Eratosthenes Experiment – September 24, 2018

Teachers! Take note! Have your students take part in the Eratosthenes Experiment – Sept. 24, 2018! (I suggested this experiment as a classroom experiment a few years ago – Was Eratosthenes Correct? A Multi-Class Science Project

Eratosthenes was a mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist who lived in ancient Greece. In 240 B.C. Eratosthenes made the first good measurement of the size of Earth’s circumference.

You can join with classrooms around the world and repeat his experiment with your students! The Experiment: Ask your students to calculate the circumference of the Earth and submit your data to the experiment’s website. Find the time of your local noon at your location. Please use the web-based NOAA Solar Calculator or Solar Calculator or the Stellarium software (A short guide for using Stellarium to calculate your local noon at your location can be found here in English and in Italian).

Take a one-meter stick (H= 1 meter, see figure below) and place it vertically to the ground. Ask your students to measure the length of the stick to make sure it is one meter long. At the time scheduled to conduct the experiment, … Continue reading →

Source: Eratosthenes Experiment – September 24, 2018


“How Will They Know?”

This will be on the back page of the Fishkill UMC bulletin for Sunday, September 02, 2018 (the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B).

It is interesting that the Scripture readings for this Sunday come at a time when schools are starting in the area and have begun in many other areas of the country.

The “Song of Solomon”, along with the companion books in this section of the Old Testament and James in the New Testament are called the “wisdom” books.  The emphasis in these books is not so much what we know about God but how one lives in response to God.

Jesus chastises the “learned” ones for forgetting why the law was the law.  There were reasons why things were done but those reasons had become tradition.

When we teach something and say it must be learned but give no reason why it must be learned, it becomes something for the moment and quickly forgotten.

Our lives in Christ cannot simply be blind obedience to a set of laws set down so many years ago.  Rather our lives must be a true reflection of the nature of God.

Wisdom is more than just learning material; it is knowing what to do with it.                                                     ~~Tony Mitchell

The WesleyNexus Newsletter

The new WesleyNexus newsletter is now available.  Topics this month include:

Dr. Haught speaks at Potomac United Methodist Church, September 22nd

The New Cosmic Story | Robert Wright & John Haught [The Wright Show]

Quotes from John Haught

A Theologian of Renewal by Andrew Cohen


Are faith and science contradictory? Or complementary? By Christina Zenner

ASTROTHEOLOGY: Science and Theology Meet Extraterrestrial Life

Discovery & Faith: Genesis 1: Reading from God’s Two Books

ASA Annual Meeting Report: Bioethics, Bio- and Digital Technology by Dr. Paul H. Carr

Monthly Clergy Letter Project Newsletter

The new issue of Clergy Project Newsletter is now available on-line.  

In this Clergy Letter Project update you’ll find the following six items:

  1. The God of Retribution vs The God of Love (read on the web);
  2. Astrobiology News for August 2018: A Planet is Born! (read on the web).
  3. The Clergy Letter Project Reaches a New Milestone (read on the web);
  4. Evolution Weekend 2019: A Free Book Offer (read on the web);
  5. Are Faith and Science Contradictory? Or Complementary? (read on the web);
  6. Embracing Ignorance: How Modern Science Helps Us Rediscover Our Ancient Faith (read on the web).

Please take the time to look at these points and join in the celebration of Evolution Weekend 2019.

The Early Church and Genesis

This is an excerpt from something I have been working on.

Why Was the Story Told in Genesis?

We can only begin to imagine what the author of Genesis might have been thinking when he or she recorded the words that chronicle the beginning of the universe and this world.

Perhaps it was the end of the day and families were gathered around the fire.  One of the children in the group may have very well asked one of the elders how it was that they had gotten to that moment in time and space.  And the elder may very well have responded, “In the beginning” and the lesson began.

It was a story told from the heart as well as the mind and it reflected the knowledge and understanding of the world at that time.  It was as much a story of how a group of individuals came to be and was an explanation of their relationship with God as much as with this world.  That story, how we came to be a group of individuals in a relationship with God, is still a valid story today, some three thousand years later, and one which needs to be retold time and time again.

What Did the Early Church Think Happened?

From the beginning, many early Christian thinkers saw Genesis 1 – 2 as an allegorical tale that became known as the Accommodation view.  In this view, Genesis 1-2 was written in a simple allegorical fashion to make it easy for people of that time to understand.  It should be noted that I developed my own idea of the Genesis tale before I learned of this idea of accommodation.

See John Walton’s Reconciling Science with Scripture and Denis Lamoureux’s The Ancient Science in the Bible and The Message-Incident Principle from the Science and the Sacred blog on Biologos web site. o understand how Genesis was interpreted during ancient times.

