That’s So Second Millennium

Episode 012 - Society of Catholic Scientists

June 18, 2018

Not to be confused with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, although one would understand the mistake.

Bill interviews Paul about his experience and observations at the Society of Catholic Scientists conference that took place June 8-10 at the campus of Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The SCS is a very young organization. Its first president is Stephen Barr, a physicist at the University of Delaware. Its first conference was in April 2017 in Chicago. The theme of the 2018 conference was "The Human Mind and Physicalism"--physicalism being a somewhat more precisely defined term than its synonym, materialism. (Believe it or not, some folks at the meeting thought those two elements in the title were probably incompatible.)

Paul discusses the meeting and the variety of scientists he saw and met there, including Barr, Juan Martin Maldacena (a prominent string theorist), Aaron Schurger (a neuroscientist), and more. Bill and Paul do a little digging and comment on motivations for the group, including the desire for fellowship (like the existing group, Catholic Association of Scientists and Engineers) but also to band together against the folly of the existing culture and its tired, hugely outdated idea that science and faith (certainly the Catholic faith) are logically incompatible. GK Chesterton was quite right when he commented that the quarrel between science and religion was properly left to prematurely arrogant scientists and sola scriptura fundamentalists back in the NINETEENTH century. It's the twenty-first, now, and we should get ourselves to the business of putting this to bed.

Paul elaborates on this final fact at some length, discussing the parallels between the current day and the scholastic synthesis of the thirteenth century. Odd, is it not, that in the broad sweep of history, Aristotle and his universe existing indefinitely backward in time lost out to the stories of a bunch of Hebrew peasants who thought the Prime Mover had actually created the world at a specific point...