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  • New Gates History Curriculum Closes Young Minds to God

    by Stephen Beale

    Gates and Christian on Big History

    There seems to be no limit to the ambition of Bill Gates.

    After making tens of billions in the personal computer revolution, Gates has become a full-time cheerleader for leftist causes on a global scale—whether it’s reducing carbon emissions to zero by mid-century or reducing the world population by spending billions to pay for contraceptives in poor countries.

    Now Gates is hoping to transform education. The Microsoft co-founder has recently made headlines here and elsewhere for backing a new nationalized curriculum known as the Common Core. But his ambitions for education are even bigger. Gates has recently teamed up with historian David Christian to launch the Big History Project, a free online curriculum piloted last year in 55 high schools—45 in the United States, including four Catholic ones, and ten in other countries, from China to the Netherlands.

    Big History lives up only to the first part of its name. It encompasses a 13.7 billion year-timeline in a bold effort to tell the entire history of the universe.

    But it is not really history in any recognizable sense of the word. History traditionally takes as its starting point recorded history beginning with stories of Egyptian mummies and pyramids, or perhaps in the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia. Big History, on the other hand, begins with the Big Bang. The ten-unit course devotes nearly half its time to covering the formation of stars and the solar system, then turns to the birth of life and the appearance of the earliest humans, before arriving at history proper, in the seventh unit. It’s tailor-made for the attention-challenged student of today, with the typical unit featuring minutes-long video lectures, interactive exercises, and floridly illustrated articles.

    Big History is thus really a blend of cosmology, astrophysics, geology, evolutionary biology, and anthropology. None of these disciplines is inherently anti-faith: the Catholic Church has long taught that evolution, as a science and not a philosophy, is not incompatible with belief in God. And the Big Bang, declaring as it does that the universe had a definite beginning and therefore a cause, is rich with theistic implications. (Little wonder, then, that the first person to propose the earliest version of the Big Bang theory was a Catholic priest, Monsignor Georges Lemaitre.)

    The problem arises in how these disciplines are stitched together to tell what its advocates describe as a sweeping history of everything. In the first unit of the course, students are introduced to six ancient “origin stories”: Australian aboriginal, Chinese, Greek, Iroquois, Judeo-Christian, and Mayan—in that order. For the Greek one, students read from Hesiod’s Theogony. For the Judeo-Christian perspective, they read Genesis 1.

    Such “origin stories” are broached only as a foil to Big History. “Big History is a modern version of all these stories,” David Christian explains in a video introducing the course. Christian is more explicit about the secular design behind Big History in his book, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History. The author identifies the Christian account of creation as a “myth”:

    Creation myths are powerful because they speak to our spiritual, psychic, and social need for a sense of place and a sense of belonging. Because they provide so fundamental a sense of orientation, they are often integrated into religious thinking at the deepest levels, as the Genesis story is within the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. (Maps of Time, 2).

    The perceived need for a modern origin story, as Christian sees it, points to the broader ambition of Big History. It is not merely an account of the origin of all things. It aims, rather, to answer the big questions of life, which, according to Christian, include the following: “Why do we find ourselves in this particular part of the universe on this tiny planet buzzing with life?” “What does it mean to be human?” “Who am I? Where do I belong? What is the totality of which I am a part?” (See his video introduction to Big History available here and Maps of Time, 1.) Such questions are normally asked and answered by a ‘worldview,’ which is what Big History ultimately is—entirely bereft, of course, of the supposedly mythic trappings of old traditions.

    As such, Big History itself is the latest chapter in the decades-long story of the secularization of public education, beginning in the 1960s, when public-school prayer and Bible readings were ruled unconstitutional. In the ensuing decades, social conservatives and traditional humanists have sought other ways of helping students find their moral and metaphysical bearings as they embark upon the stormy seas of moral relativism and cultural pluralism—creationism, intelligent design, values curricula, and character education. (Some obviously have more merit than others.)

    Big History is a secular counteroffensive. The curriculum provides an entirely materialist account of the origin of everything from stars to cells to cities—impersonal processes, often catalyzed by chance, brought each into being. For example, in his book, Christian compares the gravitational forces that sculpted stars to the social forces that shaped states:

    In the early universe, gravity took hold of atoms and sculpted them into stars and galaxies. In the era described in this chapter, we will see how, by a sort of social gravity, cities and states were sculpted from scattered communities of farmers. As farming populations gathered in larger and denser communities, interactions between different groups increased and the social pressure rose until in a striking parallel with star formation, new structures suddenly appeared, together with a new level of complexity. Like stars, cities and states reorganize and energize the smaller objects within their gravitational field. (Maps of Time, 245.)

    It’s a neat analogy, but one that ignores the role of individuals and ideas, not to mention outside agents, such as God or Satan, from any role in human history. There simply is no need for any sort of transcendental reality in Big History: it presents a world closed in on itself, in which everything within can be explain by reference to something else within it. Big History does not explain the soul, the nature of good and evil, the virtues, the dignity of the human person, and, needless to say, our desire for the transcendent.

    From Advocating Environmentalism to Economic Materialism
    One is led to the inescapable conclusion that this earth and everything on it is all we have. Reducing climate change and conserving scarce resources then become the most important ethical priorities. Such is the stated goal of the curriculum at its outset: “This unified story provides students with a deeper awareness of our past, hopefully better preparing them to help shape the future of our fragile planet.” The message is reinforced at the end of the course. In one video, M. Sanjayan, a scientist with The Nature Conservancy and a CBS News commentator, tells students that, as the planet population swells to ten billion, every impact on the environment will have a ripple effect. Mindful of his young audience, M. Sanjayan adds, “We are starting to once again understand that nature, in some ways, is the ultimate social network and we humans are very much part of it.” As we realize the impact our activities have on nature, we can work collectively—on a planetary scale—to do something about it, Sanjayan concludes. The final unit even features a cartoon strip depicting superheroes that fight for sustainable alternative energy sources on an alien planet and has guidelines for an interactive classroom exercise in which humanity is prosecuted in a mock trial for crimes against nature.

    The call to conserve scarce resources is a message that easily bleeds into economics. In another video, Harvard luminary Henry Louis Gates, Jr. marvels at the technological innovation and knowledge that will surely be ours in the future. He wonders if everyone will be able to share in such futuristic riches. “Or will some of us have disproportionate access to these resources? Will there be huge class differentials both here in the United States and throughout the world? Will there be a Third World of poverty and a First World of economic prosperity and economic development?” Gates asks. “That, I think, is the fundamental question facing your generation. And I have absolutely no doubt that you will make the right decision—about the distribution of wealth and knowledge.”

    Of course, all this is not to say environmental conservation or extreme inequities in wealth are unimportant issues. Yet to give priority to some fashionable, and highly debatable, causes while diminishing others is not necessarily what a high school history curriculum is meant to do. Furthermore, any worldview that limits its top priorities to these is one with a flattened view of humanity and a diminished and uninspired understanding of our purpose on earth. It also implicitly assumes that belief in a new heaven and a new earth, to a life after this one, is unworthy of serious consideration. It seems that Big History actually may not be big enough.

    Ignoring the Age of Faith
    Of course, Big History advocates will stress that with a 13.7 billion timeline and just ten units, there’s only so much that can be covered. Even so, the course makes omissions that can only be the result of deliberate choices, not chronological necessities. For example, the ninth course unit covers a 500-year increment of time, from 1500 AD—naturally it’s CE (Common Era) in the curriculum materials—to the present. The preceding eighth unit focuses on the Silk Roads and other trade and travel that flourished between the 1300s and the 1500s. But between that unit and the one before it is a nearly millennium-long gap that begins with the fall of the Roman Empire. That’s the Middle Ages—when faith moved minds and empires, perhaps more so than economic interest. Of course, the crusades aren’t as relevant to today’s world as, say, the industrial revolution—or are they? In a post-September 11 world, ancient wounds seem ever new, as anyone living on the West Bank will tell you.

    In his book, Christian openly admits his bias against anything in history that is “divisive.” As might be expected, faith and religion are among the usual litany of suspects:

    [I]n a world with nuclear weapons and ecological problems that cross all national borders, we desperately need to see humanity as a whole. Accounts of the past that focus primarily on the divisions between nations, religions, and cultures are beginning to look parochial and anachronistic—even dangerous. (Maps of Time, 8)

    Earlier on the same page, Christian says that conventional historical time frames “hide … humanity.” But who really is hiding humanity here? It really says something about the historical merits of a curriculum billing itself as “Big History” that its founder apparently needs a refresher course in how bloody history has been. Of course, Christian would respond that what’s more important is what unites us. This value judgment shapes—and distorts—much of Big History.

    But even when judged against its own standards Big History fails yet again. It’s undeniable that, at least up until the last one hundred years or so, one fundamental element common to all races and cultures was the religious impulse, the yearning for the transcendent. But the element of faith is almost completely absent from Big History. The unit devoted to trade and globalization of the late Middle Ages fails to note that religion was a main driver of the European explorations of the early modern period: in finding a sea-based connection to India, the Catholic world hoped to open a new front against the Islamic Middle East (see The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco da Gama by Nigel Cliff). Perhaps this inconvenient fact explains why Vasco da Gama is missing from the story and Christopher Columbus receives only passing mention in an article about Marco Polo, which says little about his religious background. Otherwise, the unit focuses on the Muslim itinerant judge Ibn Battuta and Chinese admiral Zheng He, himself the consummate multiculturalist. Born into a Persian Muslim family, Zheng served Confucian-era emperors while personally worshiping an ancient Chinese goddess known as Tianfei.

    Elsewhere, the influence of faith is minimized. In the seventh unit, which covers the transition from hunter-gather societies to agricultural civilizations, one article delves into the history of Jericho, “the oldest continuously inhabited city.” Don’t be fooled: much of the article is about climate change and environmental prehistory with the actual “human history” of the city itself sequestered in a separate section in which the author notes an inconsistency between archeological accounts of the destruction of Jericho with the biblical chronology. In the same unit, more than a millennium of Greco-Roman history—from the rise of democracy in Athens to the fall of Rome—is packed into a single article. Here, the birth Christianity gets just two paragraphs: the crucifixion of Christ is described as an imperial necessity to stave off a Jewish rebellion and the spread of Christianity, from Paul to Constantine, gets a scant few sentences.

    Otherwise, in this year-long, ten-unit course there are only four moments in which the curriculum directly engages with faith—but only to ease any friction that might arise between the science-laden content and any religious belief students may have. In the introductory unit, an article on “Cosmology and Faith” by Georgetown theologian John Haught offers a decent explanation of how faith and science can be compatible. A nearly identical article by Haught appears in evolution unit. But this is to treat faith as something apart from Big History: faith is not something that informs the wide lens through which students view the world, it is an outside realm of thought and action which must not impede the pursuit of scientific knowledge.

    The two other engagements with faith occur in the second unit, on the Big Bang. There, the discussion of religion and science takes a turn for the worse. In an article on the Copernican Revolution, Haught, who should know better, drags out the tiresome canard about how Galileo Galilei ran afoul of the Inquisition. A second article about the Vatican Observatory seemed promising—how could the Church not get some credit here for a faith-formed openness to scientific discovery? The article does as much, and, in a welcome surprise, even quotes from the encyclical Fides et Ratio. But for every unavoidable positive, the author, identified as Michelle Feder, seems to feel a need to offset it with a negative. The Galileo affair is rehashed, as is the fact that the Church “apologized” for its behavior. The author just can’t seem to let it go: she quotes the former director of the observatory, Father George Coyne, saying that the “Church is a human institution, and a human institution can make, and had made mistakes.” That “human institution” is at it again, the author concludes, noting with consternation that Pope Benedict XVI once had said the Church’s “verdict against Galileo had been ‘rational and just.’” (To understand the true history of Galileo and the Church, see Light and Shadows: Church History amid Faith, Fact, and Legend by Walter Brandmuller.)

    A Secular Curriculum for Catholic Schools?
    Perhaps this is all par for the course in a thoroughly secularized public school of today: to criticize Big History is, perhaps, really just a way to question anew the godlessness of public education. But why on earth would a Catholic high school adopt the Big History curriculum?

    When that question was posed to Dr. Karen Tichy, the associate superintendent for instruction in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri—where three high schools have Big History—she stressed the compatibility of faith and science, quoting the Vatican II “Declaration on Christian Education” which calls for students acquire knowledge of the “world, life, and man.” When the International Big History Association was contacted for comment, its secretary, Villanova University political scientist Lowell Gustafson made a similar argument. “It is true that some Biblical literalists who do not include tradition and reason along with Scripture reject science.  But they do not speak for the Catholic church,” Gustafson wrote in an e-mail.

    But such responses miss the larger point. At issue is not an individual unit on astronomy or biology, but the totality of the perspective that is presented to students. In a freshman biology course, perhaps a nod to the compatibility of faith and reason is sufficient in a Christian setting. But it is not appropriate to promote a course that advocates a materialistic worldview.

    Tichy also noted that teachers supplemented the official course materials with readings from the catechism, the writings of theologians, papal encyclicals, and other Church sources. But when a list of supplementary materials was requested, this author was told none was available: there was no official diocesan list; teachers added material at their own discretion. And, as the request came at the end of the school year, no teacher was apparently available for an interview. This leaves only two possible outcomes: either enough Catholic content has been added to dilute the inherently secular outlook of Big History—leading one to question what advantage Big History brings in the first place—or the additions have been insufficient, and the secular bias persists. (The fourth Catholic high school that piloted Big History is St. Scholastica Academy, in Louisiana, near New Orleans.)

    But, in an interview, Tichy disagreed that Big History is hostile to religious belief. “I don’t believe it’s antithetical,” she said. Likewise, when it was suggested that Big History offers a materialist, rather than metaphysical, account of humanity, she offered this response, restated in an e-mail: “[W]hat is more metaphysical than the origins of the world, life, and the human spirit (soul)?” Such questions are indeed metaphysical when it’s poets, philosophers, and theologians answering them, not physicists and other scientists.

    Nor is religion itself absent from the curriculum itself, she added. She said even an agnostic would be exposed to religious thinking. Tichy pointed to the introductory section, where various origin stories are quoted (addressed above). She also pointed to a section in the seventh unit on the “birth of religion.” But that turned out to be just a link to an outside source: a June 2011 National Geographic article on a relatively recent archeological discovery of the oldest temple in the world, and how it had revolutionized anthropologists’ understanding of the development of religion—interesting, to be sure, but hardly an invitation to faith.

    It may be easy for anyone who doesn’t take faith seriously on any level—personally, intellectually, or otherwise—to dismiss such concerns. But the faith-related gaps and putdowns outlined above hint at Big History’s broader failing as “history.”

