Monday, December 26, 2011

Thoughts on Global Warming

If increased release of green house gasses into the atmosphere is the cause of the planet warming up then why have we not seen a constant temperature increase over the last 400,000 years since man started to introduce additional CO2 into the atmosphere? I agree at first the increase would be small. But since fire was first used by man,we have been adding more and more CO2 into the atmosphere than would of been introduced otherwise and since increased levels of CO2 raise the temp then we should be seeing a steady rise in temperature from that point forward. But that is not the case.

From 1910 to 1940 the global emissions of CO2 increased from 500,000 tons per year to 1 billion tons per year and global temps went up about 0.9F Yet from 1940 to 1980 global CO2 emissions went from 1b tons to 5b tons, and global temperatures went down about 0.9F. If CO2 emissions are to blame, why the drop in temperature when emissions were increasing faster? Of course from 1977 to 2000 we again experienced another warming. But since 2000 temperatures seem to be dropping again. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution we have had periods of warming and cooling. If increasing CO2 was the cause of warming and with the increase of CO2 pumped out since the beginning then there should not be any cooling periods since there were no periods of decreasing CO2 output.

Isn't it more plausible that the sun with a mass a million times that of the earth that is responsible for almost all of the thermal energy on this planet could through uneven emissions of radiation cause the global temperature to fluctuate? Isn't that a more plausible option? That along with the "wobble" in the earth's orbit seems to be a much more plausible explanation of the climate change that went on long before we started adding CO2 to the atmosphere?

The history of climate change over the last 1000 or even 500 years does not indicate that humans have that much control over climate. We have had cool periods and warm periods and all the time we have been polluting the atmosphere. I think that the wobble in the earth's orbit and the changes in the thermal output of the sun are more likely the cause of global temperature changes. We have massive evidence of climate change on this planet on scales that dwarf what has happened over the last 100 years. Yet humans were not even here for most of these changes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taking Christ out of Christmas?? How did he get in there to begin with?

Christmas is a holiday that many Christians celebrate as the birthday of Jesus. However all of the origins and symbols of Christmas are pagan. Early Christians merely hijacked the pagan celebrations for their own use and to ease the “conversion shock” of the pagans. Most all of the customs we associate with Christmas pre date the birth of Christ and are taken from any different early religions.

Dec 25 before the calendar adjustment on the 18th Century was also the day that the Winter Solstice took place. Ancient Romans celebrated the god Saturn and the rebirth of the sun god. Associating 25 Dec (Winter Solstice) with the birth of gods is very popular from Ireland to India.

When the Romans paraded to celebrate Saturn they carried wreaths made from the branches of evergreen trees as a symbol of Saturn. Holly with its red berries was used to represent female fertility where mistletoe with its white berries represent male fertility and hanging it above doorways invoked the powers of fertility of those who kissed beneath it. The evergreen tree is a Germanic pagan symbol of fertility also. Also the Babylonian god Tammuz was said to be reborn every year from an evergreen tree. This happened of course on December the 25th the Winter Solstice.

All basis for celebrating Christ’s birthday on the 25th of December is of pagan origin. NOTHING in the bible indicates a date and the evidence in the scriptures seems to indicate that it was most definitely NOT the 25th of December and not even in the month of December. After all what would the shepherds be doing out in the fields with their sheep IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER??

Can we figure out with scripture approximately when Jesus was born? I have done some studying on this and I think I can get close. Closer anyway than everyone that insists it is 25 Dec.

Our first clue is looking at John the Baptist and his father Zacharias.

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

Luke 1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, ...

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived,

The clue given to us here is that Zacharias was of the "course" of Abia.

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived,

Beginning with the first month, Nisan, in the spring (March-April), the schedule of the priest's courses would result with Zacharias serving during the 10th week of the year. This is because he was a member of the course of Abia (Abijah), the 8th course, and both the Feast of Unleavened Bread (15-21 Nisan) and Pentecost (6 Sivan) would have occurred before his scheduled duty. This places Zacharias' administration in the Temple as beginning on the second Sabbath of the third month, Sivan (May-June).

So he completed his Temple service on the third Sabbath of Sivan. Zacharias went back home and soon conceived his son John. The date of John’s conception is important because it gives us a benchmark to calculate when Jesus was conceived.

Time for bible quotes….

Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
Luke 1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
Luke 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Verse 26 refers to the sixth month of Elisabeth’s (John’s mother) pregnancy, not Elul, the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar and this is obvious by reading the context of verse 24 and again in verse 36.

Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

Since Jesus was conceived six months after John the Baptist, and we have established a likely date for John's birth, we need only move six months farther down the Jewish calendar to arrive at a likely date for the birth of Jesus. From the 15th day of the 1st month, Nisan, we go to the 15th day of the 7th month, Tishri. And what do we find on that date? The 15th day of Tishri begins the third and last festival of the year to which all the men of Israel were to gather in Jerusalem for Temple services. (Lev 23:34) This explains why the inns were full. There was no census in Judea in the time period in question. That bit of info was probably added to Luke 500 years after the fact.

The 15th day of Tishri usually falls in Sep or Oct . So there you have it. Using the bible and a little knowledge of the Hebrew calendar I have calculated the approximate date of Jesus’s birth. I could be wrong but at least it was an educated guess and not established by hijacking a pagan holiday and turning it into a Christian one. So next time someone says, “Don’t take Christ out of Christmas!!” Just tell them, “Well he never should have been in there in the first place.”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Raiders of the Lost Ark.....Hey wait... what was that?

I was watching Raiders of the Lost Ark for the umpteenth time the other day. It is a great movie. In my book it is one of the top 5 films in the action adventure genre. The action is great. Harrison Ford is, of course, awesome as Indiana Jones. He has a great supporting cast and a good lineup of villains. It has all the makings of a great film with excellent direction, cinematography, and special effects. This movie has it all including some glaring plot holes and historical errors that we overlook because the film is so damned good.

I am not so much talking about historical inaccuracies although a few do play directly into the plot holes. As the map follows Indy around the world as he travels some of the countries have the wrong names. Thailand should be Siam. Iran should be Persia. Jordan should be Trans-Jordan. This was of course changed for the "great unwashed" and those of use worth a sense for historical geography.

A huge point of discussion is the pistol that Indy uses in the Nepal shoot out. It is a Browning Hi-Power. The movie is set in 1936 and the Hi-Power was introduced for military service in 1935. It is unclear and debatable whether or not Indy could have put his hands on one. And if he could, why did he only use this in this scene when it would of been very helpful in some of the shoot outs to come? Instead he goes back to his old reliable wheel gun. Also in the Nepal shoot out the Nazis are using the Walther P-38 and the MP 38/40. Neither weapon would of been in service in 1936.

Airplane nit picking....The Pan American plane Indiana Jones boards in San Francisco looks similar to (but has noticeable differences from) the Boeing 314 Pan Am used for transpacific flights. This plane did however not fly until 1938 and at the time of the story the company only flew transpacific with Sikorsky S-42s, an plane with a completely different body than the one used in the scene. And don't get me started on that flying wing thingy. Why not use a Ju-52? Now that's a cool looking bird for sure.

Now for the plot holes. First of all that giant stone ball. If you look just as the ball starts to roll, if Indy would run TOWARDS the ball instead of running away from it would of rolled right over him with no damage what so ever. Then he could just follow the path it has made and he is home free. Well until he meet the natives with their fun but deadly stone age weapons.

Now the biggest most obvious plot hole of them all. In 1936 Egypt was an independent country, in name only. Effectively it was part of the British Empire. For the Nazis to be involved in a dig with uniformed and armed soldiers of the Third Reich would be like seeing a Russian dig in the Philippines in 1979 complete with KGB and Soviet troops in uniform and armed with AK-74s etc...

Transporting The Ark... Ok, once Indy has it, he just cannot ship it back to the University of Whatever. This item is stolen and properly belongs to the Kingdom of Egypt. This means he has to get it out of the country by the age old art of smuggling. That means loading it on a less then reputable ship captained by an unsavory individual. After this the only problem should of been to get it to the US or a US territory. Odd to me that the US government would sanctioned this operation and not offer any logistical help getting The Ark out of Egypt once Indy had it in his possession. In the 30's there were lots of US flagged cargo vessels arriving and leaving Egyptian ports all the time not to mention the US Navy. While it might of been rare at the time for a US Navy ship to be in the Mediterranean (I have no sources at this time) the sailing time from Norfolk to the Easter Mediterranean is less than the time Indy spent getting to Egypt by his route and adventures. A heavy cruiser could leave Norfolk and be off the coast of Egypt in 6-12 days depending on its ability to refuel. Also chances are the Navy may already have a ship or 6 in the Med.

