instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

If it's Tuesday this must be progress

It's my fault, of course.

I'm the one who wasn't satisfied reading just one tendentious NCROnline article on the wicked institutional Church. (Handy Hint for Conscience Formation of Vowed Religious #7: Quoting Martin Luther approvingly is a bad sign.)

No, I had to see whether Sr. Joan Chittister wrote anything particularly objectionable in her latest column.

She did, of course. But at least most of what is objectionable is reflected in her conclusion: "Evolution gives us a God big enough to believe in."

Sorry, Jesus, maybe You'll do better next time.

But what particularly struck me, in and amongst the flirtation with Spong's Law of Theophysical Inanity (though Sr. Joan mishandles cosmology and biology rather than quantum physics), was the interior of this sentence:
The unfolding of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and the launch, ironically, of the priest Georges Lemaître's big bang theory -- you can imagine how popular that made him in the church -- changed everything.
Do we really need to imagine how popular Lemaître's big bang theory made him in the church? Can't we Google it?

Per Wikipedia, Lemaître published an expanded version of his theory in 1933, and he became famous throughout the world. In March 1934, "Lemaître received the Francqui Prize, the highest Belgian scientific distinction, from [the Catholic] King Leopold III." Two years later, he was elected to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences; he became president of the academy in 1960 -- a year in which he was also made a Monsignor by Pope John XXIII -- and served as president until his death in 1966. Pope Paul VI asked him to serve on the commission investigating oral contraception (he turned it down, citing ill health (and, at least privately, doubt that a mathematician would have much to contribute to the question)).

So his big bang theory made him remarkably popular in the Church, if public honors are any indication.

Yet Sr. Joan implies the opposite. Why?