Overcoming Intellectual Entropy

“Why are physicists still considered ‘not’ cool… when thermodynamic entropy is getting cooler all the time?”

Good jokes are universally appreciated; however, it is also generally accepted that if you need to explain a joke, it defeats its own purpose. These days we encounter much of our public discourse dumbed down to accommodate the masses. Nuanced opinions become ever rarer, while everyone declares themselves as experts. We are saturated with polls that create a sensation that all opinions are created equal. The internet gives us a faux sensation of knowledge at our fingertips. Everyone is an expert now… yet, how intellectually competent are we? Knowledge is a useless appendage without wisdom (the Bible has the Book of Wisdom but not the Book of Knowledge). We fall into a rut and condemn ourselves to mediocrity, if not spiritual entropy. How can we recognize and subdue the enemy?

Few are the people who do not enjoy jokes. If tactfully used, they can teach without offending. The above joke, for example, may not easily be understood; a basic understanding of physics is needed. Unfortunately, many a student would just shamble by the aforementioned joke, if not understood. Not many people pull out dictionaries in order to look up words they do not know. My experience is that utilitarianism and intellectual pride stunt our intellectual growth and lead to spiritual entropy: an attitude of the soul that contents itself with the level of intellectual and spiritual achievement gained that gradually degenerates into fragile wills and intellectual slavery. The truth sets us not only free, but makes us strong and opens our horizons to beauty (Cf. Jn. 8:32).

As a priest, physics was not my major. Yet, St. Paul says, “I have become all things to all, to save at least some” (1 Cor. 22). An all-embracing knowledge pays tribute to the Creator. Christ’s statement, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3), does not refer to maintaining a level of puerile knowledge. God wants us wondering, discovering, expanding our intellects in humility. Pride stunts our intellectual and spiritual growth leading to this spiritual entropy. The key to understanding Christ’s declaration follows directly afterwards, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:4). There is a relentless invitation to “repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk. 1:15).

This truth was perceived by one of the greatest minds of Western philosophy, Socrates. The pursuit of wisdom was his vocation. Resentment was poured upon him for his efforts, yet he was not deterred. He admitted that he knew nothing and that humility garnered him the reputation of being wise, “I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and in this oracle, he means to say that the wisdom of men is little or nothing... as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing” (Apology 22d). Our wisdom will always be deficient, yet our search must ever continue. I must ask myself every day, “How can I be better than yesterday?”

Jesus Christ is my measure (cf. Rm. 11:33). The nuances of creation are beautiful. A plethora of details that lead to knowledge of the Creator. Our happiness and effectiveness are contingent on delving continually into the depths of Truth and bettering ourselves. The sounds of students griping about having to study things they “won’t ever use” are frustrating. Physics, Mathematics, Rhetoric, Poetry, Biology, Chemistry, Business, Linguistics… If it is human, it is our concern. We have a calling to find God in all things and to proclaim God to all! Have you fallen into spiritual entropy? How can you strengthen your intellectual commitment?

Jesus came to make all things new. The key to all knowledge is His message. The more I know about physics, the more I know about myself and my Creator. The more I know about Rhetoric, the more I know about myself and my Creator. The more I know about Business, the more I know about myself and my Creator, etc. Set goals, my friends! Creation is magnificent and we have been charged with subduing it to the greater glory of God (cf. Gn. 1:28)! A passing grade is not good enough; we must seek to excel!

About the Author:

Fr. John Simoneau, originally from Detroit, has been a priest for 14 years with the Legionaries of Christ. He recently returned from Slovakia where he served as an Associate Pastor at the Church of St. Andrew in Komarno from 2018 through October 2019. Prior to that, Fr. John served as an Associate Pastor at St. Mary's in Monroe, MI in 2017; Associate Pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, MI from 2015-2017; and Associate Pastor at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Sterling Hts., MI from 2013 to 2015. He also served as t.Lab's English and Writing Tutor from 2012 through 2014 and 2019 to present.

Fr. John was the CEO and Chaplain at St. Benedict School in Budapest, Hungary from 2002 through 2012. While there, he improved instructional quality and made the school academically more competitive by adding an additional year of studies, intensifying English language instruction, teaching other subject matter in English and making the school bilingual, enabling students to earn university certification in English, and applied international standards and techniques.

From 1995 through 1996, Fr. John served as the Vocational Director’s Assistant at the Legionaries of Christ in Dublin, Ireland where he gained the ability to understand another country’s history, incorporated conflict resolution and peace-building into spiritual direction, and made group presentation and led discussion sessions with youth regarding life choices and vocations.

Fr. John studied 2 years of humanistic studies, 2 years of Philosophy for a Bachelor’s Degree in the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum in Rome, Italy, and 5 years of Theology for a Master’s Degree in Dogmatic Theology. His experiences led him to speak and write fluently in Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, and Slovak.