Church of the Nativity 2023 Lecture Series: The Catholic Faith and Science
The lectures will begin on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM, and continue for six-weeks, ending on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Lectures will be in the Church unless otherwise noted. All lectures will take place following the schedule in various parishes in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
The weekly schedule The Church of the Nativity is as follows:
The Catholic Faith and Science
Week 1: Tuesday – February 28 – Scientific and Medical Evidence of Our Transphysical Soul and Evidence of the Soul from Our Transcendental Desires
Lecture 1: Scientific and Medical Evidence of Our Transphysical Soul
The question of God’s existence is not merely an academic puzzle or an interesting thought experiment – it is intimately and urgently bound up with our own personal destiny. Everything around us – houses, cars, flower beds, coffee cups, phones, highways, hurricanes, the Grand Canyon, the sun – is going to crumble to nothing sometime between now and the heat death of the Universe, but we are not, because we are destined for a transcendent and eternal existence.
The details of his destiny – that God has called us to live forever with Him in our true home – are things we know because God came to earth in Jesus Christ to tell us. However, there is a lot we can learn about our immortal soul before we take these revelations into account. There is a wide range of natural evidence to look at – from the insights of classical philosophy to the discoveries of modern science. In this unit we will look at some of this evidence.
Lecture 2: Evidence of the Soul from Our Transcendental Desires
While modern medicine gives us reasons to believe our souls live on after we die, there is a much older source of evidence going back to ancient Greece. The philosopher Plato made a simple observation. Nothing in our life is perfect. Every day we experience things that fall short of the best, and this makes us feel dissatisfied. But, Plato asks, how could we recognize imperfections unless we had an awareness of what perfection would be like? These desires for perfection, or transcendental desires, are a sign of the presence of God to our consciousness.
Week 2: Tuesday – March 7 – Scientific Evidence of and Intelligent Creator and Philosophical Proofs of an Intelligent Creator
Lecture 3: Scientific Evidence of an Intelligent Creator
There is a common misperception that science and faith are opposed, but nothing could be further from the truth. Contemporary scientific evidence, as we shall see, favors the existence of God/ it does not contradict it. The evidence of God from philosophy, science, and the medical study of near-death experiences (some of which we discussed previously) is enormous. In this lecture, we will learn about three principal areas of physical evidence for an intelligent Creator: the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Proof, the entropy evidence, and fine-tuning evidence at the Big Bang.
Lecture 4: Philosophical Proofs of an Intelligent Creator
The term philosophy, from Greek for “love of wisdom”, refers to a reasoned study of the truth of things. We have grasped the truth when what exists and what we think exists are the same. Philosophers and scientists alike seek to understand the universe as it really is, or, in other words, to know the truth about the universe. The great Medieval philosopher Saint Thomas Aquinas believed that philosophy could tell us a lot about God. Saint Thomas is famous for using logical reasoning to prove God’s existence: there must be one uncaused being which creates everything else, and this reality is referred to as “God.” Using Saint Thomas’s reasoning, we can simply look at the world around us and, by using our intellect, conclude that there must be a Creator.
Week 3: Tuesday – March 14 – Evidence for Jesus’ Divinity and The Historicity of Jesus’ Miracles
Lecture 5: Evidence for Jesus’ Divinity
In previous lectures you reflected on how you would answer questions pertaining to significant
implications for your life of faith and your relationship with Jesus Christ, who is Emmanuel – God with us in the flesh. In this lecture, we will turn our attention to the bountiful evidence that supports this claim. We will begin with evidence from outside the Bible, and then turn to the evidence we can find from the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.
Lecture 6: The Historicity of Jesus’ Miracles
Where Jesus’ miracles actual historical events? Or are they just made-up stories designed to amaze the gullible masses? Far from being a sideshow, Jesus’ miracles were quite central to His earthly mission. They always had a clear purpose – to deliver people from suffering and evil, and to introduce God’s Kingdom. In this lecture we will examine the historical evidence for Jesus’ miracles. As with the Resurrection, the evidence is more extensive than you might first think.
