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“BACKWARD” RELIGION? IT WAS A CATHOLIC PRIEST, FR LEMAITRE, WHO FIRST PROPOSED THE “BIG BANG THEORY” IN 1927, BUT SCIENTISTS LIKE EINSTEIN AND EDDINGTON REFUSED TO BELIEVE HIM

“RELIGION, SCIENCE AND THE [POPULAR] MISCONCEPTIONS

‘For the scientist… the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been there for centuries.’ Robert Jarrow (Astrophysicist)

‘NEVER ALLOW YOURSELVES TO BECOME NARROW’

During his state visit to Britain in September 2010 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke to a group of religious leaders of different faiths, not only about the need for science but also about the limitations within the scientific world. He said, ‘They cannot satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart, they cannot fully explain to us our origin and our destiny, why and for what purpose we exist, nor indeed can they provide us with an exhaustive answer to the question ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI also warned against rejecting religion in favour of purely scientific outlook by further saying, ‘Never allow yourselves to become narrow. The world needs good scientists, but a scientific outlook becomes dangerous and narrow if it ignores the riches or ethical dimensions of life just as religion becomes narrow if it rejects the legitimate contribution of science to our understanding of the world.’

FR LEMAITRE’S THEORY

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI may well have been referring to Stephen Hawking, who writes in his latest book that no divine force is needed to explain why the universe was formed and who also argued in his book The Grand Design that physics, and not a creator, was responsible for the Big Bang.

It was indeed in 1927 that a Belgian Catholic priest Fr George Lemaitre, a Jesuit and a student of astronomy and mathematics both in Cambridge (England) and Harvard, who proposed his theory of an expanding Universe to explain the movement of the galaxies.

FR LEMAITRE ARRANGED A MEETING WITH ALBERT EINSTEIN

His studies at this point were inconclusive and he arranged a meeting with Einstein who, although interested, generally dismissed his theory; he was also suspicious of the religious implications of Fr Lemaitre’s ideas.

AFTER EINSTEIN HAD DISMISSED HIS NEW THEORY, FR LEMAITRE STILL WENT AHEAD TO PRESENT HIS FINDINGS TO THE BRITISH SCIENCE ASSOCIATION

However, in 1931 Lemaitre was invited to London by the British Science Association to discuss cosmology and spirituality. There he described his new solution… the Universe had begun from a tiny and incredibly dense singularity containing all its existing matter.

‘THE PRIMEVAL ATOM’

This he called ‘the primeval atom’ or a ‘Cosmic Egg exploding at the moment of the creation’. It wouldn’t be known as the Big Bang theory until the British physicist, Fred Hoyle, did a radio series in 1949 in which he attempted to debunk it. He failed to change many people’s minds by then, but he did give it a better name. Neither Eddington nor Einstein were persuaded by this idea – as Stephen Hawking, perhaps the world’s most famous living astrophysicist, has said, ‘few people [meaning scientists] took the idea of the beginning of the Universe seriously’.

FR LEMAITRE DIDN’T GIVE UP PROMOTING THE BIG BANG THEORY

But Fr Lemaitre was a passionate and persuasive man, and he was gaining a wider audience as he began to travel the US. He decided to surprise Hubble and Einstein by turning up to meet them both unexpectedly in 1931 and push his idea again. This time he won them over, demonstrating how their work led to his conclusion.

THE BASIS OF MODERN COSMOLOGY WAS ESTABLISHED BY FR LEMAITRE FINALLY CONVINCING EINSTEIN AND HUBBLE OF HIS THEORY

It was a dramatic event – Hawking has said that, ‘The basis of modern cosmology was established at this meeting. Looking back I can recognise this as the foundations for my own work.’

‘THE BIGGEST BLUNDER OF MY LIFE’

Einstein regarded his initial rejection of an expanding Universe as the ‘biggest blunder of my life’. The existence of God, of course, is not settled by the truth of the Big Bang theory, nor should religion rest its case on any scientific theory.

