Thursday, October 12, 2017

Genesis 1: A Cosmogenesis?

Reprinted from the August/September 1993 issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Genesis 1: A Cosmogenesis?

“Nihil pulchrius Genesi, nihil utilius.” Nothing more beautiful than Genesis, nothing more useful.

Genesis 1 is the most newsworthy chapter in the Bible. There can never be more fundamental news than that all depends on God because he made all, indeed the all, or the universe. This news did not come from any of the sages of ancient cultures. Genesis 1 is the most memorable source of that news, though in a way which has been all too often taken for a confrontation with news science seems to provide about the origin of the universe. Legion is the number of exegetes and theologians who in modern scientific times wanted to appear more newsworthy by showing that there is an agreement, a concordance, between the majestic diction of Genesis 1 and the science of the day.

The latest frenzy along these lines was sparked by the news, disclosed at the Spring 1992 meeting of the American Physical Society, that irregularities were discovered in the 2.7°K cosmic background radiation through a satellite in charge of COBE, or “COsmic Background Experiment.” The discovery merely filled a gap in an already impressive evidence about the so-called Big Bang theory of cosmic development.

The term Big Bang may mistakenly suggest that it is about the absolute origin or beginning of things. Rather, it is merely about the fact that science can trace cosmic processes to 15 or so billion years back in the past and that the farther back into the past those processes are traced, the more crowded upon one another they are found to be. At that distant point all matter existed in the form of an extremely condensed radiation. Does this mean that Moses, or whoever wrote Genesis 1, received an early revelation about the 2.7°K cosmic background radiation or about Maxwell’s equations of electro magnetics?

However, really serious questions arise. If one gives a scientific twist to “Let there be light,” then consistency demands that the same be done through the rest of Genesis 1. One should then answer scientifically the following questions: How could the earth, a planet, come before the sun? How could plants, which live on photosynthesis, thrive prior to the sun’s appearance? What constituted the outer confines of the upper and lower waters? Last but not least, in what sense can the firmament, produced on the second day, be an object of science?

Read the complete essay at Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Monday, October 9, 2017

"The existence of God"

"For reasons inherent in the method of physical science, no watertight proof of the existence of God can be built on its data and conclusions. But this also meant that no refutation of the existence of God could be built on physics either."

~S.L. Jaki: in The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays.

"Shortsighted humanists"

"... investing science with a prophetic and messianic role has not been the doing of science. Exact science, or rather its best cultivators, have never claimed that role. Exact physical science came into its own when during the seventeenth century it eliminated from its ken questions about existence, meaning, purpose, and the like. No wonder that sensitive physicists instinctively reject appeals from shortsighted humanists to do science in a so-called meaningful, or prophetic way. The cultivation of that meaningfulness is the business of the philosophy of being, or metaphysics, and of religion, if one wants to go even further. This is not to suggest that science is not full of philosophical presuppositions. But philosophy as such is not a direct part of the scientific strategy of exploring what can be known quantitatively about nature and existence."

~Stanley L. Jaki: in Chance or Reality and Other Essays.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Chesterton, a Seer of Science

Recommended reading:
Chesterton, a Seer of Science
By Fr. Stanley L. Jaki

"Cherished for his Father Brown detective stories, admired for his sword-play of words in his weekly column in the Illustrated London News, with thirty or so books of his still in print more than sixty years after his death in 1936, Chesterton is still to be recognized the philosophical genius he was. Owing to his genius as a philosopher, Chesterton was also a seer of science. This may surprise even most Chesterton aficionados and may throw into a rage not a few professional authorities on science. But Chesterton's many statements on science prove that he had a penetrating and prophetic vision of what science was truly about and what it was not and could not be. The evidence is laid out by an internationally known historian and philosopher of science, who groups under four headings Chesterton's pertinent dicta. He was an incisive interpreter of science, a resolute antagonist of scientism, a penetrating critic of evolutionism, and, last but not least, an inspired champion of the universe. Compared with most modern scientific cosmologists, Chesterton is a true giant of cosmology, a subject which sorely tests the ability of the scientist as a philosopher." 
Real View Books 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

“Something absolute may be lurking beneath relativity theory”

“EINSTEIN’S work on relativity was not yet completed when it began to be taken for the scientific proof of the view that everything is relative. Such a view, widely entertained on the popular as well as the academic level, is now a climate of thought. A stunning proof of this is a full-page advertisement in the September 24, 1979 issue of Time magazine. It proclaims, under the picture of Einstein, in bold-face letters the message: EVERYTHING IS RELATIVE. The basic rule of in advertising, it is well to recall, is a reliance on commonly accepted beliefs, on generally shared cravings, hopes, and fears, or, in short, on the prevailing climate of thought.

“The claim that something absolute may be lurking beneath relativity theory, may therefore be surprising, though not original at all. That Einstein’s Relativity Theory implies elements and considerations that are absolutist in character was voiced by Planck as early as 1924 in an address “From Relativity to the Absolute,” which quickly acquired world-wide publicity. 

“. . . For us, late twentieth-century men, Newtonian science is a thing of the past. Everybody knows that Newton has been superseded by Einstein, but very few people know the true reason for this. The usual reason given is that Einstein showed everything to be relative. Nothing could be further from the truth. Einstein’s theory of General Relativity is the most absolutist theory ever proposed in the history of science. In fact, the entire success of Einstein’s theory is that it is absolutist. According to it, the value of the speed of light is independent of any reference systems and therefore has a value which is absolutely valid. According to the same theory, all inertial and accelerated reference systems are absolutely equivalent.”

~Stanley L. Jaki: The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays, pp. 1-2, 65. (1988)

Friday, April 7, 2017

"The very essence of science"

"NEWTON'S greatness lies, first, in his claim that his laws of motion are universally valid and, second, that he had shown something of that universality. I mean his proof that the motion of the moon is governed by the same acceleration as is the fall of an apple or stone to earth. This coupling of the earth and of the moon was a bold step into the universe of things. It revealed in a single stroke the very essence of science, which is the universal applicability of its laws."

~Stanley L. Jaki: The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays.

"All great creative advances of science..."

"SCIENCE found its only viable birth within a cultural matrix permeated by a firm conviction about the mind’s ability to find in the realm of things and persons a pointer to their Creator. All great creative advances of science have been made in terms of an epistemology germane to that conviction, and whenever that epistemology was resisted with vigorous consistency, the pursuit of science invariably appears to have been deprived of its solid foundation."

~Stanley L. Jaki: The Road of Science and the Ways to God.

The Road of Science and the Ways to God