This brings us to the German U-Boat. You can see that it is U-26 a Type I-A U-Boat. These were commissioned in 1936 and do have the range to get off the coast of Egypt. However this was not a normal patrol area for the German Navy let alone for a U-Boat. If there was going to be a German ship off the coast to provide logistical support for this sort of operation, a U-Boat would be the last choice. First of all, submarines are slow. Secondly, how do you plan on shipping that big crate on a sub? On the Type I-A boats shown in the movie as well as the type VII-B which is similar, the largest hatch only measures about 22 inches in diameter. A better idea would be one of the many armed merchant cruisers that the Kreigsmarine had at its disposal. Not only would you have cargo space but you would have stealth and the ability to intercept any other ship that might make off with The Ark should a foreign power recover it first. The crews of these ships were trained for this exact type of clandestine warfare.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a damned good movie. I continue to enjoy it every time I see it. However, I am not sure why movies are made with such factual errors and plot holes. One would think that Lucas and Spielberg would have noticed most of the issues I have described. At the same time they modify the a truck to look like a pre war Mercedes truck. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to what they try to insure is period and what is not. It has nothing to do with how obvious it might be or how prominent the prop might be. Take the example of Indy’s satchel is a Mk VII gas mask bag. These were not manufactured until 1942. It should be a Mk V. It seems that they would rather just make the movie with the guns, props, and planes they have on hand and not worry about making sure what they are using are correct.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I need to start posting more.....

So is this the start of a novel? a short story? a screen play? Probably will just end up being a file on the bottom of my documents folder but check it out.

It is hard to pick a starting point for this story. Do you start with a quick bio of how you got to be where you were when the action actually started? Or do you just jump in at the moment that you sort got pulled into what will be the major theme of this story? Maybe I should start with some background on where it happened and tell you a little about the other people in the story. Maybe I should go for a cliché beginning like “It was the best of times it was the worst of times.” or “On a dark and stormy night”?

I am going to start with me. I have no idea what the hell I am actually. You see I am 3000 years old. Well not really. I have lived many lives and I am born and I die like anyone else but in every new body at about age 13 when so many other changes are happening I suddenly know who I really am and I can remember everything about my past lives..

Yeah I guess we will see what happens.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Famous movie quotes as if written by a proper Englishman

Famous movie quotes as if written by a proper Englishman

“We must acquire a larger vessel.”
- Jaws

“I’m growing impatient with these malevolent slithering reptiles on this bloody aircraft.”
- Snakes on a Plane

“Toodeloo you ghastly miscreant.”
- Die Hard 1,2,3,4

“Please remove your simian appendages from my person, you unwashed gorilla man-thing.”
- Planet of the Apes

“There is a herptile in my western footwear!”
- Toy Story

“I shall return.”
- Every Arnold Schwarzenegger movie

“I am now fully versed in the combat stylings of “Kung Fu.”
- The Matrix

“I do wish I could cease committing acts of sodomy unto your delightful buttocks.”
- Brokeback Mountain

“My dearest apologies Captain, I have configured this vessel to it’s maximum efficiency. Alas, if you wish me to attempt to defy the laws of physics, I shall increase my efforts.”
- various Star Trek movies and episodes

“Does Marsellus Wallace match the appearance of a female canine? Then why is it, good sir, that you are attempting to have coital relations with him, as if he were a female canine?”
- Pulp Fiction

“I do not believe that is an orbiting planetary body, but in fact a massive facility constructed exclusively for use in space.”
-Star Wars: A New Hope

“Oh dear. I do believe that when we dined on this soylent green, the main ingredient was in fact human beings. In its defense, twas better than English food.”
- Soylent Green

“I say to thee honestly milady, I am an indifferent.”
- Gone With the Wind

“It’s an elaborate ruse!”
- Return of the Jedi

“Miss Scarlett, I regret to inform you that I am uneducated in the field of obstetrics.”
- Gone With the Wind

“Fare thee well, infant.”
- Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mysterious Object Sighted 90 Million miles away

Scientist are baffled as to what this object might be. It was spotted 90 million miles from Earth adn moving at about 15k mph.

Using 256 supercomputers magnifying and enhancing the image I have been able to determine what this actually is a picture of.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Current Pope is a Nazi Flak Gunner. . . .

