The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.
The Church is intolerant in principle because she believes; she is tolerant in practice because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant in principle because they do not believe; they are intolerant in practice because they do not love.
If the notion of formal cause is obsolete, then the afﬁ rmation that is based on this notion is also obsolete. If one must “give up” this notion, it is necessary, whether one wants to or not, to give up as well this assertion, just as we gave up the astronomical hypothesis of Ptolemy that wasn’t a true conception, conformed to reality, but merely a practical representation that gave a provisional classiﬁ cation to the phenomena that had been observed up to that time. To give up the notion of formal cause, or of what constitutes a thing formally, would be to give up the notion of essence and the ﬁ rst principles that suppose this notion. It would be to fall into relativism, and the teaching Church herself would fall into it, if it wanted to follow this road which her discernment stops her from taking
What does it tell us ﬁ rst about relativism in the philosophical domain and then in that of dogma? It says (III, i): “Reason can arrive at the certain knowledge of the existence of God and the certain signs of divine Revelation.” Nevertheless “it will never be able to function in this way rightly and surely unless it has been properly formed; that is to say unless it has been penetrated by this healthy philosophy that we have received as a patrimony from the centuries of Christendom which have preceded us: patrimony that has been constituted over a long period of time, and that has attained to this superior degree of authority precisely because the very magisterium of the Church has submitted to the norms of divine Revelation itself its principles and its principal assertions which such grand minds have little by little discovered and deﬁ ned. This philosophy received and commonly accepted in the Church defends the authentic and exact validity of human reason, the unshakable principles of metaphysics—the principle of sufﬁ cient reason, of causality, of ﬁ nality—ﬁ nally the capacity to arrive at a certain and immutable truth.
It is clear according to what we have said that these (doctrines) do not only lead to dogmatic relativism, but already contain it in act; the contempt of the doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it expressed itself are already too close to it... .The expressions that, during the course of several centuries, were established by a common consent of Catholic doctors in order to arrive at some understanding of dogma surely do not rest on such a fragile foundation. They rest, in fact, on principles and notions taken from the true knowledge of created things; in the research of these notions revealed truth enlightened the human mind like a star by means of the Church. That is why it is not surprising that some of these notions have not only been used in ecumenical Councils but have received such a sanction that it is not permitted to distance oneself from them. Thus it is very imprudent to substitute for them ﬂ oating and vague notions and expressions of a new philosophy that are used today and will disappear tomorrow like the ﬂ owers of the ﬁ eld; this would be to make dogma itself a reed shaken by the wind. In fact, unfortunately these lovers of novelty easily pass from contempt of Scholastic theology to a lack of respect for and even contempt of the magisterium of the Church which has so strongly supported this theology by its authority.
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So, what is the task of the medical system? Our modern view of disease is that disease is centered in the body. The older view of disease is that it is soul loss, a loss of connection, of meaning, of purpose, of essence. If this is so, the real task of the medical system is to heal soul loss, to aid in the retrieval of the soul. The entire culture is ill with soul loss. What is needed is not to bring spirit into our work, to develop more of a spiritual practice or to go to church more. Our task is to recognize that we are always on sacred ground, that there is no split between the sacred and secular. That the living god is dancing on our back. That there is no task that is not sacred in nature and no relationship that is not sacred in nature. Life is a spiritual practice. Health care, which serves life, is a spiritual practice. Disease is a spiritual path, too. Much illness is caused by the loss of the soul. Many, many people live lives that are empty. This emptiness is caused, in some part, by living without meaning, or with meaning that is much too small, too trivial, or too material for the needs of a human being.
Prayer is the best test of an individual, and it is also the best test of a church. A church can be flourishing: She can be successful in terms of organizations, she can be tremendously active and appear to be prosperous, but if you want to know whether she is a real church or not, examine the amount of prayer that takes place.
The separation of church and state is necessary partly because if religion is good then the state shouldn't interfere with the religious vision or with the religious prophet. There must be a realm of truth beyond political competence, that's why there must be a separation of churches, but if religion is bad and a bad religion is one that gives an ultimate sanctity to some particular cause. Then religion mustn't interfere with the state
The program of our church is everything all the members are doing between Sundays. The church keeps house, goes to school, teaches, practices law, medicine and dentistry, runs business and industry, farms, works on construction jobs, researches in many fields, sits on school boards, city councils, county councils, state legislatures and congress. Between Sundays the church is involved in everything productive and constructive that is happening in our community... And what of the church work which is done in and for the church organization? Its purpose is to equip each member to do the work for the church Monday through Saturday. All the programs within the church are for the purpose of enabling the church to do the work of ministry between Sundays when she is invisible as a congregation.
Scientists are sometimes suspected of arrogance. Carl Sagan commends to us by contrast the humility of the Roman Catholic Church which, as early as 1992, was ready to grant a pardon to Galileo and admit publicly that the Earth does indeed revolve around the Sun. We must hope that this outspoken magnanimity will not cause any offence or hurt to the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdel-Aziz Ibn Baaz who, according to Sagan, in 1993 issued an edict, or fatwa, declaring that the world is flat. Anyone of the round persuasion does not believe in God and should be punished. Arrogance? Scientists are amateurs in arrogance.
There is no prescription for how to practice random kindness. It comes from the heart. Your gift might be to pick up litter in your neighborhood, make an anonymous contribution to a charity, send some cash in an unmarked envelope to make someone experiencing financial stress breathe a little easier, save an animal by bringing it to an animal rescue agency, or get a volunteer position feeding hungry people at a church or shelter. You may want to do all these things, and more. The point is, giving is fun and it doesn't have to be expensive.
The level of awe that you get by contemplating the modern scientific view of the universe: deep time (by which I mean geological time), deep space, and what you could call deep complexity, living things... that level of awe is just orders of magnitude greater and more awe-inspiring than the sort of pokey medieval world-view which the church still actually has. I mean, they sort of pay lip-service to the scientific world-view, but if you listen to what they say on Thought For The Day [a religious radio program] and things like that, it is medieval. It's a small world, a small universe, with the sky up there, very little advance since that time. So I yield to nobody in my awe for the universe and for life, but I also have a deep desire to understand it, in terms of what makes it work, what makes it tick, and not to take refuge in spurious non-explanations like I just believe it because I believe it, that sort of thing.