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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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Does Quantum Mechanics Provide an Analogy for the Trinity?

January 19, AD2015 13 Comments
Does Quantum Mechanics Provide an Analogy for the Trinity?

  Introduction A stumbling block in my conversion process was dealing with the concept of the Holy Trinity–as a Jew, a cornerstone of my minimal religious faith was the Sh’ma Yisrael, that God was One: “שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יהוה אֶחָד –  Sh’ma Yisra’el YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Eḥad” Hear O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD […]

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“As we forgive those who trespass against us”. Part III–Free Will and the Problem of God’s Grace

December 22, AD2014 6 Comments
“As we forgive those who trespass against us”.  Part III–Free Will and the Problem of God’s Grace

“Do not say ‘It is the Lord’s doing that I fell away’, for he does not do what he hates.    Do not say ‘It was he who led me astray’,        for he has no need of the sinful…….. It was he who created mankind in the beginning,        and […]

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Tipping the Sacred Cow of Science–Confessions of A Science Agnostic* **

November 24, AD2014 6 Comments
Tipping the Sacred Cow of Science–Confessions of A Science Agnostic*  **

  Definition of “agnostic” (Oxford): “having a doubtful or noncommittal attitude toward something”  “Behind the tireless efforts of the investigator there lurks a stronger, more mysterious drive:  it is existence and reality that one wishes to comprehend.” Albert Einstein, Essays in Science. “In support of realism there seem to be only those ‘reasons of the […]

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“As we forgive those who trespass against us.” Part II: The Moral Responsibility of Evil-Doers

October 10, AD2014 16 Comments
“As we forgive those who trespass against us.” Part II: The Moral Responsibility of Evil-Doers

British woman who joined ISIS calls for beheading of Christians Headline, Christian Today, September 1st, 2014 New York man charged with hate crimes for seven ‘knockout’ assaults Headline, CNN Justice, January 6, 2014 Homegrown jihadist shoots N.J. teen 8 times, calling it a ‘just kill’: report Headline, Washington Times, September 18th, 2014 Scandal of the […]

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“As we forgive those who trespass against us.” Part I: Free Will and Divine Providence

September 27, AD2014 8 Comments
“As we forgive those who trespass against us.” Part I: Free Will and Divine Providence

 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Matthew 18:21 (KJV) “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy, 30: “To be a Christian means to […]

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St. John Paul II’s Rapprochement with Science: A Quest for Common Understanding

September 1, AD2014 5 Comments
St. John Paul II’s Rapprochement with Science: A Quest for Common Understanding

“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 flourish.”  St. John Paul II, Letter to Rev. George Coyne, S.J., Director of the Vatican Observatory.  “Christianity possesses the source of its justification […]

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God’s Gift to Man–The Transforming Power of Music

August 5, AD2014 7 Comments
God’s Gift to Man–The Transforming Power of Music

“Music has power to soothe the savage breast.” William Congreve, The Mourning Bride  “This so-called ‘music,’ they would have to concede, is in some way efficacious to humans. Yet it has no concepts, and makes no propositions; it lacks images, symbols, the stuff of language. It has no power of representation. It has no relation […]

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Are We Special? The Anthropic Coincidences*

July 31, AD2014 8 Comments
Are We Special?  The Anthropic Coincidences*

Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth—the universe looks suspiciously like a fix. The issue concerns the very laws of nature themselves. For 40 years, physicists and cosmologists have been quietly collecting examples of all too convenient “coincidences” and special features in the underlying laws of the universe that seem to be necessary […]

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Creatio ex Nihilo: Theology versus (?) Physics*

July 15, AD2014 20 Comments
Creatio ex Nihilo: Theology versus (?) Physics*

“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.” Gen 1:1-2 (KJV) “The laws of nature themselves tells us that not only can the universe have […]

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Creation: What Science Can and Cannot Say

July 2, AD2014 279 Comments
Creation:  What Science Can and Cannot Say

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Psalm 19A (KJV). “The laws of nature themselves tells us that not only can the universe have popped into existence like a proton and have required nothing in terms of energy but also that it is possible that nothing caused the big bang. ” […]

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The Holy Ghost vs. The Holy Spirit

June 9, AD2014 33 Comments
The Holy Ghost vs. The Holy Spirit

” . . . the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings”. Gerard Manley Hopkins “Your soul is the ship, the Holy Spirit is the wind; he blows into your will and your soul goes forward . . . ” Fr. Francis Libermann, cofounder of the order C.S.Sp (Congregation of the Holy […]

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Which is real–Science or God?

