A new book hits a theme that has laced TDE for the past 17 years: postmodern society is discovering through science and statistics that the Catholic Church is right.
The book is How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion and my opening sentence above greatly exaggerates.
But the book, according to this article at Wired by the author, is a weigh station on what I think will be the ultimate conclusion: Catholicism works because Catholicism is true. If scientific conclusions are true and Catholicism is true, they must eventually meet up and can’t oppose one another (this was the debate Aquinas won against Siger de Brabant).
This book appears to show the process of uniting science to Catholicism is well underway, albeit at a young age of development. It looks at the scientific validation of all types of religious practices, so I’d say we’re in the “Ecumenic Stage” of the Catholic-Science courtship, roughly analogous to the kindergarten stage of human development.
Based on the article, the author focuses on all the ways religious practices help our health. I doubt he takes the next step: they help us because they correspond to truth. If they didn’t correspond to truth, they wouldn’t help us.
Regularly taking part in religious practices lessens anxiety and depression, increases physical health, and even reduces the risk of early death. These benefits don’t come simply from general social contact. There’s something specific to spiritual practices themselves.
The beginning of the article, incidentally, is practically a paraphrasing of the political philosophy of Edmund Burke. It’s intensely conservative, in the most hardcore, Russell Kirkian, sense:
What we’re left with is a series of rituals, customs, and sentiments that are themselves the results of experiments of sorts. Over thousands of years, these experiments, carried out in the messy thick of life as opposed to sterile labs, have led to the design of what we might call spiritual technologies: tools and processes meant to sooth, move, convince, or otherwise tweak the mind.
Compare that to Russell Kirk’s description of Edmund Burke’s principles of political philosophy (from The Conservative Mind, 3rd edition):
God’s purpose among men is revealed through the unrolling of history. How are we to know God’s mind and will? Through the prejudices and traditions which millenniums of human experience with Divine means and judgments have implanted in the mind of the species.