    The curriculum apparently makes no reference whatsoever to the many influential minds of the West, like Plato, Locke, Kant, and Hegel or even to their counterparts in other cultures. (This conclusion is based not only on a review of all the unit headings and subheadings, but also through use of the online curriculum search function, after being given official access to the backend of the site.) Shakespeare and Homer appear to be absent as well as any serious engagement with art or music. These are scandalous omissions for anything calling itself “Big History.”

    Admittedly, the subject matter of history has always been somewhat amorphous, but, as one of the humanities, it’s always been understood to occupy the intellectual territory somewhere in between philosophy and literature. History is, to paraphrase one of its practitioners, philosophy teaching by experience—by stories that are true, stories from which lessons are learned. History is thus the inherited wisdom of the ages. As an encounter with the great minds of the past, history, properly taught, can prepare a young mind for a lifetime in search of the truth. Big History, on the other hand, shrinks the horizon of experience, offering a truncated vision of the world that pushes God to the edge and diminishes humanity in the process.

    Editor’s note: The photograph above depicts Bill Gates with Big History creator David Christian.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      I wonder why Gates is so afraid of God that he needs to go to such lengths as to try to expunge His name from history books?

      • Facile1

        Like he can?

      • Me

        How does this course show fear or animus toward God? It seems fun and factual.

        • Alecto

          It strips history of context, that is why it should be rejected. Do you understand that? We do not exist in a vacuum filled only by science. We live in a totality informed by many things. I distrust Gates on every level. He is an atheist, he has bad character demonstrated over the years through his many attacks on others. The last place we ought to allow such a person is our schools.

          • Me

            It places human history within the context of the history of the universe, along with universal patterns and current concerns. The class isn’t about Gates. He was just kind enough to help fund it. There is no scholarship contained in this class which is in any way anti-Catholic.

    • Martin Snigg

      Really, when we have the likes of one of the greatest historians of the C20th and Catholic convert Christopher Dawson to draw from, this is unconscionable. Those responsible need immediate censure.

      Do we really need to repeat – Catholics are to be leaven, salt and light? Don’t we know secularism as foundation of curricula with mere Catholic veneer is much worse than acting as mere state functionaries, it is to derogate a sacred duty? James 3:1 “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”

      Who are these Catholic professionals who can’t see that secularism in-forms students for assimilation into global bureaucratic liberal technocracies controlled by plutocrats? In the name of Jesus please read Crisis and Patrick Deneen/RR Reno, who know from bitter experience the cruelty of these misguided Catholic bureaucrats. They will demoralise teachers and whole school communities.

      I mean we’d never think to teach secularism explicitly (Hunter Baker urges this in ‘The End of Secularism’) as the controlling metaphysics of now liberal institutions alongside religious metaphysical traditions. To hide itself, to pretend neutrally, while it rules between and over every other architectonic belief is its most carefully protected asset – assumed uncritically and so passed on all the more thoroughly.

      Catholics schools have the most pressing duty to reveal secularism as the ideology of putrefaction which our brothers and sisters mistake for dynamism. Charity demands we show how it serves only despotism, something Tocqueville, present at the birth of the modern democracies, saw as their most terrifying potential. http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2013/04/tocqueville-for-tax-day/

      Secularist fundamentalism is already passing away (Kalb:After Liberalism Notes Toward Reconstruction), scholarship has already overtaken the assumptions at the heart of ‘Big History’ (perhaps it was the impersonal material forces ‘Big History’ claims to discern!)
      Cosmologist George Ellis, recent youtube lecture ‘Nature of Causation in Complex Systems’. Professor Physiology Denis Noble recent youtube lecture ‘Physiology and the revolution in Evolutionary Biology’, just off the top of my head.

      And the fact that Bill and Melinda Gates of hell are among the most rabid secularist colonisers of developing Christian countries should, by itself, be enough to ensure his ‘Big Nothing’ is exorcised out of Catholic schools.

      Thank you to Mr Beale for an inspiring essay and for bringing this disgrace to light.

    • Randall Ward

      “the Catholic Church has long taught that evolution, as a science and not a philosophy, is not incompatible with belief in God”
      Well the CC is wrong on this one. As “evolution” is taught it is an atheist producer, because it is a lie.
      ID has the best scientific foundation for being true. The CC is thirty years behind the science and should never have bought into “evolution”.

      • Bill

        Mr Ward: The CC’s position on evolution is predicated on the caveat that it [evolution] is God’s plan. The church does not buy the secularist belief on evolution. Furthermore, if you studied the history of scientific discoveries you would find that it was the CC that was in the forefront and not behind the world as you imply.

        • Jinxy

          when God invented the common core he declared that we would evolve to love it in the auspicious 21st century because it was cosmologically and theosophically as well as intergalactically benchmarked. when asked what benchmarked meant, by plato, hitler and elvis, God replied ” it is not a curriculum! this is true, I read it in Big History.

        • Randall Ward

          I know the history of the CC and the history of the Protestant Church. I know the history of the University and the College. The CC bought into the evolution theory when it looked like it was “science”. If you study the history of “evolution” and the modern science that refutes “evolution” you will understand the God of the CC could not have caused Humans to “evolve” as described by the current theories of evolution. God is the master builder and does not play dice with His world.

          • dch

            Provide scientific evidence to back up that assertion “modern
            science that refutes “evolution” ”
            Good luck!

            • Randall Ward

              you are doing what most of the high priests of the evolutionary church do; “I believe in evolution until you prove it is not a valid theory”. Belief without proof is faith alone, and members of the evolutionary church have lots of faith; they “know” it is true, even if there is no hard science to back up their claims.

              • dch

                No it is among the best supported big scientific theories there is and there is no debate about that in the scientific community. It has multiple independent lines of support: fossil record, observation of variation in species through time, the molecular clock of the frequency of random mutation of genes (that is mathematical), geologic record, lab experimentation and validation, history of accurate prediction..and so on.

                Evolutionary biology the foundation of most of biological science itself. Science is based on observation, hypothesis, experimental testing, and prediction – not faith. Its a systematic (and self correcting as new knowledge) method of figuring out how the natural universe works,

                The Catholic church does not dispute the major modern scientific theories – they are way too smart for that.

          • c matt

            Where did the CC accept evolutionary theory as de fide? At most, CC teaches, properly understood, it is not incompatible with the faith, and one can take or leave it.

          • http://wasteyourtime.mtgames.org/ Scaevola

            When you realize that what looks like dice to us is really a beautifully intricate D&D backstory written by the greatest dungeon-master of them all, you will realize what the Catholic Church teaches about evolution. God does not play dice, it is true–His plan is large enough to encompass “randomness”, as it appears to us within time and without omniscient awareness of the causes.

            • Randall Ward

              I am Catholic and I know what the CC says about evolution. I prefer to stick to the science and how science proves that evolution of the species is false. If you study the non popular current science of the cell you will not believe in evolution either. It is obvious from observing the world that God is a planner and a designer. But most of all God tells us in the Bible that He “made” everything. He doesn’t do random. You are the first person I have ever heard of that knew what God’s plan was, other than what is revealed to us by the Church.

              • http://wasteyourtime.mtgames.org/ Scaevola

                Yikes, chill. The tone of your last sentence is uncalled for, dude.
                Did I say I knew God’s plan? …nope.
                Did I agree with you wholeheartedly that “God does not play dice with the world”? …absolutely.
                Wherefore then this animosity?
                .
                Your definition of chance is too small. Chance is simply what we attribute to an event when we do not know what caused it. (This is a definition drawn from Aristotle and Aquinas, so as a Catholic you can’t hate on it.) Since God is omniscient, He knows the causes of all things–to Him no event is a chance occurrence. However, we human beings have a limited scope of knowledge. We can’t see why certain things have happened–which is why we perceive the development of species over millions of years as a series of chance mutations (please bear with me).
                .
                Thus it is that God can use the evolution of species to lead inexorably to the formation of a body fit for the infusion of a rational soul. From His perspective, top-down and all-at-once, every piece fits perfectly. From ours, within the puzzle, we can only get a confused and fuzzy picture of the whole.

                .
                Note well that this is an explanation of how Catholic thought can fit perfectly well with a scientific explanation of the evolution of species. This is not me trying to say “Evolution-as-Philosophy is The Truth and You Have to Believe It.” Nor is it even a proposal of the superiority of the theory. (Though it’s hard to argue with the massive scientific consensus the theory commands, among people whom you’d think would know what they’re talking about…) You can’t attack me there. All I’m trying to do is say, with all charity, that you’re being too small-minded regarding chance and design.

      • slainte

        What seminal event caused Evolution to progress from being a Theory to a confirmed Fact?

        To question Evolution is an act of heresy among secular humanists. Why is the theory of Evolution so important to them?

        • musicacre

          Exactly what I wanted to say! It is defined as a Theory, in any official place, but taught practically for many decades, as Fact. That alone tells you propaganda is hard at work since they do not have the patience to wait until it can be confirmed as a scientific fact. That confirms that scientific truth is being sacrificed for hype, propaganda and manipulation. So now we are actually in the realm of politics, because science has been dumped, along with revealed religion.

          • slainte

            Evolution must be subjected to the same rigors of scientific validation and verification (including replication of results) as any other proposition offered for its truth.
            Until this happens, the theory of Evolution will always be suspect….an ideology built on a foundation of sand embraced by its adherents as matter of Faith.

            • Adam__Baum

              What I love about evolution fundamentalists in their insistence of being “scientific”.

              When you ask for an empirical observation, they tell you about moths in England, that adapted to a new stressor, not by becoming a new species, but by remaining the same species with a new predominate phenotype.

              Right now, it remains, to borrow a medical term a diagnosis of exclusion, so I remain agnostic the question of it’s occurrence.

              • Jinxy

                they are also the types perhaps who believe in the HARD SCIENCE of the oh so brilliant Blooms Taxonomy…. what a brilliant work that is!

                • Adam__Baum

                  Is your pseudonym an homage to an animated feline?

          • dch

            Reality: Evolution is both a fact and a theory.

            Scientific Fact: A fact, within the context of science, is very basic. A scientific fact is in essence an objective and verifiable observation.
            Scientific Hypothesis: A scientific hypothesis is a testable explanation about some phenomenon.
            Scientific Theory: Here comes one of the big problems. In general conversation when someone uses the word theory they are using the word the same way a scientist might use hypothesis. The person most likely means that they have some kind of guess or hunch. When a scientist uses the worth theory they mean something entirely different. Within the context of science a theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Further, a scientific theory must be able to be used to make predictions about natural events and phenomena that are consistently accurate. A simple way of thinking about a theory is that is is what we use to explain the facts we observe in the world. Sticking with the gravitation example given above the Theory of Gravity is not a guess or a hunch about gravity. The theory of gravity is an attempt to explain how and why when you release that object from your hand it falls. Hence, like evolution Gravity is a Fact and The Theory of Gravity is an explanation of gravity supported by experiment and observation.

            You are free to believe what you want , but don’t think for a moment that science agrees with you, it does not.

            • Bono95

              There is much evidence supporting MICROevolution, i.e. light moths becoming dark and vice versa, Persian cats acquiring longer, thicker fur, and horse breeds becoming stronger or swifter. However, there is precious little evidence for MACROevolution, i.e. moths turning into bald eagles over eons or a sand cat becoming a bengal tiger. There’s many missing links in the evolutionary chain. For example, according to macroevolution, humans evolved from apes, and today we have both apes and humans. Why aren’t there any intermediate creatures alive somewhere, and why have so few alleged skeletons of them been found?

              • dch

                You are all wrong in the details and don’t have any real understanding of the subject. Those are all old creationist nonsense arguments.
                Humans and modern apes are descended from a common ancestor. Nature is what it is. You are free to imagine whatever you want. Just don’t expect science to support your superstitions.

                • Adam__Baum

                  “Science” once insisted that Louie Pasteur was a dangerous maniac and believed in time and space invariance. Yet despite the absence of any contradictory indication, we test, over and over details of the relavististic assertions (sometimes because of necessity, GPS was far less accurate until relativistic effects were taken into effect)

                  On the other hand, while we can induce and observe time dilation, nobody has even observed a species giving birth to a new species. We are routinely told that humans and the apes share a common ancestor, yet the apes have 48 chromosomes, we have 46. Did this ancestor have 46, 48 or something else and how did this variation occur.

                  When offspring have an abberant number of chromosomes, it’s usually a bad result. We cannot explain that change and have not observed it.

                  “Prove it” is inherently scientific. Physicists offer us thousands of confirmatory experiments and observations, and yet they continue to probe, mindful of how much certitude accompanied Newtonian mechanics. The newest physics is provoking an argument as to whether those areas are science, because there’s no way to apply the experimental method (yet).

                  http://io9.com/5907179/why-physicists-need-philosophers

                  I don’t know how God made man in his image, and He very well may have breathed a human soul into the child of an ape. I would regard that as just as impressive as grabbing a lump of clay and fashioning it into a human. How remains a question to be explained, not to be suppressed with charges of ignorance.

                  • musicacre

                    Thank you for pointing out that the word “science ” is kind of a plastic term. So bendable in so many ways for so many years. Until the end of time, we will not comprehend absolutely all the mysteries of nature. Only God knows everything.

                • slainte

                  If accuracy and truth are the hallmarks of legitmate science, then you might want to rephrase your sentence to state:

                  “It is currently believed that” Humans and modern apes are descended from a common ancestor.
                  If the premise has not been proven to a certainty, then don’t state it as an objective, irrefutable fact.
                  Catholicism accepts that reason and faith are compatible because He who is Truth reflects Himself in the heavens and in nature consistently. Our intellect allows us to apprehend incremental bits of this Truth, while never reaching absolute knowledge of Him or of His creations, including nature.
                  I hold science to the same high standard it purportedly imposes upon itself, to wit, a rigorous test of validity and verification of its ideas. Until the theory of evolution is fully proven, please refer to it as what it is, a “theory still under examination”.
                  Man’s understanding of nature is at best a constant “evolution” with ever changing conclusions. Those conclusions which scientists declared with certainty 100 years ago are now in the ash bin of history, having been revised due to new and ever changing discoveries.
                  Is it too much to ask for scientists to admit that they might not know it all at any given time, and thus refrain from making absolute statements about that which they do not have complete knowledge. Humilty is a virtue.

            • musicacre

              Don’t “preach to me about science, I have a science background. I don’t need a kindergarten explanation of what a hypothesis or theory is. And by the way, if you’ve been at all alert anywhere in the last century and a half, you would notice that science in a lot of areas has been appropriated by nonsensical media and politiicized. Real science doesn’t agree with you.

