First Things RSS Feed - Edward T. Oakes
en-usCopyright 2016 First Things. All Rights Reserved.email@example.com (The Editors)firstname.lastname@example.org (The Editors)Sat, 22 Oct 2016 13:57:48 -0400https://d25wp47b6tla3u.cloudfront.net/img/favicon-196.pngFirst Things RSS Feed Image
Mon, 01 Apr 2013 00:00:00 -0400 Anyone who tries to evaluate the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar faces not only the sheer size of his work and his vast erudition but his great subtlety. To add to these difficulties, what he says in one book or passage he will often balance and qualify later on, even in the same book, and he expressed hostility to—or at least wariness toward—any attempt to systematize Christian revelation, so much so that he is often accused of being too daring in his speculations, of “flamboyance” and taking a “God’s-eye view” of things. Despite his undoubted speculative flair and genuine elusiveness, one can still discern certain patterns in his thought (“pattern” was a key word in his work, borrowed from Goethe and Gestalt psychology). From those patterns one may detect something that in other theologians would be called a method.
Fri, 08 Feb 2013 00:01:00 -0500 In the February 2013 issue of
The New Criterion
, James Bowman, media critic for that indispensable periodical, comments on a media scandal currently brewing in Great Britain. The trouble is, most of the panjandrums in the London press dont regard it as a media scandal at all. To them the blow-up started off as a political scandal and transmogrified into a police scandal”but, since few people on this side of the Atlantic have ever heard of these goings-on, I must first describe the events in question.
Heres what happened: late last year Andrew Mitchell, a Tory MP and, indeed, Chief Whip, bicycled to a meeting at 10 Downing Street, which hardly seems scandalous. On the contrary, it made him seem a man of the people who was concerned about lowering his carbon footprint, etc. But when he attempted to leave 10 Downing on the Westminster side, he was blocked by a recently installed security gate.
According to police reports, when told by the guard to dismount and go through a different exit, he began to shout obscenities at the police and even insulted the officers by calling them”horror of horrors”
. Allegedly, some onlookers claimed to be shocked by this loutish behavior, prompting one of them to write to his own MP to complain. The mans email was of course leaked to the press, as was the police log of the incident; since the stories jibed, Mitchell was eventually forced to resign his post as Chief Whip in the wake of what inevitably came to be called
”despite his vociferous denials that any such contretemps had occurred. Bowman picks up the story from there:
]]>A Baltimore Catechism for the New Atheistshttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2012/08/a-baltimore-catechism-for-the-new-atheists
Fri, 03 Aug 2012 00:01:00 -0400 One of the more striking differences between the New Atheists and, say, Freud or Nietzsche is the willingness of the former to engage natural theology on its own terms. Not that they get very far in their clumsy forays”its all pretty halfhearted and amateurish stuff, indeed sometimes wincingly embarrassing.
Thus Lawrence Krauss tries to address the scholastic axiom
nihil ex nihilo fit
(nothing can come from nothing) in his book
A Universe from Nothing
, where he argues, based on string theory, that a vibration in a ten-dimensional string or brane started it all. As was already pointed out by Edward Feser in the June/July issue of
, even if one grants that string theory is true, Krauss has already conceded the very medieval axiom he thought he was dispatching, since, after all, a brane (assuming it exists) is
Now one Alex Rosenberg has gingerly stepped onto this vaudeville stage with
The Atheists Guide to Reality
, where scientific reductionism becomes”there is no other term for it”a full-bore
reductio ad absurdum
. As it happens, the
Times Literary Supplement
gave the book to the philosopher Anthony Kenny to review, perhaps because he could never be accused of any
in this debate, since he has in the past leveled his own severe criticisms against classical Christian theism for relying on an outdated Aristotelian cosmology.
These skeptical conclusions, however, have not led Kenny to a two-fisted atheism; for as he said in his 2004 book
The Unknown God
: There is no such thing, I concluded, as the God of scholastic or rationalist philosophy; but of course that is not the only possible conception of God.
Whatever orthodox believers may think
of Kennys journey over these decades from classical theism to something vaguer, he is at least an equal-opportunity basher: For his aversion to absolutism can equally well be employed against the New Atheists, who affect an apodictic absolutism in their argumentation that makes them as impregnable to counterevidence as anything found in a creationist textbook.
