Marilynne Robinson Once again I’ve been leafing through Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead: a beautiful book, perhaps my favorite novel. Tonight I came across this from her protagonist John Ames. He is an old man writing to a six-year-old son he will not see grow up. If God is the Author of Existence, what can it mean [...]
Anonymous, Day of the Last Judgment, late 19th century. From what I can remember of the Islam classes I took, the Last Judgment is a very big deal for Muslims, just as it is for Christians. In this jaunty scene, Mohammed sits on the camel in the upper right. Per tradition, his face is blanked [...]
Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters recording at Ardent Studios in Memphis. I missed BHTM back in the 1990′s when they had their major-scale success; I blame graduate school for this. But a good friend introduced them to me several years ago and to this day I am grateful to him [...]
This, from the New York Public Library: Author Mark Salzman (Iron and Silk, The Soloist, Lying Awake), became a stay-at-home parent in 2001. Eight years and three failed book manuscripts later, he had a nervous breakdown. Here he tells a sad story with a happy ending, and in so doing explores questions such as * [...]
Thomas Struth, Rothko Chapel, Houston, 2007. Look here for a nice retrospective of Struth’s works; here for an overview of Mark Rothko‘s career; and here for information about the Rothko Chapel In the end, all of us are looking for God. Jesuit priest James Martin has a wonderful little piece in yesterday’s Huffington Post. It [...]
The annunciation to Zechariah. Gabriel stands on the left, Zechariah on the right. I’m not sure what the birds signify, but I like them. Ethiopian Orthodox icon, ca. 1700. Image source: Wikimedia Commons This is the First Sunday of Advent. Throughout this season I will be posting a small devotional-type thing like this one every [...]
Some years ago, Richard Dawkins wrote an article for the Humanist. The essay addresses the question, Is Science a Religion? His answer is No, and we here at psnt.net agree with him.
There is a sense in which science can play an ultimate organizing role in someone’s view of the world. But this does not make it a religion. As a Christian, I can accept science in a certain way that I can’t accept, say, Islam.
Dawkins understands one thing many of his detractors do not: Accepting the scientific account of the world does not require religious faith. It does require believing some things that are not strictly proven in the mathematical sense, but “believing some things that are not strictly proven in the mathematical sense” is not the definition of religious faith.
This brings up a major point, a point often lost in popular accounts of science. That point is: Science is not about true and false. Perhaps some laypeople think in these terms. The press often does. Science is about (1) what works, and (2) what is probable. But scientists think in terms of probabilities of truth, not in terms of truth itself. As a scientist, Dawkins knows this. He also knows that there are varying degrees of probability. And at some point, probabilities get high enough to become, for practical purposes, truths. But the distinction remains, and all good scientists know it. This is a hallmark of science: It bears its assumptions in mind.