FAITH & Watch this video zoom all the way into the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Before you watch this short video recreation by the European Southern Observatory of a star system being sucked into the middle of a supermassive black hole that lies at the center of our galaxy, consider what Isaiah said, “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.” Isaiah 40:26.

Then, just stop for a minute and wonder at the power of God before you finish reading how Isaiah ends this passage with a familiar and oft quoted verse of reassurance.

“O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:27-29

GOD’S EXISTENCE & Stephen Hawking: Only the Christian View of God Makes Sense.

by Fr. Matthew Schneider, Pathos, 10/22/18.

There are many different views of God. Hawking tries to argue against God’s existence but ends up leaving the Christian view of God as the only possible one.

In his final book, famed astrophysicist and atheist, Stephen Hawking spoke about God’s relationship to the universe. Live Science published an article titled: “Stephen Hawking’s Final Book Says There’s ‘No Possibility’ of God in Our Universe.” It includes some key quotations and summaries from the book, “Brief Answers to Big Questions,” published this week:

“If you accept, as I do, that the laws of nature are fixed, then it doesn’t take long to ask: What role is there for God?”

Hawking will argue for the universe existing at random:

“The universe itself, in all its mind-boggling vastness and complexity, could simply have popped into existence without violating the known laws of nature.”

Following this up, Hawking states:

“We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in,” Hawking wrote. “For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.”

Other God’s Can’t Exist

These lines rule out many conceptions of God but leave the Christian conception of God unscathed.

The Judeo-Christian God Can Exist

However, the God of Judaism and Christianity is exempt from Hawking’s critique. Hawkings assumes properly, “the laws of nature are fixed,” then notes that the universe could have just started existing without violating the laws of nature. So far I concur. However, he makes three mistakes.

All Material

First, he assumes God is the level of the universe. Hawking states, “If you like, you can say the laws are the work of God, but that is more a definition of God than a proof of his existence.” However, the Christian view has never been a God at the level of the universe but one far above on a totally different level of existence.

All Temporal

Second, he assumes all causes are temporal. He explicitly states that God couldn’t have caused the universe as there was no time for God to exist in (3rd quote above). Even in science, some things would be simultaneous but causally related. We say gravity causes a rock to fall, but the force of gravity is simultaneous to the rock falling. Furthermore, time is the measurement of change but change indicates imperfection as it is a moment towards or away from perfection. Thus, the Christian conception of God is unchanging and thus outside of time.

Why?

Third, he forgets to ask why? Why is there anything, not nothing? Hawking just assumes it all just randomly happened but even randomness has a cause. The lottery is random but we all know that there is a cause behind the randomness.

In Christianity, we view God as the very act of being himself. In other words, God is IS. If you get this, you can pass Christian metaphysics 101. The idea is that “to be” doesn’t change the nature of a thing – we can think of a wookie even though no wookies are. It is God himself who maintains all – from quarks to humans to super-massive black holes – in existence. Each is insofar as God grants it existence. 

Conclusion

Hawking was an atheist and critiqued the concept of God, thinking it didn’t match physical reality. He, however, seems to understand God differently than orthodox Christians do. His critiques leave the orthodox Judeo-Christian view of a transcendent and intellectual God as the only possibility.

Christianity has two more concepts of God that are above reason but not contrary to it: the Trinity and the Incarnation. Hawking’s critiques of God don’t address these either for or against.

There is a reason science grew and developed most in Christianity: our rational view of God. Next time an atheist tries to argue against God, realize they often mean something other than God when they use the word “god” …

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/throughcatholiclenses/2018/10/stephen-hawking-only-the-christian-view-of-god-makes-sense/

SCIENCE & Stephen Hawking ‘pointed theologians towards a God with the universe in the palm of his hand’

by Adam Beckett, The Church Times UK, 3/14/18.

…The Principal of St John’s College, Durham, the Revd Professor David Wilkinson, who is the author of God, Time and Stephen Hawking (Monarch, 2002), said on Wednesday: “There is sadness at his death, admiration for a remarkable life story, admiration for his remarkable works of science, and a thankfulness for some of the things he discovered about the universe.”