But John Paul II was one hell of a human being and in my book "A Man of God". Ya'll read this while I am "Surfing Nicaragua".

To the Reverend George V. Coyne SJ
Director of the Vatican Observatory

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1, 2).

As you prepare to publish the papers presented at the Study Week held at Castel Gandolfo on 21-26 September 1987, I take the occasion to express my gratitude to you and through you to all who contributed to that important initiative. I am confident that the publication of these papers will ensure that the fruits of that endeavour will be further enriched.

The three hundredth anniversary of the publication of Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica provided an appropriate occasion for the Holy See to sponsor a Study Week that investigated the multiple relationships among theology, philosophy and the natural sciences. The man so honoured, Sir Isaac Newton, had himself devoted much of his life to these same issues, and his reflections upon them can be found throughout his major works, his unfinished manuscripts and his vast correspondence. The publication of your own papers from this Study Week, taking up again some of the same questions which this great genius explored, affords me the opportunity to thank you for the efforts you devoted to a subject of such paramount importance. The theme of your conference, “Our Knowledge of God and Nature: Physics, Philosophy and Theology”, is assuredly a crucial one for the contemporary world. Because of its importance, I should like to address some issues which the interactions among natural science, philosophy, and theology present to the Church and to human society in general.

The Church and the Academy engage one another as two very different but major institutions within human civilization and world culture. We bear before God enormous responsibilities for the human condition because historically we have had and continue to have a major influence on the development of ideas and values and on the course of human action. We both have histories stretching back over thousands of years: the learned, academic community dating back to the origins of culture, to the city and the library and the school, and the Church with her historical roots in ancient Israel. We have come into contact often during these centuries, sometimes in mutual support, at other times in those needless conflicts which have marred both our histories. In your conference we met again, and it was altogether fitting that as we approach the close of this millennium we initiated a series of reflections together upon the world as we touch it and as it shapes and challenges our actions.

So much of our world seems to be in fragments, in disjointed pieces. So much of human life is passed in isolation or in hostility. The division between rich nations and poor nations continues to grow; the contrast between northern and southern regions of our planet becomes ever more marked and intolerable. The antagonism between races and religions splits countries into warring camps; historical animosities show no signs of abating. Even within the academic community, the separation between truth and values persists, and the isolation of their several cultures – scientific, humanistic and religious – makes common discourse difficult if not at times impossible.

But at the same time we see in large sectors of the human community a growing critical openness towards people of different cultures and backgrounds, different competencies and viewpoints. More and more frequently, people are seeking intellectual coherence and collaboration, and are discovering values and experiences they have in common even within their diversities. This openness, this dynamic interchange, is a notable feature of the international scientific communities themselves, and is based on common interests, common goals and a common enterprise, along with a deep awareness that the insights and attainments of one are often important for the progress of the other. In a similar but more subtle way this has occurred and is continuing to occur among more diverse group – among the communities that make up the Church, and even between the scientific community and the Church herself. This drive is essentially a movement towards the kind of unity which resist homogenization and relishes diversity. Such community is determined by a common meaning and by a shared understanding that evokes a sense of mutual involvement. Two groups which may seem initially to have nothing in common can begin to enter into community with one another by discovering a common goal, and this in turn can lead to broader areas of shared understanding and concern.

As never before in her history, the Church has entered into the movement for the union of all Christians, fostering common study, prayer, and discussions that “all may be one” (Io. 17, 20). She has attempted to rid herself of every vestige of antisemitism and to emphasize her origins in and her religious debt to Judaism. In reflection and prayer, she has reached out to the great world religions, recognizing the values we all hold in common and our universal and utter dependence upon God.

Within the Church herself, there is a growing sense of “world church”, so much in evidence at the last Ecumenical Council in which bishops native to every continent – no longer predominantly of European or even Western origin – assumed for the first time their common responsibility for the entire Church. The documents from that Council and of the magisterium have reflected this new world-consciousness both in their content and in their attempt to address all people of good will. During this century, we have witnessed a dynamic tendency to reconciliation and unity that has taken many forms within the Church.

Nor should such a development be surprising. The Christian community in moving so emphatically in this direction is realizing in greater intensity the activity of Christ within her: “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself” (2Cor. 5, 19). We ourselves are called to be a continuation of the reconciliation of human beings, one with another and all with God. Our very nature as Church entails this commitment to unity.