              • dch

                Really what real science refutes the ToE?
                Be specific, you need data to back that up.

                So what is the testable hypothesis of your god driven origin of species?

    • hombre111

      As a student of Chardin, I would say Gates is on to something, even if the tale is imperfectly told. Apart from focusing on the most important moment in earth’s history: the Word made Flesh and his passion, death, and resurrection, it is the Christians who distort history. They do this by imagining that history is summed up in that nanosecond of time which begins in the middle of the Bronze Age, with a predicted end in the very near future. This view of reality was composed in a culture that knew nothing about the Big Bang thirteen billion years ago, or anything about the origin of the Human Race in Africa. And so what we get is a genealogy since Adam adding up to about twenty thousand years. Only in the last century do we understand that we flow out of time beyond understanding and space beyond explaining. If God is God, then surely, we are part of his plan that includes incalculable billions of years and a destiny within the great chains of galaxies. The Church has barely begun to explore its mission here.

      • Alecto

        Catholics are the most rigorous investigators and defenders of truth in every discipline. After all, who gave us the university? You have to do better than throw the mud at the wall. You have to make sure it sticks.

        • Adam__Baum

          He doesn’t throw mud. After a while, you realize it’s something else, same color, more odious.

          • Bono95

            I think that’s a more apt description Mr. “Christian” and Mr. Gates, and maybe Mr. Luther.

      • Sam Scot

        You tally up all these years, stars, and planets as if those dead things by their mass could outweigh one human soul. I don’t want to be unfair to Teilhard by assuming you are summing him up correctly, but what you have written is run-of-the-mill materialism. You seem committed to the unimportance of man. God seems to have had other ideas.

        You say “The Church has barely begun to explore its mission within this mind-blowing context” of, I assume, cosmology. The Church invented the scientific method, and has turned out one scientific revolutionary after another. For example, Fr. Nicolaeus Copernicus—the discoverer of the heliocentric solar system—who was ordered by his superiors to publish his theory.

        I don’t think Teilhard, with his Piltdown hoax and his pantheism, should be considered reliable as a scientist or theologian. He never claimed to be a theologian. Perhaps a visionary. Visionaries can have great value, but one must be careful for the spots where the vision is distorted.

        • hombre111

          God was committed to man so that his Word was made human flesh and became all that we are, except for sin. IE, God seems to take us much more seriously than you do.
          Francis Bacon invented the scientific method, which focuses on the natural world. For all its hundreds of years of existence, the Church spent huge energy on the abstractions of material, efficient, formal, and final cause, but was not interested in looking at the world and listening to what the world had to say. The Church, which put all its hope in arguments from authority, has been off balance ever since. According to the scientific method, every generation knows more than the generation that preceded it, and less than the generation to follow. The scientific method follows three steps: hypothesis, deduction, and induction. The Church, eg in its “natural law” arguments, starts with deductive arguments flowing from “self-evident” realities. It treats these realities as if they were hypotheses already verified by induction. Might be OK for theology, but don’t call it science.
          Chardin was a paleontologist and hugely involved in science. He was not a pantheist, but a panentheist, who encountered the power and love of God within our thirteen billion year-old universe and its half a billion galaxies. And how valuable is a soul? The conservatives, who tilt toward war, accept the death of innocents as collateral damage. Not much evidence in practice of their esteem for the soul.
          What I have come to see is how little we see.

          • musicacre

            You talk about the age of the earth so breezily, as though you were personally there billions of years ago. How is that scientific, when it was a failed clergyman become scientist, sent on a voyage by his father, who was still trying to help Darwin make a name for himself…how is it every little thing that man said became infallible ? When people talk about Darwin, they ARE talking about their religion. There’s nothing up for discussion as there should be in science; ( as you mentioned re science up above.) it’s all infallible to the evolutionists. Who is your God?

            • Jinxy

              this is common core, big history, ” make inferences” ” guided reading”, ” deep engagement” with a narrow body of info, no more
              ” mile wide and inch deep” “go deeper”…. ” critically think”
              ” higher order thinking”, ” make up your own end to the story “its all carnival side show games and spooky futurist guessing… look into my crystal ball!!!!
              but musicacre, hombre111 WAS there! he astral projects for sure.
              he also must have studied big history… with outcome based education techniques…

            • Me

              Our kids aren’t in school to learn some anti-Catholic, fundamentalist, anti-science drivel about evolution being false. That is NOT a Catholic teaching. Catholicism and science, including the Big Bang and evolution, are perfectly compatible.

            • hombre111

              Sorry. With all do respect, I can’t agree.

              • Adam__Baum

                Due respect.

          • Adam__Baum

            “What I have come to see is how little we see.”

            And what we see is how willfully blind you are.

          • Alecto

            Are you entirely certain you are a priest? I wonder if you’re innately provocative, or misanthropic.

            • hombre111

              I will be a priest for 50 years next May. Yes, I do enjoy thinking outside the box. And I do provoke people by refusing to think that the good ideas and moral visions come from the top down.

              • Adam__Baum

                Key phrase: “refusing to think”

              • John200

                Dear Father hombre,

                I wanted to lay off pointing out your confusion, but then you just had to produce:

                “I do provoke people by refusing to think that the good ideas and moral visions come from the top down.”

                The top? God? You refuse to think that the good ideas and moral visions come from the top? from God? Down to us? This from a Roman Catholic priest?

                No need to fool around, just take that to your confessor. It certainly should alarm him. I would hope it would alarm you if a directee were to say the same to you in spiritual direction.

                At last I see how you got like this. Yay, me? No, it is a sad moment. I would feel depressed if I had less certain hope.

                • Facile1

                  Whenever I catch hombre111 claiming (s)he is a priest in these blogs, I post this reply to his/her commentary:

                  “How does one VERIFY INDEPENDENTLY a claim to ecclesiastical authority when the person of interest blogs under an assumed name? Claiming ecclesiastical authority is at best a disservice to the reader and at worst demonic.”

                  I do not find credible anyone who claims ecclesiastical authority anonymously.

                  • John200

                    You are quite right. Father hombre does not write like a Roman Catholic priest. He writes like a heretic, or a “dissenting” silver ponytail Catholic, or perhaps simply one who is ignorant of the deposit of the faith.

                    I try to take him in stride, and even to encourage him toward the truth, but it is entirely possible that he is 100% provocateur and zero percent Catholic.

                    And so 50 years as a priest in the one true Church is reduced to: “I do provoke people by refusing to think that the good ideas and moral visions come from the top down.”

                    Good grief, what are we to do with that?

                • hombre111

                  You set up a straw man and knocked it down. Congratulations.

                  • John200

                    That wasn’t a straw man, that was a collection of YOUR claims.

                    So I get back precisely no substantive response. Oh well, you don’t really have a possibility of substantive response.

                    Carry on. And get thee to thy confessor pronto.

                    • hombre111

                      If you were trying to make a collection of my claims, sir, you missed by a mile.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        Your claims start with the manifesto.

                      • John200

                        Quit squirming. Start action. The confessor, hombre.

                        The confessor.

              • Facile1

                How does one VERIFY INDEPENDENTLY a claim to ecclesiastical authority when the person of interest blogs under an assumed name? Claiming ecclesiastical authority is at best a disservice to the reader and at worst demonic.

                • hombre111

                  Good question, except I don’t claim any particular ecclesiastical authority. I am just an old priest who likes to comment on stuff from Crisis. The readers of Crisis furiously cite authority as their clincher, and I beg to differ. My operating thesis goes like this, following Lonergan and Don Gelpi, SJ.. St. Thomas Aquinas said that arguments from authority are not very strong, even though he appealed to authority all the time.  So, absent authority as your clincher, what do you do? T ruth is discerned through aesthetics, ethics, and logic. Or, to make it too simple: New facts, better logic, or an argument for a more adequate point of view.

            • Micha_Elyi

              A priest of what?

          • Jinxy

            you sound so phony and pompous, you are one of those that preach love but defy Jesus Christ and all the commandments… what is that? voodoo guru make it up as ya go along throw in a galaxy, a dino bone and a few billions and billions and a gospel turn…. political trolls are often basement gamers at moms house.

            • Me

              This is nuts! He’s made some very innocuous and intelligent comments. How he is “defying Jesus Christ”???

              • Facile1

                I do not find credible anyone who claims ecclesiastical authority anonymously.

                • me

                  Who is claiming “ecclesiastical authority”? This is puzzling.

                  • Facile1

                    If you are not Catholic, what are you doing in an explicitly Catholic blog?

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Based on previous commentary, “trolling”.

            • slainte

              Jinxy, We can disagree with Hombre’s opinions, and I do frequently, but he is an ordained holy Roman Catholic Priest and a recipient of Holy Orders through which he has been graced with bringing forth Our Lord Jesus Christ through the consecration of the bread and wine.
              Please show some respect.

              • Facile1

                Whenever I catch hombre111 claiming (s)he is a priest in these blogs, I post this reply to his/her commentary:

                “How does one VERIFY INDEPENDENTLY a claim to ecclesiastical authority when the person of interest blogs under an assumed name? Claiming ecclesiastical authority is at best a disservice to the reader and at worst demonic.”

                I do not find credible anyone who claims ecclesiastical authority anonymously.

                • Bono95

                  I am reasonably certain that hombre111 is indeed a man and a priest, or I at least have no conclusive proof to the contrary. If he’s a liar, he’s a remarkably consistent and well-informed one, because he’s brought up his time and experiences in the seminary and mentioned his parish dealings more than once, and has never anywhere claimed to not be a priest. I will not always agree with him, but I will give him the respect due to a priest unless someone else can prove that he is not one.

                  • Facile1

                    It is because I respect and comply with the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church’s Magisterium that I cannot find credible nor respect anyone who claims ecclesiastical authority ANONYMOUSLY.

                    I would respect Hombre111 more if s(he) did not appeal to ecclesiastical authority when making his/her arguments. BUT rather, let his/her arguments rise and fall on their own merits like the rest of us anonymous bloggers. But in claiming ecclesiastical authority in his/her arguments, Hombre111 gives the mistaken impression that his/her opinion is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and this can lead the naive Catholic to grave error when it is not.
                    If one is speaking for the Roman Catholic Church, there are proper venues. If one is voicing a personal opinion, there is no need to claim ecclesiastical authority. BUT to claim ecclesiastical authority ANONYMOUSLY is doing the readers of this explicitly Catholic blog a great disservice.

                    Therefore, I feel it is only right to point out to the readers of this explicitly Catholic blog that there is no way to verify independently the claims to ecclesiastical authority made by one who blogs anonymously and they should proceed with caution.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    On here, he’s a commenter, that’s all.

                • slainte

                  Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen observed that we are called to tolerate and respect our fellow man, but not necessarily his ideas which we may find objectionable and unworthy of toleration. I have no doubt that Abp. Sheen was calling to mind God’s commandment that we love our neighbor as ourselves.
                  This is not dissimilar to the Church’s teaching that we should love the sinner, hate the sin.
                  Some of the comments on this blog appear to attack Hombre’s personhood, not merely his ideas. Ad Hominem attacks against one’s personhood wound the soul and detract from meaningful dialogue. As a Catholic, I view Hombre’s holy priesthood as an elevation of his status which compels me to rise in his defense against Ad Hominems. This does not, however, cause me to refrain from taking issue with his ideas which I may find objectionable.
                  Until proven otherwise, I accept the truth of His priesthood and I thank him for accepting God’s call to service, and for engaging in this conversation with us..

                  • Facile1

                    You are asking for proof when it is NOT POSSIBLE to verify the claims to ecclesiastical authority when one blogs anonymously.

                    I believe one must assume another’s innocence until proven guilty. However, I am not accusing anyone. How does one accuse an anonymous blogger?

                    So please, read my words carefully:

                    “How does one VERIFY INDEPENDENTLY a claim to ecclesiastical authority when the person of interest blogs under an assumed name? Claiming ecclesiastical authority is at best a disservice to the reader and at worst demonic.”

                    Jesus commands us to love one another as we love ourselves. BUT He does not command us to be fools.

                    Matthew 10:16
                    16 Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.

                    Rejoice in GOD’s LOVE always and go in peace.

                    • slainte

                      Facile 1, How does one independently verify a poster’s credentials?

                      You can start by asking the editorial staff of Crisis Magazine to verify Hombre’s claim that he is a Catholic priest. If they are unable or unwilling to do so, then perhaps they can request a Catholic Bishop or theologian to opine on the truth of Hombre’s statements regarding the faith.

                      • Facile1

                        And you’ve done this and can provide us with the evidence and the testimony?

                        BTW, the burden of proof is not mine. The burden of proof belongs to the one who is claiming ecclesiastical authority anonymously.

                      • slainte

                        Facile1, By referring you to the editor of Crisis Magazine in an open forum, I have made the request for you, and I am sure the editor is now aware of it. While I do not believe that the editor will identify the name of the person posting as Hombre111, he or she may be able to verify that Hombre is in fact a priest.

                        I am not bothered by posters who claim “anonymity”. I am interested in the ideas expressed, exposure to which causes me to thiink more deeply about my faith in unexpected ways. Participating in this forum has caused me to begin reading the Catechism, Abbe Bremond, Thomas Aquinas and others in an effort to better understand my faith.

                        As a traditional Catholic, I do not agree with Hombre on many points, but I find his theological insights helpful in understanding the belief system of so called “liberal” Catholics. The fact that groups of Catholics within the church believe differently about church teachings is very troubling.

                        Thus, I understand your concern that we should be cautious about wolves in sheep clothing disseminating false Catholic teachings. I hope this helps.

                      • Facile1

                        Slainte, I do not appreciate your referring me to the editor of Crisis Magazine in an open forum. The burden of proof IS NOT MINE, YOURS, any READER of this blog, or the editors of Crisis Magazine. Take it upon yourself, if you wish, to verify an anonymous blogger’s claim to ecclesiastical authority. BUT DO NOT PRETEND YOU ARE DOING ME (or us) ANY FAVORS.

                        I’m also interested in ideas. BUT I am interested in the TRUTH FIRST. And there are measures of the TRUTH whether one believes in Roman Catholicism or NOT.

                        One of these is “discernment” (ie the use of human senses to evaluate evidence and the use of human reason to form hypotheses).

                        I cannot speak for your discernment. But I can speak for mine.

                        I do not find CREDIBLE anyone who claims ecclesiastical authority anonymously. It does not stand up to human reason.

                        Holy Orders is a sacrament as well as an ecclesiastical office in the Roman Catholic Church. When the Roman Catholic Church vests a man as a priest, he loses his private life. There is no room for anonymity here or for private opinions contrary to the teachings of the Magisterium. It is not as though this man became a cop.

