Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dark Clouds, Silver Linings at Notre Dame

The Cloud Over The Dome

In 1974, I attended a meeting designed to probe the possibilities of rescuing Catholic education from the nebulous but ubiquitous “spirit of Vatican II.” At lunch, I joined Father Christopher O’Toole, C.S.C., and my own bishop, Leo Pursley, D.D., who had confirmed me years before. Why were these two luminaries interested in supporting efforts to preserve orthodox education for the next generation of college students? Their answer was blunt. “I’m doing penance,” said Father O’Toole, somberly. And Bishop Pursley nodded in agreement.

Penance for what? Well, Father O’Toole explained, as the Superior General of the Congregation of the Holy Cross throughout the 1960s, he had not done enough to prevent the secularization of Notre Dame during that fateful decade. Bishop Pursley, who had presided over the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend for almost twenty years, also admitted that he had not been forceful enough with the university. That afternoon, both men agreed that, as far as Notre Dame was concerned, they had failed.

That conversation came to mind during the uproar that followed the recent announcement by Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., President of Notre Dame, that Barack Obama would address the Class of 2009 at commencement in May. This decision was shocking, yes -- but it was based on a fundamental error that goes back forty years.

In1967, a group of Catholic educators, led by Notre Dame President Theodore M. Hesburgh, met at Land’O Lakes, Wisconsin, and formally declared their independence from the Catholic Church. Alas, their motives were less than noble. Just two years before, LBJ’s Omnibus Education Act had opened the floodgates to federal funding of higher education, and Catholic colleges wanted a place at the trough. Notre Dame quickly adopted a lay board of trustees so it could receive federal money, and only a year later the other shoe fell when numerous Notre Dame faculty and religious roundly denounced Humanae Vitae.

In a 2007 Wanderer interview, Archbishop Raymond Burke zeroed in on Land’O Lakes as a central catalyst of decline in Catholic education. “So much was undone,” he said, “and there’s a mentality [that] entered into the universities by which those people who dedicated their lives to Catholic education believe that they could not be an excellent university and at the same time be faithful to the Church’s teaching and discipline. That is a fundamental error, and it takes a lot to undo it.”

Shaking Down The Thunder

Since announcing Obama’s acceptance, Father Jenkins has been deluged with phone calls, emails, and letters denouncing his decision and requesting that he rescind the invitation. Within days, 150,000 people signed an online petition at notredamescandal.com, and Notre Dame students began planning a series of events addressing Obamas’s policies that have already proven him to be the most pro-death president in U.S. history.

Not that any of this will bother Father Jenkins. Notre Dame’s administration these days is thoroughly intimidated by the increasingly left-wing and non-Catholic faculty, which apparently expects to be running the school within a generation. The reasons are simple. Consider the C.S.C.’s: the Catholic News Service incorrectly reports that Notre Dame is “run by the Congregation of Holy Cross.” Sorry, that ended forty years ago, when federal money required that the Congregation not run the school. Moreover, vocations to the C.S.C.’s are dwindling to the point that, in forty more years, priests on the faculty will be a rare anachronism. But won’t outraged alumni stop donating? No problem! NBC Sports has an exclusive multi-year contract to broadcast Notre Dame’s home football games. University spokesman Dennis Brown cannot reveal the amount the school receives from NBC, but a source in NBC’s New York headquarters says that Notre Dame receives more from NBC than it receives from all alumni giving. And what about that federal money? Mr. Brown tells the Wanderer that, in a typical year, Notre Dame receives about eighty million dollars in federal grants.

In brief, Notre Dame’s institutional priorities have moved since the 1960s from the principles of the faith to money and power. And what has been the engine of that change? Ralph McInerny, who retires this year after teaching philosophy at Notre Dame for fifty-four years, blames it on the university’s “truly vulgar lust to be welcomed into secular society.”

In short, from the point of view of Notre Dame’s first priority since 1967 – money – the Obama invitation is a win-win situation. The uproar delights the faculty: their status rises in the eyes of their secular counterparts who sit on the “peer review” committees that approve federal grants. So does their prestige, since being a Catholic who actually embraces Church teaching is a ticket to nowhere among any university’s faculty nowadays.

