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April 2001



About twelve months ago, Svenja Schmidt was one of only 40 children in the world suffering from progeria, a rare genetic disorder which had aged her more than one week for each day of her life. I am assuming that this little German girl of fragile physique but selfless and indomitable spirit has now passed to eternal life, since at the time I read about her Svenja was an 11 year-old with the wizened appearance of an ailing woman in her eighties: skin like parchment, no hair or teeth, cracked lips and arthritic hips. Yet although literally racing toward death, her mind and faith, filled with the simplicity and wonderment of childhood, was an inspiration. "I don't know why this happened to me," she stated matter-of-factly, "but I know God has a plan for everything…. I know that I will die soon and I have told my mother that I want to be dressed in my long best dress and have my black patent shoes on. I want to look my best in heaven. I want to be buried in the little cemetery in our village so my mother and my sister Linda can come every day with my friends and put flowers on my grave. I will be born again, I know, and come back to earth all healthy."

This moving testimony of faith in the Resurrection from one who slipped through the eugenic net of our fetal Quality Controllers, struck me as something of an irony wrapped in a contradiction - because it is the great paradox of our murderous age that the Culture of Death is in flight from its own mortality. A society which in thirty short years has franchised the killing of the unborn, determined that embryos be cultivated, manipulated and destroyed at will, marked out the imperfect (like Svenja Schmidt) for death in utero, sanctioned the medical murder of anyone deemed burdensome and facilitated the nationalising of organs of the deceased and dying - this neo-pagan culture with blood on its hands and the stench of death in its nostrils lives in morbid fear of suffering and the grave!

How could it be otherwise in erstwhile Christian countries where selfish pseudo-sophistication has replaced the childlike faith and trust required for salvation; where the Victor over sin and death Himself is now largely an irrelevant memory? A 1999 Daily Telegraph Gallup poll revealed that fewer than one British person in six knew that the Millennium marked the 2000th birth of Christ. The outcome (12%) so astonished the pollsters that they asked an even more specific revised question, only to get much the same result (15%). And so, having forgotten Jesus and deprived himself of the supernatural hope and joy of the Resurrection - which event the celebrated evolutionist Richard Dawkins calls a "great superstition" - Western man has turned inevitably to naturalistic science and its secular messiahs to explain and solve the myriad problems of existence. In an unholy quid pro quo, science is deified and given moral carte-blanche in return for an amoral Darwinian philosophy of life and the promise of eradicating irksome realities like disease, pain and, perhaps, in time, via cloning and the Human Genome Project, even death itself. Why not? As celebrated physics guru Stephen Hawking, the embodiment of 'science as religion', pronounces so seductively in his TV commercial: "With technology at our disposal the possibilities are boundless." The gods of science rather than God, it seems, are to be our refuge and our strength in the vicissitudes of life.

It is a measure of the wildly successful propaganda exercise scientists and fellow-travellers have long waged in opposing Christianity to science that despite the fears, mistrust and cynicism fuelled in recent times by a plethora of scientific scandals and cover-ups (trade in human organs, BSE, GM food, it is still Catholicism, rather than scientists in cahoots with Big Brother and Big Business, that is stigmatised as the arch-enemy of progress. Although one of the greatest lies and slanders in human history, so dominant a view has this anti-Catholic prejudice become that no depths of degradation and destruction caused by a science unhinged from its Christian source and reference point seem low enough to bring the suicidal downward spiral to a halt. Having turned away from the Risen Lord, the Living object and compass of true science, "God has given them the spirit of insensibility; eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear" [Rom 11:7], leaving only "blind men leading the blind, and when one blind man leads another, they will fall into the ditch together" [Matt. 15:14].

While the articles which follow challenge some of the black legends of the scientific hegemony created by these blind men, there are a couple of things which need stating at the outset. The first, in respect of their godless evolutionary "progress" and where it is all headed, is summed up in the following prophetic assessment by Cardinal Manning over a century ago:

"This, then, is the truth: The world under the constant action of Christianity and the sovereignty of the divine law was advancing in civilisation and making true progress, until a blight fell upon it. The disorders and anarchies of 300 years ago came to check and to overthrow the course of its advance. Christianity would have abolished all social evils with greater speed and certainty if its onward course had not been stayed. As for the abolition of old tyrannies, it was this very departure from Christianity which caused them. There never would have been state churches to disestablish, if dominant heresies and schisms had not first established them.

"We have not yet seen to what modern civilisation is on its way. It is making progress, it is true; but what will it progress to? To the utter and entire rejection of Christianity; to the 'abolition' of the 'religious difficulty' from legislation, from education, from domestic life; to the relegating and banishing of religion from all public life to the individual conscience and private life of man. Civilisation before Christianity was bad enough: but civilisation which is apostate from Christianity is worse than all. Before it became Christian, civilisation persecuted Christianity with the blind brute force of the heathen; but apostate civilisation will know how to persecute with refined and cunning procedure, which nothing but a knowledge of Christianity could have given….

"There is yet a time of stillness and indifference. Liberalism is a twilight state in which all errors are softened, in which no persecution for religion will be countenanced. It is the stillness before the storm. There is a time coming when nothing will be persecuted but truth; and if you possess the truth, you will share it."

And so, as that time draws nigh and the storm clouds gather, the second thing is simply to paraphrase St Paul in reminding Stephen Hawking's captive audience (with a nod to that baffling burial shroud in Turin): "If Christ be not risen, not only our preaching and our faith but all the science and technology at our disposal is in vain."

Little Svenja, surely now at rest in His arms, transformed and resplendent in her Sunday best, would say "Amen!" to that.



Science offers us an explanation of how complexity (the difficult) arose out of simplicity (the easy). The hypothesis of God offers no worthwhile explanation for anything, for it simply postulates what we are trying to explain. It postulates the difficult to explain, and leaves it at that. We cannot prove that there is no God, but we can safely conclude that He is very, very improbable indeed.

Richard Dawkins

No scientist has ever begun to explain vast numbers of specific facts, even the simplest, about the universe around us. A very simple example: Many have tried to explain why the charge of the electron (a fundamental building block of atoms, hence of all matter) has the particular value (about 1/137 in suitable units) observed in nature. This number, the so-called "fine structure constant", has remained a total mystery to all of the brilliant physicists (for example, Sir Arthur Eddington, FRS) who have tried to explain it. The fine structure constant and all of the other constants observed in fundamental particle physics have stubbornly resisted all attempts at explanation in terms of "the simple".

Dawkins seems to think that "science" has explained not only life, but also vast amounts about the different forms of life, and, presumably, human consciousness. This is gross superstition of the most pathetic variety. Perhaps his attitude to Judeo-Christianity may be explained in terms of what psychologists call "projection". In his books and TV appearances, Dawkins frequently blasphemes against the Resurrection and Virgin birth. These blasphemies are typical of all idolaters; worship of their idols, in this case science, has hardened their minds into a real hatred of the true God. As a first step towards realising the nothingness of his idols, Dawkins should take some elementary courses in physics, starting, perhaps, at "A" level.

Dr. Patrick J. McCarthy



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