October 1, 2017

The reports are mind boggling—both in what they say and in
their consistency.   Whether they are from the Pew Research Center, the Public Religion Research Institute or independent studies from scholars across the United States, report after report says the same thing:

Twenty-five percent of Americans consider themselves to be religiously unaffiliated. 

We are becoming a nation of nones—those who say they don’t identify with any particular religious group.

And even more disturbing news:

Nearly 40% of young adults (ages 18-29)    consider themselves religiously unaffiliated.

When asked, the number one reason young adults give for leaving organized religion is a “lack of belief in the religion’s teaching.”  According to the Pew Report, “This includes many respondents who mention “science” as the reason they do not believe in religious  teachings.”

The reports show that the number of nones is doubling every decade or so.  I can see how that is happening.

I was a kid in the seventies when only 4-6% of the population considered themselves to have no religious affiliation. At that time, I was Catholic because my parents were.  I received my Sacraments, went to Mass and attended CCD because that’s what was expected of me.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t believe—I most certainly do—but my actions fulfilled expectations.

Fifty years later, we have had a significant paradigm shift. While certainly children still do things because their parents tell them to,we now encourage—and teach—children to think critically.

Critical thinking is as an overarching part of every school curriculum at every level.   By teaching our children to use disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence, we      encourage them to look at all sides analytically.

And if you are looking at things analytically, the disparities between evolution and the Book of Genesis for example may be tough for some to reconcile.  It’s fair for our children and grandchildren to    question how this all fits together.  And it’s our responsibility to help them work through it.

Enter Fr. John Kartje.

Fr. Kartje is our next speaker in the  Centennial Speaker Series.  On Thursday, October 12, he’ll be at the Cathedral  speaking on Real Faith| Real Science:  Busting the myth of the faith/science wars.

As an astrophysicist  AND a Catholic priest, Fr. Kartje is uniquely qualified to speak on the relationship between faith and science.  He has earned two doctoral degrees:  one in   astrophysics from the University of Chicago and a second in Biblical Studies from Catholic University of America. This allows him to combine his passion for sacred scripture with his love for exploring the relationships between faith and science.

I’ve seen Fr. Kartje speak, and he is a brilliant presenter.  When he was here talking about mercy last year I was amazed at how he took seemingly divergent points and tied them all together.  By the time he was done he’d pulled a range of concepts together so effortlessly I wondered “why didn’t I think of that?”

Fr. Kartje’s talk on October 12 will be similar to a presentation he gave at Adler Planetarium in the spring.  We’ll bring in  A/V support to help facilitate the 75-minute free presentation.  

Please come!  And please encourage all of the youth and young adults that you love to come as well.  We are making a concerted effort to work with the local junior highs, high school and colleges to encourage students to attend. (Perhaps with a little extra credit

A huge part of critical thinking is informing oneself.  This is an outstanding opportunity for everybody to advance their thinking—but especially our youth and young adults.

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
Director of Development and Projects Liaison
815-722-6653, extension 242



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