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Author Archive: Bob Kurland

Retired, cranky, old physicist. Convert to Catholicism in 1995. Trying to show that there is no contradiction between what science tells us about the world and our Catholic faith. Intermittent blogs at Rational Catholic and adult education classes here to achieve this end.

Extraordinary Minister of Communion volunteer to federal prison and hospital; lector, EOMC.
Sometime player of bass clarinet, alto clarinet, clarinet, bass, tenor bowed psaltery for parish instrumental group and local folk group.

And, finally, my motivation:
“It is also necessary—may God grant it!—that in providing others with books to read I myself should make progress, and that in trying to answer their questions I myself should find what I am seeking.
Therefore at the command of God our Lord and with his help, I have undertaken not so much to discourse with authority on matters known to me as to know them better by discoursing devoutly of them.”
St. Augustine of Hippo, The Trinity I,8.

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Creatio ex Nihilo: Why We Believe*

July 8, AD2018 0 Comments
Creatio ex Nihilo:  Why We Believe*

  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. —Genesis:1:1-2 (KJV) INTRODUCTION—ATHEISTS AND CREATIO EX NIHILO It is hard for scientists who are atheists to […]

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The Limits of Science: What Science Can’t Do

June 29, AD2018 0 Comments
The Limits of Science: What Science Can’t Do

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? —Isaiah 40:12 (KJV) To answer the question “To be or not to be?’ we cannot […]

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How We Believe* I: Faith and Revelation

June 23, AD2018 0 Comments
How We Believe* I: Faith and Revelation

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. —St. Augustine Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen. —Hebrews 11:1 Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of […]

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Scientism: Faith in Science and Non-Belief in God; Sean Carroll’s “The Big Picture”

June 9, AD2018 1 Comment
Scientism: Faith in Science and Non-Belief in God; Sean Carroll’s “The Big Picture”

INTRODUCTION Scientism, the belief that science can explain everything about the world and ourselves, is a religion, although not formally expressed as such. When I call it a religion, I mean that it is founded on faith, a faith that its proponents say is not faith, but rationality, but which is in fact a faith […]

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“Last Things:” C. P. Snow Revisited

June 2, AD2018 0 Comments
“Last Things:” C. P. Snow Revisited

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is […]

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Is There a Probability for the Universe? New Thoughts about the Anthropic Coincidences

May 7, AD2018 27 Comments
Is There a Probability for the Universe? New Thoughts about the Anthropic Coincidences

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” —Psalm 19 (KJV) “It is a strange fact, incidentally, that religious apologists love the anthropic principle. For some reason […]

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The Easter Vigil: Christ Be Our Light!*

March 31, AD2018 0 Comments
The Easter Vigil: Christ Be Our Light!*

The rubrics of the Missale Romanum remind us that this “mother of all vigils” is the “greatest and most noble of all solemnities and it is to be unique in every single Church” ( Missale Romanum, “Rubrics for the Easter Vigil” (EV), no.2). On this holy night, the Church keeps watch, celebrating the resurrection of Christ in the […]

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Lent: Join Our Suffering to That of Christ

March 9, AD2018 3 Comments
Lent: Join Our Suffering to That of Christ

The witnesses of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ have handed on to the Church and to mankind a specific Gospel of suffering. The Redeemer himself wrote this Gospel, above all by his own suffering accepted in love, so that man ‘should not perish but have eternal life.’ This suffering, together with the living word […]

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Lent: Don’t Barter With God!

February 6, AD2018 2 Comments
Lent: Don’t Barter With God!

Introduction Lent is upon us. Interestingly, my Lenten penance and my goals have changed since my conversion. Let me preface these remarks with an account of my bartering with God before my conversion, because this connects with the title.    At that time I was a worrier–the future I foresaw was always gloomy, with the […]

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Can a Faithful Catholic Believe in Science?

January 9, AD2018 2 Comments
Can a Faithful Catholic Believe in Science?

INTRODUCTION In this post, I examine whether I, as a faithful Catholic, and as a scientist who holds that miracles are possible must believe that the Creation account given in Genesis is literally true, without modification, and thereby exclude what science tells us about common descent and cosmology. In a way, it’s the other side […]

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Christmas: A Bad Time for Alcoholics and Addicts?

December 29, AD2017 0 Comments
Christmas: A Bad Time for Alcoholics and Addicts?

