Over the past few weeks I have been writing about different perspectives on Catholic and Atheist beliefs. The point has not been to try to prove that the fundamental conclusions of one group or another are correct. Rather the goal has been to encourage both groups to think carefully about the shaky or unexplored assumptions of their own world view.
In this post I want to show how Atheists and Catholics can collaborate effectively, even if it takes a couple of years to do so after first speaking about something they disagree on.
Father Georges Lemaitre was both a Jesuit priest and a trained scientist. He lived in Belgium. While there were others who developed the rudiments of the “Big Bang” theory, he independently developed rigorous mathematical expressions that supported his hypothesis. That hypothesis was that the universe is expanding and started a very long time ago while compressed into a space smaller than a volley ball. For this he is called the father of the “Big Bang.”
He brought his work to the attention of Albert Einstein in 1927. Einstein admired the math but felt the conclusions were preposterous. But over a period of 2 years Einstein came around and admitted in a very public way that Father Lemaitre’s work was brilliant and that he (Einstein) was wrong. Einstein had believed the universe was static and neither expanding or contracting. Father Lemaitre’s work, as confirmed by Edwin Hubble in 1929, showed that Einstein and others were wrong. The universe is not static. It definitely appears to be expanding and doing so at a fantastically rapid speed.
If one reads some of Einstein’s quotes, it sounds like he does believe in God. But when asked directly he said that he did not believe in a conception of God that takes personal interest in human life. Essentially he was a scientist and an atheist.
Father Lemaitre was a scientist and a Catholic Priest who believed God does exist.
Father Lemaitre’s work does not prove that God exists. But it proves that someone who believes in God can develop valid science and interact with Atheist scientists on a scientific basis.
Albert Einstein demonstrated that he could admit that one of his most important core assumptions was mistaken even though it took him 2 years to do so.
If only more Catholic Priests, lay people and Popes could do the same. Sadly most Christians are obstinately stuck on core beliefs such as Original Sin even though this particular belief has been proven by evolutionary biologists to be a mistaken idea. Sadly, Original Sin is not the only doctrine that Catholics will need to disavow.
At any rate this story shows that much fruitful collaboration can exist between those who believe and those who do not.
For people in either camp, the way forward is the same. A rigorous review of the core assumption and doctrines of their world view with the goal being to really see which assumptions are valid and which really are not.
My sense is that as people of both groups do this work there will be a synthesis that emerges. In the new synthesis, much of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu doctrines will be seen to be wrong.
But the core assumption of Atheists that there is no such thing as God will also be proven wrong. It will be proven wrong because it will be confirmed by scientists and believers that there is a life that unifies all life and that the nature of that universal life or energy is sublime and fully accessible to each person.
In fact when you think about it couldn’t God be what Einstein was looking for in his search for a Unified Field Theory?? And when Scientists talk about String Theory why do they never seem to ask, “Who made the strings?”
Will Raymond Author of “The Simple Path of Holiness” Host of MeditationPractice.com.