                        Now WHY should I continue to spend my precious lifetime reading someone I do not find CREDIBLE when there are other anonymous bloggers in this site more worthy of being read and responded to?

                        I caution out of a sense of duty.

                        Two conditions must exist before I post my caution:

                        1) I notice the anonymous blogger’s username. NOTE: I do not “FOLLOW” these bloggers.

                        2) A “CTRL+F” isolates the word “priest”. I will NOT waste my time reading the post.

                        In the absence of these conditions, I do NOT post my caution. So, “hombre111″ may post all s(he) wishes as long as NO CLAIM TO ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITY is made on the page.

                        Of course, continue to read whomever you wish. I believe I have sufficiently discharged my duty to you and this discussion is at an end.

                        LOVE GOD (ie TRUTH) FIRST and go in peace.

              • Adam__Baum

                Correction. He claims to be an ordained Priest. In my profession, claims are not accepted on their face value. We have no way of proving his claim and many times he seems more informed by radical politics than anything else.

                • slainte

                  Then vigorously cross examine him on his ideas while respecting his personhood in accord with the commandment that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. His priesthood, in my opinion, elevates his personhood, not his ideas. Ideas must be compatible with Truth, and when they are determined to be erroneous, take appropriate steps to expose and refute them.

                  • Facile1

                    His/her (unverified) priesthood elevates his/her personhood (and there’s the rub.)

                    “Ideas MUST BE compatible with TRUTH …”

                    BUT how does one determine if another’s ideas are “compatible with the TRUTH” when his/her ANONYMOUS claims to ecclesiastical authority cannot be proven credible?

                    Do not equate “giving a person the benefit of the doubt” to elevating his/her personhood” to the Roman Catholic Church’s “priesthood.”

                    • slainte

                      Focus on the content of the ideas proffered. Are the ideas consistent with, and do they conform to the teaching of the Church in the fullness of its 2000 year tradition as revealed by the divine law and the magisterium?

                      A bishop and/or a Catholic theologian is probably best suited to make that determination, and probably should since the ideas advanced on this forum by Hombre, a person claiming to be a Catholic priest, are generating a great deal of confusion among the faithful.

                      God gave us an intellect to question and verify when we suspect ideas are erroneous. The process seems to be working.

                      • Facile1

                        Do you know the NAME of any bishop and/or Catholic theologian who would lend us his services in sorting out the ideas proffered by an anonymous blogger, who is claiming ecclesiastical authority?

                      • slainte

                        I think the editors of a Catholic magazine might have access to the appropriate people to respond to your inquiry. I do not know any bishops or Catholic bishops personally.

          • Sam Scot

            “Francis Bacon invented the scientific method.”
            No. St. Albert the Great did. He taught at the University of Paris—the world’s first modern university—in the 13th century. He was the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. Bacon wouldn’t come along for another 300 years.

            • hombre111

              Unfortunately, the scientific method focuses on the observation of nature via an investigative process based on the senses. Aristotle made that point and concluded to the materiality of the soul, creating a problem St. Thomas had to solve. But both Aristotle and the medieval thinkers did not do many of those sense observations in an effort to accumulate knowledge about the processes of nature. Instead, they focused forever on the four causes: material, efficient, formal, and final, focusing on formal and final. Bacon gave up the arguments about formal and final causes and focused on material and efficient causes, thus inventing modern science.
              I am not saying discussing the four causes is not important. One of the great weaknesses of our modern era is the conclusion that material and efficient causes are all that exist.

          • c matt

            According to the scientific method, every generation knows more than the generation that preceded it, and less than the generation to follow.

            Well, yes and no. Technology perhaps advances, but you are confusing scientific knowledge with all knowledge, and perhaps knowledge with wisdom. Later generations also seem to lose practical knowledge hard earned from their predecessors (that whole those who forget history are doomed to repeat it). The problem seems to be that too many sum up the whole of knowledge with “scientific knowledge”. While useful, science has only limited purposes.

            The Church, eg in its “natural law” arguments, starts with deductive arguments flowing from “self-evident” realities.
            Not sure what you mean by that. Classical theism, from what I understand, starts from knowable observations. For example, that contingent things have a cause, and therefore cannot be their own cause. That seems not much different from science, which also starts from knowable observations (eg, things fall to the ground).

            • hombre111

              I agree with your main point in your first paragraph. One of the fallacies of our era is the decision to make scientific verification the test for all truth. When this happens, metaphysics and theology become quaint hobbies.

          • Bono95

            Excuse me, Father, but what is a panentheist exactly? I’ve heard of pantheists, but I am not familiar with panentheists.

            • hombre111

              A pantheist would say that somehow, all things are God or an emanation of God.
              Panentheism should be familiar to anybody who has read the orthodox explanation of the Blessed Trinity. The three Persons exist, each within the reality of the other.
              A panentheist would say that God lives within the reality of everything that exists as the source of its existence, goodness, truth, and power. At the same time, we live within the reality of God. This is a sacramental view of reality, which meets God everywhere.

              • slainte

                To whom or what is worship due?

                • hombre111

                  To the Father as our creator, from whose unimagineable depths you and I emerge each nano-second of our lives; to Jesus Christ, God’s only Son made human flesh and alive in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit, and to the Holy Spirit, breathed into us by Jesus as he died on the cross, fire and light, source of wisdom.

                  • slainte

                    We agree and beautifully stated. Thank you for responding.

          • Micha_Elyi

            Francis Bacon invented the scientific method…

            I disagree. It was his teacher, Robert Grosseteste, who first described what we now call the scientific method. Rev. Grosseteste was later elevated to bishop, not a typical way for the Church to display disinterest in “looking at the world and listening to what the world had to say.”

            You’re also wrong when you claim “the church…put all its hope in arguments from authority”. Church father St. Augustine of Hippo pointed out that when reason and plain fact appears to contradict our understanding of Scripture, it’s our understanding of Scripture that is wrong. No, the Church has not been “off balance” since Bishop Grosseteste invented the scientific method. And no, the scientific method does not guarantee Progress – look at the recent example of Germany’s descent into irrationality in the first half of the twentieth century.

            As for your misguided swipe at “the conservatives”, well, you’ve made Barack “drone attack” Obama into a conservative.

            Time for a big re-think of all your beliefs, Hombre111.

        • redfish

          Teilhard, at least in his writings, was more of a natural philosopher than a empirical scientist, and I think a lot of his arguments vis–à–vis evolution are important and are being proven right by modern research. His central thesis discussed how ordered forces — such as culture, psychology, symbiosis, etc. — rather than random forces, play a larger role in evolution than scientists give them credit for.

          He didn’t minimize the existence of mankind; in fact, the way he described it, he made it seem as if everything before man was in preparation for existence of man. And then, man is driven towards God. He saw Christianity as a crucial moment in history. Everything was a teleological process for him.

          • Facile1

            Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a Jesuit) taught that a person’s SOUL is a product of human EVOLUTION. This is the reason why the Roman Catholic Church censors his writings to this day.

            It would have been a different matter altogether if de Chardin simply stuck to his scientific findings. The Roman Catholic Church does not actually have a position on evolution. However, de Chardin’s claim that a person’s SOUL is a product of the EVOLUTION of the human body flies in the face of the Church’s teaching that God made us in His image.

            I learned about “The Phenomenon of Man” in a high school run by American nuns in the Philippines. Of course, the teacher left out the part of “the soul being a product of human evolution.”

            Now I consider it a waste of time to read “The Phenomenon of Man” as a student of science (I have a graduate degree in mathematics) or as a student of religion (I’m a practicing Catholic). And I don’t care much for science fiction.

            • BHG

              If you read “human evolution” to be “the evolution of humans” rather than implying within that context that it is either directed by humans or the result of random forces (neither of which is required in a reading of de Chardin), then de Chardin is not so far off classical teaching. At some point in time, our first parents came into being at the hand of God and were ensouled. Before that, there was no man with a soul; after that, every man has a soul. I read de Chardin as pointing out that we do not know HOW man came into being by God’s hand, but he did, and science indicates that the processes of evolution may well be the tool that God used in fashioning us–and with that fashioning came our whole selves, soul and all. I understand why the Church suppressed his writing as potentially causing confusion to the faithful–but that does not mean he does not have value or that his perspective doesn’t illuminate our understanding of God. For me–a chemist-anthropologist-physician and faithful Catholic of the more traditional bent (fish-eating, bead rattling, scapular-wearing, Latin chanting and God loving), his writings have been a source of great spiritual strength. And just for the record, evolution, at least on a micro scale (think bacterial resistance) is a fact. What is theory is how the change in time of organisms occurs and whether it can result in the emergence of new species.

              • Facile1

                I appreciate your posting and I appreciate what de Chardin’s writing must mean to you. When I was in high school, I was quite the atheist and was fascinated with de Chardin. BUT I came to my faith by way of another route

                • BHG

                  Thanks for the kind words. Just trying to make the point that what we read in something is not necessarily what was being said….I give you full permission to avoid de Chardin, though if you have not read it The Divine Milieu is quite good and pretty classical; Peter Kreeft quotes it in Jesus Shock. I too am at the age where I am selective in what I choose to read but even with that the pile of books is enormously high. Peace to you as well.

                  • redfish

                    Hey, BHG, I posted the ‘Guest’ reply to which Facile responded to; actually under my Disqus account, but then accidentally deleted it, and I don’t know how to reclaim it.

                    Though I’m speaking as a non-Christian — yet someone familiar with Catholic theology — I’d agree that many of Teilhard’s arguments can be reconciled with the classical account. He’s mostly concerned with how the spirit makes itself present in nature. Then, there’s just an analogy between nature and revealed religion; teleology is logos, and logos creates revelation.

                    The worry I think is the same worry with other panentheistic systems. In reducing God’s actions to set principles, there’s an appearance of de-personalizing God, and turning his Will into something mechanical and predictable. Teilhard, after all, was able to reduce all of nature to a few principles he established. There’s also a worry that it intellectually supports what is now being termed “unitheism” — which is a school of thought that de-emphasizes Christian teaching by saying all religions are after the same truth. One could argue that Teilhard’s account of history supports this, even though he personally held up Christianity over other religions — everything that rises must converge, after all. And notice that most people who have been accused of pantheism have denied it. Spinoza denied being a pantheist. So did Victor Cousin, who I’ve read. So did Vincenzo Gioberti, who I’m interested in reading.

                    I’ve been more interested with the implications of his ideas on evolutionary science, though.

                  • Facile1

                    I lost my books in a house fire in 2007. I’ve replaced only some of my books of poetry and cookbooks. Otherwise, I prefer naps. Books help.

        • Me

          I don’t know about you, Sam, but I want my children to learn about stars and planets. There is nothing “evil” or “unGodly” about science and technology. If you are concerned about scientism, just take your kids aside, if they do this course, and talk to them about the beauty of God’s creation. There is nothing here to be afraid of or to run from. I got excited looking at the website because it has a link to building a spectroscope. My kids are going to love that project!

      • Dick Prudlo

        You too could teach this very comfortably. Pierre, with is uncontrollable need to obfuscate every subject he tackled, would love this nonsense. Perhaps, you should give Bill a call and find out if a student of the Omega Joint would be a welcomed addition.

      • cestusdei

        Actually we believe that history is summed up in a person Jesus Christ. All of history led to him and leads from him. The person who discovered the Big Bang was a Catholic priest.

      • musicacre

        We are not required to constantly meditate on the galaxies; all that we need to do is find out what Christ requires of us for the time we are given on this earth, and do it!

        • Alecto

          Imitation of Christ has passages on the folly of intellectual pursuits over sanctification of one’s soul. To know and love God, and to love one’s neighbor is the purpose of life. Knowledge is a good thing, but it isn’t the purpose of life.

          • musicacre

            Yes, I’m familiar with that book, most of my children have it also…

      • Adam Baum

        “which Protestant and Catholic fundamentalists still think sums up the age of the earth.”

        What is a “Catholic Fundamentalist”?

      • Romulus

        Dear hombre: Cosmology ain’t history. Geology ain’t history. Anthropology ain’t history.

        As for your breathless prose about time beyond understanding, space beyond explaining, and great chains of galaxies, please accept some free advice from Dr. Johnson: “Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.”

        • Me

          No, but they’re all part of “big history”, which, in the current context, includes a history of the cosmos. This really is interesting and educational stuff. Look at all this neat stuff that kids will have the opportunity to learn about: http://www.bighistoryproject.com/Content-Samples

          • Facile1

            I prefer to read history apart from science.

            For one thing, science is about learning two very important skills: how to evaluate evidence with the use of human senses and how to formulate (and test) hypotheses with the use of human reason.

            “Big History” confuses facts with factoids and does not allow for “reality checks” that a real course in science would do.

            What kind of scientists would we be raising with “Big History”?

            What kind of historians?

            And if this is taught in Catholic schools, what kind of Catholics?

          • Bono95

            Even so, would it have killed Mr. (how ironic) Christian to divide up his project more evenly and give a little more room and thought to human history? Leaving out entirely the early Middle Ages, giving major historical figures like Columbus either no mention at all or the merest passing one, and focusing more on various sciences and “sciences” is not good history teaching.

        • hombre111

          “Cosmology…geology…anthropology ain’t history.” MMmm. If you mean by history an effort to tell the story of the human race since the Sumerians until now, that view of history is like limiting the electro-magnetic spectrum to what is visible to the naked eye.
          But…Cosmology explores the universe looking back in time 13 billion years, and into the universe to the very edge of the Big Bang. This exploration tells us whole new things about God and about ourselves.
          Geology has shaken the biblical fundamentalists to the core and has laid bare their cowardice and lack of curiosity. Cross the Grand Canyon as I once did and start climbing out on stone that is two billion years old. Keep climbing and come to the first fossil glimpse of life. Come out at the top and realize you have been in touch with something astonishing that cannot be ignored if you are going to tell the real story of history.
          Anthropology explores the whole complicated world of human beings past and present, and shows us just how limited our American reality is. We find the human enterprise has so many other possibilities, and our way does not have to be the only way.

      • Jinxy

        as a student of Chardin do you dabble in Bailey and Ba’hai? Maybe Werner Earhart and a little L. Ron?

        • hombre111

          Let’s see, what’s on my to do list right now, as I approach my 75th. birthday and 50th. year as a priest? Morning daily prayer, one hour, using the Divine Office, Mass readings for next Sunday, Balthasaar (at this moment, his little “Theology of History,” Evening prayer, one hour using Office and Centering Prayer.
          Reading: Taylor’s “A Secular Theology,” Gelpi’s “Encountering Jesus Christ,” O’murchu’s “Evolutionary Faith,” Johnson’s “She Who Is.”
          Finishing work on two volume 230,000 word book. Ministry in the women’s prison twice a month, weekly Mass in my parish, helping out as substitute in another parish.
          What does your spiritual discipline look like?