For some, the sights, signs and smells of the holidays bring joy and a warm feeling. But, while others are joyously diving into the season, some of us are dipping into conflict, guilt, and a sense of guilt. —Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go, Dec. 24. If I could speak to other parents facing […]

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An Advent Devotional: God’s Promises and The Second Coming

December 15, AD2017 0 Comments
An Advent Devotional: God’s Promises and The Second Coming

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.—2 Peter 3:8 The Second Reading at Mass last Sunday, 10th December, was from Peter 2 (from which the opening quote was taken).  Our priest gave a homily based on this […]

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Christ Be Our Light! Reflections on Christmas, Chanukkah, and Strange Physics

December 6, AD2017 2 Comments
Christ Be Our Light! Reflections on Christmas, Chanukkah, and Strange Physics

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. First Letter of John 1:5 (KJV) And they made new holy vessels, and brought in the candlestick, and the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. […]

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Wrinkles in Space – How Science Works, with a Perspective on Faith

November 6, AD2017 0 Comments
Wrinkles in Space – How Science Works, with a Perspective on Faith

“Gravity is a contributing factor in nearly 73 percent of all accidents involving falling objects.” – Dave Barry The 2017 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Rainier Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish for their work on detecting gravitational waves, “wrinkles in space”. For a detailed account of the award to these old guys […]

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Catholic Thoughts on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement

September 28, AD2017 0 Comments
Catholic Thoughts on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement

On Yom Kippur, the ritual trial reaches its conclusion. The people finally drop all their defenses and excuses and throw themselves on the mercy of the court, yet the same people never lose the conviction that they will be pardoned. This atonement is by divine grace; it is above and beyond the individual effort or […]

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Did Neanderthals Have a Soul?

September 6, AD2017 30 Comments
Did Neanderthals Have a Soul?

The magisterium of the Church takes a direct interest in the question of evolution, because it touches on the conception of man, whom Revelation tells us is created in the image and likeness of God Pius XII underlined the essential point: if the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the […]

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It Doesn’t Pay to Argue on the Internet

July 2, AD2015 9 Comments
It Doesn’t Pay to Argue on the Internet

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6 “At BioLogos, “gracious dialogue” means demonstrating the grace of Christ as we dialogue together about the tough issues of science and faith.” From FAQ at Biologos Forum A LESSON FROM TWO HOMILIES, REDUX Last […]

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The Theology of Science-Fiction: IV — End-Times

June 8, AD2015 23 Comments
The Theology of Science-Fiction: IV — End-Times

  “Because science fiction primarily deals with the future, it must inevitably deal with the end of the world, and thus SF overlaps more closely with apocalyptic literature than with any other type of religious writing…[and] focuses on eschatology–ideas about ‘the last days’, the end of the world as we know it and the dawning […]

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The Theology of Science-Fiction: III — Does Data Have a Soul?

May 25, AD2015 17 Comments
The Theology of Science-Fiction: III — Does Data Have a Soul?

Theological Objection: “Thinking is a function of man’s immortal soul. God has given an immortal soul to every man and woman, but not to any other animal or to machines. Hence no animal or machine can think.” Rebuttal to Objection: “It appears to me that [The Theological Objection] implies a serious restriction of the omnipotence […]

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The Theology of Science-Fiction: Part II — Paradise Not Lost?

May 11, AD2015 1 Comment
The Theology of Science-Fiction: Part II — Paradise Not Lost?

  “If there are many planets inhabited by sentient creatures, as most astronomers (including Jesuits), now suspect, then `each one of such planets (solar or non-solar)’ must fall into one of three categories: (a) Inhabited by sentient creatures, but without souls; so to be treated with compassion but extra-evangelically. (b) Inhabited by sentient creatures with […]

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The Theology of Science-Fiction: Part I — Some Speculative Fiction Gospels*

April 14, AD2015 12 Comments
The Theology of Science-Fiction: Part I — Some Speculative Fiction Gospels*

“…when I was not prey to the temptations of this world, I devoted my nights to imagining other worlds. … There is nothing better than imagining other worlds…to forget the painful one we live in. At least so I thought then. I hadn’t yet realized that, imagining other worlds, you end up changing this one.”Umberto […]

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The Fifth Commandment: The Slippery Slope of Euthanasia

March 16, AD2015 1 Comment
The Fifth Commandment:  The Slippery Slope of Euthanasia

“On the morning of February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the law against assisted suicide was unconstitutional. Canada now joins a small, elite group of madly progressive countries in abandoning the most fundamental principle in all of nature.” Joe Bissonette, “Physician-assisted suicide and spiritual suicide” (Crisis Magazine) “He hath set fire […]

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The Fifth Commandment: Standing Firm on Capital Punishment

March 2, AD2015 29 Comments
The Fifth Commandment: Standing Firm on Capital Punishment

From “Zola Levitt Ministries” “A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I […]

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Galileo Redux: Church Meddling in Science?

February 16, AD2015 8 Comments
Galileo Redux: Church Meddling in Science?

“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings  “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can […]

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