Professor Hawking had given the world an “optimism that science can deal with all of its own questions about the universe”, he said.

“[Professor Hawking] thought science should be able to give the reason for the start of the universe, which is a very important thing for people of faith.

“He reminded us who are of faith of the weakness of any ‘God in the gaps’ or deistic view of God, and pointed theologians towards a God with the universe in the palm of his hand.”

Professor Hawking “demolished smaller Gods, and left us with the bigger, biblical God”, Professor Wilkinson said.

Professor Hawking was a “person of great humour, fantastic courage, and brilliant mathematical ability”, and the scientific community would be “sad at losing such a public icon.

“We have lost a prophetic voice, with some of the things he had to say about climate change, the search for aliens, and our role in the universe.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury posted on Twitter: “Professor Stephen Hawking’s contribution to science was as limitless as the universe he devoted his life to understanding. His was a life lived with bravery and passion. As we pray for all those who mourn him, may he rest in peace.”

The Revd Dr Rodney Holder, a member of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, said that Professor Hawking was “a great, towering figure in cosmology, particularly in black holes, which will be his legacy”, and “undoubtedly a great man, battling with a terrible affliction”.

Dr Holder quoted Professor Hawking’s A Brief History of Time (Bantam, 1988), in which he wrote: “What is it that breathes fire into the equations [of the universe]?”. For people of faith, it was God, Dr Holder said.

Read more at … https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/16-march/news/uk/stephen-hawking-pointed-theologians-towards-a-god-with-the-universe-in-the-palm-of-his-hand

SCIENCE & Why Technology Won’t Solve Poverty (but the Church might)

The Moon and the Ghetto

by , The Guardian Newspaper (UK), 12/19/14.

In 1977, economist Richard Nelson posed a question that remains central to science and innovation policy: how is a rich country like America able to put a man on the moon, but is unable to solve the problems of its own ghettos? In September of this year, after the excitement that came with the launch of India’s latest space adventure had subsided, even those unfamiliar with Nelson’s work asked similar questions. The Economist wondered ‘how a country that cannot feed all of its people can find the money for a Mars mission’.

The first answer to Nelson’s question is that science and innovation are tied to social choices. There are good reasons why the Indian government should choose to invest in ambitious hi-tech programmes while also working towards public health just as there there are good reasons to challenge their balance of priorities. The discussion is a legitimately democratic one.

The second answer to Nelson’s question is that the problems of space and the problems of poverty are qualitatively different, demanding very different approaches. Space missions are about technological problems with technological solutions. It is normally clear whether or not they have succeeded. There is far more disagreement about causes and cures for ‘wicked’ problems of poverty or climate change. Science alone cannot give us the answer.

Earlier this year Bill Gates offered a prediction:

By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. Almost all countries will be what we now call lower-middle income or richer. Countries will learn from their most productive neighbors and benefit from innovations like new vaccines, better seeds, and the digital revolution.

From the litany of bad predictions made by technological optimists, Gates would have done well to recall that in 1959 CP Snow had made a similar one, albeit with a longer deadline:

This disparity between the rich and the poor has been noticed… Whatever else in the world we know survives to the year 2000, that won’t.

These statements suggest great faith in the power of science to cure social ills. Needless to say, the gap between rich and poor has grown since Snow’s day. Poor people have got better-off thanks in part to the benefits of science and innovation, but the rich have benefited more, and the problems of poverty persist. Tackling grand challenges means going beyond what Evgeny Morozov calls ‘solutionism’, in which problems are redefined by technologists to suit the tools they have available.
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One need only look at neglected diseases to realise the disparity between scientific research and human needs. Early policy reports identified a 10/90 gap – only 10% of the world’s health research funding goes to 90% of the world’s disease burden. Thomson Reuters found that the disparity is even more stark when we consider published research. The number of papers on elephantiasis and intestinal worms, which together affect more than a billion people, is less than a tenth of the figure for diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

With a rising tide of public science spending, it is easy to overlook social choices about how money should be spent. But even as spending on university science grew in Europe and the US through the 90s and 2000s, budgets in strategic areas like agriculture, defence and energy were allowed to ebb away. As Nanoscientist Richard Jones argued in a recent lecture and in a policy report last year, the effects of this shift for innovation in energy have been disastrous. Just as our awareness of climate change was demonstrating the need for new sources of green energy, the UK and others were cutting off major sources of innovation and expertise. We are spending next to nothing on energy research because nobody is taking responsibility for it. As science budgets across the world flatline or decrease, hard choices about priorities can no longer be avoided.