In his recent book
God and the New Atheism
, the Georgetown theologian John Haught has usefully captured this quasi-religious absolutism among the New Atheists by summarizing their position as a seven-point creed:
]]>The Zeal Christ Requireshttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2012/03/the-zeal-christ-requires
Wed, 14 Mar 2012 00:01:00 -0400 I recently read a review of a book about Margaret Thatcher which argued that: Thatcher . . . . wanted to restore the balance of virtues in Britain away from current sentimentalities such as compassion and toward the vigorous virtues of courage and enterprise. What struck me about the remark is that virtues can become their own enemies unless they are counterbalanced with other virtues. Thus if a society fosters only compassion at the expense of courage and enterprise, it risks becoming decadent and incapable of defending itself because it no longer fosters the virtue of courage.
What is called for is what I shall not hesitate to call the
of zeal. Indeed, in the Gospel, Jesus justifies his driving out the moneychangers from the temple precincts, by invoking the prophecy of Isaiah: Zeal for my Fathers house consumes me.
Now we live in a civilization that tends to look askance at zeal. One who shows zeal, after all, is known as a
, a word that has pejorative connotations, as does its cognate
. These words conjure up an image of a fanatic, a beady-eyed maniac who, in Winston Churchills immortal words, cant change his mind and wont change the subject.
Of course, it has been recognized since the days of Aristotle that virtues, when taken to extremes, lead to vices. Virtue for Aristotle is the mean between two vicious extremes. Courage, for example, is the midpoint between foolhardiness and cowardice. Similarly, the twin vices of enterprise would be cutthroat capitalism or laziness.
So let us admit: There is an extreme form of zeal that does lead to fanaticism. But there is also its opposite vice:
, a devil-may-care attitude that refuses to get involved.
I have long thought that one reason the sex-abuse crisis became so extreme was the lack of zeal on the part of bishops, who put an alleged compassion for abusive priests over the obvious welfare of their flocks. Many abusers, after all, perpetrated their crimes because of some kind of perverse compulsion. But
were under no psychological compulsion to move abusive priests from parish to parish, from therapist to therapist. Yet they did; and I cannot help but think they did so because they colluded in a culture that values compassion over zeal. For true zeal would have led them to drive out such crimes from their dioceses. And this is the real danger for Christians today, a casual attitude toward our religion, a lassitude that lives out that famous line often attributed to Edmund Burke: For evil to thrive, all that is necessary is that good men do nothing.
The reason good Christians do nothing is because of this casual attitude toward sin
Zeal is really a function of ones outrage at sin, just as anger is a natural reaction to injustice. Of course anger is also dangerous, since we are far more willing to be outraged at injustices to ourselves than to others. The same with zeal, which becomes fanaticism when we are more outraged at others sins than our own. But a refusal to acknowledge sin at all, in either ourselves or others, has led to the crisis the Church faces today. For without a sense of sin, we end up with the situation described so well by H. Richard Niebuhr as early as 1937: A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross. Without zeal, Christianity becomes a hollow shell of itself.
One of Cardinal Newmans sermons in his
Parochial and Plain Sermons
is called Jewish Zeal, A Pattern to Christians. After reviewing various episodes of Jewish courage in the Old Testament, from the battle-hardened Israelites to the denunciations of Jeremiah, Newman comes to this conclusion:
]]>Bell’s Present Heavenhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/10/bells-present-heaven
Sat, 01 Oct 2011 00:00:00 -0400 Explicit confession of the Lordship of Jesus is not necessary for salvation, at least under certain circumstances”very wide circumstances, it turns out”says Rob Bell in his
Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
. Despite writing as if he is fighting a rearguard battle against the unsophisticated, the narrow, and the self-righteous, this popular evangelical pastor is hardly arguing against the wind here.
, a lengthy study of American religiosity, sociologists Robert Putnam and David Campbell claim that a whopping 89 percent of Americans believe that heaven is not reserved [solely] for those who share their religious faith. Outside that reluctant 11 percent (who presumably think that those outside their own small fold do go to hell), the wind is clearly with Bell, as can be seen not just by the books robust sales but also by the huge amount of attention it has received, very much including attention from the secular press. This part of the books notoriety is surely to be expected. For the secular press always hoists its Whig flag to salute any move toward liberalism inside traditionalist redoubts.
