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One Way to Defend Science

If I was given the choice of a simple life free from troubles or a complex life filled with good works, I would choose the simple life. I’d like to live a quiet and peaceful life with my wife, out in the country, with little financial pressure. I feel, however, that this is not an option for me and that I must live a complex life for the sake of good works working to accomplish challenging goals for the benefit of others that brings upon me great stress. This is a dilemma I wrestle with every day and I don’t know whether I respond to it rightly or not. It will likely torment me until I die.

I feel a similar way about the apparent paradox between faith and science. One the one hand, I would like to be a simple, trusting believer who lives content with the testimony of Sacred Scripture and the dogma of the Church. Then, I feel a responsibility to answer the criticisms of “naysayers” and give a defense for the faith, which requires that I take up complex studies and arguments. I investigate and discuss complex issues like evolution, atomic theory, abortion, homosexuality, archaeology, hermeneutics, etc. I don’t want to; I feel like I have to.

Today, as I was walking, I thought of an argument to support complex learning and reasoning.

Normally, when I am annoyed by learning, it is because I am required to research something I don’t presently know much about, and it’s difficult. I’d like to imagine a Christianity where what I know is all that needs to be known.

However, what I know today I did not know when I was 28 years old. Would I prefer to live as a Christian with my knowledge at age 28 or with the much more complex knowledge I have today?

I would prefer to have my current knowledge.

Therefore, today, if I think of the knowledge I currently have compared to the knowledge I will likely have when I’m 68 years old, would I rather have that knowledge at 68 or my current knowledge? Certainly, that knowledge.

Therefore, the complexity of scientific learning is to be desired because the aversion to it is unreasonable. We are inclined to be averse to it not because it is useless or unnecessary, but because it is uncomfortable and may be very difficult. Thinking that our current knowledge is all that we need is as reasonable as thinking that my 28 year old knowledge is all that I need today.

At 28, I was an Anglican. I didn’t pray the Rosary. I didn’t attend Mass. I didn’t understand these things and I would never want to live without this knowledge. It was not easy to begin attending Mass or learning to pray the Rosary and it would have been convenient to say, at 28, “I don’t need to learn anything I don’t already know.”

Scholarly controversies are annoying and difficult, but necessary.

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