Love. And Science

Pharisees and Sadducees had been important and respected folks for about two centuries by the time our Lord talked about love.

They agreed on quite a bit. Maybe more than they realized. But they didn’t see assorted political, social, and philosophical points the same way. One was Helenization, adopting at least some foreign ideas.

Pharisees didn’t like Helenization. Sadducees thought it was a generally good idea. That attitude reminds of today ‘new ideas are bad’ Christian factions.

As usual, it’s not that simple.

The Bible: Unexpurgated

Pharisees and Sadducees agreed that the Torah was “Biblical.”

But Sadducees thought the written Torah was divine authority’s only source.1

They saw the Torah as the only source for worship and everyday life.

That makes me a bit more like the Pharisees. Looking at how they saw Helenization, I’m sort of like a Sadducee.

That may need explaining.

I’m a Christian, so I think “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” So do many Christians who aren’t Catholic.

Studying the Bible is vital to my faith. I think it’s the word of God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 101133)

I also think Tradition and the Magisterium are important. Tradition, capital “T,” doesn’t mean trying to live in the past. (Catechism, 7494)


I thought the Bible was important before I became a Catholic.

What’s changed is how much I know about why it’s important. Another plus is that now I have the full version.

My Bible includes Baruch, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Tobit, and Wisdom — and the unexpurgated versions of Daniel and Esther.

I certainly don’t mind having a Bible that includes Wisdom.

Some Protestants I’ve known feel that the only “real” Bible is their edited version.

Small wonder some, not all, think Catholics aren’t Christians.

Some Catholics feel the same way about Protestants. I don’t. I also see no point in ignoring what we’re learning about God’s creation, and that’s another topic.2

That, and post-1960s “creation science,” is more of a Protestant fundamentalist thing.

So, I think, is yearning for cultural values that helped make the 1960s possible.

Some Catholics are equally dedicated to nostalgia and ignoring what we’ve been learning about God’s creation. I don’t see a point in unyielding loyalty to pre-Victorian science.

Jesus and a “scholar of the law”

I don’t think faith is a psychiatric disorder, or that religion makes folks hate each other.

I sympathize, a little, with folks who feel that way. I wouldn’t mind seeing fewer venom-spitting Christians. Or none.3

That gets me back to today’s Gospel reading, Matthew 22:3440.

We see our Lord’s discussion with a “scholar of the law” in Mark 1 :2834, too. He says loving God and my neighbor the most important commandment in both.

Matthew 22 is where Jesus says “the whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” He also said ‘I am God.’ (Matthew 22 40, John 8 58, 14 89)

I think loving folks is a good idea. It is, or should be, something all Christians believe. But all Abrahamic religions agree on that point, although not on exactly what love means.

Many religions say unconditional and benevolent love is a good idea, including Buddhism and Hinduism. Mettā and Karuṇā are close to what should be the Christian view of love. There’s a considerable gap between “should be” and “is,” and that’s yet another topic.4

Being a Christian

I think Jesus is right about love, but that’s not why I’m a Christian.

Neither is an extravagant claim our Lord made. It’s what Jesus did later that matters.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.'”
(John 8:58)

Quite a few folks made similar claims, and some folks believed them. It’s not an everyday thing, but it’s not rare either.

Jesus was tortured and executed. Again, noting unusual about that.

Having at least few folks say they saw him a little later also isn’t outstanding.

Elvis sightings were front page news in American tabloids long after he died. I think some folks who thought they saw Elvis were sincere, and mistaken.

What’s different about Jesus is that he eventually convinced the surviving Apostles that they weren’t hallucinating or seeing a ghost. He even convinced Saul, a dedicated Christian-hunter, to become a Christian and start taking crazy risks.

Two millennia later, folks around the world think Saul and Steven had the right idea. Sometimes with pretty much the same results, and that’s yet again another topic.5

Seeking Truth

I don’t ‘believe in’ science.

I don’t expect it to replace God. That would be a very bad idea. (Catechism, 21122114)

But I’m fascinated by what we’re learning about this universe.

I don’t see a problem with interest in God’s creation and taking God seriously. (Catechism, 282289, 293294, 1723, 2294)

That’s partly because I think all truth points toward God. (Catechism, 27, 3135, 41, 74, 2500)

What we’re learning doesn’t always agree what folks thought was so.

That’s meant thinking about why ancient Mesopotamian astrologers and Aristotle didn’t have all the answers. Maybe it’s more work than grimly clinging to increasingly outdated assumptions, but it makes more sense. To me, anyway.

Science and faith both value and seek truth. (Catechism, 31, 159, 1849)

Again, I don’t see a conflict. That’s partly because I don’t expect science to tell me why I’m here, or read the Bible to learn how this universe works.

I also see no reason to fear what we’re learning about this wonder-filled universe:

1 Pharisees and Sadducees:

2 Bibles all that:

3 Faith and making sense:

4 Love and making sense:

5 Jesus, the news, and getting a grip:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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