It’s Wednesday afternoon as I start writing this. The weather forecast says we’ll likely see rain, freezing rain and snow within the next 12 hours.
On the ‘up’ side, the rain — freezing and otherwise — should end before dawn. By then it’ll have started snowing. That will keep up through Friday morning, and maybe longer.
On the ‘down’ side, situational awareness will be a tad more important for travelers over the next few days.
I’ll be putting a link to this post on social media. Previous experience suggests that nobody’s going to denounce me for encouraging divination.
“Smallpox is a visitation from God; but the cowpox is produced by presumptuous man; the former was what Heaven ordained, the latter is, perhaps, a daring violation our of holy religion.”
(A physician’s reaction to Dr. Edward Jenner’s experiments in developing a vaccine for smallpox, (1796) via Psychological Sciences, Vanderbilt University)
“I have read in the Philosophical Transactions the account of the effects of lightning on St. Bride’s steeple. ‘Tis amazing to me, that after the full demonstration you had given, of the identity of lightning and of electricity, and the power of metalline conductors, they should ever think of repairing that steeple without such conductors. How astonishing is the force of prejudice even in an age of so much knowledge and free enquiry!”
(Letter, To Benjamin Franklin from John Winthrop, 6 January 1768, via founders.archives.gov)
It’s particularly odd, maybe, since divination is on a (short) list of things that Catholics aren’t supposed to do. Ever. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2116)
So how come I’m not piously ignoring weather forecasts? Maybe even making a point of going outside during tornado warnings?
Basically, it’s because I’m a Catholic. Putting my brain on hold isn’t part of my faith.
Now, about divination: “practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future,” as the Catechism puts it.
I’ll be talking about some of that in upcoming “Faustus” posts, and I’m wandering off-topic.
Checking in at weather.gov is an effort to “unveil” the future.
But so is ‘unveiling’ the results of tipping over a full coffee cup. Experience and a working knowledge of physics and fluid dynamics tells me that I’ll have a coffee spill to deal with.
Making weather forecasts aren’t quite as simple as predicting what will happen during a coffee spill. But they’re the same sort of thing: reasoned predictions, based on previous experience and knowledge of physical laws.
“The scientific method did not exist for most of the world’s history, because no one was experimenting with physical bodies and quantifying them in order to discover the laws of nature. It took a particular theological worldview—the Catholic worldview as incarnated in medieval Christendom—to inspire humans with the confidence that a close investigation of material bodies would reveal those laws. Impelled by this confidence, scientists of the Middle Ages started humanity on a new territory of exploration, one that has been pursued ever since and which has revealed amazing secrets about God’s most wise design of our cosmos.
“Whenever superficial accusations are hurled against the Church about her opposition to scientific progress, let this one historical fact be recalled: it was Mother Church herself who gave birth to scientific enterprise.”
(“Catholics Invented Science,” Fr. Robinson, Angelus Magazine (September/October 2019) via The Realist Guide to Religion and Science (August 21, 2020))
I’ve talked about that before, and probably will again.