August 18, 2015

The East Bay was jolted awake early Monday morning by a 4.0 earthquake centered in the Piedmont/Upper Rockridge neighborhoods. Earthquakes always remind us that any sense we have of ultimate power and control over the forces of nature are mistaken. Earthquakes, meteor showers, droughts and other natural occurrences  also invite us to consider the natural world, its beauty, its power, its origin and its destiny.

This summer there have been several breath-taking scientific advances and discoveries that are worthy of our significant attention.  The voyage of the New Horizons spacecraft to the far edge of our solar system and the pictures of the dwarf planet Pluto it sent back were stunning. The finding by the Kepler spacecraft of “Earth’s bigger older cousin,” in the constellation Cygnus, about 1,400 lights years from earth, makes us ponder our place in the cosmos.

In the light of these advances a recent “Christian Century” cover story titled “Science in the Congregation” noting that “mainline churches don’t attack science, but they don’t engage it either,” and that “many scientists have felt marginalized within their congregations” was disheartening.  The article noted “Churches ought to be the sites for the intelligently, lively convivial engagement between religion and science.”

I do not have a ready remedy to these realities but I agree with the concern and take to heart  the words of Psalm 111:2, which grace the entrance to the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.” Further, I find it a great honor that among the members of our community are people like Ben Maruca, an astrophysicist at UC Berkeley. On Sunday, September 27, the plan for the Forum is for Ben to discuss with us the intersection of faith and science. (This date is still somewhat tentative as Ben is in Texas developing a study of solar flares. The study will ultimately take place in Antarctica.)

My jim@labcoakland.org email address is working again. The labc4jim@gmail.com address is also alive and well.