Tag Archives: Science

A Stellar Advent Reminder

The Eagle Nebula's Pillars of Creation.

The Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation.

By now you’ve probably been frazzled more than once by the busy press of the holiday schedule. And so you may be at one of those points where you would appreciate something to remind you why we celebrate this season in the first place.

If so, let me make a suggestion: take a look at this rather unusual advent calendar, coming courtesy of Alan Taylor, a photo editor at The Atlantic. It may lack the traditional Christmas imagery, but it might do a whole lot of good for your sense of awe and wonder.

The Stars Shine On: The Language of the Heavens

Andromeda Galaxy

During an evening this past summer, our family spent some time doing what virtually all of us do at one time or another. We went outside and looked at the stars. Given the glare of city lights, it wasn’t a perfect view as these things go. And yet it wasn’t easy to get my kids back in the house to get ready for bed. There’s just something about looking at all those stars.

As great a spectacle as the night sky is with the naked eye, it can sometimes take on even more wonder when we view it with the aid of technology. In low orbit around the Earth, the famous Hubble Space Telescope is able to take extremely high resolution images of space without distortion from the atmosphere.

A Man Rising From the Dead? We’re So Much More Sensible Now

The New York Times recently published an article describig the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem as “the site where many Christians believe that Jesus is buried.” Really, they did. (The line has since been amended online.)

It’s an amusing gaffe. Possibly, it was born out of simple habit, one that reasonably thinks of people who died as still being dead. Or it might point to a misunderstanding of a central doctrine of the Christian religion. I can’t help but wonder, however, if it points to something even more than that. Perhaps the reason for the error is an underlying conception of the world that can’t begin to allow for the possibility that a man died–genuinely died–and then rose bodily from the dead.

I can’t get into the head of the article’s author of course, but there’s little doubt that there are many, many people in the world today that would role their eyes at the thought of a Jesus, or any other truly dead person for that matter, walking out of his or her tomb.

Foolishness, they say. When have any of us observed someone rising from the dead? No, this Christian supernaturalism is merely a myth, something akin to Zeus throwing thunderbolts. Sure, it was once a quaint story to buck up the masses, but it simply won’t stand up in our day. The modern mind is so much more grounded in reason and observable data, and consequently, far less likely to fall into serious errors about the ultimate nature of reality.

And so those who are willing to put away childish things now ascribe to a different, modern creed:

Seven Things You Might Not Know About the “War” Between Science and Faith

If you pay much attention to how our culture views the relationship between science and faith, the following story might sound familiar.

Once upon a time in the ancient world, Greek philosophers and thinkers began to usher in a golden age of learning and knowledge. Unfortunately for everyone, the rise of Christianity eclipsed this good work, bringing about the several centuries known as the Dark Ages, in which the church repressed learning through superstitious dogma. Thankfully, classical learning was rediscovered and courageous individuals were willing to shake off the shackles of Christianity. Their efforts launched the impressive flowering of knowledge and advancement we now know as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Science is therefore the natural enemy of faith, and scientific advancement will steadily make religious belief increasingly implausible.

It’s a compelling story, but it’s almost entirely wrong. In the book, For the Glory of God, sociologist/historian Rodney Stark points out a number of things you might not know about the “war” between science and faith:

Does Space Argue Against God?

What comes to mind when you stare into the starry skies? What do you think about when you hear descriptions about the enormity of the universe, or the billions and billions of stars that reside within it? Do you ever wonder how all of it got here, or maybe even where its “going”? And of course the big one: how does all of this relate to the question of God?

No doubt different people will offer different answers to the above questions. But we can count Tim Maudlin, professor of philosophy at New York University, as someone who believes modern cosmology has “refuted” the traditional biblical account of the origin of the cosmos. Though after reading an interview with him in the New York Times I’m not sure that his case is as persuasive as he suggests. Going point by point is beyond the scope here, but I’ll mention a few things.