Just a few weeks ago, Pope Benedict XVI issued a motu proprio making it easier for Catholic parishioners and priests who prefer the Latin Mass to request that this style of Mass be celebrated more regularly in their parishes. Many have held this up as "yet another example" that the Church is stalling progress and in fact, stepping back to the Medieval Ages.
As a writer of science fiction and a Catholic, I find the assertion that the Catholic Church is moving backward amusing. It's always been my impression that, while conservative and at times, slow to change, the Catholic Church is nonetheless forward-thinking. My research for the introductions to Infinite Space, Infinite God affirmed that impression with fact.
Infinite Space, Infinite God contains 15 thought-provoking stories about Catholics and the Catholic Church meeting the challenges of the future: determining the soul-status of genetically engineered humans and human hybrids, developing orders of nuns and monks to serve the needs of those in space as well as on Earth, and exploring how technology will create new situations that both challenge faith and can be resolved by faith.
Catholicism has always affirmed man's great imagination and creativity as a result of the divine nature God has graced us with. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Church held onto what wisdom it could, preserving it for centuries until society was ready to build upon it again in the Renaissance. Many of the great early scientists--Mendel, the father of genetics, and Copernicus, who proposed heliocentric theory--were Catholic monks. Even today, the Church supports scientific study with its Vatican Observatory, the Pontifical Academy and symposiums involving scientists of all religious beliefs. Catholicism has always affirmed man's great imagination and creativity as a result of the divine nature God has graced us with.
However, the Church also advocates caution and conservatism with new discoveries. For example, it wasn't heliocentric theory itself that the Church objected to with Galileo, but Galileo's assertion that his then-unproven theory was fact and that anyone disagreeing (like the Pope) should be disregarded.
Many of the stories in Infinite Space, Infinite God deal with the tension between rushing to the new and moving slowly into the unknown. My husband Rob and I compiled these stories with the goal of doing something unique in the sci fi world--examining the future of faith. However, this book is not just for Catholics alone. The questions raised are questions we should all be asking: how far do we go in our science? How fast? Is exploration for exploration's sake justified? How do we preserve the past without moving back to it?
Just as the Catholic Church endeavors to steer a careful course, preserving the best of the past while moving into the future, so should humankind in matters outside of religion.
After all, a step forward is not progress unless you've pointed in the right direction.
Infinite Space, Infinite God by Karina and Robert Fabian, will be available August 15 in bookstores, Amazon.com or online at www.twilighttimesbooks.com.