Sunday, December 28, 2008


In a previous century there was much hope placed in science and much faith in material progress.

During that time, in the compartment of a train in France, an old man was one day praying his Rosary. At one stop, a young intellectual entered the compartment and sat down. After a while, not able to stand it any more, this student of modern science said to the old man, "Why do you pray the Rosary? Why do you pray? There is no God. Only science. Yes, science is the answer."

The old man remained silent. The youth, not wanting to hurt him, said, "Well, my friend, you mean no harm. You must lack education. Give me your address; I'll send you some books to enlighten you. Yes, they will teach you that science, and not prayer, is the answer."

Just at that moment it was the old man's stop. Before leaving the compartment he reached into his coat pocket and took out his card. He gave it to the intellectual, who bid him, "Good day."

When the train started again the young man looked at the card. It read:
Louis Pasteur
Institute of Scientific Research

Louis Pasteur

That story reminds me of a lunchtime conversation I had one day with a pair of irreligious co-workers. I'd made my normal sign of the cross over my meal, and that pious little act prompted one colleague to start an anti-religious monologue that ended with, "I'm convinced that one day science will provide a rational explanation for everything we observe in the universe."

I raised an eyebrow and said, "It takes a lot of faith to believe that."

The other agnostic at the table chuckled in spite of himself.

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