Even inside evangelical churches, unease with the doctrine of hell, at least as usually understood, has been growing, and protests from pastors and theologians have done little to avert the trend. As early as 1965, J. I. Packer was warning fellow evangelicals that they were living and behaving as if universalism were true.
And in his 1983 book
American Evangelicalism: Conservative Religion and the Quandary of Modernity
, James Davison Hunter observed: There is a pervasive uneasiness both about the nature of hell and about who is relegated to it . . . which may portend a greater cultural accommodation. In 1992, Zondervan, a major evangelical press, published a symposium of evangelical theologians titled
Four Views on Hell
”these views being defined as the literal, metaphorical, purgatorial, and conditional”which was three views more than before.
A basic problem with the loss of hell is that if the gospel of salvation is not clear on what we are being saved
, what would be the nonbelievers motivation for conversion and the believers motivation for evangelization? Bell solves the problem”to his mind, at least”with his central thesis: Heaven and hell are
present on earth, and Christians are specifically called to spread the reality of Gods heaven to the hellish realities of earth. After all, he points out, Jesus commands his followers to pray to God, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Since Gods will already obtains in heaven, our prayer”and thus our task”is to bring Gods reign to earth.
He does not deny the reality of heaven and hell as postmortem eschatological realities. But for him, to make the gulf between eternity and our temporal reality too absolute has the ironic effect of inducing the very lassitude that worries his critics: It often appears that those who talk about going to heaven when you die talk the least about bringing heaven to earth right now . . . . At the same time, it often appears that those who talk the most about relieving suffering now talk the least about heaven when we die.
Well, maybe. But it has to be said that Bell doesnt really argue his case. Rather, he hurls a set of disjointed statements to see what sticks. One gets the impression that Bell delivers his weekly sermons in bullet points, at least to judge by his books staccato, rat-a-tat-tat style. Perhaps, though, in this era of MTV and attention-deficit disorder, Bells approach is best. Judging by sales and reactions to the book, he clearly knows how to reach people untrained in the art of reading extended arguments filled with nuance. Logical gaps in the argument (of which there are many) are rhetorically obscured by a vigorous self-confidence and an obviously passionate conviction that Christians can make a difference in this hellish world of ours.
Still, the gaps in his argument are considerable, as this passage nicely exemplifies: Around a billion people in the world today do not have access to clean water. People will have access to clean water in the age to come, and so working for clean-water access for all is participating now in the life of the age to come.
Weve all been to funerals, I suspect, where the deceased is praised in eulogies by loved ones claiming that Uncle Wilbur, an avid golfer, is now swinging his nine iron in that great Country Club in the Sky. Into that vulgar, Americanized eschatology Bell slips all too often, because he makes the boundary between heaven and earth much too permeable. So much so that here, for example, he assumes (again without arguing the point) that we will have bodily needs, like thirst, in heaven just as we do on earth.
Generous views of salvation do not, of course, necessarily entail the conclusion that hell is empty, and Bell never goes that far. Like C. S. Lewis, though, he would insist that a person has to
hell: God gives us what we want, and if thats hell, we can have it. We have that kind of freedom, that kind of choice. We are that free.
But I think the doctrine of hell answers deeper questions than merely Gods respect for human freedom. The Lutheran sociologist Peter Berger makes the point that hell is a correlate to our moral judgments and serves as a refutation of relativism. It is, in other words, what he calls a signal of transcendence. In his book
A Rumor of Angels
, he refers to heinous crimes in which our sense of what is humanly permissible is so fundamentally outraged that the only adequate response to the offense as well as to the offender seems to be a curse of supernatural dimensions.
So if hell exists”
exist”then how many are saved and how many damned? Revelation wisely withholds that information. Avery Cardinal Dulles said in these pages several years ago that if we antecedently knew that hell was filled with the
and heaven not much more populated than your typical Shriners convention, despair would result. Correlatively, if we knew that only a few”those notorious applicants for the role of Antichrist, like Hitler and Stalin”were in hell, lassitude would set in.