The Silver Lining

Two opportunities emerge here. First, in brushing off the avalanche of criticism, Father Jenkins, at the end of some blather celebrating Obama’s appearance, said that “we see his visit as a basis for further positive engagement.” Well, a number Notre Dame students have taken him seriously. Already, several organizations have banded together -- first, to repudiate the invitation, and second, to organize a series of events that will reveal whether Father Jenkins is as good as his word. Does Obama really want engagement? Does he really want to discuss embryonic stem-cell research beyond the blithe pleasantries he offered at his press conference on March 24th? How about the ten billion condoms that the U.S. has sent to poor countries around the world? Would Obama care to compare his views on African AIDS with those of Pope Benedict? And, if the president is “personally opposed” to abortion, will students have a chance to ask him why he is personally opposed? What is it about abortion that is so gruesome that he would personally oppose it, when so many of his ardent supporters are pro-abortion zealots?

The second opportunity lies with the real authority here -- diocesan Bishop John D’Arcy. Canon Law gives the Ordinary, not the university, the right and the duty to bestow and to remove the name “Catholic” from any institution or endeavor in his diocese (C216). There is recent precedent. Last fall, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde announced “that Notre Dame Academy can no longer identify itself as a Catholic school.” The academy, founded in Middleburg, Virginia by the Sisters of Notre Dame 45 years ago, is now governed by a lay board of trustees who no longer want to uphold the teachings of the Church. Bishop Loverde thus announced that “the school will no longer have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in its chapel and the diocese will not be able to guarantee the quality or authenticity of religious or other instruction.”

Bishop Loverde saves the best ‘til last: “I have strongly suggested to [the Chairman] that the Board of Trustees consider changing the name of the school. The title ‘Notre Dame’ (Our Lady) is so closely associated with our Catholic faith that continued use of the name would undoubtedly be a cause of confusion to potential students and their families.”

Bishop D’Arcy wrote that “President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred,” the bishop wrote, announcing that he would not attend the ceremony.

But he can do more. Let us pray that Bishop D’Arcy doesn’t someday lament that, when it came to Notre Dame, he was not forceful enough.
Contact Bishop John D’Arcy at P.O. Box 390, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46801.
Write Chris Manion and discuss (or criticize) his Wanderer articles at the Catholic Guys Internet blog (http://thecatholicguys.blogspot.com).

The Wanderer, April 9, 2009

6 comments:

James Redford said...

Hi, Christopher Manion. The problem with the secularization which you describe is more fundamental than the reasons for it which you give.

The more fundamental problem is that Christianity as it's commonly thought of has lost the intellectual high-ground to secularism: Christianity is often regarded within academia as being out of step with science, particularly physics. Those with the appellation of Christian within academia have themselves largely accepted this premise, as well. The result is that the secularists can be fanatical and intolerant in the promotion of their vision of an atheistic world, whereas those designated Christian are consigned to rearguard and impotent defenses.

For both of these sides, the error is the same: not taking their best fundamental theories seriously enough as true explanations for how the world works. Both of these sides have abandoned the search for truth, although for opposing reasons: the secularists because they don't want God to exist; and those called Christians because they have been convinced by the secularists that science is not on their side.

Yet God has been proven to exist based upon the most reserved view of the known laws of physics. For much more on that, see Prof. Frank J. Tipler's below paper, which among other things demonstrates that the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics) require that the universe end in the Omega Point (the final cosmological singularity and state of infinite informational capacity identified as being God):

F. J. Tipler, "The structure of the world from pure numbers," Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 897-964. http://math.tulane.edu/~tipler/theoryofeverything.pdf Also released as "Feynman-Weinberg Quantum Gravity and the Extended Standard Model as a Theory of Everything," arXiv:0704.3276, April 24, 2007. http://arxiv.org/abs/0704.3276

Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler's above paper was selected as one of 12 for the "Highlights of 2005" accolade as "the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website." (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, "Highlights of 2005," Reports on Progress in Physics. http://www.iop.org/EJ/journal/-page=extra.highlights/0034-4885 )

Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain's main professional body for physicists. Further, Reports on Progress in Physics has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once). A journal's impact factor reflects the importance the science community places in that journal in the sense of actually citing its papers in their own papers. (And just to point out, Tipler's 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper could not have been published in Physical Review Letters since said paper is nearly book-length, and hence not a "letter" as defined by the latter journal.)

