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Not Even Wrong

January 13, AD 2012 5 Comments

Wolfgang Pauli, a physicist who pioneered the field of quantum physics, is famous for the critique, “Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!” Or, “Not only is it not right, it’s not even wrong!”

Pauli reserved this most severe criticism for papers whose theories or theses were so unstable and not within the realm of evaluable science that they could not even be proved wrong. This, of course, coming from a man who created the Pauli principle, in which no two electrons in an atom can have the same quantum numbers. (Obviously.)

Stacy Trasancos wrote a beautiful piece today entitled “The Unity of Charity” and it prompted me to think beyond Catholic to Catholic relations, or even Catholic to Anti-Catholic relations, and into Catholic to Protestant relationships.

The “I Hate Religion But I Love Jesus” sentiment is beyond the video that went viral. Are you religious or are you redeemed?, asked a college friend of mine in seminary on Facebook. I listened to Pastor Mark Driscoll speak and I did not recognize such a religion as my own. My friend said he was speaking to Evangelicals; but such words translate into a disdain for all organized religion, especially the Roman Catholic Church.

Moreover, that kind of rhetoric has no substantial place in Christendom. It does not advance the conversation. It does not lead to unity between Christians.

St. Augustine, in Chapter 10 of On Faith and the Creed, wrote,

We believe also in The Holy Church, [intending thereby] assuredly the Catholic. For both heretics and schismatics style their congregational churches. But heretics, in holding false opinions regarding God, do injury to the faith itself; while schismatics, on the other hand, in wicked separations break off from brotherly charity, although they may believe just what we believe. Wherefore neither do the heretics belong to the Church catholic, which loves God; nor do the schismatics form a part of the same, inasmuch as it loves the neighbor.

If you find yourself in the same boat I often drift away in, the boat of not knowing how to approach questions about the faith because the very words used by both camps have different definitions, have no fear! God is here. The Church Doctors wrote on it. The saints and martyrs stand firm in history. The Church we belong to is no mere illusion; the sacraments are not a feeling we get during worship.

The Nicene Creed

“Catholicism is a very tangible business– it’s about seeing and hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling as much as it’s about  texts and arguments and ideas,” wrote George Weigel in his introduction to Letters to a Young Catholic.

I do not write this post as a challenge to Protestants, who are rightly concerned with “false religion” and the like, but I find their efforts misguided if they think Catholics are the front lines. We do not continue the Church on our own accord. We did not start this Church out of love for Jesus– Jesus started this religion and Church out of love for us: to help us, to guide us, to gather us, to be there with us. It is his physical and spiritual presence which has people going to church 365 days a year, not just on Sundays.

Lactantius, in Chapter 4 of Book 4 of The Divine Institutions, wrote,

For we are created on this conditions, that we pay just and due obedience to God who created us, that we should know and follow Him alone. We are bound and tied to god by this chain of piety; from which religion itself received its name, not, as Cicero explained it, from carefully gathering.

So let us not “hate” religion, as it is through our Christian religion that we show how much we love Jesus.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Julie-Robison-e1313151018703.png[/author_image] [author_info]Julie Robison is a cradle Catholic who holds to a few truths: Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior; the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life; Guinness is a peerless beer; the best way to eat fruit is in a pie. Everything else seems expendable. Julie hails from the Midwest; she has a B.A. in American Studies from Hillsdale College; she is one of the three Bright Maidens; she is a wickedly competitive croquet player. Her website is The Corner With A View.[/author_info] [/author]

About the Author:

J.R. Baldwin is the Editor-in-chief at Ignitum Today. A former statehouse reporter, she teaches history for a classical school and writes for The Imaginative Conservative. She blogs at The Corner With A View, and tweets from @thejulieview. A Midwesterner by birth, she lives out East with her husband and bebes.
  • Yes! Thank you for writing this Julie. I often struggle with just what to say, as my husband is a convert and his immediate family is made up of two Methodists, one Unitarian, and two people who don’t know if they’re coming or going. It’s very, very strange. The Methodists tend to think we’re (the Catholic Church) just another denomination of Christianity and so are perfectly nice about it in a Baskin-Robbins 31 flavors sort of way. The Unitarian doesn’t really ever tell us what he thinks, which could be good or bad. I figure, the best way to show them what the Church is and who She is, is for my hubby and I to be the best witness we can be, and try to find and embrace the points of contact, without brushing off or ignoring the differences.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Well done Julie! I like the line “We did not start this Church out of love for Jesus– Jesus started this religion and Church out of love for us”. Such a different notion for many Christians to grasp and understand.

  • richard

    Thanks for posting the manuscript page with the Nicene Creed.

  • Kindly see my response to Jeffrey Bethke and his viral video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” on Does Jesus Hate Religion Too? http://www.gadel.info/2012/01/does-jesus-hate-religion-too.html

    Pax Christi

  • I gotta remember that one — “Not even wrong!” Or, C.S. Lewis talked in a couple of different places of an argument “rising to the dignity of error”.