Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Slow and Steady, Makes Right

John Paul the Great used to say "I'd rather be right and the leader of only a church of 1000, than wrong and the leader of a billion."

One of the big reasons I'm still Catholic is because that isn't just a saying- there's a real system behind it.

Long before anybody ever imagined the scientific method, we had the Councilar method. Unlike some other more modern Christian sects, for Catholics (both Orthodox and Latin) Doctrine Develops. Dogma is set in stone, but doctrine develops, and discipline (which the Councilar method also affects) is temporary. Theology is in fact logical, despite what some atheists will want to tell you.

But one big difference between the Councilar method and more modern theologies and philosophies; it's slow. So slow in fact that it took more than 1200 years for one theological theory (the Immaculate Conception of Mary) to move from first being written down, to being believed by the whole church, to being preached from the See of Peter as being infallible.

The theologians of Catholicism are nothing if not complete in their tasks.

600 years to come up with an Apology to Galileo for our side of the argument.

But when I see such theological mistakes as the American Shakers denying the existence of human sexuality or the rush of emergence theology to embrace homosexuality, or scientific mistakes such as Thalidomide and the nuclear bomb, I have to wonder if speed in human development isn't a mistake in and of itself. How much better it is when change happens slowly enough so that those who remember the old way are long dead before the new way fully takes hold!

Speed and impatience kill. The reason why the scientific method is faster, is because it enables the scientist to disregard huge swaths of data that the theological council must consider. But by ignoring the moral and philosophical implications of their work, quite often science gets it wrong. One way I think science is getting it wrong in the United States under the Obama Administration is the fight over stem cell research- because the fight had been going the other way under the Bush Administration, embryonic stem cell research is being funded at the expense of adult stem cell research- despite the fact that embryonic research has yet to find a single cure, but we can hardly go more than three months without hearing about a new cure from Adult Stem Cell research. It's clear which one should get more funding based on past performance, yet we do the reverse because it is trendy and quick rather than making the harder moral decision.

1 comment:

Eiko Onoda said...

>Speed and impatience kill.

I agree. Modern men tend to get faster and faster every day as if they were under the threat of 'Repent, the end is nigh!'

But the reality is there's no end in timeline. Probably there must have some 'end' of human species. But it is just the beginning of another species. Life evolves from microorganisms to more complex one taking millions of time again.

So look at sky and breathe deeply. Slow and steady only make things perfect.

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