Our world is currently in the grip of fear over the COVID-19 virus. So many people have decided that they wish to spread misinformation or ignore the facts. This is a symptom of a much greater problem in our world.
We have given in the to what many people are now calling a “post-truth” society. Facts, science, reason no longer have any standing in our discourse. Even when those facts could save lives and help better society, they choose to ignore them. And if anyone challenges their world view or their beliefs, they lash out and attack.
Such attacks on reason and fact hurt us as Christians in ways no one fully appreciates. Saint Augustine of Hippo in the Literal Meaning of Genesis says the following:
“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”
The church for far too long stood against the use of reason and science. It believed that they stood in opposition to faith. However, we now understand that faith and science, faith and reason, do not have to be opposed to one another. They can co-exist and it does not diminish God at all. In fact, many catholic saints like Saint Albert the Great were scientist in their own right. Their faith and the use of reason helped them to make discoveries that benefited all of mankind.
Today, we as a church use our faith and science to help make the world a better place. We do not just sit back and pray for the betterment of all. We actually go out into the world and help those in most need. This is also why we heed the advice of scientist when it comes to the spread of infections and viruses. So when you see the changes we have made as a result of the COVID-19 virus threat, you know that we are doing it to protect our parish family from a very nasty illness.
Just because we accept scientific facts does not mean that we do not pray. And so as we work to stop the spread of the virus, let us also pray for those infected and those at risk of becoming infected.