According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Miracle of Light

The Miracle of Light
Today’s entry features an essay from writer Jill Carattini, managing editor of “A Slice of Infinity” at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. Jill’s essay addresses the way that, far from seeking to disenchant the world, the most advanced theoretical science (in addition to the ordinary and careful examination of the natural world) can help us to appreciate the beauty and intractable mystery of the world, leaving us in awe of its creator and redeemer. The essay is also but one example of several recent forays into the topic of the science/faith dialogue by writers for RZIM who seek to dispel the myth that the two fields are in necessary conflict (see here and here), suggesting that this work of reconciliation is also one of apologetics and evangelism.

“The Miracle of Light”

by Jill Carattini
December 4, 2011

Scientists refer to the year 1905 as Albert Einstein's "annus mirabilis"—his year of miracles. While working as a patent clerk, Einstein spent his free time debating physics and working on theories that would end up altering the way we think of the world. All within a few months, he completed a series of papers, the least of which included his theory of special relativity and the renowned equation E=mc². Yet among these better-known contributions was also his most revolutionary contribution. Over a hundred years ago, Einstein submitted a paper that directly challenged the orthodoxy of physics. The paper described his radical insight into the nature of light as a particle.

In 1905, all physicists explained light in the same way. Whether the flame of a candle or the glow of the sun, light was known to be a wave. It was a time-honored, unquestionable fact. For over a century, scientists had grown in their certainty of this, citing experiments that made certain the wave nature of light, while overlooking some of its stranger behaviors. For example, when light strikes certain metals, an electron is lost in the process; but if light were only an electromagnetic wave, this would be impossible. Albert Einstein would not overlook these peculiarities, proposing that light was not only a wave, but consisted of localized particles.

Einstein knew that his theory was radical, even mentioning to friends that the subject matter of his March paper was "very revolutionary." Yet perhaps the most helpful aspect of his theory was the unassuming attitude with which he presented his far-reaching thoughts. He seemed to recognize that there was an unfathomable quality within the dual nature of light, and that understanding light at all was a lofty feat. "What I see in nature," he once noted, "is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility."

Science has of course had many advances since Einstein, though with these advances we seem to have misplaced our acceptance of the unfathomable. Anything unknown often seems just a matter of time until it is understood and explainable. And yet, most of us still experience moments of awe where we are suddenly comfortable again with mystery, or awed even that we should discover this thing in the first place. It seems obvious at these moments that the mind is more than a flux of explainable atoms, if for no other reason than that it recognizes in awe and beauty that there is more to see and know.

One of the things about Christianity that I admire most is its comfort with mystery even in knowing.

"O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
'For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?' "

The Christian story is about a God who goes out of his way to know and to be known, to offer us his name, to call us by name, to show us he is worth knowing and loving. Jesus came near so that God would be fathomable. And yet how unfathomable is a God who comes near? There is so much to life and mystery that is unplumbed by our own minds, even as it is held in our minds and in minds long before our own. Why do we have these minds? Why this instinct to search and know? How is it that we should know God by name, or know the voice of the Son? And how shall we respond to the kind of God who invites a love of knowing him:

"This is what the LORD says,
he who made the earth,
the LORD who formed it and established it —
the LORD is his name:
'Call to me and I will answer you
and tell you great and unsearchable things
you do not know' "
(Jeremiah 33:2-3).

In 1905, Einstein's departure from the established beliefs about light so disturbed the scientific community that his particle theory of light was not accepted for two decades. His theory was and remains a revolutionary concept. The idea of light being both a wave and a particle is still a strange mystery to grasp. Even so, it is incredible that we should know light enough to marvel at it. And it is altogether unfathomable that the light of all people has come near enough to be known.

First published October 24, 2011 as “The Miracle of Light,” Slice of Infinity 2577. Used by permission of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).

Jill Carattini is a native of Pentwater, Michigan, and resides with her husband Tony in Atlanta, Georgia. Her early suspicion of Christ's uniqueness and her compulsion towards thinking theologically led to a degree in religion from Hope College and a Masters of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary. She is ordained as a specialized minister in the Reformed Church of America and has enjoyed living and working in diverse ministry settings, from the inner city to university campuses to a local mission church in a Native American community in Oklahoma. Widely read in theology, aesthetics, church history, and justice, she has also studied in the Middle East in order to better understanding the culture, history, and politics of the region’s conflict. All of those contribute to her work writing and editing A Slice of Infinity, RZIM’s daily reading considering themes from theology and culture to philosophy and the arts, aimed at reaching into the culture with words of challenge, words of truth, and words of hope.

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