          • Me

            I wish you were my priest, hombre111. You appear to be a holy and intelligent man.

            • hombre111

              Thank you. I am humbled by your comment.

              • Adam__Baum

                Why do I suspect a doppelganger?

                • John200

                  Because that’s what these two look like.

                  It would fit, yes. Father hombre gives us his routine and a mystery supporter tells us he is marvelous. Who could suspect anything?

          • Bono95

            Congratulations on your upcoming birthday and anniversary. :-) What’s your book about?

            • hombre111

              It is a two volume biographical novel about Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet. Nobody has ever done such a thing before. It took five years of research and writing. Now I am down to polishing and checking for typos.

              • Bono95

                Cool! Hope you’re able to get all polished up soon. :-)

      • Me

        Thank you for some excellent insights, hombre111. I’m not sure why either hombre or Bill Gates deserve the abuse they’re getting in this forum. As a Catholic home schooler, I think this looks like an outstanding course. Kudos to Bill Gates for making it available for free! I see nothing at all here that contradicts anything that Catholicism teaches. It’s not purely history; part of it is science, or at least an overview of science. Catholics don’t need to feel compelled to teach their children “young earth creationism” or that evolution is false. These are emphatically NOT Catholic doctrines and they’re not science either. This course appears to offer a great way to cover the history of the universe, rather than just the history of our species at a particular time. I plan to have my children take this class (I understand it will be available for free in short order.) This does not mean that they will lose out or have give up on any other learning. Some have complained about what the class does NOT cover. That material can always be covered in other classes. We know more today than we used to so we need to cover more material. There’s nothing “subversive” or dangerous about this information. It is simply a collection of facts that we currently believe to be true. The ethical appeal to help create a better world is quite admirable and very moral.

    • Tony

      AND we now see that Benjamin Wiker is correct. We need to get this secular “religion” out of the public schools. THIS is a religious establishment, according to the court’s own reasoning. The whole thing is disgusting — and it bears out my observation, that our schools are corrupt precisely to the extent that courses diverge from a canon of material that sensible people would expect students to learn about. It requires care and skill and plenty of subtle judgment and specific hard-won knowledge to teach about, let us say, the Civil War. The messy and inconvenient details of history are themselves instructive — and militate against precisely this soft-headed determinism … Any Catholic institution that adopts it is guilty of criminal stupidity. It isn’t even history, damn it all — it is a secular materialist creation myth with (evidently not much) historical dressing.

      • Me

        There’s nothing “mythical” about it. It’s science. It is in no way in opposition to a Catholic viewpoint.

        • Bono95

          Dismissing Genesis 1 as “myth” and bashing the Church with the Galileo issue at every possible turn is “science”?

          This course is supposed to be about history anyway, not science, real or fake.

          • zcastaux

            You should know that many ‘Catholic’ so-called Bibles of today (including American and Philippine) also refer to Genesis in its entirety, not even as metaphor, nor as mystical literature, but as a Jewish ‘myth’. Truly.

            • Facile1

              There is no such thing as “‘Catholic’ so-called Bibles”. ‘Catholic Bibles’ have to conform with canon law to be recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. If they do not, they are not considered ‘Catholic’.

              I do not believe any of the bibles translated into ANY of the Philippine languages conform with the RCC canon law at present and, therefore, are NOT recognized as Catholic.

              I live in the Philippines and have been looking for a Tagalog translation approved by the Roman Catholic Church so I can talk intelligibly about the Bible in that language. I’ve not had any luck.

              Of course, English is one of the official languages of the Philippines (Philippine Law is written exclusively in English.) So, the English translations of the Bible recognized by the Roman Catholic Church will have to do for now. I use The New American Bible revised edition (NABRE).

              You will have to be more specific with regard to your references in support of your statement about the Book of Genesis being referred to as a Jewish ‘myth’. NABRE does not refer to Genesis as a ‘myth’.

              • zcastaux

                Oh Facile 1, the whole point is, you need to read so many of these BAD footnotes in these poor ‘Bible translations’, pouring out of the ‘Bible industry. You were too facile, so you didn’t do that, right?

                Try some of the notes in the ‘Catholic Bibles’ designed to actually be used in the USA. About usury and effeminacy, for example. It is selective disinformation across a wide spectrum. But you have to READ them, and compare them to some KNOWLEDGE BASE. If you are facile, that is not easy. Next time, you will be perhaps, Facile 2 (TOO)?

                • Facile1

                  I’ve lived in the US for 39 years. I only returned to the Philippines a year and a half ago. And while I was atheistic most of my life, I returned to the Roman Catholice Church two years ago.

                  What about conformity to Roman Catholic canon law don’t YOU understand? The exegeses and notes have to conform too. And yes, I used to belong to a bible reading group when I lived in the US (protestant and Catholic). Here in the Philippines, I have a problem with Filipinos who are NOT so knowledgeable. And I no long read any exegeses outside of the Catholic Church. NABRE means New AMERICAN BIBLE revised edition.

        • c matt

          Then it should be billed as “History of Science” and limit itself to that subject, making no comment on any other histories (history of religion, history of philosophy, anthropological history). “Big” History incorrectly implies you are geting it all, when it is apparent you are only getting a thin slice.

        • zcastaux

          Many, and very many, responsible scientists at a high level, do NOT accept the so-called “Big Bang’ theory at all. Nor do a lot of of them actually accept ‘evolutionism’ in its current form. These names are never mentioned (and their careers are blocked, their books go out of print). The concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ has been ridiculed by leading thinkers at science forums; but they were laughed away by the very powerful proponents of this viewpoint. We are never allowed to read the very solid criticisms of crude evolutionism (oh, and there IS no ‘missing link, it has never been found and the alleged skeletons of the ‘link’, e.g. “Java man”, have been frauds). That one or another ‘Catholic’ has supported a theory means, well, nothing much.

      • Facile1

        Like you, I prefer to read history as apart from “cosmology, astrophysics, geology, evolutionary biology, and anthropology.”

        You covered very nicely what one can learn from history.

        Let me speak for science (My undergraduate degrees are in engineering and my graduate degree is in mathematics.)

        Science is about learning two very important skills: how to evaluate evidence with the use of human senses and how to formulate (and test) hypotheses with the use of human reason.

        “Big History” confuses facts with factoids and does not allow for “reality checks” that a real course in science would do.

        What kind of scientists would we be raising with “Big History”?

        What kind of historians?

        And if this is taught in Catholic schools, what kind of Catholics?

        • Ib

          You’ve hit the nail on the head here. This “Big History” is a MYTH thought up by David Christian and bankrolled by the Gates Foundation. That’s why it plays fast and loose with language. For example, the quote above which claims that “cities and states” have a “gravitational field,” something that can only be meant as a metaphor, but which is never explained as a metaphor. It means to imply some sort of physics-like property that drives human culture and social-relationships which, of course, is simply unsupported by any empirical facts. But by trading on metaphors, the Mythic claims of “Big History” gain additional appeal without having to actually mount any kind of rational argument. Metaphor works wonderfully well in poetry and was used throughout the ancient world in tandem with ancient mythologies precisely for this reason. David Christian’s work is yet another attempt to create a scientistic mythology to displace all actual human history. It will fail, much as the French Encylopedists failed in their similar attempt.

    • Alecto

      The reason most history books begin with Egypt or Mesopotamia is because archeologists and historians have observable physical evidence, usually ruins, or artifacts, documents on which to draw conclusions about those civilizations. These conclusions about historical events, people, etc… have been tested by various people. Further, the conclusions drawn have some form of corroborative information to support them. The Big Bang is a theory about the origins of the universe. Attempting to write “history” about something that cannot be proved, only presented as theory is teaching fantasy or imaginative fiction as fact. Is this not always what people in Gates’ camp accuse Christians of teaching with ID? What’s next? Including the Martian Chronicles in religious survey courses?

      The most powerful influence on and impetus for every single civilization’s existence throughout history is religion. Separating religious understanding from events is misguided and incomplete. Religion has informed virtually every event, every action throughout history. In the education arena, who is Gates to present anything? He doesn’t possess credentials, only money. He is a serious student of nothing except perhaps forcing your opinion with money. Crass. Why do people pay him such obeisance? Are schools now that desperate or craven that they will undermine their mission and bow down to Gates’ false gods?

      • Me

        I don’t think schools are cowed or intimidated by Gates. It’s just that this course looks interesting and appealing. It is multidisciplinary and could be taught as well as (not instead of) regular science and history classes. Students could only benefit.

        • Facile1

          Hmmmm.

          So one will have to take time away from regular science and history classes (AND the children’s play time) to teach “Big (pseudo)History”?

          How will this benefit the students again?

          • Me

            Don’t take time away from anything. Just add more classes. Don’t get confused by the title “Big History.” It’s not traditional history, but an overview of the scientific process.

            • Alecto

              Making its addition completely redundant! The first thing any elementary student learns of science, is the scientific method. History is the relating of facts about events past. Gates is interfering where he isn’t welcome and does not belong.

              • Bono95

                Not satisfied with making lousy computers and adjacent programs, Mr. Gates simply must also make lousy science and history programs.

                • Adam__Baum

                  Yes, and some of his “gems” re:Windows ME. (circa 2000) are instructive as to why we should look his gift horses in the mouth.
                  Based on the 95 kernal, rather than the NT kernal that would form the basis for Win XP that would come out a little over of a year later, it was essentially an obsolete (and bad) product sold to unsuspecting customers that provided them little value.

                • zcastaux

                  Not quite. Gates did a lot more than ‘make computers’. He and the buddies (???) made an entire world constantly upgrade by buying HIS PROGRAMS, and also deliberately programmed a ‘spy access back door’ into EVERYBODY’s modern Windows. Yes, your firewall doesn’t keep that out very well. Your antivirus programs can’t stop it. I had a Microsoft Office survey come onto my screen, an online, do-it-now survey, while I was OFFLINE. Yes, those satellites are powerful. We are NEVER offline, we only think we are. A seamless, commercial-military operation with the smiling Gates as front-man, a gazillion-dollar, worldwide industry, from which almost no-one could escape… It’s only NATURAL that now they are programming schools directly. And oh yes, this is philanthropy, now.

                  • Bono95

                    I am more thankful than ever that I have an Apple Macbook Pro (using it right now). That is just scary.

            • Facile1

              Apparently, you have no sense of time. Even children’s time is precious. And as one who has undergraduate degrees in engineering and a graduate degree in mathematics, I can tell you one learns a “process” (scientific or otherwise) only by doing. A data stream of factoids will not do it for you.

            • tigers13

              So it shouldn’t be aligned with history. It should be their version of science.

          • zcastaux

            It’s not only pseudo-history. It’s really, really BAD pseudo-science, too.

            SPACE as such, which we understand quite poorly, has NO ‘gravity’ floating around in it…. HONESTLY.

      • Worldly Man 934

        “Why do people pay him such obeisance?” Money talks and BS/religion walks….

    • slainte

      Big History seems to advocate Pantheism, a belief that man exists to serve the earth, instead of God.

      Pantheism contradicts God’s exhortation to man,

      “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28

      We are called to be faithful stewards of nature and all that God provides for us through nature. We are not, however, called to worship the creature (nature), only God.

      • hombre111

        Maybe not pantheism, but panentheism…the reality of all things caught up in the wisdom, power, and love of God, called to God’s purposes. But usually, at that point, we see God through our own eyes and project our limited understanding on the source of all good and wisdom.

        • slainte

          He made us Imago Dei, and graced us with Intellect through which we may know Him; a Conscience to discern right and wrong, good and evil; and a Will through which we may freely elect to worship solely Him as Creator.

          “Question the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the sea, the beauty of the wide air around you, the beauty of the sky; question the order of the stars, the sun whose brightness lights the days, the moon whose splendor softens the gloom of night; question the living creatures that move in the waters, that roam upon the earth, that fly through the air; the spirit that lies hidden, the matter that is manifest; the visible things that are ruled, the invisible things that rule them; question all these. They will answer you: “Behold and see, we are beautiful.” Their beauty is their confession to God. Who made these beautiful changing things, if not one who is beautiful and changeth not?” Saint Augustine

          • hombre111

            Nice.

        • Romulus

          We have a revealed religion, supported by a rich and intellectually satisfying theology, whose central dogmas are protected from error by a divine promise. So what’s with the sub-Christian self-loathing? C’mon, hombre — man up.

          • theorist

            What I think hombre111 is trying to express is that mankind is often not worthy of such dogmas and may even misinterpret them through no fault of their own. Because of this, we confuse God with our own ideas and “project our limited understanding” on He who is above all understanding. It takes Socratic humility to approach the Holiest of Holies.

    • Facile1

      Students will be better served if they learned HOW to read ‘critically’ rather than be force-fed this glop.

      Though I admit, this makes the Church’s work on evangelization that much harder. I truly am NOT fearful for the Catholic student.

      Language is a human invention. The TRUTH is NOT.

      And there are three measures of TRUTH (in human speech and human action) that the Roman Catholic Church already teaches (in and out of schools). And these measures are discernment, conscience formation, and acts of FAITH. The measure of any ONE of these (or lack thereof) in one’s speech or in one’s actions can point to a “lie” in one’s self or in another. And why should we fear lies?

      “14 So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, 15 and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.”
      (Ephesians 6:14-15)

      If one is faithful to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, one can be exposed to this toxic nonsense and still escape unscathed.

      • Alecto

        Reason is not the enemy of faith. Language may be a human invention, but it is still the best tool we have for communicating that plan God has. Therefore, I suggest we use it to our benefit and not concede a centimeter to Gates gang.

        • Facile1

          Where have I ever said “Reason is the enemy of faith” (in this blog or in ANY blog)?

          Language IS a human invention (read Genesis). The TRUTH is NOT.

          The TRUTH is the only defense against a LIE.

          If so, how can one tell if one or another is ‘telling the truth’?

          There are three measures of truth in human speech and in human action. These are discernment, conscience and acts of faith.

          One begins with DISCERNMENT. We separate invention from the TRUTH with the use of our human senses to evaluate evidence and with the use of our human reason to form hypotheses. In a court of Law, this means applying the “rules of evidence”. In a laboratory, this means applying scientific methods. In childhood, it meant “trial and error” until we learned to listen to authority and obey.

          The second is CONSCIENCE (or self-examination). We reconcile our speech and our actions to our desires, our dreams, our goals, our failings, our failures, our sins… One cannot learn from success.

