Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Particular God

Hover the cursor

I have been particularly disturbed at not having been invited to present my paper (below) to the IEC2012 Theology Symposium in Maynooth this week, despite my posting my availability in plenty of time.

Perhaps it was felt that the theology or the physics were too advanced or obscure for a gathering that would include non-theologians and non-physicists.

I have therefore tried to circumvent the complexity by constructing the image above.

Moving the cursor over and away from the image gives an idea of the dynamics involved.

My Paper
Transubstantiation and the Higgs Boson particle
by Benny

In what may be a vain attempt to update the concept of transubstantiation I thought I might explore it in conjunction with the Higgs Boson particle, or the God particle as it is sometimes known.

As an Atheist I am a firm believer in the "God of the Gaps". When the gaps in our knowledge of how the world worked were large, God was big. With advancing science s/he is now reduced to a single particle, admittedly one which fills the whole of space.

As an increasing proportion of the working of nature is explained by science, the scope for a personal interfering God has diminished. Those occasions when the rules of nature are broken or stretched by the Divine Being to facilitate mankind are few and far between. The sun stopping in the sky at Fatima in 1917 is one such occasion and the miracle is, of course, not that the sun stopped, but that we didn't all fall off the earth and into deep space.

There are a few areas, though, where the tabloid theology on which I was brought up still subsists. The RC church has its head in the sand on many issues, not least of which are contraception and homosexuality. But, in general, it has tried to adapt to modern science within the limitations imposed by its premature and foolish declaration of papal infallibility and the abusive way in which that dogma has been put to use.

However, the most glaring area in which the RC church is stuck in a tabloid theological timewarp is transubstantiation. The Protestants have cleverly never allowed themselves to be trapped in this one. Communion for them is a commemoration in which Christ participates in spirit. Can't be proven but equally can't be contradicted.

The RC version has been that Christ is physically present but has taken the form of bread and wine. That is the meaning of the real presence. But it surely wears a bit thin when you get down to the subatomic particle level. The area remaining for the real presence to hide in has got infinitesmally small and may soon not exist at all.

And at the housekeeping level there has always been the problem of what to do with the crumbs and the water in which the holy containers have been washed.

But the RC church is hoisted on its own p├ętard and the likelihood is that the Higgs Boson will kill off the real presence once and for all. One positive effect might be that an issue which has, unnecessarily and scandalously, divided Protestant and Catholic may be no more.

If this happens, and the idea of the Holy Spirit working through the people rather than through papal infallibility takes hold, then Catholics and Protestants will have to find something else to fight about.

It looked for a brief instant in time, at Vatican II, that this was about to happen. But the Holy Hijack put an end to all that sort of nonsense.

Nearly half a century after Vatican II, it looks like some of the ideas then rubbished by the Curial elements in the Vatican, may be coming round again. If that is the case, it might behove RC adherants to join with their siblings in the House of Israel and beyond, stop the squabbling and work for a better, more tolerant and rational world.


Benny was brought up a Roman Catholic but somewhere along the way he lost the faith and didn't bother trying to find it again. He though of submitting the above thoughts in response to a call by the Hierarchy for papers for the International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Dublin in June 2012, but eventually thought the better of it.

He lives, by choice, on Dublin's Northside from which Bono migrated to Killiney, an area where Benny resided for many years before Bono's arrival.

He holds an MA in Economics (UCD 1967) which he considers fits him perfectly to discuss the many issues currently facing the Church to which he formerly owed allegiance.

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