Alan: Gregory Bateson was right: "Natural History is the antidote for piety." Although if piety is defined as an uplifting blend of reverence and wonder, it would be more accurate to say that "Natural History is the antidote for pietisticness."
To his incalculable credit Aquinas pointed out that science/knowledge and faith must coincide and that it is only appropriate for faith to prevail in those domains inaccessible to sensory demonstration.
Arguing against those who said that natural philosophy was contrary to the Christian faith, (Aquinas) writes in his treatise "Faith, Reason and Theology" that "even though the natural light of the human mind is inadequate to make known what is revealed by faith, nevertheless what is divinely taught to us by faith cannot be contrary to what we are endowed with by nature. One or the other would have to be false, and since we have both of them from God, he would be the cause of our error which is impossible."
"Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came To Europe Through The Islamic World"
by John Freely
And so it is as Aquinas poetically proclaims in the lyrics of "Tantum Ergo" - "Praestet fides supplementum, sensuum defectui," a Latin phrase substantively (if not literally) rendered in English as "May faith supplement our understanding in those areas where our human senses are unable to illuminate."
Although Aquinas was a penetrating thinker across a wide spectrum of human concerns, his championship of human Reason based on sensory data was his epochal contribution to human thought.
Those humans -- often those conservative "Christians" -- who ignore Aquinas' signal achievement in order to lead their fellows into the bottomless swamp of unreasonability, shoddy epistemology and hysterical claims that "the sky is falling" are inexpressibly dangerous threats to The Common Good and the foundation of any respectable Social Contract.
It is contrary to the best angels of our nature to advertise gratuitous doom and gloom as Christians have long done -- and continue to do -- with their bogus predictions of End Time Apocalypse.
If, at some unknown time in the future, an end-time conflagrational event takes place, it will then be apparent that its occurrence was chiefly attributable to the self-fulfilling prophecy of "looking forward to The Apocalypse" rather than having done what they could to prevent it - and to have made those efforts joyfully --- the matrix of joy being the divine antidote to eschatological catastrophe, whether real or imaginary
Guinea, ground zero of the Ebola outbreak, is now free of the deadly disease
J.Freedom du Lac
Guinea, where the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history began two years ago, was declared Ebola-free on Tuesday.
“Today the World Health Organization declares the end of Ebola virus transmission in the Republic of Guinea,” the U.N. agency said in a statement.
Forty-two days have passed since the impoverished West African country’s last confirmed Ebola patient tested negative for a second time. Now, WHO said, Guinea “enters a 90-day period of heightened surveillance to ensure that any new cases are identified quickly before they can spread to other people.”
The deadly virus has killed 2,536 people in Guinea since the outbreak began in December of 2013 in Gueckedou, a southern town near the borders of Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Here's how the virus spreads and how contact tracing works to stop outbreaks. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)
Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free in November. Liberia has been declared free of the virus twice, but is about midway through a third 42-day countdown following a recent cluster of cases. The country may be declared Ebola-free on Jan. 14, according to the WHO.
“This is the first time that all three countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – have stopped the original chains of transmission that were responsible for starting this devastating outbreak two years ago,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said in a statement. “I commend the governments, communities and partners for their determination in confronting this epidemic to get to this milestone.”
In particular, the WHO said, the end of Ebola in Guinea “marks an important milestone” in the outbreak, because the original chain of transmission began there, in Gueckedou, near the end of 2013 — “and drove the outbreak which spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone and, ultimately, by land and air travel to seven other countries.”
Hope for an end to the Ebola crisis in the country where it began
A year after the epidemic started in Guinea, there are signs it could be ending.
In total, more than 28,600 people worldwide were stricken with Ebola during the outbreak, according to the WHO.
More than 11,300 of them died.
Last year, researchers reported that patient zero of the outbreak was likely a 2-year-old Guinean child, Emile Ouamouno, who lived in the village of Meliandou.
In Conakry, the capital of Guinea, news of the Ebola-free declaration was greeted “with mixed emotions given the deaths and the damage the virus did to the economy and the country’s health and education sectors,” Reuters reported.
“Several of my family are dead,” Fanta Oulen Camara, who works for Doctors Without Borders, told the news agency. “This situation has shown us how much we must fight for those who are survivors.”
Camara, 26, was also stricken with the disease, in March of 2014.
“It’s the best year-end present that God could give to Guinea, and the best news that Guineans could hope for,” Alama Kambou Dore, another Ebola survivor, told AFP. “From 2013 to 2015, Guineans suffered, they lived and survived, they endured, they were stigmatized, rejected, even humiliated because of this disease, which leaped out of nowhere.”
This photo, taken on Nov. 21, 2014, shows neighbors reacting as Guinean Red Cross workers arrive remove the corpse of an Ebola victim in Macenta. Guinea. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images file)
But a top public health official cautioned Tuesday that “the coming months will be absolutely critical” in Ebola’s old hot zone.
“This is the period when the countries need to be sure that they are fully prepared to prevent, detect and respond to any new cases,” Bruce Aylward, who heads the WHO’s Ebola response, said in a statement. “The time-limited persistence of virus in survivors which may give rise to new Ebola flares in 2016 makes it imperative that partners continue to support these countries. WHO will maintain surveillance and outbreak response teams in the three countries through 2016.”
Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the Ebola-free declaration “a tremendous achievement for Guineans and all the partners who helped them reach this milestone.” But, he said in a statement: “While we celebrate, we must not let down our guard. It is important to build an even stronger public health system ready for possible future cases of Ebola, and working to prevent and control other diseases.”