February 25, 2005

Letters to the Editor

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(The following were taken from the February 25, 2005 issue)

More about believing and knowing

In Letters to the Editor on Feb. 11, I was attracted by the headline “The difference between believing and knowing in the pursuit of truth.” I was hoping to improve my mind but was disappointed.

The letter writer, Lee J. Suttner, himself probably does very well know the difference between believing and knowing. He has 35 years experience teaching in a university, so he is well qualified to help us—but does he? Let’s see.

First, he was “stunned” by the obvious truth that Catholic schools have the freedom to pursue the truth. Next, he is “appalled” that Catholic schools teach creationism using evidence of intelligent design as a “smoke screen.” He goes on to claim that the American Civil Liberties Union does not have an anti-religious agenda. He claims that in eight years of Catholic grade school he did not learn the truth about the Inquisition, the Reforma­tion and Galileo. (I did).

When he talks about the difference between believing and knowing, he confuses us. He claims that they, believing and knowing, are “fundamentally distinct,” but proceeds to use them interchangeably, especially if it furthers his argument.

His entire letter is misleading but there is one little deception that I would like to point out. He calls evolution a phenomenon. Here’s the first definition for evolution in the Random House College Edition: “a fact, occurrence or circumstance observed.” Everyone who is not deceived knows that evolution is a theory. It cannot correctly be called a phenomenon because it has never been observed.

Not only does he boost evolution with a false claim as demonstrated above, he downplays creationism by stating that creationism and intelligent design are unknowable because of the lack of empirical testing. This deception is not obvious because the words “empirical testing” sound so good and correct and final.

But the root word of empirical is experience. So what he is really saying is that creationism is unknowable because it was not witnessed or experienced. Is that true? Is there no witness to the creation of the universe? Actually, two eyewitnesses come immediately to mind: Moses, the supposed author of Genesis, and Jesus, of whom it is said by John the Apostle, “Without him was made nothing that was made.”

When Jesus was asked about divorce, he said that Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of our hearts, but in the beginning it was not so. And then he said Adam and Eve were created male and female and what God had joined together let no man put asunder.

Would Jesus have used the word created if they evolved? I don’t think so. 

-William L. Kramer, Edinburgh


Faith and the truth

I agree with Douglas W. Kmiec’s assertion in a Jan. 28 column that Catholic schools have a significant advantage over public schools because they have “freedom to pursue truth, whole and complete.” The purpose of everyone’s existence (to know, love and serve God) should complement all children’s studies so that they do not lose sight of God in their lives. It is only with God’s grace that we can fight the tendency to be lazy in our studies.

Unfortunately, I did not learn the purpose of my existence until I was an adult. It did not complement my own childhood studies. I am sure my childhood education suffered as a result. I am 37 years old now, and only thanks to my parents’ many years of prayer for me, I am a sheep in Jesus’ flock again. I wanted to write this letter after reading Lee J. Suttner’s letter in the Feb. 11 Criterion. He seems to have forgotten the purpose of his existence, and I wanted to remind him.

Jesus chose many uneducated men to be his disciples. I wonder what would have happened if Mr. Suttner had been a disciple of Jesus when he said, “My sheep will know my voice.” Would Mr. Suttner have argued? “Now wait a minute, Jesus, faith is a wonderful gift you’re offering us, but it can only permit us to believe your voice, it cannot permit us to know it.”

I guess Jesus would have said, “Oh yeah, my mistake.”

-Colleen Johnson, Indianapolis


Thank you, Sister Lucia

The recent Criterion headline “Sister Lucia, last Fatima visionary, dies at 97” was thought-provoking. I couldn’t help wondering how happy she would be to see her little cousins, Francesco and Jacinta, who died in 1919 and 1920 respectively. So many years she stayed on earth to make sure the message of Fatima as given to her by Our Lady was proclaimed.

Last April 2004, we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary and planned a trip to Fatima in Portugal. We stayed at the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary Monastery of Pius XII. Sister Diane spoke to us, and a warm, friendly stay was shared with Catholic people from around the world.

On May 12, we decided to rent a car and asked two religious sisters we met to join us. We were going to find the convent that Sister Lucia lived in. When we found it, we went inside, looked around and took pictures of the beautiful gold inlaid altars and the statue of Our Lady with her hands held out (the one that Sister Lucia described as when she appeared to her privately in 1938).

Imagine the feeling of knowing we were all under the same roof as Sister Lucia. She was behind the grill and could not be seen, but we were all breathing the same air. Someone mentioned that wouldn’t it be great to have a Mass celebrated in English while we were in the convent. Within five minutes, in comes a group from Ireland with a priest and they were going to have Mass. We were delighted.

Last year, our daughter and son-in-law were in the process of adopting two children from Russia, and we made the petition for help in the adoption. As soon as Mass was over, the woman directly in front of us turned and said that her daughter had just adopted two children from Russia. It sent chills down our spine! We had not mentioned the country of Russia. You could also write petitions on a slip of paper and leave them in a basket for Sister Lucia, and we asked her prayers also for the adoption, our family and those that we had promised to pray for.

When we got home from our pilgrimage, we spoke with our daughter, and on that same Tuesday evening they had gotten a call from the adoption agency. The social worker told them that because they were waiting for two siblings for so long, that they were making a one-time exception and would allow the children to come from two different families and even two different orphanages. They had found two children.

Today, on this rainy Sunday afternoon in February, we are happy to say we are awaiting our daughter and her children for a week’s visit. Matthew and Peter, ages 3 and 1, were adopted from Russia last October and have been in the United Sates now for four months. Yes, they are truly a miracle and a gift from the Lord and Our Lady of Fatima.

We know Sister Lucia interceded. Thank you, Sister Lucia.

-Phyllis and Bob Burkholder, Sellersburg

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