Knight Of The Mind

I'll do my best to present a philosophical and generally conservative look at current events and life, the universe and everything. Readers are invited to take all that's posted herein with a grain of salt. or if they prefer, a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Greetings and welcome. My name is Steve, I'm 35 years old and I work for the US Army as an Operations Research Analyst. Hence my blog title Knight Of The Mind.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

So Just What Have Religous People Done For Science Anyway?

When people discuss religion and science, they refer to the two has opposites that do not attract. More like oil and water than Yin and Yang. The opinion seems to prevail that the two should never mix. Since it often comes down to a big argument about where the universe came from, I thought it was only fair to provide a religious perspective. That of Belgian Priest Georges Lemaitre.

Lemaitre, like many religious figures, went against the prevailing science of his day. He argued, in accordance with the Book of Genesis, that the Universe was created from "a primeival atom" at a discreet moment and then rapidly expanded outwars.

Most scientists of the 1920's, including the eminent Albert Einstien, argued in favor of what would later be codified as the Steady State Theory, by Fred Hoyle. Hoyle, rather ironically, also gets credited with the term Big Bang Theory. It was his attempt to subject the work of Lemaitre to professional mockery.

Edwin Hubble formulated Hubbel's Law, in 1929, which provided backers of Lemaitre with mathematical, as well theological, ammunition to support Lemaitre's hypothesis. Hubble compared the distances to nearby galaxies to their redshift, found a linear relationship. (wikipedia) This allowed people to start making determinations of the age of heavanly bodies.

This lead to the inevitable efforts to start pinpointing the age of the universe as a whole. Once that became the categorical argument Lemaitre's theory held intellectual predominance.

In fairness to Lemaitre's detractors, other possible explanations are still given scientific credence as competing theories. One of the more talented protegies of Dr. Stephen Hawking proposed a theory that the universe expanded and contracted in a manner roughly analogous to a Simple Harmonic Oscillator. This would allow for a universal expansion in accordance with Hubbel's Law and would periodically bring all the matter in the universe to a gravitational singularity, just like the Big Bang.

This gravitational singularity would have no spatial dimensions. This prohibits examination of what happened while the matter was compacted into this single, geometric point. So we're left to do what is anathematic to the scientific community. We choose our theory on a faith-based criterion. We pays our nickle and we makes our choice.

In the meantime, we can categorically prove that a religious thinker can more than hold his own amongst the giants of theoretical science. During his lifetime, Lemaitre won numerous accolades from the scientific community. He believed what he believed and could still think critically. At least according to the following institutions who lauded his name.

  1. In 1936, he was elected member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He took an active role there, became the president in March 1960 and remaining so until his death. He was also named prelate in 1960.
  2. In 1941, he was elected member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Belgium.
  3. In 1946, he published his book on L'Hypoth├Ęse de l'Atome Primitif (The Primeval Atom Hypothesis), a book which would be translated into Spanish in the same year and into English in 1950.
  4. In 1953 he was given the very first Eddington Medal award of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Perhaps that challenges our modern philosophical disciples of David Hume. These people should continue to think in a critical manner, but in the end find something they can actually believe in.


As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

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