John asked some good questions in his reply on yesterday’s Pacem in Terris opener. Sections 2 through 7 address the matter of that “divinely established order.” First, there is “Order in the Universe,”
2. That a marvelous order predominates in the world of living beings and in the forces of nature, is the plain lesson which the progress of modern research and the discoveries of technology teach us. And it is part of the greatness of (humankind) that (we) can appreciate that order, and devise the means for harnessing those forces for (our) own benefit.
Is this a 60’s thing, this regard for human progress? Doubtless both people of religion and people of science have become jaded in the years since. But I find it surprising that with the threat of mutual nuclear annihilation hanging close, so many people would still put their trust in science and progress. For all its other supposed sins, I suppose the counterculture was somewhat to blame for sullying the attitude toward eternal upward progress.
3. But what emerges first and foremost from the progress of scientific knowledge and the inventions of technology is the infinite greatness of God Himself, who created both (humankind) and the universe. Yes; out of nothing He made all things, and filled them with the fullness of His own wisdom and goodness. Hence, these are the words the holy psalmist used in praise of God: “O Lord, our Lord: how admirable is thy name in the whole earth!” (Ps. 8:1) And elsewhere he says: “How great are thy works, O Lord! Thou hast made all things in wisdom.” (Ps. 103:24) Moreover, God created (people) “in His own image and likeness,” (Cf. Gen. 1:26) endowed (us) with intelligence and freedom, and made (us) lord of creation. All this the psalmist proclaims when he says: “Thou hast made him a little less than the angels: thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and hast set him over the works of thy hands. Thou hast subjected all things under his feet.” (Ps. 8:5-6)
This section strikes me as pointing toward the marvelous images sent to Earth from Hubble and other instruments of astronomy. And of course, the delightful and detailed filmmaking of those who have brought the natural world into our homes the past half-century. Astronomy and biology especially have been subjects of great works of art. When we see star clusters and nebula far off, geysers and volcanoes and hints of subsurface oceans in our own solar system, then add to it the wonders of life on Earth, few deny the hand of God in all this.