselves within a cosmos lacking
centuries of propagandists of science—          in ultimate hope or meaning. On the other
proves ultimately illusory. For the knowl-      hand, the modern thinker may hope to
edge that science finally delivers about        find philosophical, moral, and noumenal
the destiny of the cosmos renders man-          truth by venturing beyond science—so
kind not powerful but powerless, utterly        exposing himself to increased risk of er-
incapable of averting the death of the          ror, deception, and illusion, but also open-
very stars and the atoms that constitute        ing up the possibility for finding hope and
them.                                           moral purpose.
    Once scientific meliorism has been              Perhaps surprisingly—given the large
exposed as a cosmic fraud—or, at best, a        claims he makes for science—Medawar
very temporary palliative for those mark-       himself chooses the second option by
ing time while awaiting certain extinc-         refusing to keep his search for truth within
tion—nothing but despair awaits those           scientific parameters. Medawar wisely
who regard science as their only source of      acknowledges “a limit to science,” a limit
truth.                                          that is exposed by “its inability to answer
    Still, those who would defend ultimate      childlike elementary questions having to
human hope and dignity err greatly if they      do with first and last things—questions
simply dismiss science as irrelevant or         such as ‘How did everything begin?’ ‘What
attack it as a philosophic enemy. Science       are we all here for?’ ‘What is the point of
threatens human dignity only for those          living?’” Medawar stresses that these are
who unnecessarily allow it to contract          “questions that science cannot answer
and define the limits of truth. For those       and that no conceivable advance of sci-
who see in it only a part of truth—a signifi-   ence would enable it to answer,” and he
cant part, but not the most important           regards as foolish those who have “dis-
part—science can complement and en-             missed all such questions as nonques-
rich truths derived from other sources.         tions or pseudoquestions” simply be-
Science can indeed clarify our non-scien-       cause science cannot answer them. To
tific thinking in several important ways.       find answers to these questions, Medawar
    First, because of the very way an exclu-    believes, we must turn to “the domains of
sively scientific perspective undercuts         myth, metaphysics, imaginative literature
the metaphysical premises of hope, of           or religion.” 31
dignity, and of free will, examining that           One of the benefits of investigating
perspective actually—and paradoxi-              science thoroughly and rigorously is thus
cally—can open up a clear and definitive        the discovery of the profound human
human choice. On the one hand, the              need for non-scientific truths. What is more,
modern thinker can shield himself against       the grim ultimate cosmologies can lend
error and confusion by restricting his          urgency to the search for these very truths.
intellectual horizons to empirically test-      If, as literary critic Joseph Schwartz has
able and mathematically predictable sci-        asserted, “the certainty of death is the
entific truths. Such is the choice of those     very condition of recovering oneself,” and
who ruthless apply Ockham’s Razor of            if that condition of mortal urgency under-

