In Sunday’s account of Jesus’ transfiguration (Mk 9:2-10), his disciples witness long-dead prophets conversing with their soon-to-be-dead master. After this vision, the Master instructs them not to tell anyone about this until he rises from the dead. The reading ends with these disciples discussing what rising from the dead means.
Ever since that rising, faith has taught Christians that life is about rising above death—and being born to eternal life. For scientists, however, life isn’t about faith, but the knowledge that comes from studying the transfiguration of life over time. They are born again in the ways of science, according to physicist Frank Wilczek. In his new book, “Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality,” Wilczek (who was raised Catholic) writes:
“In studying how the world works we are studying how God works, and thereby learning what God is. In that spirit we can interpret the search for knowledge as a form of worship, and our discoveries as revelations.”
Wilczek evolved from a civilian theist to a scientific pantheist to whom our matter-based universe is divine. He notes that while the human lifetime is dwarfed by the age of the cosmos, our lifespan is long enough for our brain to process about 100 billion distinct moments of consciousness.
With all their knowledge, however, scientists still fear arriving at their last moment of consciousness—and facing their own mortality. They’d have to acknowledge their fear is just one in a package of human sufferings, accompanied by pride, greed, anger, envy, doubt, hatred, jealousy and other sins that faith tells us are deadly. If woke scientists who traded faith for knowledge had kept the faith, maybe they’d realize those billions of moments of consciousness are God’s design for helping us channel his grace to alleviate the suffering caused by our deadly sins.
There’s one key element you won’t find listed among the handful of subatomic elements Wilczek and his colleagues say we have in common with the natural god they worship: love. That is the driving force of divine consciousness, and its purest form is evidenced by the ability to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. This phenomenon of rising above death connects us with the same God who not only gave Abraham the courage to sacrifice his only son for Him (Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18), but modeled for us that same courage in sacrificing His only son for us.
So what is death? For us carbon-and-faith-based units, it’s the kind of transfiguration Jesus modeled for us from crucifixion to resurrection. The more important question those fearful scientists should look into is, what is faith? They should start that inquiry with the epiphany that helped St. Paul find his faith (taken from Sunday’s second reading, Rom 8:31b-34):
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
That “Everything Else” is immeasurable by science but easily contained in our undying faith.
Loved: “In that spirit we can interpret the search for knowledge as a form of worship, and our discoveries as revelations.”
(I hope I pass the math test to post this)
Yes, Mark, this sounds great coming from a scientist, but unfortunately, scientific faith extends as far as what can be perceived. The challenge for people professing faith is to put themselves in the place of my patron saint, Doubting Thomas. After Thomas saw his risen Master, Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (JOHN 20:29)
May seem harsh to the unbeliever, but as one who has the love of Christ embedded in my mind and in my heart, nothing else on this earth can compare to the love of Christ Jesus my Lord, not the highest i q nor the most “efficacious” vaccine. St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (3:8) says it all…
7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in Him…
Patty, you’re not being harsh. St. Paul was the patron saint of the harsh before his soul was converted from persecutor to defender of faith. But his is the perfect example to set for those who need the example that with God all things are possible. Paul lived that miracle, testifying “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12)
I find in these times of Covid the abject fear on the minds of so many that the disease may shorten to some degree what is inevitable, death.
We will die, it is a guaranteed to happen, yet so many are far more concerned with preserving a few more years in this life, than accepting and wholeheartedly preparing for the next one.
In the scope of eternity our life is like a blink on the eye, and so few of us yearn for the vaccination for eternal life. Christ in the Eucharist.
Thomas, the lack of self awareness on the part of those who say “follow the science” is astounding. In many cases, the same people who ask for billions to fund research into whether there’s life on other planets also contribute to the science behind shortening lives that grow in the womb. Our death is inevitable, yes, but so is our life. With the limited time we have on this earth, we are called to both make a difference with the one God gave us and inspire others do the same with theirs.