Bell never claims to be a universalist, although he praises Gregory of Nyssa, who clearly was. One understands his eagerness to absolve the Christian missionary of the burden of accidentally sending someone to hell because the hapless evangelist got a flat tire on the way to an African village, after which an unchurched villager died (What About the Flat Tire? is the title of his first chapter).
But so eager is he to dispatch this conundrum that he misses the point of missionary endeavor. The Church, after all, is the Body of Christ and as such is an extension of Christs own ministry. Because of that identity between Christ and his Church, persecution will be the inevitable result: They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
Indeed, he has next to nothing to say about the persecution of Christians throughout the world, which has reached a fever pitch unknown since the days of the Roman Empire, a blind spot directly related to his too-easy identification of Christianity with ameliorative humanitarianism. That blind spot tells us a lot.
Edward T. Oakes, S.J., teaches theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake and is the author of
Infinity Dwindled to Infancy
Mon, 19 Sep 2011 00:01:00 -0400 Whenever secular liberals are challenged on one of their latest innovations in ethics, their reply almost invariably goes something like this: Well, if you are opposed to same-sex marriage, then marry someone of the opposite sex. Or: If you are so against abortion, then dont have one.
In other words, in the immortal words of Rodney King, why cant we all just get along? Ill let you have your morality if you let me have mine.
Occasionally, though, the veil slips and liberalism shows that its fondness for the live and let live principle is only skin-deep. The latest example of a more bare-knuckled liberalism comes from that famous mangler of the English language, Vice President Joe Biden. On his recent visit to the Far East, he expressed his understanding for Chinas one-child policy, which is regularly enforced by compelling women in their second pregnancy to abort their child. True, he went on to criticize that same policy, but only on utilitarian grounds: As to the delicate point of government lackeys dragging women from their homes and fastening them to hospital gurneys”not a word. Pro-choice, indeed.
The Vice Presidents nod to what I will call here coercive liberalism is unfortunately not an isolated case. In the August 29, 2011 issue of
, the vigorous and witty polemicist Mark Steyn collected a veritable rasher of examples of secular liberalism at its most heavy-handed, including the cases of Lars Hedegaard, a Danish journalist convicted of racism for questioning Islams treatment of women, Stephen Boissoin, a Canadian convicted of violating a human rights law for writing a homophobic letter to his local newspaper, and Dale McAlpine, a British street preacher arrested for publicly promulgating Christian teachings on homosexuality. Perhaps what is most disturbing about this trend is that these attempts at micro-tyranny are coming from
, who used to be the ones most hyper-reactive to restrictions on free speech.
Speaking very generally, liberals get their initial inspiration
from John Stuart Mills classic text of political theory,
, while conservatives get theirs from Edmund Burkes
Reflections on the Revolution in France
. From those conflicting inspirations come the caricatures that each side holds of the other: Liberals see conservatives as hidebound worrywarts, always defending tradition at any cost, while they in turn are bravely upholding the right to free speech: you can say whatever you want, and let the government lump it.
So how has liberalism come so far that it now abandons so cavalierly what ought to be the foundation of all its subsequent policies? Without a robust devotion to free speech, what is the point of being liberal at all? What happened?
The story of this declension is a long one, and surely Friedrich Nietzsches blistering attack on Enlightenment reason must play a key role here. As soon as one thinks that truth-claims are but assertions of the will-to-power, it then becomes all but impossible to uphold the formerly liberal idea of the universal rights of man, a coinage that served as the title for the famous manifesto that inaugurated the French Revolution.
Not that liberals are showing much will to power of their own these days. Rather, recent attempts to muzzle free speech”especially speech criticizing Islam”seem to stem from their desire
not to be bothered
. Notice how weak-kneed was the reaction of the ruling classes in England to the recent riots by the young offspring of Britains permanent welfare class, a cowardice that reminded more than one commentator of the effete Eloi hiding in their houses at night from the marauding, light-fearing Morlocks in H. G. Wells great science-fiction novel
The Time Machine
. Never confront, always hide.
But our modern-day Eloi are not just hiding from adolescent yobs. Whole neighborhoods of mostly Muslim immigrants and their children are now being declared effectively off limits, as is criticism of anything pertaining to their religion.