Modern Age                                                                               225
scores “the force of memento mori in             ics for the origins of their truths. In nei-
formulating a belief and an ethic,”32 then       ther Shakespeare, nor Woden, nor Kant
modern science has summoned all of               do we encounter anything like the self-
mankind to sober thoughts by revealing           existent “I AM THAT I AM” of Scripture
the entire universe to be a cosmic me-           (Ex. 3: 14).
mento mori. The galaxies themselves must            Rigorous training in empirical science
die. In a piquant way, the grim ultimate         and long pondering of its grim ultimate
cosmology re-casts Pascal’s Wager in an          prophecies for the cosmos may indeed
unexpected way by giving the wavering            prove especially beneficial in preparing
soul even more reason to bet on God              the seeker of non-scientific truth for the
rather than on the ultimately hopeless           faith that focuses on the Incarnate God,
alternative. The appeal of a Deity who           Jesus Christ. Indeed, Polkinghorne urges
promises to “create new heavens and a            his fellow Christians to recognize a rare
new earth” (Isa. 65: 17) shines with par-        opportunity for evangelism among those
ticular luster when science endorses in          whose schooling in science has taught
the strongest possible way the dark scrip-       them its limits. “Many people who can see
tural prophecy that “the heavens shall           that science of itself is too limited to tell
vanish away like smoke, and the earth            us all that we need to know,” writes
shall wax old like a garment, and they that      Polkinghorne, “seem nevertheless to be
dwell therein shall die in like manner”          at a loss to know where else to turn. In the
(Isa. 51: 6).                                    face of this situation, religion must not
    Pascal’s Wager, of course, draws us          lose its nerve in proclaiming that it too is
into religion, only one of the four do-          concerned with the search for truth.”
mains of meaning listed by Medawar as            Polkinghorne recognizes, in particular,
necessary supplements to science. But in         an opportunity for proclaiming religious
exploring all four of these non-scientific       truth in answer to “the gloomy prognos-
domains, we would do well to remember            tications of scientific cosmology,” in
what science can teach about truth as an         which he sees “a challenge to which the-
objective reality, an “external perma-           ology must respond.” And he finds that
nency...something upon which our think-          response in affirming “Jesus’ resurrection
ing has no effect.” The scientific insis-        as the origin and guarantee of human
tence on objective truth can thus serve as       hope.” “The resurrection of Jesus,” avers
an anchor in an intellectual world in which      Polkinghorne, “is the seminal event from
hermeneutic virtuosity and cultural rela-        which the whole of God’s new creation
tivism have all but overthrown the               has already begun to grow.”33
Parmenidean principle of non-contradic-             Nothing in all of religion—not the
tion and nearly reduced truth to a quaint        Enlightenment of Gautama Buddha, not
anachronism for the naïve. Furthermore,          the visions of Mohammed, not the hymns
the discipline of scientific thought may         in the Hindu Samhitas, not the creation
even help us to recognize that although          myths of Shinto—resonates with empiri-
Medawar lists four different non-scien-          cal expectations like the instruction the
tific domains in which to search for an-         risen Jesus gives his perplexed disciples
swers to mankind’s “elementary ques-             in order to verify the truth of his Resurrec-
tions,” one of these domains clearly claims      tion: “Handle me and see; for a spirit hath
precedence over the others. For while we         not flesh and bones, as ye see me have”
can identify one ultimate and transcen-          (Luke 24: 39). In the same way, the risen
dent source (i.e., Deity) for religious truth,   Lord urges the doubting Thomas to carry
we still probe behind or beyond imagina-         out the very empirical tests which Tho-
tive literature, mythology, and metaphys-        mas had earlier demanded in order to

226                                                                             Summer 2005
make him believe: “Reach hither thy fin-                 molecules reknit, the amino acids
ger, and behold my hands; and reach                      rekindle, the Church will fall.34
hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side:
and be not faithless, but believing” (John               Even if they understand the limits of
20: 27; cf. 20:25).                                   science, it may still vex some scientifi-
   To be sure, the risen Jesus did not make           cally-trained seekers for non-scientific
his resurrected body available in some                truths that they were not present with
open laboratory for inspection by any                 Peter, Thomas, or the other eye-witnesses
and all skeptical natural philosophers.               permitted to touch and handle the risen
More importantly, even as he reproved                 Lord’s body. But the future may yet satisfy
his apostles (Luke 24: 38; John 20: 27, 29)           every empirical appetite of the faithful:
for the unbelief that made it necessary for           Polkinghorne piquantly suggests that the
him to give them palpable proof of his                end of the world “will either verify or
resurrection, Jesus pronounced those                  falsify Christian belief—though if the lat-
“blessed...that have not seen, and yet have           ter is the case, there will be no human
believed” (John 20: 29). Nonetheless, be-             person there to witness the disproof.”
cause Jesus did provide the requisite pal-            That is, “eschatological experience will
pable proof, we can recognize his Resur-              provide the ultimate vindication of be-
rection as a physical truth of the sort               lief” in the promises of the God of Scrip-
scientists understand, not some subjec-               ture.35 In the new heavens and new earth
tive fantasy, not a hermeneutic represen-             of which our own risen bodies miracu-
tation, not a heuristic metaphor, and not             lously will become a part, we may, then,
a therapeutic parable. It is of the absolute          finally employ empirical methods of veri-
truth—that is, the real physicality—of                fying religious truth as we use our hands
Jesus’ Resurrection that St. Peter speaks             and fingers to touch and feel our own
when he declares, “We have not followed               resurrected bodies, and those of our
cunningly devised fables...but were eye-              loved ones.
witnesses of his majesty” (II Pet. 1: 16).               As our wonder and joy in verifying the
   It is indeed with a profound recogni-              truth of our own resurrection grows, will
tion of the way in which the Resurrection             we then recall anything of what we expe-
at once fits within yet still transcends the          rienced as mortals struggling to under-
empiricism of modern science that John                stand the truths of biochemistry, medi-
Updike testifies of the Resurrection in his           cine, or physics?
marvelous “Seven Stanzas at Easter”:                     Or will we simply praise God that—for
                                                      all we learned on earth about quantum
   Make no mistake: if He rose at all                 mechanics or polysaccharides—his grace
   it was as His body;                                and mercy finally vouchsafed to us super-
   if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the     nal truths far beyond science?


