On Wednesday, July 9 (10 p.m. ET/PT, 9 p.m. Central), Science Channel’s “Through the Wormhole” series, with host Morgan Freeman, asks the question, “Will We Become God?”
The description for the episode reads:
Humanity’s potential seems limitless. But could we become as powerful as God? Scientific breakthroughs grant our species seemingly divine abilities. Biologists tinkering with DNA are figuring out ways to grow new life forms, while neuroscientists try to create artificial consciousness. Statisticians around the world are using big data to predict the future, and computer scientists have discovered a ‘God algorithm’ that could solve any global problem in an instant.
But to truly become God, we not only have to be all-knowing, but all-being. Quantum physicists are figuring out how to teleport matter at the speed of light!
What, does this mean humans will be able to create a rock so big even they can’t lift it?
I can’t wait.
What should Catholics do when presented with yet another science program that can’t resist asking questions about the nature of God?
First, be flattered. As Oscar Wilde (a convert to Catholicism before he died), observed, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” If they’re talking about God, they’re thinking about God. And thinking about God can lead to all sorts of other things, including believing in God (in God and the Holy Spirit’s own good time, of course).
Second, the answer is obviously “NO,” so we can look at questions like this from our own perspective, without fearing the conclusion. We realize humans can’t become God, but we also know they persist in trying, and we’ve got a pretty clear idea what it looks like when they do. So, view with a critical eye, comment (politely but confidently) on Facebook and Twitter, leave a message on the show’s Website.
While you’re at it, drop a line to host Morgan Freeman on Twitter. He hasn’t posted anything in a while, but he did play God in “Bruce Almighty” and its sequel, “Evan Almighty,” and he has discussed the subject of God in a recent interview for The Daily Beast, so he must be used to the topic.
(But don’t necessarily expect him to agree with the Catholic view of deity, since he’s quoted in the piece as saying, ”The highest power is the human mind. That’s where God came from, and my belief in God is my belief in myself,” and “ think that God and the Devil are one. They’re not one in the same, but they’re in the same body, and it depends on which one of them surfaces.”)
Third, realize that the notion that faith stands in opposition to science and reason, however misguided that is from our point of view, is dogma for a lot of non-religious types. And, for some mean-spirited or unscrupulous folks, it’s bait to get less sophisticated Christians to spout ridicule-ready things that can then be plastered on Facebook and Twitter memes.
But we Catholics have a huge body of scholarship and thought on the subjects of faith, reason and science, along with some great apologetics sites and modern authors that cut to the chase, so Google before you speak or write.
When in doubt, one can always start with Aquinas (I just heard him quoted in “Madam Secretary,” a CBS drama about a non-Hillaryesque Secretary of State, more on that at a later date).
A good place to start is this Weekly General Audience address by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, from June of 2010, on “St. Thomas Aquinas: The Harmony of Faith and Reason,” as reported in the National Catholic Register.
He says, “In short, Thomas Aquinas demonstrated that a natural harmony exists between Christian faith and reason. This was Thomas’ great achievement. In that moment of a clash between two cultures — a moment in which it seemed that faith would have to capitulate to reason — Thomas demonstrated that the two go together: what seemed to be reason incompatible with faith was not reason, and what seemed to be faith was not faith insofar as it was opposed to true rationality. Thus, he created a new synthesis, which shaped culture throughout the following centuries.”