A Modern Parable

A Parable for Our Times

The parable is a powerful means of conveying truth and insight. As a tool for teaching, it draws the reader’s attention to contradictions and inconsistencies in cherished belief systems and pet theories. As a story, it causes the reader to see how actions that might otherwise appear to be perfectly reasonable are actually illogical.

Parable as a literary form and teaching format conveys insights, but is rightfully outside of science’s wheel house.

Even so, a person whose primary focus is science can appreciate the profound truths gained through a parable. So the following story, posted within a science and religion dialog, invites us to distinguish between the literal truth of science and the metaphorical truth told through a mythical character.

Sophia Knocks, the Parable

The 2013 Catholic Conclave closed its doors to begin their election of the new Pope.


The Doors to the Conclave Close

As the doors closed, the faithful around the world prayed for God’s Wisdom in selecting the next pope.

Having heard the prayers, God’s Wisdom Sophia:

Cried out in the street;

In Saint Peter’s Square she raised her voice.

At the busiest cobble-stoned street corner she cried out;

At the entrance the gates of Vatican City she spoke: …(a)

Then she swept past the guards into Saint Peter’s Basilica, and wandered the halls until she found the entrance the Sistine Chapel.

There she knocked, and asked to join the Cardinals within.

The Conclave’s doorman swung open the door. From her came forth the words:

Wisdom is a treasure unto men that never fails: which you Cardinals could use to
become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts that come from learning. (b)

From inside the 115 scarlet-robed Cardinals stared in shock at the woman standing outside the Chapel.

In unison, 115 voices bellowed, “No women allowed.”

The doorman pushed the doors shut.

“I love you,” replied Sophia. But her voice was drowned out by the banging of the doors.

The next day, 115 men selected the next Pope—but the voice of God’s Wisdom was not heard.

(a)   Adopted from Proverbs 1: 20-21. See http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%201:20-21&version=NRSV

(b)   Adopted from The Book of Wisdom or The Wisdom of Solomon. See http://ebible.org/kjv/Wisdom.htm and The Catholic Encyclopedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15666a.htm)


How are these concepts related?

Study the set of concepts/objects in the figure. What relationship would you  assign them?

RelatedModels copyRelationships

Note that two of the relationships have been labeled, which provide examples of possible relationships.

The “God->authors->Scripture” is perhaps a common relationship for people of faith.

But what does this relationship imply?

It implies that God plays the role of author, which means that as author, God is in charge of making sure all the details are correct.

This implication has implications. If God is the author, has God checked that all the translations, like all the translations available through the pull down menu on Gateway Bible: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/ :

The other labeled relationship, “Observation->reveals->Truth,” might be common sense for a person whose primary focus is science.  Here again, what does this relationship imply?

It begs the question of  “What is truth?”

Take a look at the figure “An examination of what is “real”  on blog “So what the heck is Model-based Reality (https://explorethegap.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/so-what-the-heck-is-hawkings-model-dependent-realism-2/ )

You can see that this assumption is not so straight forward!

Reflection on this questions is, I maintain, our human search for meaning. Our labeling and defining these relationship is a life-long journey.