May 13, AD2014 6 Comments
Which is real–Science or God?

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.‘ I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass ” The absence […]

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Suffering–a Catholic|Jewish Perspective*

April 14, AD2014 6 Comments
Suffering–a Catholic|Jewish Perspective*

Whether we will or not, we must suffer…There are two ways of suffering — to suffer with love, and to suffer without love. The saints suffered everything with joy, patience, and perseverance, because they loved. As for us, we suffer with anger, vexation, and weariness, because we do not love. If we loved God, we […]

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Should We Shun the God of the Old Testament?

March 17, AD2014 22 Comments
Should We Shun the God of the Old Testament?

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion “…the dangers of believing in a God […]

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Quantum Divine Action: The Delayed Choice Experiment

February 19, AD2014 5 Comments
Quantum Divine Action: The Delayed Choice Experiment

“There was a young man who said, God Must think it exceedingly odd If he finds that this tree Continues to be When there’s no one about in the Quad.’ REPLY– ‘Dear Sir: Your astonishment’s odd: I am always about in the Quad. And that’s why the tree Will continue to be, Since observed by […]

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Evangelization: Don’t Argue on the Internet

February 14, AD2014 1 Comment
Evangelization: Don’t Argue on the Internet

“Non in dialectica placuit Deo salvum facere populum suum” (“It is not by ar­guing that God chose to save His people”).  -St. Ambrose “Fortunately, there have always been pastors who have understood more about theology than most professors.”  -Karl Barth A recent article in Crisis magazine by James Kalb reminded me of two homilies I […]

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Christianity: Counterfactuals vs Faith

February 11, AD2014 4 Comments
Christianity: Counterfactuals vs Faith

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C.S. Lewis “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.” – St. Paul, Eph 2:8 Several weeks ago, Alan […]

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Are All Great Scientists Atheists?

January 6, AD2014 17 Comments
Are All Great Scientists Atheists?

“The laws of nature are written by the hand of God in the language of mathematics.”  Galileo Galilei “Certain it is that a conviction, akin to religious feeling, of the rationality or intelligibility of the world lies behind all scientific work of a higher order…This firm belief, a belief bound up with deep feeling, in […]

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In His Image–Does Yoda Have a Soul?

December 23, AD2013 15 Comments
In His Image–Does Yoda Have a Soul?

\”What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his […]

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God, Beauty, and Symmetry in Science

November 24, AD2013 6 Comments
God, Beauty, and Symmetry in Science

“Now, may our God be our hope. He Who made all things is better than all things. He Who made all beautiful things is more beautiful than all of them. …Learn to love the Creator in His creature and the Maker in what He has made.(St.Augustine of Hippo, Commentary on Psalm 39) ..and there is no […]

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Top Down to Jesus–A Jewish Physicist\’s Conversion Story

October 28, AD2013 7 Comments
Top Down to Jesus–A Jewish Physicist\’s Conversion Story

“Be not afraid of faith: some are born with faith, some achieve faith, and some have faith thrust upon them.” (with apologies to William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night.) In my very first blog I promised to tell the story of my conversion—how an agnostic Jewish scientist became a Catholic in his senior years, to the horror of many […]

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Quantum Mechanics and the Real Presence–Which Reality are We to Believe?

September 29, AD2013 3 Comments
Quantum Mechanics and the Real Presence–Which Reality are We to Believe?

Tantum ergo Sacramentum                 Down in adoration falling veneremur cernui;                                  Lo! The sacred Host we hail; et antiquum documentum                   Lo! O\’er ancient forms […]

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Let\’s Hear It for St. Augustine: A Theologian for Our Times

September 1, AD2013 3 Comments
Let\’s Hear It for St. Augustine: A Theologian for Our Times

\”Happy those who feast on wisdom and savor her knowledge, She will nourish and refresh them.\” Happy Those Who Feast on Wisdom, Hymn for the Office of Readings, 28th August Who is your favorite saint? Mine is St. Augustine (Hippo), whose feast day was last Wednesday, August the 28th . Rather than giving his biography and conversion […]

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Mathematics, the Handmaiden of Theology: Augustine and Cantor on the Infinity of God

August 22, AD2013 6 Comments
Mathematics, the Handmaiden of Theology: Augustine and Cantor on the Infinity of God

This is a commentary on a fine article by Adam Drozdek (Associate Professor of Computer Science at Duquesne University), an article that has great insights on mathematics and its relation to theology: Beyond Infinity: Augustine and Cantor. Although I\’ll try to summarize the main points of his article, I urge the reader to go to the original […]

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