under the patronage of St Joseph and St Dominic
By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept, remembering Zion;
THE ONE NECESSARY ENCYCLICAL
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They do the greatest harm in the world who have the greatest power. Who are these with such power? Catholics: because they have been invested with the Divine Sonship. In comparison with the harm done in the world by (Catholics) Martin Luther and Henry Tudor (Henry VIII), the harm done by a Hitler, a Stalin or a Pol Pot is insignificant. Their harm is ended: the harm done 500 years ago by Luther and Henry VIII continues today. For the all encompassing atheism which afflicts the 21st century is an inevitable consequence of the heresy they initiated, Protestantism. Under atheism’s impetus the world is heading for perdition with the inevitability of the Gardarene swine. Atheism has gutted the minds of men of any but the faintest perception of the reality of their Creator, or of their utter reliance upon Him.
“Every sin,” St Thomas teaches,
In April 2009 the editor of the Chiesa website, Sandro Magister, reported on the actions of Giuseppe Betori, the newly appointed Archbishop of Florence—
One must admire the new Archbishop for his activism at a time when many, if not most, of his peers, are refusing to face the crucial issues of abortion and euthanasia. But the narration shows a problem in approach. One does not deal with people like Roberta de Monticelli by expressing a contrary opinion. This is the sort of thing the media does, reporting each side of a question without seeking to resolve it. One deals with atheists by demonstrating that they are fools.
In decades gone by the generality of men still shared a belief in the Divine. It was appropriate then for Pius XI, in 1930 in Casti Connubii, to condemn the lapse from moral principle of the Anglican Lambeth Conference of that year, as it was for Paul VI to confirm, in 1968 in Humanae Vitae, the evils of that lapse. But today the vast majority of men have lost the sense they once held in common and, in the process, have lost the sense of the critical importance of moral issues in their lives. Until the folly of atheism is laid out for them, they will not acknowledge any moral rule. Here is the subject of the one encyclical essential for the modern world.
What should that encyclical say? Before we suggest its argument, we should first address a problem besetting clergy and theologians no less than it affects the world in general—yet another effect of Protestantism—the loss of faith in reason. 
Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis of Wednesday, August 5th, to that majestic saint, Jean-Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars, patron of parish priests.
The Church of the nineteenth century demonstrated the falsity of the rationalist thesis to the whole world. Thus, Pius IX in the encyclical Qui Pluribus (9.11.1846):
In other documents, including the allocution Singulari quadam (9.12.1854) and the encyclical Quanta Cura (8.12.1864), the same Pope demonstrated rationalism’s folly. The Fathers at the Vatican Council did the same, confirming that—
One of the less happy of the acts of Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, was to deny the teaching of innumerable of his predecessors that the Church has a philosophy of her own. The Church does have a philosophy of her own, the one philosophy which accurately reflects reality, the philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas. No philosopher has demonstrated more forcefully than St Thomas the power given to man by reason, but his philosophy has been systematically suppressed . The consequence for modern churchmen is that they now doubt whether the Church can prove the folly of relativism. One issue demonstrates this loss of faith in reason more than any other—the uncritical endorsement by the Vatican of Darwinian evolutionary theory.
Atheism, the Greatest Sin
Atheism is the rejection of the existence of God as a conclusion of the mind reflecting on reality perceived by the senses. It is fundamentally a philosophical, rather than a theological, issue. When analysed through its ultimate causes, it demonstrates in its adherents an unwillingness to face reality.
All reasoning begins with the Principle of non-contradiction, which is succinctly put in three assertions (“A” here stands for any element of reality):
This is the fundamental logical principle. If a man refuses to acknowledge its truth he cannot speak. For every acceptance or rejection of a proposition presupposes it.
Next for consideration is the first principle of reality: nothing is without a reason of be, or more colloquially, nothing comes from nothing. This principle is fundamental and is naturally known: it is the principle to which the child appeals from his earliest years with his constant plaint ‘Why?’ and demonstrates that the native intellect of the child sees better than professors of secular philosophy that there is no element of reality that does not have a cause—ex ore infantium et lactantium perfecisti laudem…
In those moments of introspection that befall every man, he is bound, if honest, to conduct with himself a soliloquy along the following lines—
Here is the first issue, whether to be honest or not about reality. The atheist admits the gift—not as gift but as thing; as reality—but denies the source; denies a giver. Look more closely at any part of reality and two elements appear, essentia et ens—essence and existence. Not only am I not the source of my existence (ens)—that I am—neither am I the source of my nature (essentia)—what I am. I am supremely conscious that I did not choose to come into existence as a man, rather than as monkey, donkey, dog or snail. That choice was made for me.
