Aquinas, Newton and Lemaitre What do they have in common? | jy.catholic.org.hk

 

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Aquinas, Newton and Lemaitre What do they have in common?

刊登日期: 2013.10.06
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

 

 Last week, we focused on Truth, specifically Objective Truth, truth as it is regardless of our thinking about it. We will continue this week with the relationship between science and faith. 

Some people mistakenly think that religion is not about science and science is not about religion. They cannot be more wrong. Let’s take a look, this week, on the most fundamental scientific truth that came from the father of modern science, Isaac Newton

Newton lived in the 18th century. Every student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity and formulated the laws of physics. 

Do you remember Newton’s first law of physics? The Principle of Inertia, which states that an object at rest remains at rest, and an object in motion remains in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force. 

Did Newton somehow invent this law? NO. He merely discovered it, and not totally out of the blue. 

Here comes St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas lived in the 13th century, 500 years BEFORE Newton. He is famous for his philosophy, particularly his philosophical proof of existence of God, one of which states: 

Principle of causality: Everything is caused to exist by an uncaused causer. The uncaused causer we call God. (very simplified for our discussion) 

Interesting how Newton SCIENTICALLY proved Aquinas’ position. In fact, Aquinas did not come up with his proofs either. He relied on Aristotle who lived around 300B.C., 1500 years earlier. 

What we see is that science is a TOOL for what the mind has perceived. Science does not and cannot come up with something new by itself no more than calculus or algebra created the universe. 

Now comes Monsignor Georges Henri Lemaitre, a priest from Belgium. He was a professor of Physics in the 1930’s when the scientists of the time, (led by John Hubble from whom the Hubble space telescope was named) observed that the universe was expanding. Lemaitre then theorized that the universe must have expanded from an earlier time and size. This expansion, this force that made the universe expand, is now commonly called the Big Bang. With subsequent studies, scientists now calculate that the universe is around 13.8 billion years old. 

Do you know that Einstein actually disagreed with Lemaitre? 

Fascinating! 

Human knowledge takes a long time to come up with what God has done and put in place. It is the same in ALL fields of science. It takes humility to acknowledge that we are creatures and to be awed by the immensity of God.

Science is important to the Church. A closer look at history will tell us that, in fact, the Church has not only encouraged scientific discovery, she has been behind it all the time. Universities were founded and financed by the Church. Scientists were supported in their research. It would be wrong to think that the Church gets in the way of science. (In another article I will write about the Galileo controversy.) 

What about miracles? It is precisely to avoid superstition that the Church relies upon science to verify the claims of miracles. It is only after all possible explanations have been exhausted that the Church would declare something miraculous has occurred. Take for example the hundreds, if not thousands, of miraculous claims made at Lourdes. Only 70 or so of them have been accepted by the Church to be truly miraculous. But even that is amazing by itself. 

You see, the Church does not want us to base our faith on miracles. It would not be advisable. Our faith depends on God who IS, regardless of our thinking about it. 

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