Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Inquiring into Causes

I like what Pope John Paul II says here -- the whole thing is worth reading. 

....He who reflects with an open mind on what is implied in the existence of the universe, cannot help but pose the question of the problem of the origin. Instinctively, when we witness certain happenings, we ask ourselves what caused them.How can we not but ask the same question in regard to the sum total of beings and phenomena which we discover in the world?

...Whatever the theory adopted concerning the origin of the universe, the most basic question cannot be avoided This universe in constant movement postulates a Cause which, in giving it being, has communicated to it this movement, and continues to sustain it.

Without such a supreme Cause, the world and every movement in it would remain "unexplained" and "inexplicable", and our intelligence would not be satisfied. The human mind can receive a response to its questions only by admitting a Being who has created the world with all its dynamism. and who continues to maintain it in existence. 
 Science, like all other areas of human endeavour, seems to necessarily lead beyond itself.  Any serious inquiry into causes, it seems to me, will run into one of three alternatives:

  1. It will have to simply stop artificially at some point with some placeholder doctrine that does not explain or lead to the possibility of further insight.  
  2. It will have to use methods which aren't fitted to the inquiry.
  3. It will genuinely inquire beyond physical science into metaphysics.
I like the way John Paul expresses it -- that what is "unexplained" and, especially, "inexplicable" simply does not satisfy human intelligence, broadly speaking.   Of course everyone has personal limitations -- intellectual areas where one doesn't have time, capacity, or inclination to investigate -- but disqualifying inquiry on principle is intellectually unsatisfying.

1 comment:

  1. Love your thoughts on this Willa. For me, it was an overwhelming sense of relief when our dear old priest shared JPII's writings - and assured me that inquiry is a good. My insatiable curiosity didn't need to be satisfied with simplistic magic ;-)


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!