Turning to the relationship between religion and science, there has been a definite, though still fragile and provisional, movement towards a new and more nuanced interchange. We have begun to talk to one another on deeper levels than before, and with greater openness towards one another’s perspectives. We have begun to search together for a more thorough understanding of one another’s disciplines, with their competencies and their limitations, and especially for areas of common ground. In doing so we have uncovered important questions which concern both of us, and which are vital to the larger human community we both serve. It is crucial that this common search based on critical openness and interchange should not only continue but also grow and deepen in its quality and scope.

For the impact each has, and will continue to have, on the course of civilization and on the world itself, cannot be overestimated, and there is so much that each can offer the other. There is, of course, the vision of the unity of all things and all peoples in Christ, who is active and present with us in our daily lives – in our struggles, our sufferings, our joys and in our searchings – and who is the focus of the Church’s life and witness. This vision carries with it into the larger community a deep reverence for all that is, a hope and assurance that the fragile goodness, beauty and life we see in the universe is moving towards a completion and fulfilment which will not be over-whelmed by the forces of dissolution and death. This vision also provides a strong support for the values which are emerging both from our knowledge and appreciation of creation and of ourselves as the products, knowers and stewards of creation.

The scientific disciplines too, as is obvious, are endowing us with an understanding and appreciation of our universe as a whole and of the incredibly rich variety of intricately related processes and structures which constitute its animate and inanimate components. This knowledge has given us a more thorough understanding of ourselves and of our humble yet unique role within creation. Through technology it also has given us the capacity to travel, to communicate, to build, to cure, and to probe in ways which would have been almost unimaginable to our ancestors. Such knowledge and power, as we have discovered, can be used greatly to enhance and improve our lives or they can be exploited to diminish and destroy human life and the environment even on a global scale.

The unity we perceive in creation on the basis of our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord of the universe, and the correlative unity for which we strive in our human communities, seems to be reflected and even reinforced in what contemporary science is revealing to us. As we behold the incredible development of scientific research we detect an underlying movement towards the discovery of levels of law and process which unify created reality and which at the same time have given rise to the vast diversity of structures and organisms which constitute the physical and biological, and even the psychological and sociological, worlds.

Contemporary physics furnishes a striking example. The quest for the unification of all four fundamental physical forces – gravitation, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear interactions – has met with increasing success. This unification may well combine discoveries from the sub-atomic and the cosmological domains and shed light both on the origin of the universe and, eventually, on the origin of the laws and constants which govern its evolution. Physicists possess a detailed though incomplete and provisional knowledge of elementary particles and of the fundamental forces through which they interact at low and intermediate energies. They now have an acceptable theory unifying the electro-magnetic and weak nuclear forces, along with much less adequate but still promising grand unified field theories which attempt to incorporate the strong nuclear interaction as well. Further in the fine of this same development, there are already several detailed suggestions for the final stage, superunification, that is, the unification of all four fundamental forces, including gravity. Is it not important for us to note that in a world of such detailed specialization as contemporary physics there exists this drive towards convergence?

In the life sciences, too, something similar has happened. Molecular biologists have probed the structure of living material, its functions and its processes of replication. They have discovered that the same underlying constituents serve in the make-up of all living organisms on earth and constitute both the genes and the proteins which these genes code. This is another impressive manifestation of the unity of nature.

By encouraging openness between the Church and the scientific communities, we are not envisioning a disciplinary unity between theology and science like that which exists within a given scientific field or within theology proper. As dialogue and common searching continue, there will be grow towards mutual understanding and a gradual uncovering of common concerns which will provide the basis for further research and discussion. Exactly what form that will take must be left to the future. What is important, as we have already stressed, is that the dialogue should continue and grow in depth and scope. In the process we must overcome every regressive tendency to a unilateral reductionism, to fear, and to self-imposed isolation. What is critically important is that each discipline should continue to enrich, nourish and challenge the other to be more fully what it can be and to contribute to our vision of who we are and who we are becoming.

We might ask whether or not we are ready for this crucial endeavour. Is the community of world religions, including the Church, ready to enter into a more thorough-going dialogue with the scientific community, a dialogue in which the integrity of both religion and science is supported and the advance of each is fostered? Is the scientific community now prepared to open itself to Christianity, and indeed to all the great world religions, working with us all to build a culture that is more humane and in that way more divine? Do we dare to risk the honesty and the courage that this task demands? We must ask ourselves whether both science and religion will contribute to the integration of human culture or to its fragmentation. It is a single choice and it confronts us all.