THE UNIVERSE HAD A DISTINCT BEGINNING

But what can be said is that the Big Bang fits surprisingly well with the religious idea that the Universe had a distinct beginning, willed by the Creator. Unsurprisingly, the arguments put forward by the new atheists are never truly investigated [for instance Darwin’s ‘evolution theory’ lacks any credible scientific basis whatsoever]; rather than studying the precepts of Christianity they tend to be hostile to religion in all forms, viewing it as merely a kind of superstition; they are likewise hostile to traditional claims about the nature and source of morality.

TODAY’S PICTURE – BIOETHICS

EMBRYO RESEARCHER: FACED WITH THE CHOICE BETWEEN GOD AND SCIENCE, I DITCHED GOD

In 2004 Dr John Haas, the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Centre in America met with a scientist who had cloned a human embryo. In the course of that meeting, the scientist said he had been raised an evangelical Protestant, but that at a certain point, he had to make a choice between religion and science. Dr Haas’ response was, ‘But you didn’t have to choose,’ and, like the good evangelist that he is, he began to explain. A meeting that was supposed to last for 30 minutes went on for hours.

‘NATURAL SCIENCE ON ITS OWN SIMPLY CANNOT GENERATE THE WISDOM IT NEEDS IN ORDER TO PROGRESS WITHOUT DOING HARM’

Dr Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard University Law Professor who has served on the Pontifical Council for the Laity spoke of urgent need to renew the intellectual apostolate. Dr Glendon said ‘the importance of that task has been brought home to me very concretely in the course of serving over the past year on the National Bioethics Council. Over the past several months in discussions of cloning, stem-cell research and genetic engineering, I’ve seen not only how necessary it is for theologians and philosophers to keep up with advances in natural science, but also how much the natural sciences need the human sciences – for natural science on its own simply cannot generate the wisdom it needs in order to progress without doing harm’.

THE HEDONISM OF THOSE ATTEMPTING TO PLAY GOD, OR: THE ‘MOVE OVER GOD YOU ARE IN MY SEAT’ ATTITUDE

The truth regarding embryonic stem cell scientific technology seemingly has been lost on those who swear by its profound benefits with regards to its ‘curative potential’ for certain conditions; to date most of the general public will be aware, if not entirely au fait with the fact that this scientific breakthrough has broken down due to a complete lack of positive results; in short, this technology has wasted more government funds than ever due to the hedonism of those who attempt to ‘play God’ and those who believe them capable; for as long as we allow scientists and politicians to adopt the ‘move over God you are in my seat’ attitude we are spiralling deeper into the moral chaos so pervasive today.

EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH IS BASED PURELY ON FISCAL GAIN

Any orthodox bioethicist will tell us that stem cells taken from embryos are immature and only capable of producing tumours rather than cures.

PRODUCING TUMOURS RATHER THAN CURES

On the contrary, adult stem cells which are mature and present in all humans from the fully developed foetal stage, the umbilical cord and the placenta, have proven successful in various conditions, particularly in cardiac and ophthalmic medicine. Using adult stem cells from a patient whose trachea was removed due to disease, a medical scientist was able to reproduce a trachea, which was then successfully transplanted into the patient.

The difference between the research into embryonic and adult stem cell research is based purely on fiscal gain and not on ethical scientific procedures or results. Whilst millions of pounds of government funds have been and still are used for embryonic stem cell research, adult stem cell research costs a great deal less because the cells are self-donated by the patient.

God has provided all the answers; the world has provided all the errors! Religion provides the means to seek the truth whilst science provides the means to put it into practice using ethical means.

‘Religion and science are not in opposition but both on a path of truth.'(Pope Benedict).”
– This article was published in “The Crusader” (The Magazine of the Crusade of Mary Immaculate) issue March 2014 [Capital sub-headings added afterwards]. For subscriptions or for membership please visit http://www.thefriary.businesscatalyst.com (external link).