Wishful thinking and scientific excellence will not counter neglect. We need, first, to acknowledge that there are problems with systems of funding, reward and recognition in science and, second, to encourage new models of inter-disciplinarity, so that different perspectives can negotiate problems and innovate with various responses.

Read more at … https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2014/dec/19/against-excellence

 

 

SCIENCE & Why Christians Inadvertently Support Negative Stereotypes

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The “stereotype threat” means that when you tell someone about a stereotype relevant to them, they will usually then act in accordance with that stereotype – even without realizing it. See how this occurs with “Christians and Science” in the New York Magazine article and research cited below. Also be aware that this can affect your opinions and views of other cultures, ethnicities, etc.

Christians Are Bad at Science When You Remind Them a Lot of People Think Christians Are Bad at Science

by Melissa Dahl, Science of Us, New York Magazine 1/15/16.

You may not be familiar with the term stereotype threat, but chances are high you are familiar with the thing itself. It’s when you inadvertently behave in a way that fits the stereotype others hold about you. Studies over the years have shown, for example, that girls perform worse at math when you remind them of the “girls are bad at math” stereotype. And this noxious idea, incidentally, is apparently embedded so deep in our culture that researchers don’t even have to explicitly remind kids about the stereotype. If they simply ask students to write down whether they are males or females before taking a math test, the girls tend to perform worse.

Now, NPR’s Shankar Vedantam highlights some fascinating new research that applies the notion of stereotype threat to a whole new stereotype: that American Christians and science do not mix. This week, Vedantam appeared on Morning Edition to discuss the study, published recently in Social Psychological and Personality Science, reporting that Christian students in a study who were reminded of the Christians-hate-science stereotype subsequently performed worse on a test measuring scientific reasoning. In a separate experiment, the Christians who were told they were taking a test measuring their scientific reasoning did worse than the Christians who were told they were taking a test measuring their intuitive reasoning. ..

Read more at … http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/01/exploring-the-christians-hate-science-stereotype.html

EDUCATION & Is going to college worth it? #PewResearch says Yes!

by ANDREA CAUMONT, Pew Research, 5/19/15.

A new Pew Research Center report on higher education contains a number of findings about the rising value of a college degree (as well as the rising cost of not going to college). College-educated millennials are outperforming their less-educated peers on virtually every economic measure, and the gap between the two groups has only grown over time. Here are six key findings that provide a compelling answer to the question: Is going to college worth it?

1A college education is worth more today. There’s a wider earnings gap between college-educated and less-educated Millennials compared with previous generations.

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2College benefits go beyond earnings: In addition to earning more, college-educated Millennials also have lower unemployment and poverty rates than their less-educated peers. They’re also more likely to be married and less likely to be living in their parent’s home.

ST_14.02.11_232_HigherEd_Benefits

3College grads are more satisfied with their jobs: College-educated Millennials are more likely to see themselves on a career path, rather than just working at a job to get them by.

ST_14.02.11_233_HigherEd_Satisfying-Jobs

4The cost of not going to college has risen. Millennials with just a high school diploma are faring worse today than their counterparts in earlier generations by almost every economic measure examined.

ST_14.02.11_234_HigherEd_Cost-of-Not-Going

5College grads say college is worth it: About nine-in-ten college grads in every generation say college has been, or will be, worth the investment. Despite a steep rise in college tuitions, Millennials agree.

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6College majors matter. Among all grads, science or engineering majors are the most likely to say their current job is very closely related to their field of study and the least likely to say that a different major would have better prepared them for the job they really wanted.

ST_14.02.11_236_HigherEd_Majors-MatterRead more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/11/6-key-findings-about-going-to-college/