The greatest story never told: priest and author to launch website on faith and science

Whisperings of My Soul author tackles belief that science and religion are incompatible

Fr Sean Hyland: Non-believers are not convinced by intangibles like consolations of faith. So, part of my book is devoted to science and reason and challenging assumptions such as: “Sure no one believes in God any more”.

Fr Sean Hyland: Non-believers are not convinced by intangibles like consolations of faith. So, part of my book is devoted to science and reason and challenging assumptions such as: “Sure no one believes in God any more”.

 

While writing Whisperings of My Soul about the heavenly messages which changed my life, I had two main objectives in mind.

Firstly, I hoped my words would bring comfort to people who were troubled and grieving like I once was.

My story starts when I was a dad, husband and a successful businessman, who was responsible for the start-up Hewlett Packard Manufacturing in Ireland in 1995. The site employed over 3,500 people before I took early retirement in 2006. But then tragedy struck. When one by one I lost my children and then my wife, I fell into the depths of despair and turned to Our Lady and Jesus for help.

Through God’s grace, in response, I was granted gifts of beautiful consolations of faith and instances where my family have reached me and let me know how safe and well they are united in the presence of Jesus and how they’re watching over me.

The book also relates how in thanksgiving for these heavenly blessings, I decided to become a priest.

The response has been overwhelming. As a self-published book, I hoped to market it through parish shops, but through providence, Joe Duffy’s Liveline and TV3’s Ireland AM invited me to talk about the book last November.

People all over the country began asking for the book, and the largest religious books distributor in Ireland, Veritas, offered a nationwide distribution deal. Whisperings is their number one bestseller since its publication eight months ago.

Eason’s have come on board, and the flagship RTÉ show, The Late Late, invited me on to talk about the book on Good Friday. We recently aired a feature on BBC Belfast Radio which is receiving a great response. RTÉ’s Nationwide are planning a feature on the background story for next month.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have written and called to tell me how much the book has meant to them.

So, my first aspiration for the book, to be a comfort to people, is being fulfilled more than I ever dared hope. But always when writing the book, my second and equally important objective was to reach out to non-believers too.

I’ve always been conscious that as priests we tend to preach to the choir and that we need to start a dialogue with agnostics; lapsed Catholics; the “nones” as they’re called who don’t know if there’s a Divine Creator or don’t care. In particular the younger generations, who have been left criminally short of objective empirical data, related to the belief systems of the world and the latest scientific discoveries, related to the origins and operation of the universe.

Non-believers are not convinced by intangibles like consolations of faith. So, part of my book is devoted to science and reason and challenging assumptions such as: “Sure no one believes in God any more”.

With the decline in Mass attendance and atheists taking offence at any reference to the spiritual in public life, it’s easy to feel religion is disappearing. It often seems the newest major religion is no religion at all.

Even though the sacred is under attack from the secular, all the empirical data says that it’s religion that is winning the battle.

I write in the book about the astonishing demographics of believers in the world. Worldwide surveys, backed up by census after census, show that 5.8 billion people or 84 per cent of the global population of 7 billion plus identify with a religious group.

It begs the question: can 5.8 billion believers be wrong?

Even the 16 per cent who are “non-religious” include large numbers of agnostics and those who are “non-affiliated” to religion but have some beliefs and practices.

As for self-professed atheists? Even though they dominate the social and political agenda of the western world, they amount to just over 2 per cent of the global population.

Is the fact that more than 8 out of 10 people in the world still believe in God one of the best-kept secrets of the past 20 years?

I also try to challenge in the book assumptions such as: “Sure, science has proved there’s no God”.

The truth is that experts working in fields from quantum physics, to cosmology and molecular biology increasingly acknowledge a greater power at work.

I’ve written about the many eminent scientists who recognise the fingerprints of intelligent design as they unlock the mysteries of the universe.

The Wall Street Journal even published an article called “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God’’ which has become the most popular online article in the paper’s history.

In April, US-based physics and astronomy professor Marcelo Gleiser won the €1.25 million Templeton Prize which recognises outstanding contributions to “affirming life’s spiritual dimension”.

“Atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method,” he says. “Atheism is a belief in non-belief. I’ll keep an open mind because I understand that human knowledge is limited. Science does not kill God.”

Science has not only not killed God, but is finally consistent with the Bible’s version of the origins of the Universe.

In the 20th century, scientists including Albert Einstein believed that our universe never had a beginning; they believed mass, space and energy was static and always existed.

It took a Catholic priest, Fr George Lemaitre, to prove the world started as a fireball and has been expanding and cooling ever since.

Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow says “the Universe flashed into being’’ just like the account in Genesis 1:1 of the origins of the world. “The astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world,” he writes.

It’s clear that many of the leading scientific brains observe intelligent design in the world and see the symmetry between science and the Bible’s message.

Faith and reason are compatible rather than conflicting wherever people believe the intelligent designer of science is the Divine Creator of religion.

There’s similar harmony between the rational scientific approach and the faithful religious perspective as we gaze upon the universe and see its marvellous wonders or the observable miracles of God.

My fervent desire is to entice non-believers from gazing into their screens to looking into their heart and souls.

I have developed a website titled Has Science Discovered God, which I plan to launch in the autumn. I plan to headline it as The Greatest Story Never Told. Starting with the ancient Greeks, it details the major worldwide belief systems, up to and including the history of, and most recent scientific discoveries from cosmology, to quantum physics and everything in between.

If this website in conjunction with Whisperings of My Soul prompts some to re-evaluate their beliefs and to search for the truth about God rather than settle for myths about religion, I’ll have done most of what I set out to do.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.