 

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ISN’T IT INAPPROPRIATE FOR THE MAYOR TO TRY TO BURY KING RICHARD III IN A NON-CATHOLIC CHURCH NOW?

AN ASTONISHING DISCOVERY

“King Richard III is one of the most maligned characters in English history. Shakespeare portrayed him as an evil scheming hunchback who murdered his own nephews. Every English student knows Laurence Olivier’s gruesome depiction of him in the 1955 classic film. In recent years however, historians have begun to revise their opinions, and an astonishing discovery last summer has reawakened widespread interest in the man and his life. Rather than revealing a wicked tyrant, fresh research seems to show he was a brave, dutiful young man, and a devout Catholic with links to the Franciscan Greyfriars.

Richard, the last of the Plantagenets, had one of the shortest reigns in English history. Killed, aged 32, at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, which left the way clear for Henry VII to take power, it seems he was hurriedly buried in a Franciscan church in Leicester. Known as the Church of the Greyfriars, the structure was completely destroyed 50 years later at the Reformation. While the true whereabouts of his grave was forgotten, rumours spread that his body had been dug up and thrown into a river. From the time of his death, the Tudor propaganda machine began spreading defamatory stories about him that echo to the present day.

A POPULAR LEADER

Not everyone, however, was convinced of these. There is a good deal of contemporary evidence to show that he was a just and popular leader. Cambridge University bravely held a Requiem Mass for him for about 80 years after his death. The Richard III Society have held annual Requiem Masses for him since the 1920s. The Society has long campaigned to restore his reputation, and searched for years to discover where he was buried. Last August, an archaeological excavation by the University of Leicester, discovered the location of a Franciscan Friary (on Friary Street!) in Leicester, under a car park. Philippa Langley from the Society was convinced Richard was there. Amazingly, in the first trench they dug, a skeleton was discovered. ‘It’s almost as if he wanted us to find him,’ said Philippa.

The bones were those of a man about 30 years old. His spine showed signs of a quite severe spinal scoliosis (curved spine), which doctors think would have begun when he was about 12. They said it might not have been very visible if someone was clothed, but it could have been quite painful. There was also evidence of a number of battle injuries, including a large gash on his skull which was probably the blow that killed him.

On 4 February 2013, the University of Leicester confirmed that the skeleton was beyond reasonable doubt that of Richard III. This conclusion was based on mitochondrial DNA evidence; historian Dr. John Ashdown-Hill discovered it was an exact match to a living descendant of the king’s sister; soil analysis, and dental tests. The physical characteristics of the skeleton were also highly consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard’s appearance.

Philippa Langley said, ‘When Richard fell in the battle, he was stripped naked and his scoliosis became known and was used to denigrate him. Today, we find the idea of using physical disability against a person as abhorrent. Let this now be a break from the Tudor medieval mindset.’

INAPPROPRIATE FUNERAL

On 5 February, Professor Caroline Wilkinson of the University of Dundee constructed a forensic facial reconstruction of Richard, based on 3D mappings of his skull. It bears a strong resemblance to a contemporary painting of him. She described the face as warm, young, earnest and rather serious.’

Following the discovery, the Mayor of Leicester announced that the king’s skeleton would be re-interred at Leicester (Anglican) Cathedral in early 2014, and by the same date a Richard III museum will be opened in the Victorian school buildings next to the grave site.

While campaigners welcome plans for the museum many are also calling for the last of the Plantagenet Kings to be given a Catholic funeral and burial.

A petition has now been set up, which reads: ‘The remains of Richard III have been discovered and exhumed. The suggestion is that he will be buried in Leicester Cathedral. However, it seems wholly inappropriate and disrespectful to bury the former Monarch in the grounds of a church of which he never was a member, and which was created by the son of the man responsible for his death and ingnominious burial. I am not petitioning on religious or sectarian grounds, but I believe the dead of any persuasion have a right to be interred in a place appropriate to their beliefs.’ To see the petition go to: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38533

Dr Ashdown-Hill said, ‘Having played a major role in the recovery of Richard III’s remains (by finding the living DNA link which proved his identity, and as a Catholic who, for many years organised annual Requiem Masses for Richard III and his family, I’d like to support the idea that Richard’s remains should now be given a Catholic reburial. He was a sincerely religious man, and I believe this is what he would have wanted.’

