All posts tagged: stephen barr

Attempts to Explain Cosmogony Scientifically

In Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, I discussed some of the speculative scenarios in which time has no beginning and the Big Bang is merely the beginning of one part of the universe or one epoch in its history. Another line of physics speculation accepts the idea that time has a beginning, either the Big Bang that occurred some 15 billion years ago, or some earlier perhaps even bigger Bang, but seeks to give that beginning a scientific explanation. Many scientists are under the impression that such an explanation would render a divine creator superfluous. As I will explain later, this notion is based on a misunderstanding of the idea of Creation. However, let us put that issue aside for now and focus on the scientific ideas. The Reasons to Look for a Theory of the Beginning Theories of the beginning of the universe generally are formulated within the field called “quantum cosmology.” There are several motivations for this work. At the most basic level, scientists seek to understand phenomena, and the Big Bang is a phenomenon. …

How Can Modern Science Purify Christianity from Error and Superstition?

John Paul II once wrote to Fr. George Coyne, S.J., the former director of the Vatican Observatory, that “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.” Setting aside the fascinating fact that the Vatican has its very own observatory, whose Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) is located on Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona, the statement itself issued by the former pontiff contains a potentially scandalizing assertion if given only a superficial reading. How could it be at all possible that science, especially a modern science in whose name the deposit of faith has been greatly assailed in recent history, can “purify religion,” particularly Christianity, “from error and superstition” without at the same time introducing a corruption of revelation and faith? Moreover, how can religion in general and Christianity in particular “purify science from idolatry and false absolutes” without forcing science to be at variance with its own particular method and …

I Used to Be a Creationist

I have a confession to make: I used to be a creationist. This probably sounds absurd, especially coming from a student at a university which prides itself on its commitment to faith and reason—a university which was even home to one of the first Catholic defenders of scientific evolution—Fr. John Zahm. It will most likely sound even more absurd when I tell you that I am now making faith and reason my life’s work by studying theology, philosophy, and physics. I have quite clearly come a long way from thinking that science and religion do not work together, and would consider myself the better for it. Nonetheless, I am incredibly grateful for the time that I spent holding the opinion that we have to take the book of Genesis to its literal extremes, and thus that evolution just had to be wrong. It helped me identify one of the central aspects of the science and religion debate: science and religion are not at odds with each other if you recognize that science does not have …