Theoretically, one might think that, of all the religions in the world, none would prove more repugnant to the basic values of liberalism than Islam. Yet, in country after country in Europe, the sensibilities of Muslims are cosseted and their critics harassed. In 1999 the European Parliament passed a resolution sponsored by the Green Parties and other assorted busybodies on the left condemning the Catholic Churchs refusal to ordain women. But dare to criticize Muslim mistreatment of women, and”as Lars Hedegaard found out to his consternation”you can look forward to a not-so-pleasant spell in the Danish pokey.
The liberal worldview has imploded
so quickly because no one, absolutely no one, believes in its myth of progress anymore. To go back to Nietzsche once more: whatever else his legacy means, advanced civilizations can no longer believe that things are getting better (which is why, among other reasons, there is so much hoopla over climate change).
Oddly, though, and in one of the great ironies of history (which knows only one law: the Law of Unintended Consequences), the collapse of this myth of progress has been turned to great advantage by Muslims in Europe, giving them a leg up in their search for converts, as Christopher Caldwell notes in his book
Reflections on the Revolution in Europe
]]>A Review of Mad Worldhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/04/a-review-of-mad-world
Fri, 01 Apr 2011 00:00:00 -0400 Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead
by Paula Byrne
Harper, 368 pp. $25.99
]]>Newman’s Ideal Universityhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/03/newmans-ideal-university
Tue, 01 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0500 Imagine youve just read Platos
and then”conscientious citizen that youve now become”you enter a Chicago voting booth on election day and scan the list of candidates. Anyone who reads John Henry Newmans
The Idea of a University
, published in 1852, and then ventures into the typical college classroom of today will suffer a similar case of mental whiplash. Perhaps, though, such disorientation is inevitable. In both texts, after all, we are dealing with uncompromising ideals, presented with intense fervor and great pathos, against which any reality would come up short.
Indeed, Newmans vision of the university demands a refinement of taste and delicacy of temperament out of reach to all but the most literate and sensible of undergraduates. His ideal student has a cultivated intellect, a delicate taste, a candid, equitable, dispassionate mind”a specimen one is unlikely to find during spring break in Fort Lauderdale.
Oddly, though, both Plato and Newman seemed to think that their ideals were eminently realizable: Plato traveled to Syracuse to educate a crown prince in hopes of making him a future philosopher-king; and Newman was asked by the bishops of Ireland to establish a Catholic university in Dublin more or less on the model of Oxford, surely a real university if ever there was one.
As everyone knows, both projects ended in complete failure and left both men feeling hurt, betrayed, and traumatized. But just as political debate has much to learn from a continual return to the
, so, too, Newmans
Idea of a University
never ceases to inspire, cajole, admonish, delight”and depress.
The vast discrepancy between Newmans ideal and the reality of higher education today can be explained, in part, by the changing times. For example, when he was a fellow at Oriel College in Oxford, he was instrumental in establishing the labor-intensive, one-on-one tutorial system, an ideal he never abandoned, but one simply impossible in todays mega-universities.
The discrepancy can also be explained by a difference of vision. Newmans vision insists that research should play no role in a teaching institution. Here he is, perhaps, starting to gain an audience. Increasingly, voices are heard lamenting the ceaseless hunt for prestige entailed in the publish-or-perish mentality of contemporary academia, especially in the humanities. Do we really need one more article, tucked away in a refereed journal that even most of its subscribers do not bother to read all the way through, on sea imagery in Shakespeare?
Newmans vision also sits uneasily, however, with his own belief that a university must seek to teach universal knowledge. He fully admitted that such an aspiration was merely an ideal because no one school could possibly accomplish that goal. But that impossibility only meant, for him, that schools should cooperate across boundaries through interdisciplinary conversation”an ideal that seems impossible to fulfill without a commitment to research. In fact,
, the faculty journal of Newmans Dublin foundation, began to publish scientific research as early as 1858. Plus, in my observation, professors who do no research end up giving stale lectures.
