Wednesday, January 16, 2008

FAITH: Who Committed the First Folly?

- for we walk by faith, not by sight -
2 Corinthians 5:7
The Sleepwalkers is a history of astronomy by Arthur Koestler. In it the author calls the period when astronomy and theology became separate disciplines a watershed event. The cause of the cleavage was the adoption of non-circular (elliptical) orbits for planets to explain their motion around the sun. This went against traditional religious dogma of the day.

The circle was believed to be the perfect figure, and God, having made the planets, could not have made them move in a path other than a perfect one.

Nonetheless, the ellipse prevailed. This, contends Koestler, had a profound impact on the cultural; namely that logic prevailed over blind ideology. Thus the scientific age was birthed.

Today, physics and religion remain in distinct chambers – one practical, the other spiritual — as in the separation of body and soul; thus it is of interest to look at the Celts, a people whose innermost intuition, unlike ours, was that astronomy and theology were intimately associated.

Jean-Marc Perelmuter, writing for Fox News Online, says it has only been recently that Celtic art and legends have been put on par with their warring accomplishments. He says, “Stonehenge, a mysterious but deliberate arrangement of rocks dating back 1000 to 3000 B.C. is a testimony of the Celts' ability to harmonize what we call science and religion into one monolith.”

[Eye On The Sky by Dr. Jean-Marc Perelmuter “Celtic Astronomy “ 7.00 a.m. ET (1100 GMT) November 17, 1999 © 1999, News America Digital Publishing, Inc. d/b/a Fox News Online.]

Not all that has occurred in the battle between people of faith and people of science can be neatly excised as an example of theological folly as were the orbits of planets. But it’s good for those of us who place our faith and fates in the hands of God to remember facts have a place in the order of God’s universe … we should do our homework before we take a stand on traditions.

Yet, it’s likewise good to remember foolishness is not the private domain of the faithful, science has its follies as well … two monumental examples have yet to be revealed: 1) the selfish slaughter of the innocent because science blindly insists it’s just fetal tissue and 2) the siren song of modern man, the theory of natural selection.

After all, Paul said it for all of us long ago, … we walk by faith, not by sight.

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