See also the below resources for further information on the Omega Point Theory:

Theophysics: God Is the Ultimate Physicist http://geocities.com/theophysics/

"Omega Point (Tipler)," Wikipedia, April 16, 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Omega_Point_%28Tipler%29&oldid=206077125

"Frank J. Tipler," Wikipedia, February 9, 2009 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Frank_J._Tipler&oldid=269587875

Tipler is Professor of Mathematics and Physics (joint appointment) at Tulane University. His Ph.D. is in the field of global general relativity (the same rarefied field that Profs. Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking developed), and he is also an expert in particle physics and computer science. His Omega Point Theory has been published in a number of prestigious peer-reviewed physics and science journals in addition to Reports on Progress in Physics, such as Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (one of the world's leading astrophysics journals), Physics Letters B, the International Journal of Theoretical Physics, etc.

Prof. John A. Wheeler (the father of most relativity research in the U.S.) wrote that "Frank Tipler is widely known for important concepts and theorems in general relativity and gravitation physics" on pg. viii in the "Foreword" to The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1986) by cosmologist Prof. John D. Barrow and Tipler, which was the first book wherein Tipler's Omega Point Theory was described. On pg. ix of said book, Prof. Wheeler wrote that Chapter 10 of the book, which concerns the Omega Point Theory, "rivals in thought-provoking power any of the [other chapters]."

The leading quantum physicist in the world, Prof. David Deutsch (inventor of the quantum computer, being the first person to mathematically describe the workings of such a device, and winner of the Institute of Physics' 1998 Paul Dirac Medal and Prize for his work), endorses the physics of the Omega Point Theory in his book The Fabric of Reality (1997). For that, see:

David Deutsch, extracts from Chapter 14: "The Ends of the Universe" of The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications (London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1997); with additional comments by Frank J. Tipler. http://geocities.com/theophysics/deutsch-ends-of-the-universe.html

The only way to avoid the Omega Point cosmology is to resort to physical theories which have no experimental support and which violate the known laws of physics, such as with Prof. Stephen Hawking's paper on the black hole information issue which is dependent on the conjectured string theory-based anti-de Sitter space/conformal field theory correspondence (AdS/CFT correspondence). See S. W. Hawking, "Information loss in black holes," Physical Review D, Vol. 72, No. 8, 084013 (October 2005); also at arXiv:hep-th/0507171, July 18, 2005. http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0507171

That is, Prof. Hawking's paper is based upon empirically unconfirmed physics which violate the known laws of physics. It's an impressive testament to the Omega Point Theory's correctness, as Hawking implicitly confirms that the known laws of physics require the universe to collapse in finite time. Hawking realizes that the black hole information issue must be resolved without violating unitarity, yet he's forced to abandon the known laws of physics in order to avoid unitarity violation without the universe collapsing.

Some have suggested that the universe's current acceleration of its expansion obviates the universe collapsing (and therefore obviates the Omega Point). But as Profs. Lawrence M. Krauss and Michael S. Turner point out in "Geometry and Destiny" (General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 31, No. 10 [October 1999], pp. 1453-1459; also at arXiv:astro-ph/9904020, April 1, 1999 http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/9904020 ), there is no set of cosmological observations which can tell us whether the universe will expand forever or eventually collapse.

There's a very good reason for that, because that is dependant on the actions of intelligent life. The known laws of physics provide the mechanism for the universe's collapse. As required by the Standard Model, the net baryon number was created in the early universe by baryogenesis via electroweak quantum tunneling. This necessarily forces the Higgs field to be in a vacuum state that is not its absolute vacuum, which is the cause of the positive cosmological constant. But if the baryons in the universe were to be annihilated by the inverse of baryogenesis, again via electroweak quantum tunneling (which is allowed in the Standard Model, as baryon number minus lepton number [B - L] is conserved), then this would force the Higgs field toward its absolute vacuum, cancelling the positive cosmological constant and thereby forcing the universe to collapse. Moreover, this process would provide the ideal form of energy resource and rocket propulsion during the colonization phase of the universe.

Prof. Tipler's above 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper also demonstrates that the correct quantum gravity theory has existed since 1962, first discovered by Richard Feynman in that year, and independently discovered by Steven Weinberg and Bryce DeWitt, among others. But because these physicists were looking for equations with a finite number of terms (i.e., derivatives no higher than second order), they abandoned this qualitatively unique quantum gravity theory since in order for it to be consistent it requires an arbitrarily higher number of terms. Further, they didn't realize that this proper theory of quantum gravity is consistent only with a certain set of boundary conditions imposed (which includes the initial Big Bang, and the final Omega Point, cosmological singularities). The equations for this theory of quantum gravity are term-by-term finite, but the same mechanism that forces each term in the series to be finite also forces the entire series to be infinite (i.e., infinities that would otherwise occur in spacetime, consequently destabilizing it, are transferred to the cosmological singularities, thereby preventing the universe from immediately collapsing into nonexistence). As Tipler notes in his 2007 book The Physics of Christianity (pp. 49 and 279), "It is a fundamental mathematical fact that this [infinite series] is the best that we can do. ... This is somewhat analogous to Liouville's theorem in complex analysis, which says that all analytic functions other than constants have singularities either a finite distance from the origin of coordinates or at infinity."

