Saturday, September 08, 2007

Seven wonders of the World

I'm likely to see the Taj Mahal soon, which is in my list of the seven wonders of the world. Here's mine. What's yours?

(1) Angkor Wat
Photo shapeshift with some rights reserved.

(2) Pyramids

(3) Machu Picchu

(4) Terracotta warriors
(5) Great Wall of China

(6) Petra

This photo by nonmipare with Some rights reserved.

(7) Taj Mahal

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Not the first

The more that I read, the more I find that I'm not the first to think about the relationship between science and religion. Right from the beginning Christian writers were wondering if and how far they should accept the philosophy of the Greeks.

Justin Matyr (100-165) who wrote around 100 years after Jesus' death writes:
Whatever either lawyers or philosophers have said well, was articulated by finding and reflecting on some aspect of the Logos. However, since they did not know the Logos - which is Christ - in its entirety, they often contradicted themselves.
He seems to think that the scientific and philosophical search for the truth is only completed with Christ.

Clement of Alexandria (150-211) has a similar position - that science can be thought of as preparing the way for the gospel.
For philosophy acted as a "custodian" to bring the Greeks to Christ just as the law brought the Hebrews. Thus philosophy was by of a preparation which prepared the way for its perfection in Christ.

Tertulian (200AD) disagrees completely - saying that philosophy is a pagan outlook and has nothing to do with Christianity and had led to heresies introduced into the church.
For philosophy provides the material of worldly wisdom, in boldly asserting itself to be the interpreter of the divine nature and dispensation.... What is there in common between Athens and Jerusalem? Between the Academy and the church?

I think that he's right. If we use pagan philosophy as the basis of Christianity, rather than God, we will ultimately glorifying ideas and placing them too high.

Augustine (354-480) argues that pagan philosophies are not entirely false, but have some truth which comes from God - and should be used by Christians.
If those who are called philosophers, particularly the Platonists, have said anything which is true and consistent with our faith, we must not reject it, but claim it for our own use.
Augustine was probably a Berber and came from Hippo which is in present day Algeria. From what I've read so far, I like the guy. He also says some interesting things about the interpretation of Genesis.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Four views of science and religion

There are at least four different views of religion and science relate to each other. There is definitely more to it than religion just being against science and vice-versa.

1. Continuity

This is the liberal view. It says that science casts light on how God carries out his plans for the universe. This means continually re-interpreting scripture in the light of science and even predominant cultural values.

This beautiful photo by by Are You My Rik? falls under the Creative Commons license.

2. They talk about different things

We have to be careful when comparing things to make sure we're not comparing apples and oranges. Religion often concerns itself with morals, with actual history and with God. Science with mechanisms. For Barth, for example, science has its place, but that place is not explaining or justifying the Christian faith. In fact, if we do try to know about God through reason alone we are setting a pale imitation of the real God,
Setting up a false god [that] will not lead him in any way lead him in any way to a knowledge of the real God. On the contrary, it will keep him from it.
This photo by automania falls under a Creative Commons license

3. Dialogue and Convergence

Science and religion are in a dialogue which will lead to some convergence in common areas. Both are committed to realism, and to finding the truth. They can interact, which is to the benefit of both.

Photo by phil_h under a Creative Commons license.

4. They're at war

In this view there's outright conflict between the two. Not only do science and religion talk about the same thing, but it's not going to be possible to fix the differences!

This photo is by jimfrazier under a Creative Commons license

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Who am I?

Here's a picture of me that my girlfriend drew using Inkscape, which she was using for the very first time. She has real talent:

I'm a working physicist. My interests are primarily quantum information and quantum control. As you might be able to tell from my first post, I'm also a Christian. Recently I've been thinking a lot about if those two ideas fit together, and if so, how do they fit?