The month is almost over, so it is time once more for a little Apologetic Potpourri. This is a list of articles and resources that I found interesting combined with my own little musings about them. The month of March features a response to the myth of scientific persecution, a look at a surprising development on the surface of Mars, a lecture I delivered recently to a group of college students, and a fanciful video trying to explain the Fermi Paradox. Enjoy!
The recent “Cosmos” series has had a lot of impact in its depiction of the history and current state of science. In particular, it opens with a fanciful rendition of science being persecuted by the church down through the ages. In an article titled, “‘Cosmos’, Giordano Bruno, And The Same Tired Myth,” Father Robert Barron offers a reminder that not only is the Bruno story greatly exaggerated and embellished, but the entire story of a religion as the archenemy of science is demonstrably false. He reminds us:
The great founders of modern science—Copernicus, Galileo, Tycho Brache, Descartes, Pascal, etc.—were formed in church-sponsored universities where they learned their mathematics, astronomy, and physics. Moreover, in those same universities, all of the founders would have imbibed the two fundamentally theological assumptions that made the modern sciences possible, namely, that the world is not divine—and hence can be experimented upon rather than worshiped—and that the world is imbued with intelligibility—and hence can be understood. … Without these two assumptions, the sciences as we know them will not, because they cannot, emerge.
Given that the modern Big Bang concept is mostly derived from the work of a Catholic priest/scientist named Fr. Georges Lemaître, it seems a little silly to suggest that modern science and religion (even institutional religion) are enemies.
If you are looking for more reading on this, responding to this line of slander and other worn out accusations from modern day skeptics, I recommend Is Religion Dangerous? by Keith Ward. The book is short, inexpensive, and very helpful.
The topic of rates of erosion comes up in a number of issues. Sometimes the presence of erosion is used to infer the past existence of water on a particular planet or in a particular region. In other cases, erosion is used to extrapolate age or to infer a particular history. It is good to remember then that erosion can happen surprisingly fast, even without the presence of water. In her article titled “New Gully Appears On Mars,” Elizabeth Howell discusses a remarkable development of a sizeable gully on Mars that simply was not there in 2010. This just serves as a reminder that extrapolating giant histories out of what may appear to be water erosion can be misleading.
I was recently asked to give a lecture on science and faith for college students, especially students currently in a science curriculum. The event took place at Crossings Community Church in OKC and the church was kind enough to load the audio from the lecture online so you may hear it as well. Thanks to my friend Cole Feix for the invitation. I hope many are benefited by the material.