Monday, March 10, 2014

Cosmos: A Reactionary Tale

In the beginning…

That was the title (more or less) of the sermon in church this past Sunday. The same day that Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey would begin airing, challenging us to revive our interest in not only science, but also discovery.

Psalms 19:1 (NRSV) #verseOfReflection
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Warning: (Potential) Spoiler Alerts; will be kept at a minimum.

Sometimes I wish I did just, "give up that easy". As we continue to try and make culture as is evidenced in our last entry, there's much discussion afoot about a reboot of an old show that might give science the backing it needs to prove reasonable to those who doubt because of their faith.

I found the show to be very awe-inspiring to say the least. From a presentation standpoint it was done extremely well. There were dibbles and dabbles about church history involving science, although we would need to take a more in depth look to see if the show provided accurate coverage for what happened. Too often people will try and pit science against faith/religion as if it was always this way; history shows time and time again that it is not. Giordano Bruno's story was interesting in the way in which it was depicted. The one line that got me as spoken by the Italian astronomer had to be when he told those executing his trial: 

Your God is too small.

Carl Sagan was responsible for the first series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Neil did an impressive job I feel on the first episode "Standing Up in the Milky Way", along with all those behind the scenes, including Seth McFarlane creator of Family Guy.

I enjoyed the Cosmic Calendar, which explained the birth of the universe up til now in the framework of a calendar year. Luckily for me the "birth" of the solar system was one day after my birthday; couldn't write a better storyline!

Big Bang or A Breath of Fresh Air
Often times whether incorrect or not people cite Genesis 1 and 2 in opposition to certain scientific explanations for life. Usually you'll hear people say that the "Big Bang" did not happen and evolution (most often tied to Charles Darwin) is impossible given that man was created from the dust (i.e. We don't evolve from monkeys). This also lends credence to the debate on whether humans are (types of) animals or not.

The Genesis accounts in the Bible gives us a decent understanding of how life on Earth came to be. For me, these accounts give an overview but don't explicitly rule out other creation scenarios. Knowing that God is infinite in his ability to create (among many other things), I would not find it hard to believe that there are numerous creation stories attributed to God. When it comes to the Big Bang, this is tied to understanding and describing the creation of (as I've understood it) the Universe, people disagree that it happened. It is possible that there is more than one universe. More aptly put the "Big Bang" theory has also been used to suggest how EVERYTHING came into being. 

In the #verseOfReflection it mentions the firmament. When it says firmament it means a dome. Most notably, the dome of the sky. What I read in the Genesis accounts pertains overwhelmingly to Earth and Earth alone, not what is outside of it. I could be wrong, as the heavens could include what is in Space. Doesn't seem to be much details regarding the heavens and their creation. 

There are so many questions you could ask that are not directly answered in Genesis. Where did the other planets come from? Was Earth the only planet "created" by God? List goes never would become satisfied, as the more you know leads to understanding there's even more you don't know.

Science vs. Religion vs. Reality
People of faith at times wrongfully perceive there's a problem in doubting, questioning, or examining one's faith more thoroughly (dare as I say skeptically). We allow certain connotations of terms to become the dominant meaning of words and phrases. If I told you that I am a skeptic of religion, you might automatically equate that to being a non-believer. Skepticism in and of itself is nothing more than a refusal to accept everything as is without pondering or discerning further. Discernment plays a crucial role in my life as a Christian, whether that includes asking questions, having doubts, and/or challenging notions that are "true" because it's always been that way. Undoubtedly, when it comes to certain matters of faith, you will indeed have to take a leap, in not having evidence or proof of why you believe. We as human beings do that everyday though in much simpler cases (I'm unable to provide examples as of now). Might I add, it is also not seen as "different" to do so. 

Whatever you do, be careful when you hear someone say something does not mix with faith/religion.
Quick examples: Science, philosophy, reason, etc. More detail about this part of the dialogue can be found here

Creation vs. Evolution Debate
About a month ago there was a debate on television between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. It seems the public is becoming more and more interested these days in public forums such as this. Of course for someone like me, I feel that I've been born for "such a time as this".

Overall I felt the debate went well. Bill Nye admitted that he learned something from Ham's introductory presentation. Eventually they were talking past each other, which does no one any good. They later appeared on Piers Morgan, and by that point you could see that there was "hostility" in their viewpoints. In responding to Piers' questions they'd hijack the response to refer to something said previously. Ham's organization, Answers in Genesis was able to gain enough money from donations to begin working again on a life-sized replica of Noah's Ark as a result of the debate. Nye's biggest issue with Creationism (other than Ham's claim that the world is 6,000 years old) is that he didn't understand the story of Noah's Ark. For most Christians, they might say, "What's not to understand?!" But for someone outside of the faith who considers himself to be a "reasonable man", I can see completely why it might not make sense (especially in conjunction with Ham's Young Earth theory). Also, I'd like to add that there are similar "flood stories" in other cultures as well, as I saw in watching a documentary on the History Channel. This doesn't deny the tradition of Noah's Ark, more than it suggests that some of the stories in the Bible have many similarities to others told. Ham also said that he agrees with evolution as it is traditionally taught, in comparison to the highly-jacked secularized version.


Neil deGrasse Tyson touched on how Carl Sagan (the host for the first series) showed an interest in him.

"For Neil...a future astronomer...Carl" [written in a book given to him]

Sagan not only inspired Neil with regards to how he would pursue his future but also the type of person he wanted to be (as stated by Neil himself). This goes to show that we can be influenced by any one at any time, should we take them up on whatever they're offering. Sagan was nothing short of a mentor for Sagan, dare I say a parent. Perhaps that might provide substance to why Tyson is more of an agnostic than anything else.

Up Next: The Power of Positive Parenting pt 2

Just finished reading: Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

Sumthn2Ponder (s2p):
  • Does God agree with the Big Bang?
  • "In the beginning..." of what?
  • Am I going to tune in next week?!