More does not come from less. If I find myself possessed of the highest of the gifts given to the creatures of this world, intellect, will and all that goes with them—not just a beast determined by brute nature, but a person with the facility to work out my own destiny—why am I not justified in concluding that the giver, IT, must be a being which has, too, at least virtually, the same attributes as I have received? that this IT, too, must have intellect and will? Nemo dat quod non habet —if I am a person, surely the IT must be a person too! In other words, this IT cannot be an ‘it’ at all. IT must be SOMEONE, as I am someone.
Now atheists the world over reject these arguments because their major premise, so they say, has been discredited. They laugh at the proposition that their person, powers and existence have been given them: these realities, they say, are but the end result of a series of blind accidents, happy accidents perhaps, but the inevitable evolution of matter. Hence, something can come from nothing. More can come from less. It has been proved—by Charles Darwin!
But Darwin demonstrated nothing. He advanced a theory, but it has never been anything more than a theory. And the theory is false.
The issue is a philosophical, not a scientific, one. It was not natural scientist, Charles Darwin, but the philosopher, Herbert Spencer, who first propounded it. Spencer’s teaching was rooted in subjectivism and materialism , disorders in understanding flowing from Luther’s rejection of the Divine authority. At the heart of it is a false theory of knowledge. Truth is the identity between what is asserted and reality; i.e., the identity of what is asserted with what is. Against all common sense, subjectivism denies that the senses truly report reality; indeed it denies that we can ever know reality as it is, and insists, despairingly, that the only thing that matters is the consciousness of the individual. This theory of knowledge gives rise to universal uncertainty in disciplines as varied as philosophy, morals and history. It denies the doctrine of causality.
Of every thing that exists in the universe there are four causes, as St Thomas demonstrated conclusively in the 13th century. There are not less than four; there are not more than four.
St Thomas wrote for a populace better equipped than those of the 21st century to understand the concepts to which he was referring. We will now explain his teaching, then illustrate it by reference to human art.
Nature Of Cause
Let us now illustrate what St Thomas teaches by reference to the carpenter who sets out to build a table.
The first cause of the table he produces is the formal cause, that which determines this thing to be a table. It is not the form of gate, or of chair, or of house, or of boat; but of table. If this form (table-ness) was absent, the thing would not be a table. Form is what gives it the essence, so to speak, of what it is.
Now, human art is nothing but the application by man of his intellect to the works of nature, in imitation of those works. Hence, by art man does nothing but reproduce in the things he makes the fourfold causality that obtains in all natural things. Just as there are four causes of the table produced by the carpenter, there are four causes of the carpenter. His material cause is patent; it is the matter out of which he is made. The formal cause, that which makes him be a man (and not a mineral, or a tree, or a monkey, donkey or other beast) is his human (and immaterial) soul. The efficient cause is his Creator. And the final cause is the reason why his Creator made him and the end He intends for him consistent with his human nature.
The Atheist is Materialist
As he sits before his computer, the atheist scientist will tacitly concede the machine’s fourfold causality: the matter from which it is made—its material cause; the intricate formality according to which the matter is designed and constructed—its formal cause; the inevitability of a maker, or makers—its efficient cause; and, the reason it was brought into existence, an instrument to aid men in their considerations and works—its final cause. Yet when he turns to his proper subject, the elements of the natural world, he will deny the existence of any but the material cause and pretend that factors which are not causes at all, time and chance, are sufficient to make up for any lacunae in logic. The scientist is not compelled to this view by science, but by the philosophy to which science has given its allegiance—materialism. If the natural scientist has doubts about the rationality of this position, he looks for consolation to the huge numbers of its supporters; for how could such a body of opinion be wrong? Yet truth is not attained by a majority vote, but by conformity (of what is asserted) with reality.
Many years ago the commentator, E.F. Schumacher, remarked on the dishonesty of this position. The natural scientist says he is interested only in phenomena, in facts; but should some fact come along which falls outside the a priori setting of his atheism, he turns his back on it. Schumacher cited inter alia the instance of Therese Neumann of Konnersreuth in Germany. For 35 years she lived, observed by all, on no other food or drink than the daily reception of the Blessed Eucharist. Yet scientists ignored the phenomenon. Schumacher remarked with justice—
“If the documentary evidence and eye-witness accounts relating to [her] cannot be accepted as reliable evidence, then all evidence is unreliable, nobody can ever be believed, and human knowledge is impossible.”
