Saturday, July 23, 2016

Third eBook published:
"Science versus the Church--'Truth Cannot Contradict Truth' "
(third ebook in "Top Down to Jesus" series)

To the right is the cover of my third ebook, "Science versus the Church".
It's available for a measly $2.50 on Amazon.com as a kpf file (i.e. like a pdf, but readable on a Kindle reader).

It is also available on leanpub.com in pdf format, to be read with Adobe Acrobat Reader (for what you want to pay).

And as an iBook, with additional bells and whistles--scrolling sidebars, interactive images, video, image gallery,

The book was given a trial run in an adult education course for the Diocese of Harrisburg.    I plan to jazz it up a bit as an iBook, with image galleries, interactive images and videos.

Here's the Preface and the Table of Contents:


Preface
The subtitle of this book, “Truth cannot contradict truth”, is taken from an address by Pope St. John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Science in 1996.    His talk was on evolution, and how the theory of evolution, as supported by empirical data, did not contradict Catholic teaching.

That is the theme of this book: nothing that we know about the world from empirically verified scientific theories conflicts with Catholic teaching.    Where there does appear to be a conflict, it arises from theories that are not verified by observation and that, in most cases, can never be so tested.   As in many cosmology theories, theories about how (and whether) the universe came to be, are untestable and lie in the domain of what might be best termed “mathematical metaphysics”.  In short, there is no war between science and the Church.

How am I going to show this?  In the first chapter, I’ll discuss how we know things either by logic, by empirical test, or by Revelation.   In the second, I’ll explore the limits of science, limits that I’ve encountered in my  scientific career and limits set by philosophy.   Since the Catholic Church was the midwife for the scientific enterprise, as I’ll demonstrate in Chapter 3 (and as has been shown by Pierre Duhem and Stacy Trasancos),  there should be no reason for the two to be at war.   History confirms this, as does the rapprochement of Pope St. John Paul with science.

In Chapter 4. several views on Creation are discussed:  that of the Catholic Church  (Creatio ex Nihilo—Creation from Nothing), and the various cosmology theories (some highly speculative) of both Beginning (or non-Beginning).  Catholic teaching can be reconciled with all of these, but the one that lends itself most easily to empirical evidence and Creation dogma is the Big Bang theory.

The Anthropic Principle—the idea that the physical laws and constants of the universe are finely tuned to enable carbon-based life—is discussed in Chapter 5.   Some of the current theories for evolution, models for how the descent of species might occur, are examined in Chapter 6.   Contrary to some opinions, the Church is not “against” evolution; it denies only those theories of evolution that hold man to be entirely material, without a soul.

Several concepts of  “soul”, “consciousness”, “mind” are set forth in Chapter 7—who (or what) might have a soul or be conscious, and  what science and the Church have to say about this.  There is no uniform opinion amongst scientists and philosophers, but the teaching of the Church is well defined.

In Chapter 8 I talk about miracles, what constitutes a miracle, give examples of miracles in the Old and New Testaments and in more recent times, and show how the Church has a rigorous standard of evidence for miracles.   Finally, on a very personal note, I argue that a  scientist can believe in miracles, even though some non-believers would deny this.

At the end of each chapter there are questions meant to stir the reader to deeper reflection about the chapter material.    There is not a right or wrong answer to any of these, but I hope they help to make the content clearer and more meaningful.

I’d like to thank all those who have helped me in the formation of this talk, priests, family, students.   And, finally, here is a phrase from the heading of my blog: “You don’t have to apologize for being Catholic if you’re a scientist.”

 Chapter 1--Ways of Knowing

  • SECTION 1.1  INTRODUCTION
  • SECTION 1.2—FAITH AND REVELATION
  • SECTION 1.3—RATIONAL INQUIRY
  • SECTION 1.4—QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Chapter 2--Limits of Scientific Knowledge

  • SECTION 2.1—INTRODUCTION
  • SECTION 2.2—PHILOSOPHICAL BACKGROUND
  • SECTION 2.3—HOW DOES SCIENCE WORK?
  • SECTION 2.4—WHAT SCIENCE CAN’T DO
  • SECTION 2.5—QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Chapter 3--Science and the Church: a Short History

  • SECTION 3.1—INTRODUCTION
  • SECTION 3.2—PROLOGUE: THE GREEK WORLD
  • SECTION 3.3—ST. AUGUSTINE: A THEOLOGIAN FOR OUR TIMES.
  • SECTION 3.4—THE CHURCH, MIDWIFE TO SCIENCE
  • SECTION 3.5—SCIENCE VS. CHURCH—A COLD WAR?
  • SECTION 3.6—QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Chapter 4: Science Intersects Catholic Teaching: 
Cosmology vs Creatio ex Nihilo

  • SECTION 4.1—INTRODUCTION
  • SECTION 4.2—CREATIO EX NIHILO: THEOLOGY
  • SECTION 4.3—IN THE BEGINNING: COSMOLOGY
  • SECTION 4.4—THEOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
  • SECTION 4.5—QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Chapter 5--Are We Special?  

  • SECTION 5.1—INTRODUCTION
  • SECTION 5.2—ARE WE  SPECIAL:  THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE
  • SECTION 5.3—QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Chapter 6--Evolution  

  • SECTION 6.1—INTRODUCTION
  • SECTION 6.2—THE POSITION OF THE CHURCH ON EVOLUTION
  • SECTION 6.3—THE ORIGIN OF LIFE
  • SECTION 6.4—EVOLUTION:  THE SCIENCE
  • SECTION 6.5—QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Chapter 7--Who Has a Soul?

  • SECTION 7.1—INTRODUCTION
  • SECTION 7.2—CATHOLIC TEACHING ABOUT THE SOUL
  • SECTION 7.3—WHAT SCIENCE TELLS US ABOUT THE SOUL
  • SECTION 7.4—FINAL THOUGHTS
  • SECTION 7.5—QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Chapter 8--Miracles

  • SECTION 8.1—INTRODUCTION
  • SECTION 8.2—WHAT IS A MIRACLE?
  • SECTION 8.3—SOME EXAMPLES OF MIRACLES
  • SECTION 8.4—HOW THE CHURCH JUDGES MIRACLES
  • SECTION 8.5—CAN A SCIENTIST BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?
  • SECTION 8.6—QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Chapter 9--Where Is Science's Catechism?

SECTION 9.1--INTRODUCTION
SECTION 9.2--THE BALTIMORE CATECHISM
SECTION 9.3--THE CATECHISM ACCORDING TO SCIENTISM
SECIONT 9.4--CONCLUSION

References
  • BOOKS
  • WEB-BASED (just a sampling—general sites)

Afterword

Thanks for looking--better yet, thanks for buying!
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About Me

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Retired, cranky, old physicist.   Convert to Catholicism in 1995.   Trying to show that there is no contradiction between what science tells us about the world and our Catholic faith.   Intermittent blogs and adult education classes to achieve this end (see http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/   and http://home.ptd.net/~rkurland)

Extraordinary Minister of Communion volunteer to federal prison and hospital; lector, EOMC.
Sometime player of bass clarinet, alto clarinet, clarinet, bass, tenor bowed psaltery for parish instrumental group and local folk group.

And, finally, my motivation:
“It is also necessary—may God grant it!—that in providing others with books to read I myself should make progress, and that in trying to answer their questions I myself should find what I am seeking.
Therefore at the command of God our Lord and with his help, I have undertaken not so much to discourse with authority on matters known to me as to know them better by discoursing devoutly of them.”
St. Augustine of Hippo, The Trinity I,8.