          BUT both conscience (ie self-examination) and discernment (ie use of our senses and our reason) are still subject to human error and manipulation.

          Therefore, as a Catholic, I also believe one must reconcile one’s speech and one’s actions with scripture, the Magisterium (teachings) of the Roman Catholic Church and the traditions (acts of mercy) of a Catholic community. The Roman Catholic Church calls this “FAITH Formation” of a “fully formed conscience”. A Christian has to be willing to act on FAITH.

          Regardless, ALL human action is predicated on faith because no one knows the future. GOD may not figure in an atheistic vision of the future. BUT the lack of a belief in GOD does not mean an absence of faith in ‘something else’. All sin is idolatry.

          Conscience, discernment and acts of faith are ALL necessary in ‘telling the truth’. The measure of any ONE of these (or lack thereof) in one’s speech or in one’s actions can point to a lie — in one’s self or in another.

          TRUTH begins with GOD (read Genesis) and cannot exist outside of GOD (read John’s Apocalypse).

          No amount of invention (ie human) can change the TRUTH (ie GOD).

          Anyone who loves the truth will not escape GOD (ie TRUTH. Read John 14:6) .

          We are commanded, therefore, to LOVE GOD FIRST (read Matthew 22: 34-40 The Greatest Commandment.)

          LOVE GOD FIRST and go in peace.

          • Alecto

            Not stating you did, but you need to stop assuming everyone is exposed to the Roman Catholic Church. Few are, even Roman Catholics don’t really know much about their own beliefs. How can anyone learn without language?

            • Facile1

              “How can anyone learn without language?” What an odd question (especially coming from a person whose comments I usually agree with)!

              Learning begins WITHOUT the use of language. As children, we first learned through our human senses. THEN we acquired language and continued to learn through our human senses coupled with our human reason.

              Of course, there are some of us who choose to “uncouple” our human reason from our human senses (like the proponents of “same sex marriage”). BUT let’s not pretend their language is “truthful”.

              One begins with “discernment” because God speaks to us through revelation.

              In Matthew 11:25, Jesus said, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”

              LOVE GOD FIRST and go in peace.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                Try Wittgenstein’s experiment, “Say a sentence and think it; say it with understanding – Now, do not say it, just do what you accompanied it with, when you said it with understanding!”

                Thus, he says, “Thinking is not an incorporeal process which lends life and sense to speaking, and which it would be possible to detach from speaking, rather as the Devil took the shadow of Schlemihl from the ground..”

                • Facile1

                  I do not disagree with Wittgenstein’s rather convoluted choice of words.

                  Language employs human reason. But that does not change the fact that language is a human invention and the TRUTH is not.

                  The challenge of the student, whether in a laboratory or a court of law or in one’s own life’s experience, is to learn to discern TRUTH from invention.

                  One begins with DISCERNMENT. We isolate elements of the TRUTH with the use of our human senses to evaluate evidence and with the use of our human reason to form hypotheses. In a court of Law, this means applying the “rules of evidence”. In a laboratory, this means applying scientific methods. In childhood, it meant “trial and error” until we learned to listen to authority and obey.

                  BUT discernment (ie use of our senses and our reason) is still subject to human error and manipulation.

                  Discernment, conscience (ie self-examination) and acts of FAITH are ALL necessary in ‘telling the truth’.

                  ALL human action is predicated on faith because no one knows the future. GOD may not figure in an atheistic vision of the future. BUT the lack of a belief in GOD does not mean an absence of faith in ‘something else’.

                  TRUTH begins with GOD (read Genesis) and cannot exist outside of GOD (read John’s Apocalypse).

                  No amount of invention (ie human) can change the TRUTH (ie GOD).

                  Anyone who loves the truth will not escape GOD (ie TRUTH. Read John 14:6) .

                  We are commanded, therefore, to LOVE GOD FIRST (read Matthew 22: 34-40 The Greatest Commandment.)

                  LOVE GOD FIRST and go in peace.

                  PS
                  Wittgenstein is an odd choice to quote. The topic under discussion is what to teach children. Wittgenstein is accused of killing one of his pre-adolescent students for being too slow. I believe if one cannot make one’s self intelligible to children, one cannot have anything of importance to say to adults.

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    Wittgentein is making the obvious point that we cannot “think,” without employing some sort of language.

                    He says again, “If a lion could speak, we could not understand what he is saying,” because his language would be a product of his social experience, which is quite different from ours.

                    As for truth, “if a man is speaking in Chinese and we understand Chinese, we know what he is saying, but, if we do not, we do not know that he is ‘saying’ anything.” In other words, it might b the Chinese equivalent of doo-dah-day.

                    As Johann Georg Hamann reminds us, “While language “reveals God in the light of a higher day . . . his work is a human soul which itself creates and continues to create its own language.” There is no unmediated access to truth.

                    • Facile1

                      Wittgenstein is making the obvious point that “thinking” is a function separate from “language”. Some call it “human reason”. Some call it “senses”.

                      And whether Wittgenstein agrees or not, language is separate from the TRUTH. So whether a German or a Chinese is speaking “truthfully” has less to do with the language that either person employs than with the goodwill between the two.

                      There IS an “unmediated access to the TRUTH” through our human senses.

                      The first step in the scientific process IS to evaluate evidence through our human senses. A cook tastes. A musician listens. An artist observes. A blind sculptor touches. A sommelier tastes and smells. A doctor may have all the diagnostic language in the world, but the patient lives with the truth that is the pain.

                      The second step in the scientific process is to use human reason (“thinking”) to form hypotheses (some as short as a “word” and if one does not exist, one may have to invent one.)

                      BUT the measure of “discernment” (ie the use of human senses to evaluate evidence and the use of human reason to form hypotheses) is still subject to human error and manipulation.

                      This is why one should employ other measures of the TRUTH such as “conscience” (ie self-examination) and acts of faith (like run experiments even if under controlled conditions.)

                      Language is a human invention. The TRUTH is NOT.

                      NO LANGUAGE EXISTS THAT CAN ENCOMPASS THE TRUTH.

                      Language filters the TRUTH. So beware of language — whether English, German, Chinese or Mathematics.

                      The TRUTH begins with GOD and cannot exist outside of GOD.

                      Thus we are commanded to LOVE GOD (ie TRUTH) FIRST.

                      PS.

                      I believe Johann Georg Hamann would have agreed with my understanding of the scientific process. So I wonder how you arrived at the statement:”There is no unmediated access to truth.”

                      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                        Ideas arise from the senses and are so intertwined with the words used to think and express them as to form one indissoluble, “organic” entity: namely, language.

                      • Facile1

                        We do not “think” because we have “language”. We have “language” because we think. TRUTH came first. Language followed.

                        In Genesis 2:19, we are told “So the LORD God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name.”

                        Humankind’s confusion with its own nature begins with the belief that we invented God and NOT merely a “word” for the TRUTH (ie GOD.)

                        This arrogant secular belief in the power of man’s inventive mind forms the intellectual foundation of many mistaken government policies — policies that have the power in turn to enslave its citizenry.

                        Choose to live in your head, if you wish. I prefer to be anchored in the TRUTH.

                        We are done here. Do not expect further responses.

    • tamsin

      Big History = We Are A Big Box Of Rocks.

      • Romulus

        And the pinnacle of cosmology, geology, evolution, and history is the enlightened New Man, personified by — guess who — Bill Gates.

        • Me

          I’m just shaking my head. Why are some of you hating on Bill Gates for his philanthropic efforts to bring free, high quality education to so many people? I guess you’re scared off by terms like “evolution”. It’s OK to have an opinion on the subject, but the state of science here is very clear. Evolution is not anti-Catholic. Catholicism is completely accepting of evolution. Some of you are confusing a bizarre, fundamentalist, anti-science paganism with true Catholicism.

          • Adam__Baum

            Some of us recognize the difference between philanthropy and an agenda masquerading as philanthropy.

            • Me

              What’s this secret “agenda”? This course looks interesting and highly educational.

              • Alecto

                As opposed to what? And, why Gates’ need to instruct others in how to instruct children according to his and only his ideas and ideals? Could it be his dissatisfaction with his vapid, empty “achievements”? A true educational philanthropist would provide the means to those best able to educate children, not demagogues them. It’s important to remember that education is a local, personal endeavor. Gates is a globalist, and a very dangerous man who does not love his fellow man. However, even a globalist may have one or two interesting ideas, just as a clock is correct twice daily.

                • Me

                  ‘Not “his and only his ideas and ideals.” The course reflects modern scholarship on every topic it touches.

                  • Bono95

                    Then I say to hades with modern scholarship-oh wait, modern scholarship’s already there.

          • Bono95

            A course that harps upon ZPG-ers and holds a mock trial of a guilty humanity is NOT philanthropy or a love of humanity. I may get myself deleted for this, but whether or not Mr. Gates is a “philanthropist”, I am decidedly “philanthropist off” by his “efforts”.

          • Kevin McCormick

            The Catholic Church is not “accepting” of evolution. The Church teaches that believing in evolution is not at odds with believing in Christianity. This is quite different than saying it is true. In fact, the Church does not hold a position on the truth or falsity of the theory of evolution which at best is a hunch with much contradicting evidence.

          • Romulus

            Education belongs in the hands of the educated — a category that does not include government bureaucrats and a fortiori excludes the vulgarian dropout Gates.

            • Bono95

              He dropped out?

              • Adam__Baum

                He did.

                • Bono95

                  Well, that would explain his severely lacking knowledge of science, history, decent computer programming.

                  • Me

                    Oh, come on, Bono. Gates has been kind enough to help fund the course, but every bit of scholarship in it is both supported by the most respected experts in the field AND is in line with Catholic teachings.

                    • Bono95

                      How is dismissing Genesis as “myth”, touting iffy scientific theories as solid fact, regarding human beings as ecological parasites, and ignoring, bashing, or barely mentioning religion/religious figures/historical figures of Christian faith in line with Catholic teachings?!?

              • Romulus

                He did — but it was from Harvard, so it’s not like he would have learned anything.

    • poetcomic1

      Nice crisp bright neat new model of everything, courtesy of Our Lord Bill Gates. No thank you.

    • Michael Speyrer

      This is yet another example of the State trying to offer, then eventually coerce a forced choice out of the Church to either accept a compromised position in education, or pressure it to back out of another sector of public life completely risk operating with a seriously disadvantaged position. Both choices are really meant to accomplish the same eventual goal, to marginalize or eliminate its influence in the public sphere completely.

    • CharlesOConnell

      I’m no enthusiast for Marshall McLuhan. I’ve seen his intellectual sleight-of-hand a bit too close. However, he did have a substantial point about the durability of various media on the scale of millenia: rock, in this instance, does seem to cover paper.

      And it will be the old non-digital, pre-multicultural media in old print that will survive to jumpstart civilization for the remnant, once the silly silicon valley-ites finally realize how perishable digital media are. Once they have destroyed civilization, survived quite handsomely by that most imperishable of hard media of tradition, the living stones of the Family.

      For the internet & its successors are only extensive in space, not in time. Fifteen years ago, at the beginning of the CD micro-eon, Scientific American ran an article on digital media perishability. Some future young people will find their great-great grandfather’s digital media files in an attic, but will be completely at a loss to read them even at a computer museum. Only their curiosity need suffer disappointment, for if they could read it, they would only discover a mishmash of utterly forgettable nonsense.

    • WRBaker

      So we have M/M Gates at it again – if it’s not one, it’s the other.
      Gates started the Common Core problem to begin with (there were a few others, but none with his money) and it looks like SSM, etc, with seep into the English curriculum. Now Gates is wrapping up History.
      Little known is a Jesuit program known as CMAST which is very similar to Big History (especially the use of video and a superficiality in depth of math and science).
      Look for the functionally illiterate school students in the very near future.

    • Pingback: Fifty Shades of Nothing - BigPulpit.com

    • James Patton

      “It’s a neat analogy, but one that ignores the role of individuals and ideas, not to mention outside agents, such as God or Satan, from any role in human history.”

      I think that compendium would be found in Mythology.

    • Mark

      the Gates of hell shall not prevail

    • Jonathan. New Zealand

      Overall well written. To pionts. I can understand an aversion of referring to God given the fact that there is no single understanding of God. even among Christians. It also amuses me when the word left wing is used as if it is something to be feared, I can only assume the author of this article is American

      • Me

        Perhaps an American fundamentalist? The article does not reflect how many American Catholics think.

        • accelerator

          The article does not reflect how most American Catholics think, since most American Catholics are essentially sacramentalized pagans. As for Fundamentalist, the fact you would use the word in reference this article shows how little you get what it means. But name calling is always effective.

          • me

            Modern Catholic scholarship is emphatically NOT fundamentalist.

    • JackB

      If this program is called Big History then the Gates’s giant population control effort should be called Big Hysterectomy.

    • Bono95

      Erasmus of Rotterdam once stated that “Where Lutheranism flourishes, the sciences perish.”

      Where secularism flourishes, science is horribly tortured and mangled before perishing.

    • Tony

      Trolls, trolls! The author is not complaining about the teaching of evolution. He is complaining about a “history” curriculum that is mainly about other things besides history, and that applies deterministic (scientistic, not scientific) assumptions to the development of civilizations, and that ignores the great western thinkers and institutions, that runs down the Church — what in the hell is so hard to understand about what’s wrong with this? Real teaching of history requires a respect for the contingency of human affairs, and a painstaking knowledge of what happened and why, and why it might have happened otherwise. This isn’t history. It is Deterministic Scientism as Faith, sneaking in under the guise of History.

      • slainte

        Mr. Beale writes, “One is led to the inescapable conclusion that this earth and everything on it is all we have. Reducing climate change and conserving scarce resources then become the most important ethical priorities. Such is the stated goal of the curriculum at its outset: “This unified story provides students with a deeper awareness of our past, hopefully better preparing them to help shape the future of our fragile planet.” The message is reinforced at the end of the course. In one video, M. Sanjayan, a scientist with The Nature Conservancy and a CBS News commentator, tells students that, as the planet population swells to ten billion, every impact on the environment will have a ripple effect. Mindful of his young audience, M. Sanjayan adds, “We are starting to once again understand that nature, in some ways, is the ultimate social network and we humans are very much part of it.” As we realize the impact our activities have on nature, we can work collectively—on a planetary scale—to do something about it, Sanjayan concludes. The final unit even features a cartoon strip depicting superheroes that fight for sustainable alternative energy sources on an alien planet and has guidelines for an interactive classroom exercise in which humanity is prosecuted in a mock trial for crimes against nature.”

        Why so much emphasis on environmentalism by Big History…is this the new secular religion that is meant to replace the Church?

        • John200

          I think you could make your point into an assertion. It is pretty solid.