Origen, the 3rd century philosopher and theologian, provided one of the earliest examples on the topic of creation.  He opposed the idea that the creation story was an historical and literal account of how God created the world.  His views echoed that of even earlier voices advocating a more symbolic interpretation (Peter C. Bouteneff, Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008; cited in “How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin?”)

Saint Augustine of Hippo, a North Africa Bishop in the early church, wrote several books that focused on Genesis 1 – 2 (Gillian Clark, Augustine: The Confessions, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993; cited in “How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin?”).  He presented the argument in The Literal Meaning of Genesis that Genesis was written so that people would understand it.  He also believed that God created the world with the capacity to develop, a view in harmony with today’s understanding of evolution (Bishop of Hippo Saint Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Ancient Christian Writers, no. 41, New York: Newman Press, 1982; for a further discussion of Augustine’s perspective on creation, see chapter 6 of Francis Collins’ The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, New York: Free Press, 2006, as well as chapters 8 and 15 of Alister McGrath’s A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009; cited in “How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin?”.)

Later Christian Thought

St. Thomas Aquinas, the thirteenth-century philosopher and theologian, did not fear the possible contradiction between the Genesis creation story and scientific findings.  In Summa Theologica, he argued in favor of the view that God created all things to have potential:

On the day on which God created the heaven and the earth, He created also every plant of the field, not, indeed, actually, but “before it sprung up in the earth,” that is, potentially.…All things were not distinguished and adorned together, not from a want of power on God’s part, as requiring time in which to work, but that due order might be observed in the instituting of the world (St. Thomas Aquinas, “Question 74: All the Seven Days in Common,” in The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, 2nd ed., trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (London: Burns Oates and Washbourne, 1920). Also available online at “Summa Theologica,” New Advent (accessed Oct 21, 2011); cited in “How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin?”).

John Wesley thought the scriptures were written in terms suitable for their audience. He wrote,

The inspired penman in this history [Genesis] … [wrote] for the Jews first and, calculating his narratives for the infant state of the church, describes things by their outward sensible appearances, and leaves us, by further discoveries of the divine light, to be led into the understanding of the mysteries couched under them.

Wesley also argued the scriptures “were written not to gratify our curiosity [of the details] but to lead us to God” (John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, Grand Rapids, MI: Francis Asbury Press, 1987, 22, quoted in Falk, Coming to Peace, 35. Also available online at John Wesley, “John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible,” Wesley Center Online, accessed Oct 21, 2011; cited in “How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin?”).

B. Warfield, perhaps the most noted Princeton theologian of the nineteenth century, accepted evolution as giving the proper scientific account of human origins (Mark A. Noll and David N. Livingston, eds., B. B. Warfield: Evolution, Science, and Scripture, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000, 14; cited in “How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin?”).


History has shown us that scientists and religious leaders were more often working in concert than they were at odds with one another. The discoveries of modern science do not serve as the cause for abandonment of one’s faith or being contradictory to the Scripture but, rather, to serve as a guidepost for a proper understanding of the Scripture’s meaning.

While those promoting a worldview that requires people to make a choice between faith and science do so for narrow sectarian reasons; most religious individuals need not make such a choice. Indeed, there’s nothing in their faith that precludes a full acceptance of the best that science offers (December, 2014, newsletter of the Clergy Letter Project).

Augustine offers this advice:

In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture (Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, 41; cited in “How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin?”)

How Did God Create?  Different Views Christian Hold (STEAM Grant Series)

Seeing Too Many Enemies of Science in a Faith-Full World – The Catholic Astronomer

Planet Earth is a world of the faith-full.  And, it seems Earth is likely to become yet more faith-full during the next few decades.  The scientific community will have to embrace that faith-full world if it wants a scientifically literate world. A few years ago the Pew Research Center published an article entitled “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050” that projected the growth of various religious groups.  Their projections, among religions, were for Christians and Hindus to maintain their share of the world’s population, for Muslims to grow substantially, and for Buddhists and Folk Religions to shrink.  However, Pew projected the overall share of the world’s population that identifies with a religion to grow—from 83.6% of the world’s population in 2010, to 86.8% in 2050—as the religiously unaffiliated, which includes atheists and agnostics, drops from 16.4% of the population today to 13.2% in 2050.  Pew notes that while there is a belief among some that increasing economic … Continue reading →

Source: Seeing Too Many Enemies of Science in a Faith-Full World – The Catholic Astronomer

The History of Science and Faith

The following are a series of blogs from the Emerging Scholars Blog relating the history of science and faith.