The atheist cannot explain such things. He cannot explain the incorrupt body of St Marie Bernard Soubirous in the church of the Visitation nuns at Nevers in France. He must label such things as the products of hysteria, or fraud. Moreover, he dare not investigate them closely for fear his atheistic faith may be destroyed.
Thomas Merton related how, in February 1937, while still an atheist, he stumbled upon the central truth of Catholic philosophy in a book he had purchased under a misapprehension at Scribner’s in New York, Etienne Gilson’s The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy. Too late, he realised it had a Catholic Imprimatur.
But he kept it, and he read it.
The last quote here is from the Book of Exodus where God speaks to Moses. In this passage, the Catholic Church teaches, God defines himself.
Thus, does the Church confirm in her philosophy what Almighty God has revealed in sacred scripture.
Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster from 1865 to 1892, reduced the issues for mankind to these four—
The Atheist Addressed
Now why may there not exist—as a possibility—a being which is not compound, but simple? whose essense is existence? a being that is not contingent, but necessary? not dependent, but self-sufficient? a being that encompasses within itself actually all the potentiality of every contingent and dependent thing in the universe?
Why exclude the possibility of such a being just because no one has ever observed it? Why should we allow our intellects to be fettered by the materialist imperative? We are surrounded by realities that are not observable, but no less real for that. We may see a just action performed, but no one has ever seen justice. A judge may exercise mercy in passing sentence on an offender, but the thing, mercy, does not fall under the senses: it is known only through its effects. We may observe a loving mother, but the thing, love, has never been seen. The reason is that justice, mercy and love are not material things. Yet who will deny that these immaterial things are real? We can see that a man is alive, we observe in him the effects of life: but no one has ever seen the reality that keeps him alive, his soul. It is not material, yet it is real. Indeed, the soul of a man is the greater part of his reality. Remove it and what is left but a material shell which quickly resolves into its elements. Why is it impossible, then, that there exists such a BEING just because it does not fall under our senses?
However imprecisely he may understand or express it, the religious believer has a logical solution to the conundrum of his existence. He accepts with humility that he is an effect of intrinsic and extrinsic causes: he faces reality. In contrast, the believer in the secular faith of atheism has no logical solution to the issue: he refuses to face reality. Because he refuses to face reality, the atheist is a fool. Indeed, sacred scripture calls him a fool [Cf. Psalm 13: 1; Wisdom 13: 1] and St Paul spells out the measure of his folly:
The ultimate folly of the atheist is suicide. Deluded by an all embracing materialism, he thinks that in killing himself he will annihilate himself. But he will not! The reason is obvious: since he did not give himself existence, it is beyond his power to deprive himself of it. There is a part of his being—much the most important part, his soul—which is not material. And if it is not material, it cannot suffer the fate of material things, namely, corruption.
What, then, becomes of the suicide at the moment of death? His body is consigned to the earth from whence it came. But his soul which is identical with the person that he is, finds itself confronted by his Creator and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who will demand an accounting of the talents that have been given him. [Matthew 25: 14-30; Luke 19: 12-27] That reckoning will inevitably take into account the presumption of the suicide in arrogating to himself the Divine prerogative over life and death.Atheism’s Effects in Society
The world is afflicted by the evil fruits of this besetting evil. St Paul has summarised them.
Atheism is hateful of mankind. It is driven by mankind’s eternal enemy, the devil, who goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5: 8-9). Atheistic indoctrination occurs in every public, and almost every private, school. It degrades and dispirits our children, stealing from them the God-given spontaneity which is their right, and hardening them to the grim acceptance of the Masonic doctrine that they are nothing but beasts, albeit beasts with intelligence.
Such conduct is the inevitable result of the loss of that grace in living which is proper to man who was created in the image and likeness of God [Genesis 1: 26]. Chesterton encapsulated the truth in one short sentence: “There is nothing natural without the supernatural.” Man is incapable of living even at the human level if he does not acknowledge dependence on his Creator.
Almighty God wants all men to be saved. He is patient. “He knows of what we are made; he remembers we are but dust.” [Psalm 102: 14] The Catholic Church, the one thing in this world which is different from all other, exists only to bring men to God, to heaven, the eternal home He has predestined for them from all eternity. Atheism threatens the eternal salvation of vast numbers of the world’s population.