When combined with the Standard Model, the result is the Theory of Everything (TOE) correctly describing and unifying all the forces in physics.

Nor does the fact that God has been proven to exist according to the known laws of physics leave no room for faith. Recall that Jesus Christ in part defined Himself as the truth (John 14:6). Hence, truth, particularly scientific truth, confirms the existence of God and Jesus Christ as the Second Person of the Trinity.

Faith in the Christian sense is trust in the truth (i.e., equivalently, trust in Jesus Christ), even when things seem hopeless. It does not mean a lack of rationality in coming to belief in Jesus Christ. Indeed, Paul appealed to reason when he wrote in Romans 1:19,20 that an understanding of the natural world leads to knowledge of God:

""
because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, ...
""

After all, some form of reason must be used in order for a person to convert in belief from one religion to another; or from any belief to another belief, for that matter. It can either be veridical reason, or false reason--but some process of reasoning must be involved.

Having faith in God is having trust in the truth, since the Godhead in all its fullness is the highest obtainment of truth: said state is the perfection of all knowledge.

Unfortunately, most modern physicists have been all too willing to abandon the laws of physics if it produces results that they're uncomfortable with, i.e., in reference to religion. It's the antagonism for religion on the part of the scientific community which greatly held up the acceptance of the Big Bang (for some 40 years), due to said scientific community regarding it as lending credence to the traditional theological position of creatio ex nihilo, and also because no laws of physics can apply to a singularity itself. The originator of the Big Bang theory, circa 1930, was Roman Catholic priest and physicist Prof. Georges LemaƮtre; and it was enthusiastically endorsed by Pope Pius XII in 1951, long before the scientific community finally came to accept it. As regards physicists abandoning physical law due to their theological discomfort with the Big Bang, in an article by Prof. Frank J. Tipler he gives the following example involving no less than physicist Prof. Steven Weinberg:

""
The most radical ideas are those that are perceived to support religion, specifically Judaism and Christianity. When I was a student at MIT in the late 1960s, I audited a course in cosmology from the physics Nobelist Steven Weinberg. He told his class that of the theories of cosmology, he preferred the Steady State Theory because "it *least* resembled the account in Genesis" (my emphasis). In his book *The First Three Minutes* (chapter 6), Weinberg explains his earlier rejection of the Big Bang Theory: "Our mistake is not that we take our theories too seriously, but that we do not take them seriously enough. It is always hard to realize that these numbers and equations we play with at our desks have something to do with the real world. Even worse, there often seems to be a general agreement that certain phenomena are just not fit subjects for respectable theoretical and experimental effort." [My emphasis--J. R.]

... But as [Weinberg] himself points out in his book, the Big Bang Theory was an automatic consequence of standard thermodynamics, standard gravity theory, and standard nuclear physics. All of the basic physics one needs for the Big Bang Theory was well established in the 1930s, some two decades before the theory was worked out. Weinberg rejected this standard physics not because he didn't take the equations of physics seriously, but because he did not like the religious implications of the laws of physics. ...
""

For that and a number of other such examples, see:

Frank J. Tipler, "Refereed Journals: Do They Insure Quality or Enforce Orthodoxy?," Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design (PCID), Vols. 2.1 and 2.2 (January-June 2003). http://www.iscid.org/papers/Tipler_PeerReview_070103.pdf Also published as Chapter 7 in Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing, edited by William A. Dembski, "Foreword" by John Wilson (Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books, 2004).

Prof. Stephen Hawking reinforces what Weinberg and Tipler wrote about concerning the antagonism of the scientific community for religion, resulting in them abandoning good physics. In his book The Illustrated A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1996), pg. 62, Hawking wrote:

""
Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention. (The Catholic Church, on the other hand, seized on the big bang model and in 1951 officially pronounced it to be in accordance with the Bible). There were therefore a number of attempts to avoid the conclusion that there had been a big bang.
""

On pg. 179 of the same book, Hawking wrote "In real time, the universe has a beginning and an end at singularities that form a boundary to spacetime and at which the laws of science break down."