          I don’t see much reason to question it.

          • slainte

            Environmentalism has been enthusiastically embraced by Catholic religious as well as secular humanists, particularly those religious orders that retain membership in LCWR.

            Environmentalism is not just a secular religion, it is now a Catholic thing.

            • Me

              Amen! You can only claim this class is anti-Catholic by misunderstanding the content of the class and misunderstanding Catholicism. Unfortunately many Catholics are more influenced by Ken Ham than Pope Francis, but that should only reflect on those individuals, not on the Church itself.

              • slainte

                Catholics are called to be good and able stewards of nature, but not to worship it or any other creature. Catholic worship is directed exclusively to Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit only.
                Environmentalism as embraced by some religious within the LCWR and many within the Secular Humanist world appears to be more consistent with Pantheism or paganism. Adherents care more for the well being of baby ostriches than they do for the well being of human babies in utero. This is profoundly troubling and is not Christian.

        • Bono95

          I would say yes, but environmentalism will not succeed in replacing the Church any more than any previous paganism, heresy, the Protestant Revolt, or Secularism.

      • Bono95

        AMEN!

      • me

        Where and how does this class “run down the Church”? I suggest people learn a little more about the class before making assumptions about it. And if you the title “Big History” is inexplicably traumatizing, call it something else. Just don’t try to take this gem away from children. It’s a fascinating class.

    • Antonin Strombauch

      Annnnddd… another comment thread descends into irrelevance.

    • Calvin

      Man, Mrs. Gates is sure gonna be upset about this one. I hear she’s Catholic. Looks like the couch tonight for you Billy…

      • Romulus

        It’s OK; she’s not very Catholic.

      • Bono95

        sigh….we wish.

    • http://historyscoper.com T.L. Winslow

      All attempts to water-down history miss the point, which is to scope and master as many facts as fast as you can, and build up a working picture of the flow of time. Attempts at watered-down history inevitably have a social control agenda, while real historyscoping is above that, letting you judge for yourself. Only my Historyscoper Online World History School does it right. For the time being all courses are free, with no registration required.

    • leogirl87

      Making people ignorant will cause history to repeat itself. Islam is dangerous when ignored, and students will no longer learn about religion or Christian history because it’s “divisive.” Well, we’ll see what happens when the West contracepts itself out of existence and we are invaded by Muslims. People will be so tolerant of Islam and anti-Christian that they won’t even realize what’s happening until it’s too late. Women will be oppressed in Europe and the Americas just as they are in the Middle East.

    • tigers13

      Home schooling is looking better and better. It is ludicrous to think that this man can effectively buy the way students are educated and what they should be learning. How can people not see that this isn’t part of education reform as it is more a part of let’s give Gate’s something to profit off of. Our children are becoming profit margins instead of human beings. Scary.

      • John200

        Dear tigers,

        Thanks for a provocative comment. You got me to stumble over “are becoming” which I think should read, “became.” That has been going on for about 65 years (my estimate), since the state of adolescence was substituted for growing up.

        A little experiment: In your mind, compare a sixteen year old of, say, 1940, to the average sixteen year old you see downtown. Compare them in terms of how they handle their money. And Bingo! You see how our children are
        profit margins (I disagree with you only on the word “becoming”).

        Well, if you want to make one more comparisons, look at maturity, self-discipline, good sense, willingness to pitch in with their own work (NOT willingness to force someone else to do it), but that will be enough to make you sick.

        By the way, I was not around before the time of youth “culture” (ha, ha, ha,… a laughable concept indeed). But I can see that most Americans have bought into it, and that it is a load of krappe.

    • theorist

      I’m tired of Big Bang praise.The Big Bang is overrated as an explanation of the creation of the universe in the sense that no one can prove that the universe didn’t always exist; for God could have made the universe instantaneously. Only by faith alone do we know that the earth had a beginning and an end.

      But all the Big History would not be a problem, and might even be a interesting addition to a curriculum if only the Catholic teachers and priests did what they are supposed to do, that is, teach Catholic philosophy.

    • davend

      What a silly article. Overall, the Beale is upset that Big History is secular and secularizing; yet public education in the United States was founded as a purely secular enterprise. (If the author is truly interested in history, maybe he should do some historical research about the formation of the University of Virginia, just as one example.) If you don’t like secular public education, send your kid to a religious school–that’s why they exist. The author also complains that the course tries to do too much by being more than history (cosmology, for example)—which is a valid critique for something billing itself as “history.” But THEN Beale turns around and criticizes the program for NOT including subjects such as Music, Religious Studies, Literature, Art and Philosophy. Which is it? Too all-encompassing or too limited? I think Beale should be extremely grateful they don’t give grades at Brown.

      • Me

        “But THEN Beale turns around and criticizes the program for NOT including subjects such as Music, Religious Studies, Literature, Art and Philosophy. Which is it? Too all-encompassing or too limited?”

        Agreed. There is not a single supportable objection to the class, either in the original article or in the comments.

    • bzeealbub

      Religion should be left to the PARENTS, not the school systems. Gates, who is a Catholic, spends his money worldwide on eradicating malaria and other scourges of humans. If he wants to start spending money on education which for decades has been controlled by what Texas, orders from school text book manufactures that is fine by me. I went to a parochial school and was taught evolution by Sr. Rose of Lima, who had an actual degree in science. If my Catholic grade school wasn’t scared of evolution in the late 70′s – early 80′s why should you be worried now?

      • Speak Truly

        WRONG ANSWER!!!! Gates is an atheist, never was any type of Christian…. His wife is a former Catholic who left the faith shortly after her confirmation and became a humanist.

      • Bono95

        It looks to me more like Mr. Gates wants to eliminate HUMANS rather than our scourges, or that he sees humans (not including himself, of course) as the scourge rather than the ones being scourged by malaria and/or his anti-human henchmen.

    • BillinJax

      The reality is this beautiful world of ours is
      part of our omnipotent and loving God’s vast universe which was for all of His
      creation, established for you and me and whatever else is out there within it.
      That alone is reason enough to acknowledge you and I are good, blessed, and
      worthy to be loved.

      Knowing this caused me to often wonder about
      God’s universe and our place in it. Recent photos taken by the Hubble telescope
      have given us some awesome pictures of parts of the universe we’ve never seen
      before and will never be able to reach with any current known technology. The
      very vastness and beauty of it is almost mind boggling. And here we are a part
      of it all. Is that amazing or what? It could be said, from what these pictures
      have shown us, that our Earth is a tiny speck within a small galaxy in a misty
      group of stars known as the Milky Way located in a small clearing among vast
      clouds of celestial matter in one corner of the universe. If all the rest is
      the heavens of which the bible has spoken then we must be something special and
      our Creator is truly an awesome God.

      This should not overwhelm us, make us feel
      insignificant, or doubt our importance in the providence of God. Just remember
      a few things you have read which came from the mouth of the Word made Flesh.
      Did Jesus not say there were other sheep that are not of this flock? And also
      that in his father’s house “there are many mansions”. And again that “it has
      not even entered the mind of man the things the father has in store for those
      who love Him”. We are free to interpret these any way we choose but do we
      really care if there may be other similar “creations” in His/our universe? Frankly
      I’m really impressed with the beauty and variety he put here on “the third rock
      from the sun” which by the way is the gem of our solar system. How could you
      not be thrilled at being a part of it?

      I only ask myself to believe that my God is
      a creator and this universe is his workshop. He can do whatever he wishes
      wherever he desires. I feel blessed that he put us here as part of it all.
      Hopefully some day we’ll be privileged to see more of the Father’s handiwork
      but right now our task is to make the most of the opportunity he has given us
      to be in his care and a part of his creation on Earth.

      Our heavenly father has revealed in wondrous
      ways that he loves us dearly. His call to us is to be with him for all eternity
      if we’ll just obey a few simple rules while we are here. Even though humanity’s
      original ancestors disobeyed and found out the hard way that there was and is
      an evil presence in our midst opposed to his truth and goodness and that we,
      his children, have been granted through the loving sacrifice of his Son, Jesus
      Christ the Word made Flesh on the cross of salvation yet one last opportunity
      to choose to join with him in eternity.

      This is who we are, this is where we find ourselves,
      and our eternal destiny is ours to decide with the free will he has given us.

    • Lydia

      I’m about 3/4 of the way through Al Kresta’s book Dangers to the Faith http://j.mp/OSVKrestaDTF which explains how curriculum like this and other popular secular teachings, like Oprah spiritualities, relativism, reductionism (we are just atoms or no better than apes,) consumerism, etc. puts Christians in danger of losing their faith. At serious cost to them and our society. This removal of faith from life and the belief that only Science can (and should) explain everything, is just soul-damaging. Removing God and faith leaves us empty. Perhaps full of “facts,” but empty of what life is really all about. While knowledgeable religious people know they have no need to fear science, because all it does is explain how God did it, ill-educated religious people lose their faith. This is actually what the secularists seem to want – to destroy people’s faith. For Catholic schools, for which many people put their kids in order to counteract the culture, to embrace curriculum like this is a disservice to the children, their families and society at large. We have a mission as Catholics to be leaven in the world. Embracing this type of curriculum pollutes the students just at a time when they need all the tools they can get.

    • Patti Maguire Armstrong

      Al Kresta takes on this kind of muddled thinking in his book “Dangers to the Faith”. He dissects the attitudes and thinking that is harmful to our country and world. We must beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Yes, even if it’s Mr. Bill Gates. He is not a religious leader.http://j.mp/OSVKrestaDTF

    • Big History

      A response to Mr. Beale from someone who has actually taught Big History:

      I am a teacher of Big History at a Catholic institution, one
      which you failed to contact for comment before writing this article, and I am
      appalled at your lack of research and historical accuracy for someone who has a
      degree in history and classics. Firstly, the fact that you open the article
      with what is an extremely biased viewpoint simply proves that you are keen to
      espouse your own agenda here rather than one of historical or scientific
      method. You state that the Big History course “devotes nearly half of its time
      to covering the formation of stars and the solar system, then turns to the
      birth of life and the appearance of the earliest humans, before arriving at
      history proper, in the seventh unit.” However, had you consulted with either
      the teachers or the Big History coordinators on this subject then you would
      have learned that the vast majority of the course is actually spent on human
      history with units 6-9 taking up most of the course time. Your comment
      regarding the fact that the course is “tailor-made for the attention-challenged
      student of today, with the typical unit featuring minutes-long video lectures,
      interactive exercises, and floridly illustrated articles” also leaves out the
      fact that students are involved in active reading, annotating, hands-on
      processing activities, and a lot of evidence-based writing, with many of these
      texts being primary source documents that encourage students to read beyond
      their grade levels.

      You also state that the “curriculum provides an entirely
      materialist account of the origin of everything from stars to cells to cities –
      impersonal processes, often catalyzed by chance, brought each into being.”
      However, you have overlooked one of the main themes of this course, which is
      that there is a strong focus on collective learning and the intellectual power
      of human beings. Also, Catholic students do not see these processes as a series
      of “chance” encounters at all but rather they explain the perfect conditions
      necessary for the creation of Earth or the evolution of humans as being
      entirely driven by God – how else could all of these “perfect” conditions have
      arisen? You are somewhat correct in your statement that “Big History does not
      explain the soul, the nature of good and evil, the virtues, the dignity of the
      human person, and, needless to say, our desire for the transcendent” because
      the course was designed for public schools where all of these things cannot be
      explained from a theological perspective.

      You continue your article by criticizing the Big History
      focus on helping the environment and the perspective that students should learn
      how to respect it, protect it, and to help others who are not as fortunate as
      most Americans. There is a focus on helping to sustain the planet for future
      generations – how could this ever be considered a bad thing? How does
      protecting and appreciating the Earth that God gave us and striving to protect
      it so that we do not ultimately destroy it, once again, a bad thing? How is
      helping the less fortunate in the world not living by the teachings of Jesus?
      You also take issue with the fact that the course is one that focuses on
      uniting humanity instead of one that dwells on divisiveness. So yes, while the
      focus of the course is on a more positive note of uniting humanity – it does
      not overlook the more traditional aspects of history. In fact, teachers and
      students are encouraged to look at history from different perspectives or
      scales. This means that the Middle Ages, faith, wars, etc. can be studied more
      in depth during units 6-9. Teachers supplement the Big History framework with
      information on great philosophers, artists, political movements, etc. and these
      aspects of history are explained and taught from the perspective of how do all
      of these events and movements lead to each other and form our modern world. One
      must remember that even in a “traditional” world history course, teachers pick
      and choose his or her areas to focus upon with some “world history” courses
      leaving out whole eras or regions of history in order to fit thousands of years
      of history into a one-year or one-semester course.

      And you completely miss the mark with your statement that
      “faith is not something that informs the wide lens through which students view
      the world, it is an outside realm of thought and action which must not impede
      the pursuit of scientific knowledge.” This course is for students of all
      faiths, including those without faith; however, the article by Haught stresses
      that faith and science are compatible with each other and can complement each
      other – unless, of course, the author of this article is so close-minded that
      he cannot comprehend this. And to harp upon the Galileo controversy a bit more:
      the point of examining it is that it is one that took the church an inordinate
      amount of time to officially comment upon. However, you are also leaving out
      the fact that the article on the Vatican Observatory supports the fact that the
      church has long been a supporter of scientific research, which can be seen in
      this history as well as in the article by Haught.

      You continue your attack by stating: “In a freshman biology
      course, perhaps a nod to the compatibility of faith and reason is sufficient in
      a Christian setting. But it is not appropriate to promote a course that
      advocates a materialistic worldview.” You also have no idea how this course is
      thus presented in a Catholic setting. It is NOT taught from a “God in the gaps”
      mentality but from one that sees God throughout the entirety of the course from
      the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago to the future. Your conclusion that “either
      enough Catholic content has been added to dilute the inherently secular outlook
      of Big History – leading one to question what advantage Big History brings in
      the first place – or the additions have been insufficient, and the secular bias
      persists” is ill informed. How can adding Catholic content to the course dilute
      it so that the whole course is unnecessary? Where is your logic in that? And at
      our school, we supplement the course with Papal encyclicals, readings from the
      Catechism of the Catholic Church, articles from the Pontifical Academy of
      Sciences, and excerpts from Aquinas (all of which are also presented in our
      religious curriculum). We teach our students to think critically about the
      information presented in the course and to examine it from a Catholic
      perspective. We have also formulated the fifth “claim tester” of Revelation to
      include with the four claim testers outlined in the Big History course (logic,
      intuition, authority, evidence) so that students will look upon the information
      from not only the lens of a historian and a scientist but also a Catholic. The
      students in my course repeatedly stated that their faith was strengthened by
      taking Big History and therefore, their minds were most certainly not closed
      off to God. You have completely missed the entire point of the course by
      looking at it superficially and without properly conducting research and
      gathering evidence as any good historian would do.

