A Proper Progress

Father John Kiley steps forward to defend the Western period of exploration as a time when we “began to also hope in progress,” not in religion alone. Indeed, Fr. Kiley credits the likes of Christopher Columbus and Leonardo de Vinci not just with their particular discoveries and innovations, but with the whole technological drive of our culture. There should, of course, be a restraint:

Pope Benedict correctly laments the fracture that occurred between hope in faith that marked the Middle Ages and hope in progress that distinguishes the modern era. Too much hope in human progress crowds out God in modern times just as exclusive hope in faith left little room for progress in the earlier era. Clearly, the two hopes are not incompatible. The God who made the spiritual world also fashioned the material world. Both heaven and earth are certainly worthy of investigation and exploration. Hope in progress alone sadly does lead to atom bombs and abortion procedures and corporate expansion. But progress enlightened by faith can fashion this world into a fuller reflection of the goodness and kindness of God himself.

Sadly, we are creatures of extremes. We seek a rule and insist that it must apply to everything and all. We tend to believe either that working with material reality is playing God or that any manipulation that gives the impression of benefiting us must be justified.

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