Week 4: Tuesday – March 21 – Science and the Shroud of Turin and Why Believe in the Catholic Faith
Lecture 7: Science and the Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin is a burial cloth that bears the image of a crucified man. This image matches perfectly the description of the wounds Christ suffered during His Crucifixion. Modern science has shown the image to be anatomically accurate and that it could not have been produced by any kind of paint, dye, chemical, vapor or scorching. Recent tests have dated the shroud to the time of Christ and have placed its origin near the Sea of Galilee. All the evidence suggest that the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Christ mentioned in the Gospels and that it bears a miraculous image of the moment of Jesus’ Resurrection. The precious relic is powerful testimony to our faith in Christ, the historicity of His Resurrection, and His claims to be divine.
Lecture 8: Why Believe in the Catholic Faith
Thus far in these lectures, we have talked a lot about how our relationship with God is interpersonal. But if our connection to God is so personal, why do we need a church? Why can our relationship with Jesus not just be one-on-one? In this lecture we will learn all the reasons God wants us to have a religious community sharing common belief, a common ritual and tradition, common worship, and why he has given us all that in the one true Church, the Roman Catholic Church, governed on earth by St. Peter and his successors.
Week 5: Tuesday – March 28 – The Four Kinds of Desire and Happiness and Moving to Level Three and Four Happiness
Lecture 9: The Four Kinds of Desire and Happiness
If you take a moment to think about all the choices you make in life, from what to have for breakfast to charting a course to achieve your long-time goals, you will notice that everything you want to do is because you believe it will make you happy. So, what makes you happy? A good meal? Winning a game? Getting more likes, views, and upvotes? Making the top 10% of your class and getting into the best colleges or careers? Each of these examples are good. But is there anything beyond these forms of happiness, a form of happiness which could be more pervasive, enduring, deep?
Lecture 10: Moving to Level Three and Four Happiness
You probably know from school, sports, adult life, and other activities that nothing worthwhile is easy. We often have to put aside what we want right now to get what we truly want. While all four levels of happiness are good, if we want a truly satisfying and peaceful life, we will want to focus on making a positive difference for others, the culture we live in, and the Kingdom of God. Even more, we will not try to ignore our desire for the transcendent. Ultimately, experiencing level four happiness requires us to follow God’s call to Himself by making a little leap of faith. If we do make this leap, God strengthens our relationship with Him through grace. And then we come to know in our hearts the most comforting truth of all: that true happiness does not depend does not depend on things we have, or how we compare to others, or on anything else temporary in this world, but comes from giving ourselves completely to God, who brings us to the perfectly loving home we yearn for.
Week 6: Tuesday – April 4 – The Christian Understanding of Suffering and Why Would an All- Loving God Allow Suffering
Lecture 11: The Christian Understanding of Suffering
Sooner or later, everyone suffers. No matter how successful someone is, or how perfect their life might look, they have or will experience loss, pain, and suffering in some way. Some of you are adults or almost an adult, and to this point in your life you may not have experienced any real trials, or you may have endured - and still may be enduring - genuine hardships. Why does God allow this to happen? How can we make sense of suffering in the world as Christians? In this lecture, we will take a closer look at three Christian insights into suffering as we begin to answer the question of why God would allow it to happen. We will also look at common misunderstandings of why there is suffering in the world, and why they are incompatible with who God is.
Lecture 12: Why Would an All-Loving God Allow Suffering
Imagine a world in which being selfish, arrogant, or hurtful towards others was not a possibility. Everyone was forced to be perfectly loving all the time. It might seem like this situation would be great, but would it, really? If someone is not free to make any other choice, have they really chosen love? For love to really be love, it must be freely chosen. A person who can love must therefore be free to choose against it. Those choices inevitably result in suffering. Thankfully, we know as Christians that God has an infinite ability to transform bad into good. We can know that He provides us many paths to transform the suffering we experience into even greater joys, if we trust in Him and allow Him to guide us. We will explore what that means in this lecture.