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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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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 1 Comment
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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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 6 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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