That is why it is necessary for the Pope to explain publicly and formally to all the world atheism’s folly at the earliest possible moment.
THERE ARE FOUR CAUSES—AND ONLY FOUR
Source: St Thomas Aquinas, In II Physica, 10, 240 [n. 15]
“A cause is that upon which the be (esse) of another follows. Now the be (esse) of that which has a cause can be considered in two manners. In one manner absolutely, and thus the cause of be (causa essendi) is the form by which something is in act. In the other according as, from being in potency, it comes to be in act. And since whatever is in potency is reduced to act by that which is itself in act, it is necessary that there be two other causes, namely the matter and the agent which reduces the matter from potency to act. But, the action of the agent tends towards something determinate, and so it proceeds from some determinate principle, for every agent acts according to what is fitting to it. But that towards which the action of the agent tends is called the final cause. Therefore, there must be four causes.”
This analysis of St Thomas may be illustrated with the following schema.
 Wisdom 13: 1
 Once a man rejects the authority of God in what he shall believe, there remains only his own authority. He places himself on a knife edge: on the one hand there is the order and majesty in the things God has made—which incline him back to God; on the other there is his pride and self regard—which incline him to take for granted the great goods he holds and, foolishly, to reject the reality that he is both dependent on his creator, and contingent. The devil, who never ceases to act, leads him via the second of these courses to unbelief.
 Matthew 8: 28-34; Mark 5: 11-17; Luke 8: 32-7.
 St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 10, a. 3
 She may have called herself ‘Catholic’ but her abandonment of the Church confirmed the de facto situation, namely, that she is an atheist.
 We have dealt elsewhere with the consequences for the philosophical mind of Luther’s rejection of the authority of God; cf. The Loss of Metaphysics at http://www.superflumina.org/metaphysics.html and Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, [translated from 2nd Italian edition by Fr John P. Parsons], Sarto House, Kansas City, 1996, pp. 23-25.
 Session III, 24.3.1870
 Purporting to rely for his authority on Pius XII in Humani Generis who taught the very contrary of what Papa Wojtyla claimed. Cf. Fides et Ratio (14.9.1998), n.49.
 We repeat here in essence the argument advanced in the paper The Pompous Atheist written against the Australian journalist, Padraic McGuinness; cf. http://www.superflumina.org/pompous_atheist.html
 Psalm 8: 3
 And here, also, there are two elements—coming into existence, and remaining in existence.
 No one gives what he has not got.
 This is precisely the realisation that befell the French poet, Paul Claudel, when on Christmas Day, 1886, the reality of God came to him in an inspiration in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris—“Et voici que vous êtes Quelqu’un tout à coup!”
 Spencer is said, on his deathbed, to have rejected everything he had written.
 St Thomas’s commentary on The Physics of Aristotle at the reference shown. Emphasis added.
 In contrast, something which is not dependent in regard to be could not be caused, since to be caused means to be brought from potency to act; that is, brought from can-be to does-be. But God is not dependent in regard to be, for he is be; that is, he exists necessarily. What he is = that he is. Hence God is not the effect of any cause.
 Though artificial things do not strictly have essence.
 Cf. Paul Johnson’s study on Karl Marx in his Intellectuals (London, 2000). The subjectivist’s preoccupation with his idea provides the name for what follows: “ideology”.
 Thus, the very ground on which Darwinian evolutionary theory is based is defective. Its failure explains the proliferation in recent time of so many works addressing the evidence for order and design in nature; that is, evidence of final and formal causality. Cf., for example, Michael Denton, Nature’s Destiny, The Free Press, New York, 1998.
 There is no antipathy between science and metaphysics (the philosophy of St Thomas and of the Catholic Church); but there is antipathy between metaphysics and materialism.
 A Guide for the Perplexed, London, 1977; my copy, Abacus, 1986, pp. 106 et seq.
 Ibid, pp. 109-110
 The Seven Storey Mountain, New York, 1948; my copy a 1961 reprint of the edited version, Elected Silence, (London, 1949), p. 115
 Exodus 3: 13-14, emphasis added.
 Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, “The Temporal Mission of the Holy Spirit”, quoted in Manning and Chesterton, Sheridan Gilley, The Chesterton Review, vol. xviii [November 1992], p. 494.
 Revised and reissued, 14th February, 2011, Sts Cyril & Methodius
 St Thomas’s commentary on The Physics of Aristotle at the reference shown. Emphasis added.