Just Whose Creation is This?

Paul C. Broun by U.S. Department of Agriculture

Congressman Paul Broun struck something into the hearts of empiricists everywhere with his remark that evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell.”  Some of us were put off, others angered, possibly amused, or else afraid for the fate of the nation.  Greg Laden writes, “this man is saying that the Bible, which he takes absolutely literally, teaches us how to run our public policy and everything in society.”  And while Broun may be on the fringe of modern Christianity, he typifies today’s Republican platform, and even sits on the House Committee for Science, Space and Technology.  On Starts With a Bang, Ethan Siegel says that if Broun is right, “then the Universe itself is lying to us.”  Tricky universe!  Ethan concludes, “considering the entire Universe was once so hot it had no neutral atoms, no atomic nuclei, and was entirely a furnace of ionized plasma, it did all come from the pit of hell!”  (And as space continues to expand, we have a lot more heavens to look forward to.)

Mr. Broun, if you believe God created the physical universe, then how can you deny physical laws?  If you think the Devil is concocting cosmic background radiation and fossilized dinosaurs to lead us astray, then whose Creation is this?  If you are a second-century Gnostic and believe the Demiurge created the physical universe and God’s reality is unseen, then what meaning can the book of Genesis, as a literal account of creation, possibly have?   If there’s more to the universe than meets the eye, can’t the same be true of the Old Testament?

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Celestial Square One

On Dynamics of Cats, Steinn Sigurðsson flags a few foreboding articles on the future of NASA. Sigurðsson says the orbiting telescope Galex, or Galaxy Evolution Explorer, will be shut down later this year despite continuing to function. NASA has withdrawn from the international research mission known as ExoMars, and many other “2011-12 programs appear effectively suspended pending the 2012-13 budget, to the point where an entire funding cycle will be lost for some lines.” Meanwhile, Ethan Siegel conjures up an apt scenario on Starts With a Bang, writing “Let’s pretend that, for all of our history on Earth, we had never once bothered to look up with any instruments beyond what our own eyes could offer. […] What would we find, today, if we turned our attention upwards for the first time ever?” From neighboring planets to the stars to extended nebulae and distant galaxies, our existing technology would allow us to peer deeper and deeper into the universe and quickly arrive at a conclusion that historically took centuries: the Big Bang theory. Of course, we’ve employed every technological advance every step of the way. There’s something innately human about keeping an eye on the stars. And although old habits die hard, they also run out of money.