Letters to the Editor
FAITH Magazine March-April 2007
Dear Fr Editor
Congratulations on another year’s publication of excellent and informative editions of Faith Magazine. In the latest edition, Jan/Feb 2007, you have included articles which describe several important aspects of Islam and Muslim practices, including the very moving story of a conversion to Christianity. What was so good in that article was the description of the spiritual life of a Muslim which, unfortunately, is so little known. The article “Dying for Inter-faith Dialogue” may make some of your readers wonder why we read or hear that Muslim terrorists have cut off their prisoner’s heads; such action does seem unnecessarily barbaric. Unfortunately, in the Koran in Sura 47 verse 4 one reads the ‘command’: ”Therefore when ye meet unbelievers smite at their necks” (1934 translationby Yusuf Ali) In some English translations this is rendered “cut off their heads”. I have come across about 50 verses in the Koran, out of more than 6000+, which can be used to justify such barbarities. I think everyone knows that there are other verses in the Koran which contradict the use of violence. Such contradictions emphasise the complications which can arise from the use of every word of sacred scripture as literal ‘tablets of stone’.
York Way London
AIDS AND CONDOMS
Dear Fr Editor
Luke Gormally’s article in your July/August issue 2006 was superb. In November in the United States Requiem Press published a short book of mine called “Standing with Peter: Reflections of a Lay Theologian on God’s Loving Providence.” On pp. 97ff I reproduced in essence this splendid essay, ignorant that Luke had published it in your magazine. I appended a note in which I said, “The argument given here was developed through emails with Luke Gormally and John Finnis who are its primary creators.” I now realize that I should have credited Luke Gormally as the sole author. Prof Finnis made some good suggestions to him; I had only minor suggestions to offer. I apologize for this and will have a correction made in the next printing of the book. Please however publish thisletter.
(Prof.) William E, May
John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America Washington
Dear Fr Editor
I would like to thank you for your reply to my letter which was published in the last edition of Faith under the title The Nature of Matter. I had feared a bristling answer, but the one you gave was gracious and not at all defensive. As I reread the letter and the response, however, I was struck by a mistake in my own argument. Forms don’t exist in the Mind of God from all eternity; having denounced Aristotle’s essentialism, I fell into it myself, albeit inadvertently. Indeed, if form and matter, as I contended, do not pre-exist actual things, the contradiction is clear. But essences (quiddity) do exist in the Mind of God- that was what I intended to say. This is an example, perhaps, of how intricate the details of Thomistic metaphysics are, and how easy it is tomisunderstand the exact meanings of its technical terms and their interrelationships. I believe that this philosophical complexity and the subsequent misconceptions it can generate has led many people to reject the whole system. But a more nuanced understanding could perhaps solve this problem.
Pontificio Collegio Scozzese
Dear Fr Editor
Congratulations on your excellent Editorial “Catholic Schools Revisited: What Future Now?” together with Eric Hester’s definitive “The Decline of Catholic Education: An Appraisal and a Recommendation”. In secondary schools immeasurable damage has been caused to the Church, families and students by the manner in which our Faith is “debated”, wastage rates of over ninety per cent of pupils leaving school are quoted. Over the years complaints to the Hierarchy by parents have been ignored, and if our schools are to survive as Catholic rather than secular the Bishops have to act now as Mr Hester recommends.
Hove East Sussex
BODY AND MIND BALANCE
Dear Fr Editor
A century ago it was not obesity which aroused concern; on the contrary it was the stunted growth and poor physique of many of the “working class” recruits during the Boer War (1899-1902). As a consequence school meals were introduced in 1906, but it was some twenty years before vitamins were known about and the relative nourishment value of various foods could be assessed. Only then could steps be taken to promote a healthy diet to add to the programmes of slum clearance and smoke abatement which were already under way.
As well as learning from the past about the importance of a healthy diet, we might also reflect upon a point made by one of the contributors to “Sunlight” (a journal of the 1920-30s concerned with promoting healthy living): that we have minds as well as bodies, and behaviour depends upon “whether one’s mind is fed on treasure or on trash”.
Yours Faithfully Moira Lenartowicz Wordsworth Drive Kendal Cumbria
Dear Fr Editor,
In your magazine’s persistent attacks on Intelligent Design (ID) it seems the latest negative buzzword is “God of the Gaps”. Surely what you should be attacking is “Neo- Darwinism of the Gaps” as the idea of gaps was dreamt up by the latter to cover up one of the many flaws in their theory, namely lack of fossil evidence. All the fossil record tells us is that some species have died out, some are still around; and at best we are descended from some primate similar to ourselves. Michael S. Behe Darwin’s Black Box is the only relevant book I have come across which backs up its arguments with well thought out logic and is the only one to tackle the question of our fiendishly complicated body chemistry. By sound inductive method he has devised a short cut to design.
How is it when attacking I.D. its main argument, namely inferring upon ‘irreducible complexity’, is ignored? This argument claims, for example, that the bacterial flagellum cannot evolve from lower parts. It has a motor which rotates a propeller and when the motor and other parts are developing it could surely not survive ‘natural selection’. This brings up the problem as to the survival probabilities of intermediate forms before they are fully functional.
Then we have the problem of the 28 processes involved in blood clotting. If it takes millions of years for the clotting process to evolve then surely all complex species would not survive since they would have all bled to death. What is the policy of this magazine towards Evolution? It seems to be a closet, neo- Darwinism with a pinch of God thrown in. It seems to be forgotten that neo-Darwinism is being championed by a dwindling number of atheists on both sides of the Atlantic, though they still control most of TV and the scientific media. However, slowly but surely, letters of dissent from reputable scientists are starting to appear in the letter columns of papers such as the Times and the Telegraph. It seems that yet again parts of the Catholic Church arehitching up to a fading bandwagon.
In answering Mr Fielding we refer again to the editorial comment following the lead letter in our September/October 06 issue. Of course we fully concur that the universe contains evidence of Intelligence and Design. We also acknowledge the relevance of the intended perception behind "irreducible complexity". Although we would rather talk of the coherent unity of the causal complex, because, even when the development of a complex entity can be traced through contributary causes, the interlocking patterning of those causes through time and space and the higher meaningful unit of organisation which they produce still reveals order and purpose in the system which points to Transcendent Mind as First and Final creative cause. Our criticism of ID is that itrestricts the evidence for Intelligence to only a certain class of cases for which no natural explanation is said to be discernable; in other words where there appear to be gaps in the fabric of natural causality. Such arguments are always hostage to future scientific discovery. It also leaves the majority of Nature needing no transcendent explanation. This is why we think that, without intending it, ID proponents actually concede ground to the materialistic neo-Darwinists. We say that the whole of science points to God, not because of what we can't explain but because of what we can. The very coherence of the universal laws of matter point to God as the abiding and active centre of Creative Intelligence. So we challenge the Darwinistsand materialists by occupying the whole of their ground with theistic argument, not just by pointing to a few test cases and, by default, leaving the rest of Nature to secularist interpretation.