      • Bono95

        “Any good historian”,

        Really, truly good historians must be awfully darn rare, because many historians with all kinds of credits and credentials don’t do as you say. Case in point, how many history books have you read that trash out of hand the Middle Ages in general, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Conquistadors, “Bloody” Mary, and Richard III, meanwhile blindly heaping praise on the Protestant Revolt, Elizabeth I, and Islam; versus serious and sober volumes that do the opposite(s)?

    • NinaSeifertBishop

      What everyone is missing here is that this isn’t about faith or lack of it; it’s about money. The Common Core curriculum is designed to narrow and dumb down education and is tied to inBloom student data mining to be shared with corporations. Gates and cohorts want to privatize public education, get rid of pricey experienced teachers, their pensions and unions and infect private religious schools with his idea of what a good education is. Gates is not an educator yet he has heavily influenced politicians along with his billionaire friends, Koch, the Walton family (Walmart), DeVos, and Broad; among others. They are more interested in getting rid of books and replacing libraries and librarians with iPads and laptops. They’re interested in excessive testing because they’ve discovered education is the new TRILLION dollar marketplace. They’re interested in blaming teachers instead of poverty for the achievement gap. Their deep pockets influence mainstream media into telling the American people that we’re in an education crisis and it just isn’t so. If you factor out poverty; American students score very high in the international test; PISA. More students than ever are graduating high school and there are fewer drop outs. Don’t kid yourselves, this isn’t about faith or education; it’s about profit.

      In Colorado we spend in excess of $50 million annually on our state test, TCAP. Jefferson County, CO, (Jeffco) is the experimental district for our state. In January, 2014, the CO DOE is going to launch a partnership with inBloom. InBloom plans to share private and sensitive information about students, WITHOUT parental consent. They are literally marketing our children to corporations as well as marketing to our children. The potential for disaster is huge because inBloom has released a statement indicating it will not be responsible for data leaks. Social security numbers are on enrollment forms, disciplinary problems, sensitive special needs and health information, parental income, adoption, etc…all this will be shared with companies. Will your child;s identity be stolen before he leaves high school? Will he be able to get a job due to disciplinary problems in school records shared with a potential employer? If you child has asthma will he be a benefit risk and be denied employment? It’s all in enrollment information currently housed at your child’s school but they’re sending that information, without your consent, to inBloom which will in turn share it with corporations. Gates is also investing 1.4 million in bio sensor technology so that your child can wear a bracelet indicating if the student is engaged or not, a chair with sensors and ‘chipped’ student ID cards. This is not about faith, lack of faith, or education; it’s about profit. The research is here: http://www.dianeravitch.com . Diane Ravitch is the former US Asst. Secretary of Education.

      • slainte

        Nina, You may find this video helpful in evaluating Common Core.

        Common Core: Subversive Threat to Education

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X0EFeH25bw

      • Bono95

        “bio sensor technology”, “chipped ID cards”, “indicating whether or not you’re paying attention”

        As cliched as this is by now, can you say “Big Brother”?

    • zcastaux

      About ‘gravity’ and ‘shaping’ the ‘atoms’ into more solid masses, such as ‘stars’ and so on (which writing will then be metamorphosed into metaphors about ‘shaping’ urban communities etc… ). This seems a little strange to me. Gravity doesn’t begin to manifest UNTIL the masses are formed… There IS no ‘gravity’ as such, out there in real ‘space’. So WHAT is this pseudo-scientific nonsense? Seriously.

    • roxwyfe

      I find it amazing that the people who want to redistribute the wealth, being wealthy themselves, always manage to distritute OTHER people’s wealth. For some reason their own vast fortunes never seem to enter into the picture. Curious, don’t you think?

    • insectman

      As a retired public school teacher I am convinced that our only hope is to rescue
      our children from the public (government) schools and raise a godly generation.

      Please see “Call to Dunkirk” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRGZLSVph3A.

      Public schools cannot be redeemed. Saying we should not abandon them is like saying the passengers of the Titanic should have stayed aboard because the band was playing
      good music and the captain was a good man.

      Please also see IndoctriNation at http://indoctrinationmovie.com.

      Additionally, please see http://insectman.us/exodus-mandate-wv/index.htm.

      We must RESCUE OUR CHILDREN!

      • James1225

        I respect what you are doing, except for one very important consideration. As you know, we live in a world of possibilities and probabilities. One of the possibilities that exists, one that I believe is very probable, is that the universe in which we live was not created by the person that you identify as “God”. In fact, it is quite possible that there was no such person at all involved in the Big Bang and everything that ensued. It is possible that public schools are correct in not teaching their students anything other than materialistic naturalism.

        If that is the case, then this is not a Dunkirk-like situation from which our children must be rescued. It is much more probable that children in public schools are receiving a superior education compared to those who are taught at home. Just a thought…

        • insectman

          I appreciate your well stated disagreement.

          All I can say is that 34 years has convinced me otherwise. Also, even lefty Bill Gates knows governemtn schools are failing.

          Regarding homeschooling, statsitics support the tremendous success. For a small sampling of proof see http://www.insectman.us/exodus-mandate-wv/good-news.htm
          Check out the NAEP Nation’s Report Card fora variety of stats.

          • James1225

            I guess I agree that there are problems with public schools. I pulled one son out from sixth grade on and sent him to private schools. The other went to a Catholic high school.

            But eventually the whole world is going to come to the realization that took me 60 years to reach. As the Big History states, the Creation story in Genesis is a myth. In fact, the entire Book of Genesis, including the stories of Noah, Abraham and Lot is a collection of folklore tales and not an historical account.

            So when does the Judeo-Christian God become a real person? When he appears to Moses in the burning bush? Is the Torah an accurate account of how the Jewish nation came about? Or was it all written many years after the events it records perhaps for the purpose of unifying people of various clans into one nation?

            Did Jesus really rise from the dead? We are indoctrinating our children to believe these things and putting down public schools for calling these stories myths. But are we right? I doubt it.

            • insectman

              No need to doubt.

              Evolution is more impossible than the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Headless Horseman. See http://www.lifescienceprize.org/ for a list of bluffing evolutionists.

              • James1225

                You taught for 34 years and you don’t believe in evolution?

                That’s a real problem. I wouldn’t want you teaching my children.

                • insectman

                  This is my last post in this thread.

                  1. If this is not a Call to Dunkirk time, then you need to Google
                  >teacher student sex< and open your eyes.

                  2. Here are some probabilities for you to compute: http://www.insectman.us/testimony/lesson.htm

                  3.If you have science to back up your evolutionism faith, put up and win the Life Science Prize (http://www.lifescienceprize.org/).

                  • James1225

                    Evolution most certainly has occurred as described by experts in their respective fields. Where they might be wrong is in denying the intelligence behind evolution, which, to me, has nothing to do with the Judeo-Christian God, who is nothing more than a fictional character in the Bible, a mostly fictional book.

                    I believe that you can prove that we cannot attribute everything to random mutations and natural selection, as the Neo-Darwinists do. However, I am even more confident that the fictional God of the Bible deserves any credit for the things that are obviously designed by an intelligence, the existence of which is vehemently denied by Neo-Darwinism. The mutations and natural selection are real. But there is more to it that has yet to be understood by those who credit chance and those who credit God.

                    • James1225

                      Correction: does not deserve any credit

                    • Bono95

                      Sooooooooooooooooo the Bible is mostly fiction, huh?

                      Which parts of it are NOT fiction then, and WHY are they not fiction?

                      • James1225

                        I have no way of knowing how accurate the Bible is in its historical accounts. But I am sure that the names of some persons, events and places are accurate.

                      • Bono95

                        If you have no way of knowing the Bible’s exact accuracy (historical or otherwise), how can you be certain that most of it is inaccurate? How can you be certain that it isn’t ALL inaccurate, or only a little inaccurate, or not inaccurate at all?

                      • Bono95

                        And exactly what in the Bible do you believe to be inaccurate and why?

                      • James1225

                        The burden is not on me to separate what is accurate from what is inaccurate in the Bible. I am sure that all of the miracles are fiction. The rest doesn’t really matter whether accurate or not.

            • Bono95

              One of many proofs for the Bible books being genuine is that the non-divine people documented are portrayed with all their human frailties and failings, whereas legendary figures tend to be unrealistically perfect and glorified, and because when the Israelites disobey God, the prophets are often heard chiding the people in rather harsh terms. It’s doubtful such words would have been preserved if they had not been divinely inspired and humanly deserved.

              • James1225

                Your idea of proof is not very scientific. These stories could easily be made up by a good story teller who wants to make people believe the unbelievable. The stories are intended to scare or entice people into believing.

                • Bono95

                  If that’s the case, the writers of the Bible are far and away the most clever and successful con artists of all time, because countless people from ancient times until now and over 2 billion today believe their words, and many have chosen to die rather than reject this belief. People don’t willingly die for something they know to be a lie, and there is a reasonable, logical, historical, doctrinal, or allegorical explanation for every passage in the Bible and for every objection that can be brought against it.

                  • James1225

                    Nothing you have said rules out the possibility that the Bible is almost 100% fiction. When given the choice of believing a possibility or believing an impossibility, one should always choose to believe the possibility.

                    • Bono95

                      If I cannot and should not believe the Bible, that what should I believe (in)? What do you believe, sir?

                      • James1225

                        Well, how about starting with the subject of this article? There are lots of things that you can believe. How can you say that if you can’t believe in the Bible, what can you believe?

                      • Bono95

                        I already believe the subject of this article, that Mr. Gates’s new history curriculum is irreligious and severely lacking several respects, and that while true science is a good thing and is not incompatible with faith, it should not be part of a program that’s (supposedly) intended to teach history specifically any more than algebra should be taught as part of a strictly English Lit class or vice versa, and last but not least, I believe that scientific theories should not be falsely proclaimed as hard facts or used to to bash people of faith with and that outright lies like overpopulation should never be told to kids or anyone else.

                      • William_JamesIi

                        “I believe that scientific theories should not be falsely proclaimed as hard facts”

                        Scientific theories are as close to being hard facts as you can get. Overpopulation is not an outright lie. It depends on what part of the world is being discussed. It is a problem in China and India as well as other places on the planet.

                      • Bono95

                        When I said “theory”, I meant “scientific theory” as opposed to “scientific law”. Evolution and the Big Bang are theories, but they are often taught as if they are laws, which as yet they are not and may never be. It is inaccurate and unscientific to teach theories as laws if they haven’t held up to enough evidence to be declared scientific laws.

                        China and India (and the rest of the world) are not overpopulated, some areas, especially big cities, are simply overcrowded. This is a problem better solved by encouraging and enabling people to move and live elsewhere (and there is plenty of “elsewhere” to move to) than by forcible sterilization, contraception, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, or any other nefarious and inhumane “family planning” regime.

                      • William_JamesIi

                        “It is inaccurate and unscientific to teach theories as laws if they haven’t held up to enough evidence to be declared scientific laws.”

                        You are not understanding scientific theories and laws. What you want is to deprive our children of a good education for fear that what they learn will make them less likely to accept myths as being historical truths. You also want to have people think that overpopulation is not a problem so as discourage family planning and other methods of population control.

                      • Bono95

                        I want no one to be deprived of a good education. I want good educations to be made better by clear distinctions between what we know with certainty to be true (scientific laws), and what has some creditability but is not yet 100% proved true (scientific theories). Remember, Darwin himself acknowledged that evolution and natural selection were only theories; theories that could well be in the future disproved and have indeed many times been challenged by advances in scientific discoveries and research since Darwin’s day.

                        Overpopulation is not and never has been a problem. The whole population of the world could be squeezed into the state of Connecticut. Less than a quarter of the earth’s total surface area is covered by land, a fraction of a percent of that land area is covered by buildings, not all buildings are residential, and those that are extremely often contain more than 1 person. Thousands of the Pacific Islands remain uninhabited. Russia and Canada, despite their great sizes, have very low population densities. Directly north of China, the world’s most populous country from as far back as written records are available, is Mongolia, the world’s emptiest country with an average of 0.2 people per square mile. There is absolutely nothing here to justify forcible sterilization of people or limited family size. There is nothing to justify the eugenic targeting of “unfit” races and ethnicities and those with disabilities, nothing to justify the disproportionate slaughter of unborn girls just because they are girls, nothing to justify chasing pregnant women through rice paddies and beating them until they miscarry their “illegal” children, nothing to justify refusals to fully inform women of the horrors of abortion or refusals for abortion clinics to meet basic health and sanitation standards, and nothing to justify forcing 3rd world countries to accept bad medicine (contraceptives, condoms, sterilization, and abortion devices) before they are given the good medicine they desperately need, like good maternal care for mothers of “wanted” children and menstrual hygiene products for girls and women who have none and consequently face difficulties and discrimination. Destroying innocent human beings will not save the planet. We’re part of the ecosystem too, and our self destruction will and is having dire consequences.

                      • William_JamesIi

                        I have no problem with a curriculum that presents and explains scientific theories and which presents information about the potential harmful affects to the ecosystem caused by the human race and what should be done to mitigate those affects. I oppose any suppression of such a curriculum by those motivated by religion whether they be Catholic, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Muslims or whatever.

                      • Bono95

                        Would you oppose any suppression that was not religiously motivated?

                      • William_JamesIi

                        “I believe that scientific theories should not be falsely proclaimed as hard facts”

                        Scientific theories are as close to being hard facts as you can get. Overpopulation is not an outright lie. It depends on what part of the world is being discussed. It is a problem in China and India as well as other places on the planet.

    • Barbara Jude

      Am I the only one who found it ironic that Gates teamed up with an historian whose last name is Christian?!

      • Bono95

        Nope. :-D :-/

    • Pingback: Gates' Big History Project Closes Young Minds to God- TIC

    • Gail Finke

      Wow…

    • Gail Finke

      Wow… so Bill Gates is getting away from the whole “fund education” thing but just making the kind of education he wants available to schools for free?

    • Anthony

      I am teacher of this course and this criticism Mr. Beale levels at this class is grossly unfounded. This course provides students a cogent narrative of our entire history as a species. In doing so, it serves as a primer for astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, archaeology, anthropology, world history, economics and sociology, so when they take these courses, they have a real advantage. It shifts the educational paradigm of memorization and recitation of facts to one of inquiry and freethinking. It has students inquire into matters themselves and utilize technology. These are two vital skills students need. Calling Mr. Gates a, “leftist cheerleader” is absurd and sophomoric and I am thankful for his efforts.