Pope Francis: Finding truth and joy in research

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On 11 June 2016, Pope Francis said to the summer course participants at the Vatican Observatory:

“God’s creation, and our own place in it, is shared by men and women of very diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. All of us dwell under the same sky. All of us are moved by the beauty revealed in the cosmos and reflected in the study of the heavenly bodies and substances. In this sense, we are united by the desire to discover the truth about how this marvellous universe operates; and in this, we draw ever closer to the Creator.

He also mentioned hardship and joy that we can find in  the daily work as scientists:

“Dear brothers and sisters, scientific research demands great commitment, yet can sometimes prove lengthy and tiresome.  At the same time, it can, and should be, a source of deep joy.  I pray that you will be able to cultivate that interior joy and allow it to inspire your work.  Share it with your friends, your families and your nations, as well as with the international community of scientists with whom you work.  May you always find joy in your research and share the fruit of your studies with humility and fraternity.”

2016-06-11 P Francis

read more here: Radio Vatican: Pope Francis speaks to participants of Vatican Observatory summer course

John Henry Newman on evolution and man’s origin

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“Does Scripture contradict [Darwin’s] theory?—was Adam not immediately taken from the dust of the earth? ‘All are of dust’ —Eccles 3:20 — yet we never were dust — we are from fathers. Why may not the same be the case with Adam? … I don’t know why Adam needs be immediately out of dust — Formavit Deus hominem de limo terrae [God formed man from the dust of the earth]—i.e. out of what really was dust and mud in nature, before He made it what it was, living.”

John Henry Newman, Letter to E.B. Pusey (The Oratory, 5 June 1870)

Mary Ellen Boole’s Letter to Charles Darwin

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Mary Everest Boole, a committed Christian,  wrote to Darwin seeking clarification that his theory might be compatible with her religious faith on 13 December 1866:

Dear Sir
Will you excuse my venturing to ask you a question to which no one’s answer but your own would be quite satisfactory to me.
Do you consider the holding of your Theory of Natural Selection, in its fullest & most unreserved sense, to be inconsistent,—I do not say with any particular scheme of Theological doctrine,—but with the following belief, viz:
That knowledge is given to man by the direct Inspiration of the Spirit of God.
That God is a personal and Infinitely good Being.
That the effect of the action of the Spirit of God on the brain of man is especially a moral effect.
And that each individual man has, within certain limits, a power of choice as to how far he will yield to his hereditary animal impulses, and how far he will rather follow the guidance of the Spirit Who is educating him into a power of resisting those impulses in obedience to moral motives.
The reason why I ask you is this. My own impression has always been,—not only that your theory was quite compatible with the faith to which I have just tried to give expression,—but that your books afforded me a clue which would guide me in applying that faith to the solution of certain complicated psychological problems which it was of practical importance to me, as a mother, to solve. I felt that you had supplied one of the missing links,—not to say the missing link,—between the facts of Science & the promises of religion. Every year’s experience tends to deepen in me that impression.
But I have lately read remarks, on the probable bearing of your theory on religious & moral questions, which have perplexed & pained me sorely. I know that the persons who make such remarks must be cleverer & wiser than myself. I cannot feel sure that they are mistaken unless you will tell me so. And I think,—I cannot know for certain, but I think,—that, if I were an author, I would rather that the humblest student of my works should apply to me directly in a difficulty than that she should puzzle too long over adverse & probably mistaken or thoughtless criticisms.
At the same time I feel that you have a perfect right to refuse to answer such questions as I have asked you. Science must take her path & Theology hers, and they will meet when & where & how God pleases, & you are in no sense responsible for it, if the meeting-point should be still very far off. If I receive no answer to this letter, I shall infer nothing from your silence except that you felt I had no right to make such inquiries of a stranger.
I remain
Dear Sir
Yours truly
Mary Boole

Charles Darwin answered the next Day:

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Neoprene and a Catholic priest

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Rev. Julius Nieuwland, C.S.C.

On 02 November 1931, DuPont announced the first synthetic rubber, neoprene. The inventor was Rev. Julius Nieuwland, C.S.C.. At the time of his invention, Nieuwland was a professor at the University of Notre Dame and a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

Nieuwland was born of Flemish parents in Hansbeke, Belgium and immigrated as a youngster with his family to South Bend, Indiana. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1899, studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1903, and received his Ph.D. from Catholic University in 1904. He taught botany for a number of years at Notre Dame, and in 1918 became a professor of organic chemistry. At that time, he was working with acetylene. In the course of this work, he discovered a reaction between acetylene and arsenic trichloride that eventuallyled to the development of the poison gas lewisite.

Nieuwland’s work with acetylene also led him into a collaboration with scientists at Du Pont. Together, they found that upon treating monovinylacetylene with hydrogen chloride to produce chloroprene and polymerizing the result, a very durable synthetic rubber, neoprene, was produced. Du Pont placed this rubber on the market in 1932 under the brand name Duprene.

Neoprene has been considered superior to rubber in terms of its resistance to sunlight, abrasion, and temperature extremes. These properties gained it popularity in many industries. Neoprene is favored for electrical cable insulation; telephone house-to-house wiring; many moulded, extruded, and sheet products; rug backings; and roofing – and wetsuits.

EVOLVE – UNROLL a SCROLL

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On 31 October 2008, Pope em. Benedict XVI said in his Address to Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the occasion of their Plenary Assembly:

To “evolve ” literally means “to unroll a scroll” ,that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists. Galileo saw nature as a book whose author is God in the same way that Scripture has God as its author. It is a book whose history, whose evolution, whose “writing” and meaning, we “read” according to the different approaches of the sciences, while all the time presupposing the foundational presence of the author who has wished to reveal himself therein. This image also helps us to understand that the world, far from originating out of chaos, resembles an ordered book; it is a cosmos.

The whole address can be found at inters.org.

Einstein, the 5th Solvay Conference and God

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randomnessFrom the 24th to 29th October 1927, the fifth Solvay Conference took place in Brussels. Perhaps the most famous science conference in history. Seventeen of the 29 attendees were or became Nobel Prize winners. It is also famously remembered for it was at this conference that Einstein, who liked to invent catchy phrases, uttered his, “God does not play dice” . Bohr replied, “Einstein, stop telling God what to do“.

source: Pat’s Blog: On this day in Math – October 24

Wittgenstein on God and the meaning of life

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On 08 July 1916, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s entry in his Notebooks 1914-1916 reads, “To believe in a God means to understand the question about the meaning of life. To believe in a God means to see that the facts of the world are not the end of the matter. To believe in God means to see that life has a meaning.”

An einen Gott glauben heißt, die Frage nach dem Sinn des Lebens verstehen. An einen Gott glauben, heißt sehen, dass es mit den Tatsachen der Welt noch nicht getan ist. An einen Gott glauben, heißt sehen, dass das Leben einen Sinn hat. – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tagebucheintrag 8. Juli 1916