For a simple neutrality is no longer acceptable. If they are to grow and mature, peoples cannot continue to live in separate compartments, pursuing totally divergent interests from which they evaluate and judge their world. A divided community fosters a fragmented vision of the world; a community of interchange encourages its members to expand their partial perspectives and form a new unified vision.

Yet the unity that we seek, as we have already stressed, is not identity. The Church does not propose that science should become religion or religion science. On the contrary, unity always presupposes the diversity and the integrity of its elements. Each of these members should become not less itself but more itself in a dynamic interchange, for a unity in which one of the elements is reduced to the other is destructive, false in its promises of harmony, and ruinous of the integrity of its components. We are asked to become one. We are not asked to become each other.

To be more specific, both religion and science must preserve their autonomy and their distinctiveness. Religion is not founded on science nor is science an extension of religion. Each should possess its own principles, its pattern of procedures, its diversities of interpretation and its own conclusions. Christianity possesses the source of its justification within itself and does not expect science to constitute its primary apologetic. Science must bear witness to its own worth. While each can and should support the other as distinct dimensions of a common human culture, neither ought to assume that it forms a necessary premise for the other. The unprecedented opportunity we have today is for a common interactive relationship in which each discipline retains its integrity and yet is radically open to the discoveries and insights of the other.

But why is critical openness and mutual interchange a value for both of us? Unity involves the drive of the human mind towards understanding and the desire of the human spirit for love. When human beings seek to understand the multiplicities that surround them, when they seek to make sense of experience, they do so by bringing many factors into a common vision. Understanding is achieved when many data are unified by a common structure. The one illuminates the many: it makes sense of the whole. Simple multiplicity is chaos; an insight, a single model, can give that chaos structure and draw it into intelligibility. We move towards unity as we move towards meaning in our lives. Unity is also the consequence of love. If love is genuine, it moves not towards the assimilation of the other but towards union with the other. Human community begins in desire when that union has not been achieved, and it is completed in joy when those who have been apart are now united.

In the Church’s earliest documents, the realization of community, in the radical sense of that word, was seen as the promise and goal of the Gospel: “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete” (1Io. 1, 3-4). Later the Church reached out to the sciences and to the arts, founding great universities and building monuments of surpassing beauty so that all things might be recapitulated in Christ (Cfr. Eph. 1, 10).

What, then, does the Church encourage in this relational unity between science and religion? First and foremost that they should come to understand one another. For too long a time they have been at arm’s length. Theology has been defined as an effort of faith to achieve understanding, as fides quaerens intellectum. As such, it must be in vital interchange today with science just as it always has been with philosophy and other forms of learning. Theology will have to call on the findings of science to one degree or another as it pursues its primary concern for the human person, the reaches of freedom, the possibilities of Christian community, the nature of belief and the intelligibility of nature and history. The vitality and significance of theology for humanity will in a profound way be reflected in its ability to incorporate these findings.

Now this is a point of delicate importance, and it has to be carefully qualified. Theology is not to incorporate indifferently each new philosophical or scientific theory. As these findings become part of the intellectual culture of the time, however, theologians must understand them and test their value in bringing out from Christian belief some of the possibilities which have not yet been realized. The hylomorphism of Aristotelian natural philosophy, for example, was adopted by the medieval theologians to help them explore the nature of the sacraments and the hypostatic union. This did not mean that the Church adjudicated the truth or falsity of the Aristotelian insight, since that is not her concern. It did mean that this was one of the rich insights offered by Greek culture, that it needed to be understood and taken seriously and tested for its value in illuminating various areas of theology. Theologians might well ask, with respect to contemporary science, philosophy and the other areas of human knowing, if they have accomplished this extraordinarily difficult process as well as did these medieval masters.

If the cosmologies of the ancient Near Eastern world could be purified and assimilated into the first chapters of Genesis, might not contemporary cosmology have something to offer to our reflections upon creation? Does an evolutionary perspective bring any light to bear upon theological anthropology, the meaning of the human person as the imago Dei, the problem of Christology – and even upon the development of doctrine itself? What, it any, are the eschatological implications of contemporary cosmology, especially in light of the vast future of our universe? Can theological method fruitfully appropriate insights from scientific methodology and the philosophy of science?

