28 November 2008


Random questions. . .

1). What is your thesis about?

Very, very broadly: I will be researching and writing on the medieval debates about the temporal nature of creation and how these debates might help cosmologists today better understand how to talk about their theories of the origins of the universe in philosophical/theological terms. All cosmologies have philosophical/theological implications. More often than not, the scientists composing these theories have little or no philosophical/theological training, so they fail to grasp how their theories work or do not work when discussing existential or theological questions. Very often, scientists simply assume that the modern western scientific worldview is all-encompassing and omni-explanatory. In other words, they are reductionists, reducing everything to material processes signifed by mathematics. Whatever is not immediately reducible in this way is assumed to be either non-existent or existent in such a way that current technology cannot measure it. Now, this reductionist attitude is widespread but not wholly controlling in the scientific world. Lots of scientists embrace a healthy spiritual view of the universe and struggle to understand all that is with various non-materialistic theories, or theories that do not necessarily exclude the possibility of non-materially existing things. These are the scientists I want to talk to!

2. Did you ever get a response to the email you sent the DLC?

No, I never received a response. This question refers to a post earlier this month about the Dominican Leadership Conference's document on social justice, Call to Action. Evidence surfaced that the OP social justice promoters discussed the inclusion of our opposition to abortion in the document but decided against it for reasons that none too few of us think are dubious.

3. Response to a comment.

Earlier this morning I received a comment on this post via email that I initially deleted b/c it was posted anonymously. I'm posting it here b/c it is a perfect example of what I call "hit and run" commenting.

Posts like this remind me of the reason why I don't read Catholic blogs - of either the left or of the right, for there really isn't anything to choose between. Both are simply given over to the passions.

I have known holy Dominicans, but if this is the future of the Order, then may God have mercy on us all.

Note the following features: 1) the insincere attempt to establish credibility by confessing a lack of editorial bias ("either the left or the right"); 2) the know-nothing leveling of the left and right ("there really isn't anything to choose between"); 3) the stereotyping of all Catholic blogs as unworthy of attention b/c they are passionate (speaking of passions, that's hardly a rational conclusion); 4) another attempt at establishing credibility ("I have known holy Dominicans") and by implication, "You ain't one of them, Fr. Philip!"; and 5) a hasty judgment made based on one post on one blog run by one unholy Dominican ("if this is the future. . .God have mercy. . .").

Really, the interesting part of this for me is the assumption made by the commenter that holiness seems to somehow entail niceness or diplomacy. It certainly entails charity but charity is not charity if it is not also true. Charity is not equivalent to being sweet or polite. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is kick their rear-end. For a charitable rebuke to be spoiled, it must be shown to have been given out of ill will. Unless this commenter has better access to my motives than I do, I can't think why he/she would find the truth I've expressed in that post at all uncharitable.

The several attempts at establishing credibility to comment are laughable. If you want your observations to be taken seriously, resend the comment with your real name on it. Otherwise, you're just a hit and run ghost wailing "foul!" on the sidelines.

4. What are your summer 2009 plans? Can you come be our chaplain/retreat director/pastor, etc.?

The academic year here ends the last week of June. I will spend a week in St Louis at a preaching conference and then, I hope, head down to Irving to teach second term summer classes at the University of Dallas. This will help my 2009-2010 budget; give me time to work on my dissertation using UD's and SMU's libraries; get my books out of storage and shipped to Rome; and just generally reconnect and relax a little. Then I will spend some time with the Parentals in MS. Visit friends. Go on retreat. I will head back to Rome first week of October. So, yes, there is some time in there where I could give a talk or direct a retreat. But I need to firm up my schedule before committing to anything.


  1. ooooooo so maybe I could catcha Homily IN PERSON while you're at UD????? that'd be way cool! (I may even leave the kids at home so I can LISTEN!) ;-)

    as for your hit and run....geez. you know, it could easily have been a "generic comment" as it doesn't realte to a particular post at all.

    oh and that last line....reminds me of "my best friend is _______" so I KNOW what I'm saying and am therefore free to say whatever I want!

  2. Anonymous6:12 AM

    Dear Father,

    In your thesis paper please consider any relevant information from the following:

    American Scientific Affiliation: A Fellowship of Christians in Science

    Evidence for God from Science

    Reasons to Believe

    I also highly recommend the following works by Hugh Ross:

    The Creator and the Cosmos

    Why the Universe is the Way It Is

    Likewise works by Francis Collins, head of the human genome project, are invaluable.

    Anyone (not you, obviously!) who thinks that there is an inconsistence between reason and faith, science and Catholicism, must read Pope John Paul II's Fides et Ratio:

    < http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0216/_INDEX.HTM >

    I look forward to any blog entries on your thesis as it proceeds.

    P.S., Being a nuclear engineer and a devout Catholic, I am absolutely fascinated by this topic. I have given several somewhat related lectures, including "How the Church Deals with Evolution" and "Eve: The Story of Mitochondrial DNA".

    The following is in regard to the person who said:

    "Posts like this remind me of the reason why I don't read Catholic blogs - of either the left or of the right, for there really isn't anything to choose between. Both are simply given over to the passions."

    I can only hope and pray that I am given up to the same passion as Christ had in Gethsamane. Christianity is NOT something where you chose what you like and leave the rest. It's all or nothing - no in-between, no room for fence sitters. Concerning lack of passion (i.e., lukewarmness) Jesus Himself said in Revelation 2:14-19:


    "To the angel of the church in Laodicea, write this: " 'The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God's creation, says this: "I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. 11 I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, 'I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,' and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.


    In Caritate Christi,

    Paul Primavera

  3. St. Louis MO? in Summer 2009?
    If so I'll take you out for a meal!


  4. Snup, yup, summer 2009...it's a deal!