But the most glaring discrepancy between Newmans vision and contemporary reality”and this includes the reality of the typical Catholic university”concerns the place of theology, which he sees as the central focus of any Catholic university worthy of the name. To be sure, he flatly refuses to grant to theology any self-designated role as traffic cop or official umpire of the claims of other disciplines: Theology is one branch of knowledge, he says, and secular sciences are other branches. Theology is the highest indeed, and widest, but it does not interfere with the real freedom of any secular science in its own particular department.
Newman is not claiming here that integration is impossible, only that theology cannot serve as the locus for that integration. Somewhat in contrast with medieval opinion, he leaves that role to philosophy, which, in his definition, embraces and locates truth of every kind, and every method of attaining it. Moreover, theologys own roots in both reason and revelation make it too internally unstable to serve as Grand Adjudicator: It teaches a doctrine . . . so mysterious as in its fullness to lie beyond any system, and in particular aspects to be simply external to nature, and to seem in parts even to be irreconcilable with itself, the imagination being unable to embrace what the reason determines.
Even after conceding those points, Newman nonetheless insists on theologys indispensability. In a remarkably prescient observation that anticipates the rhetoric of the New Atheists, Newman sees that, when Christianity is thought to be the bane of true knowledge, there inevitably will arise a feeling, not merely of contempt, but of absolute hatred, towards the Catholic theologian and the dogmatic teacher.
The roots of that hatred, and the assumption that Christianity is the bane of true knowledge, can largely be found in that great shibboleth of contemporary higher education, academic freedom. But for Newman, a theologian always recognizes (or at least ought to recognize) a higher authority to which his discipline is bound. That obeisance to magisterial authority means that the theologian cannot, to quote another academic cliché, claim a freedom to follow conclusions wherever they lead. Such is the scandal of theology and why it often is regarded with suspicion by other departments in a university, much like the ostracized son who shows up uninvited at the family picnic.
Precisely as a science that is obedient to a supervenient revelation and yet must use reason to reach its conclusions, theology is inherently volatile, and within it a legitimate pluralism must be recognized. Thus, theologians are bound to disagree about reasons proper role in submitting to revelation, and differing positions on that initial point will legitimately generate different schools of thought. One is no less Catholic if one agrees with Duns Scotus on the univocity of being over against Thomas Aquinas preference for the analogy of being, despite the fact that a large majority of theologians competent to have an opinion on the matter prefer Thomas over the Scot. Nor is one less faithful to revelation if one prefers Plato over Aristotle”or at least we must say this: If one wants to argue Aristotles precedence over Plato, this position will have to be decided on strictly philosophical, not theological, grounds”a point on which the medieval theologians were all agreed.
The academy can applaud this kind of pluralism, but it cannot approve what is theologys ultimate scandal in the academy. Insofar as theology uses reason to direct its attention to revelation”to the extent, that is, that theology regards itself as a reason-shaped science of revelation”an infallible magisterium, and precisely one external to the guild of theologians, must be acknowledged to have the last say. For Newman, the problem is inherent in the discipline:
Revelation directly entails magisterium
. As he said in his
Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
, published in 1845, which he wrote while still a member of the Church of England:
]]>The Explanatory Sprawl of Natural Selectionhttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2010/08/the-explanatory-sprawl-of-natural-selection
Tue, 03 Aug 2010 08:46:00 -0400 Too many lazy authors take the principle of natural selection out of biology, where it belongs, and then apply it outside its proper sphere in ways that can only be regarded as completely preposterous.
No, this is not another article on evolution, still less an attack on it. Provided that that unfortunately loose term evolution means strictly descent with modification, it hardly seems possible to deny it without denying the findings of genetics. Of course controversy still rages about how genuinely explanatory the term
is inside the undisputed reality of evolutionary biology. But as long as natural selection refers to differential rates of survival”whereby some organisms survive to reproductive age and others dont, with the former getting to transmit their genes and the latter not”I would at least concede heuristic value to the term.
What has got me so hot under the collar this time is a passage I just ran across in the revised version of Stephen Hawkings
A Brief History of Time
, called, amusingly enough,
A Briefer History of Time
, coauthored with Leonard Mlodinow. Early in the book, alarm bells went off in my head. The authors are trying to justify their initial assumption that we are rational beings who are free to observe the universe as we want and to draw logical deductions from what we see, and thus might progress ever closer toward the laws that govern our universe. But then a doubt seizes them: