All posts filed under: Science and Religion

Faith and the Expanding Universe of Georges Lemaître

On October 29th of last year, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted to recommend renaming Hubble’s Law the “Hubble-Lemaître Law.” That such a vote would take place today—during a time when science and faith are portrayed in the media as implacable foes—speaks to the remarkable character of Lemaître himself, the Belgian monsignor and astronomer who made a number of fundamental contributions to the science of cosmic structure and origins. His dual career as priest and scientist puzzled many in science and in the public at large when he was alive, and his struggles to defend his “Big Bang” model of the origin of the universe against those who accused him of being religiously motivated epitomizes the growing tension between science and organized religion in post-war Europe and the US. The story we will tell about Lemaître will of necessity be selective in the details of his life, which was complex and rich enough to merit multiple biographies,[1] [2] as well as numerous articles. I want to emphasize those aspects of his career that merited the …

Gripping the Book of Nature’s Reality

There’s a repeating image in José Ortega y Gasset’s first book, Meditations on Quixote, of a bird flying through and then falling from the sky. When we first see the bird, it is gliding over a “miasmic swamp,” a metaphor for the “past falling dead within our memory.” The bird then becomes a truth hunted by great scientists and falling lifeless at their feet. An “ideal bird,” representing creatures of a heroic future which are unable to yet exist in the harsh conditions of the imperfect present, is laughed at as it pathetically falls from its branch. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for Gasset, birds sing on the edges of a forest which we are trying to penetrate, messengers of a depth which we can only intimate through their music. The notes of their song express a sylvan interiority which is “condemned to become a surface if it wants to be visible.” Meditations is only partially about the Quixote. It is more a rumination on the national spirit of Spain. But more than that even, …

The Advent Corrective to Locke’s Lonely Liberalism

The Nativity is astonishing. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, was born of a woman. The King of the Universe entered the world as a fragile infant, a bundle of needs who was utterly dependent on his mother. What a terrifying fact. The vulnerability of Our Savior’s gestation and early life is enough to take your breath away. The Advent and Christmas seasons are an invitation for us to examine our own dependence on relationships of love, a dependence that is constitutive of our lives. In reflecting on the method through which Christ came into the world, we can enter more deeply into this aspect of our creation in his image and likeness. 1. John Locke and Charles Taylor on the Human Person The logic of Advent and Christmas runs counter to our modern notion of the individual, the main foundation upon which the liberal order rests. This notion can largely be traced back to the thought of John Locke, whose theory of personhood advances a robust autonomy and individualism. Locke grounds this theory …