Agnostic and physicist Dr. Robert Jastrow, founding director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wrote in his book God and the Astronomers (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1978), pg. 113:

""
This religious faith of the scientist [that there is no First Cause] is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized.
""

For more quotes by Robert Jastrow on this, see:

John Ross Schroeder and Bill Bradford, "Science and Discomfiting Discoveries" in Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? (United Church of God, 2000) http://www.gnmagazine.org/booklets/GE/discomfitingdiscoveries.htm
http://www.gnmagazine.org/booklets/GE/GE.pdf

For more quotes by scientists along the above lines, see the below article:

Mariano, "In the Beginning ... Cosmology, Part I," Atheism's Assertions, February 20, 2007 http://lifeanddoctrineatheism.blogspot.com/2007/02/in-beginning-cosmology-part-i-see.html

Contrast that ad libitum approach to doing physics with that of Prof. Frank J. Tipler, who bases his Omega Point Theory and the Feynman-Weinberg quantum gravity/extended Standard Model Theory of Everything (TOE) strictly on the known laws of physics, and that of Prof. David Deutsch. They both believe we have to take the known laws of physics seriously as true explanations of how the world works, unless said physics are experimentally, or otherwise, refuted.

Thomas Conway said...

Greetings. Regretfully, your assertion that physics has proved the existence of God is incorrect.
However, a more general question might be formed as: "How can a man (meant as mankind) look into the heavens on a clear night and not believe in God?"

Thomas Conway said...

Greetings. Regretfully, your assertion that physics has proved the existence of God is incorrect.
However, a more general question might be formed as: "How can a man (meant as mankind) look into the heavens on a clear night and not believe in God?"

James Redford said...

Hi, Thomas Conway. Your statement that "your assertion that physics has proved the existence of God is incorrect" is the logical fallacy of bare assertion.

The only way to avoid the conclusion that the Omega Point exists is to reject the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics), and hence to reject empirical science: as these physical laws have been confirmed by every experiment to date. That is, there exists no rational reason for thinking that the Omega Point Theory is incorrect, and indeed, one must engage in extreme irrationality in order to argue against the Omega Point cosmology.

Additionally, we now have the quantum gravity Theory of Everything (TOE) correctly describing and unifying all the forces in physics: of which inherently produces the Omega Point cosmology. So here we have an additional high degree of assurance that the Omega Point cosmology is correct.

Bear in mind that Prof. Frank J. Tipler's Omega Point Theory has been published in a number of the world's leading peer-reviewed physics journals.[1]

Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler's 2005 Reports in Progress in Physics paper--which presents the Omega Point quantum gravity Theory of Everything--was selected as one of 12 for the "Highlights of 2005" accolade as "the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website." (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, "Highlights of 2005," Reports on Progress in Physics. http://www.iop.org/EJ/journal/-page=extra.highlights/0034-4885 )

Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain's main professional body for physicists. Further, Reports on Progress in Physics has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once). A journal's impact factor reflects the importance the science community places in that journal in the sense of actually citing its papers in their own papers. (And just to point out, Tipler's 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper could not have been published in Physical Review Letters since said paper is nearly book-length, and hence not a "letter" as defined by the latter journal.)

For the fuller details on these matters, see my previous post above.

-----

Note:

1. While there is a lot that gets published in physics journals that is anti-reality and non-physical (such as string theory, which violates the known laws of physics and has no experimental support whatsoever), the reason such things are allowed to pass the peer-review process is because the paradigm of assumptions which such papers are speaking to has been declared, and within their declared paradigm none of the referees could find anything wrong with said papers. That is, the paradigm itself may have nothing to do with reality, but the peer-reviewers could find nothing wrong with such papers within the operating assumptions of that paradigm. Whereas, e.g., the operating paradigm of Prof. Tipler's 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper is the known laws of physics, i.e., our actual physical reality which has been repeatedly confirmed by every experiment conducted to date. So the professional physicists charged with refereeing this paper could find nothing wrong with it within its operating paradigm, i.e., the known laws of physics.

Henry said...

What have the much touted secularists like Darwin, Marx and Freud contributed to human wellbeing
as compared to Mendel, Pasteur, Pascal, et al.

Henry said...

Honoring Obama with a law degree is like Constantinople calling a ceasefire to give the Turks a sharpshooter's badge.