FRANCISCAN LINK

Richard III appears to have had links with the Franciscans. Dr. Ashdown-Hill said, ‘We don’t know why he was buried at the Franciscan friary in Leicester. There were many religious houses there at the time. We don’t know if they were asked or offered to take him. But we know historically that the friary did support his family’s cause. We know Richard III had a Franciscan Friar as his chaplain.

‘Another thing which is intriguing, is that Richard’s sister, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, chose to be buried in the Franciscan Friary at Michelin in Belgium. Her instructions were rather strange. She asked to be buried under the steps leading to the choir. This is exactly where we found Richard III at the Friary in Leicester – under steps leading to the choir.’

DEFAMATORY STORIES

Dr. Ashdown-Hill doubted that the story of Richard III killing his nephews (the Princes in the Tower) is true. The Princes in the Tower were Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York. Then 12 and 9 years old, they were lodged in the Tower of London by Richard himself, who was then the Lord Protector, the Duke of Gloucester. This was supposed to be in preparation for Edward V’s coronation as king. After Richard became king, it is assumed that they were murdered. This may have occurred some time around 1483, but apart from their disappearance, the only evidence is circumstantial.

However, the historian added, ‘There were many other people who would have benefited from their deaths, and the case for their being murdered at all is very shaky. There are accounts of a physician visiting the Tower, and there are also medieval records of Edward (the eldest child) dying of an illness.’

Dr. Ashdown-Hill continued, ‘Richard III’s name has been blackened. But it is completely overlooked that the man who took the crown from him, Henry VII, systematically killed all his opponents.’

The historian went on to say, ‘Richard and his wife Anna were devout Catholics. They gave many chantry endowements (prayers for the dead). They endowed King’s College and Queens’ College at Cambridge University. Richard planned the establishment of a large chantry chapel in York Minster, with over 100 priests.’

PERSONAL PRAYERBOOK

Dr. John Ashdown-Hill, author of ‘The Last Days of Richard III’, revealed other fascinating details, ‘Richard’s prayerbook is at Lambeth Palace in London (the headquarters of the Archbishop of Canterbury). Many people had these beautiful illuminated Books of Hours – often they were like a modern coffee table book to browse into occasionally. But Richard III’s is not like that. He has added little prayers and notes of his own. That shows that he didn’t just have one, but that he used it. It’s interesting the way it has survived. Contemporary records say a prayerbook was found in his tent at the Battle of Bosworth. They say it was given to his sister Margaret. The one at Lambeth Palace has her name on it. So it’s likely that’s the one he used before the battle. It is also said that he owned a Bible in English. His sister was also very devout and, like her brother, a reformer aswell.’

PROGRESSIVE MONARCH

In his short reign, Richard achieved a number of progressive reforms. In 1483 he instituted what later became known as the Court of Requests, a court to which people who could not afford legal representation could apply for their grievances to be heard. He also introduced bail in January 1484 to protect suspected felons from imprisonment before trial and to protect their property from seizure during this time. He banned restrictionson the printing and the sale of books, and ordered the translation of written Laws and Statutes from the traditional French into English.

Philippa Langley is a writer and is currently working on a film script on the life of Richard III. Dr. Ashdown-Hill is writing a book about Richard’s sister Margaret, and he is also investigating the story of the Princes in the Tower. The scholar concluded, ‘What we have achieved is not the end. As a historian I’m concerned about finding the truth and respecting people’s reputations.'”
– This article by Josephine Siedlecka entitled “Villain or Hero?” was published in “Messenger of Saint Anthony”, issue May 2013. To subscribe, please contact: Messenger of Saint Anthony, Basilica del Santo, via Orto Botanico 11, 35123 Padua, Italy

 

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