Our culture is saturated in the presuppositions of metaphysical naturalism and epistemological scientism. These presuppositions inevitably direct our attention to the proclamation of our contemporary sages – the scientists. It is only natural that we seek the wisdom of the scientist in a culture such as ours given the additionally integrated assumption that scientists necessarily hold the positivistic keys unlocking the mysteries of the natural world. Scientists are considered to be the high priests of knowledge, and the mystics of a spirituality available only through the medium of physics.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, and Bill Nye provide evidence for the majestic depth of scientific discovery and originality with these quotations,
“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements – the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life – weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.”― Lawrence M. Krauss
“You and I are made of stardust. We are the stuff of exploded stars. We are therefore 1 way the Universe knows itself. That, to me, is astonishing.” – Bill Nye
Such a profound and almost mystical insight brought forth by modern scientists.
Well, this concept of humans “being stardust” and having a deeper connection with the entire natural world is something that Catholic theologians and philosophers have been championing since the Middle Ages. In fact, this is a basic concept of the doctrine of Creation, which to my understanding predates these scientific discoveries. Consider this passage from Edouard Hugon’s book, Cosmology, Pg. 28, 29:
“III. – Christ, The Perfect World. For the sake of beauty, it is fitting that there be a certain world that is a sort of compendium or recapitulation of others. And man is in some way the compendium of all the worlds. “For he has esse in common with stones, living in common with trees, sensing in common with animals, and understanding in common with angels. If man, therefore, has something in common with all creatures, then in a sense man is every creature.” For this reason man is called a microcosm, a small world; imperfectly so, however, for the soul holds the lowest place among spiritual things… There would need to be some world that is both body and God, man and God, spirit and God. Now, that world is not only an ideal, but a reality: Jesus Christ. In Him, as the Apostle testifies, God renewed all things, or as the Greek text has it, God made a recapitulation of all things.
He first recapitulated the material world. The human body is the ideal among inferior bodies; but the exemplar of the human body is the body of Jesus Christ. In the body of his Son, therefore, God renewed all things. Now, in the soul of Christ are recapitulated both the human world and the angelic world: for his most holy Soul has all the perfections of all men and gathers within itself greater knowledge and grace than all the angels together. In Christ, therefore, the three worlds are summarized; they are, in fact, joined together with the divine and archetypal world itself, and form one world with it through the hypostatic union. For, in Christ, Divinity, soul, and body subsist in one Person. Christ, therefore, is the most perfect world, in which all the worlds are made one — one, that is, in the Person.”
In this passage Hugon references Saint Albert the Great, which means that Saint Albert’s insight of man as microcosm of creation predates Tyson’s secular version by several hundred years.
For those familiar with the mystical insights of Catholic philosophers, theologians, and saints, this famous quote is apt,
“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
– Robert Jastrow –
– Lucas G. Westman