1. Peter Medawar, The Limits of Science (Oxford,      the Devil, and Other Worries of the So-Called Phi-
1984), 65. 2. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of       losophy of Religion (New York, 1982), 202. 7. Qtd.
Tragedy from the Spirit of Music, Vol. 1 of The       in Richard Bailey, “Overcoming Veriphobia—
Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, ed. Oscar      Leaning to Love Truth Again,” British Journal of
Levy (London, 1909), 131. 3. John Gray, Straw         Educational Studies 49 (2001); 159-172. 8. Ibid. 9.
Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals            A.K. Dewdney, Beyond Reason: Eight Problems that
(London, 2003), 123. 4. John S. Rigden, Rabi:         Reveal the Limits of Science (Hoboken, 2004), 2-8.
Scientist and Citizen (New York, 1987), 23. 5.        10. Robert Fogelin, Walking the Tightrope of Rea-
Florian Znaniecky, The Social Role of the Man of      son (New York, 2003), 137. 11. Ibid., 137. 12. Qtd.
Knowledge (1940; rpt. New Brunswick, 1986), 161.      in Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Truth: A History and
6. Leszek Kolakowski, Religion: If There Is No God,   a Guide for the Perplexed (New York, 2001), 120.


Modern Age                                                                                          227
13. Qtd. in Bulent Atalay, Math and the Mona Lisa:      Minds, Brains, and Science: The 1984 Reith Lec-
The Art and Science of Leonardo da Vinci (Washing-      tures (London, 1985), 98. 24. Op. cit., 115. 25. G.K.
ton, 2004), 24. 14. Op. cit., 26-27. 15. E.O. Wilson,   Chesterton, Orthodoxy. 26. Qtd. in Ross A. Slotten,
Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (Cambridge, Mass,       The Heretic in Darwin’s Court: The Life of Alfred
1975), 177, 201-202. 16. Qtd. in Matt Ridley, The       Russel Wallace (New York, 2004), 282, 284. 27.
Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution    Andrew Zee, Fearful Symmetry: The Search for
of Cooperation (New York, 1997), 19. 17. Ibid., 261.    Beauty in Modern Physics (New York, 1986), 278-
18. John G. West, “Darwinian Relativism,” Rev. of       279. 28. Lawrence M. Krauss, Atom: An Odyssey
Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, by Janet            from the Big Bang to Life on Earth...and Beyond
Browne, Claremont Review of Books (Spring 2004),        (Boston, 2001), 227, 281-282. 29. Stanley L. Jaki,
63. 19. Op. cit., 115. 20. Noam Chomsky, “On            Angels, Apes & Men (La Salle, 1983), 78-79. 30.
Cognitive Structures and Their Development: A           John Polkinghorne, The God of Hope and the End
Reply to Piaget,” Language and Learning: The            of the World (New Haven, 2002), 9. 31. Peter
Debate Between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky,            Medawar, The Limits of Science (Oxford, 1984),
ed. Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini (Cambridge, Mass.,       66. 32. Joseph Schwartz, “Life and Death in The
1980), 36. 21. Noam Chomsky, Language and Mind          Last Gentleman,” Renascence 40 (1988), 125. 33.
(New York, 1968), 62. 22. Charles Darwin, The           Op. cit., 9, 47, 113. 34. John Updike, Collected
Autobiography of Charles Darwin, Nora Barlow            Poems: 1953-1993 (New York, 1999), 20. 35. Op.
(1887, rpt. New York, 1958), 138. 23. John Searle,      cit., 146, 148.




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