Questions of this kind can be suggested in abundance. Pursuing them further would require the sort of intense dialogue with contemporary science that has, on the whole, been lacking among those engaged in theological research and teaching. It would entail that some theologians, at least, should be sufficiently wellversed in the sciences to make authentic and creative use of the resources that the best-established theories may offer them. Such an expertise would prevent them from making uncritical and overhasty use for apologetic purposes of such recent theories as that of the “Big Bang” in cosmology. Yet it would equally keep them from discounting altogether the potential relevance of such theories to the deepening of understanding in traditional areas of theological inquiry.

In this process of mutual learning, those members of the Church who are themselves either active scientists or, in some special cases, both scientists and theologians could serve as a key resource. They can also provide a much-needed ministry to others struggling to integrate the worlds of science and religion in their own intellectual and spiritual lives, as well as to those who face difficult moral decisions in matters of technological research and application. Such bridging ministries must be nurtured and encouraged. The Church long ago recognized the importance of such links by establishing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, in which some of the world’s leading scientists meet together regularly to discuss their researches and to convey to the larger community where the directions of discovery are tending. But much more is needed.

The matter is urgent. Contemporary developments in science challenge theology far more deeply than did the introduction of Aristotle into Western Europe in the thirteenth century. Yet these developments also offer to theology a potentially important resource. Just as Aristotelian philosophy, trough the ministry of such great scholars as St Thomas Aquinas, ultimately came to shape some of the most profound expressions of theological doctrine, so can we not hope that the sciences of today, along with all forms of human knowing, may invigorate and inform those parts of the theological enterprise that bear on the relation of nature, humanity and God?

Can science also benefit from this interchange? It would seem that it should. For science develops best when its concepts and conclusions are integrated into the broader human culture and its concerns for ultimate meaning and value. Scientists cannot, therefore, hold themselves entirely aloof from the sorts of issues dealt with by philosophers and theologians. By devoting to these issues something of the energy and care they give to their research in science, they can help others realize more fully the human potentialities of their discoveries. They can also come to appreciate for themselves that these discoveries cannot be a genuine substitute for knowledge of the truly ultimate. Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.

For the truth of the matter is that the Church and the scientific community will inevitably interact; their options do not include isolation. Christians will inevitably assimilate the prevailing ideas about the world, and today these are deeply shaped by science. The only question is whether they will do this critically or unreflectively, with depth and nuance or with a shallowness that debases the Gospel and leaves us ashamed before history. Scientists, like all human beings, will make decisions upon what ultimately gives meaning and value to their lives and to their work. This they will do well or poorly, with the reflective depth that theological wisdom can help them attain, or with an unconsidered absolutizing of their results beyond their reasonable and proper limits.

Both the Church and the scientific community are faced with such inescapable alternatives. We shall make our choices much better of we live in a collaborative interaction in which we are called continually to be more. Only a dynamic relationship between theology and science can reveal those limits which support the integrity of either discipline, so that theology does not profess a pseudo-science and science does not become an unconscious theology. Our knowledge of each other can lead us to be more authentically ourselves. No one can read the history of the past century and not realize that crisis is upon us both. The uses of science have on more than one occasion proved massively destructive, and the reflections on religion have too often been sterile. We need each other to be what we must be, what we are called to be.

And so on this occasion of the Newton Tercentennial, the Church speaking through my ministry calls upon herself and the scientific community to intensify their constructive relations of interchange through unity. You are called to learn from one another, to renew the context in which science is done and to nourish the inculturation which vital theology demands. Each of you has everything to gain from such an interaction, and the human community which we both serve has a right to demand it from us.

Upon all who participated in the Study Week sponsored by the Holy See and upon all who will read and study the papers herein published I invoke wisdom and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 1 June, 1988.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Like my Dad used to Say.

"Give them two generations and they will all be living in mud huts and eating each other." (commenting on post colonial Africa)

Here is more proof the old man was right.

Monday, September 14, 2009

110 Years Ago

Henry H. Bliss stepped off a streetcar West 74th Street and Central Park West and was struck by an electric powered taxi cab. The next day Sept 15, 1899 he died of his injuries, placing him in the history books as the first person in the Western Hemisphere to be killed in an automobile accident.