Tag Archives: religion

solar eclipse

The Day The Sun Went Backwards.

By: Chris Warren.

It was so fast, but so grand! The total solar eclipse of 2017 was long anticipated and especially exciting because it went from coast to coast and gave hundreds of millions of Americans a rare chance to see firsthand the wonders of nature. A solar eclipse is an impressive stellar dance with little bit of luck thrown in. If there is a astronomical jackpot, a total solar eclipse is the big prize.

There are accounts in the Bible where God makes the Sun stand still (Joshua 10:1-15) and go backwards (Isaiah 38:8). There is zero scientific evidence that these events literally happened, and I doubt an absolute God would make a cosmically enormous exception to the laws of physics that He Himself set in place just to prove Himself to a human (walking on water and burning bushes notwithstanding), but astronomers have plausibly attributed these accounts to eclipses.

Now imagine a time when mankind had no scientific understanding of the solar system. There were no telescopes, no computers, no way to collect, process or record large amounts of complex data. Very few people were educated, and the ones that were did not know much by today’s standards. In that context it would not be a big stretch to believe a solar eclipse was the Sun “standing still” or “going backwards” or going through some phenomenon that would be ascribed to a miracle of the Deity because there was no other explanation.

solar eclipse

But what was missed in the festival atmosphere that most eclipse-watchers took part in last Monday is that a solar eclipse is the work of a Deity! If you believe that the entire universe was created by God, then it only makes sense that a solar eclipse was purposely engineered into the plan. If you believe the universe was not intelligently designed we are all the winners of a cosmic lottery, then your faith in mathematical probability is infinitely greater than my faith in God. That one star and one moon among countless quadrillions can line up to produce a moving shadow on a nearby inhabited planet –and it’s all due to pure random chance– is more than my mortal mind can accept.

A solar eclipse is a way of demonstrating that science and religion are not mutually exclusive. Yes, of course the event has a totally logical explanation solidly based in physics and geometry. But where did physics and geometry come from? It has been there from the moment God created the universe. Mankind did not invent science…it was discovered.

God is not a magician. He placed all these unmovable laws of science in place to achieve His higher purpose and show us humans that He is in control. It is takes some serious cognitive disconnect for one to say they believe in God, but the universe happened by chance. A random god is not really a god.

Celebrating the solar eclipse does not require one to either reject religion or reject science. The non-religious will use accounts from the Bible such as Joshua or Isaiah to dispute and even mock those who believe in God. What the non-believers miss in their own cognitive disconnect is that these stories were created by uneducated people who did not know anything about astronomy. The glaring scientific errors in Joshua and Isaiah do not alter the larger point of these Biblical lessons: Those who witnessed these events were so moved by an act of God demonstrating His science that they recorded their observations so others could experience the marvel of His work.

Today hundreds of millions of people still find hope and inspiration in Bible stories from thousands of years ago. Believers know exactly where –and from whom– the solar eclipse comes. Everyone else is just not paying attention.

mother teresa 2

Mother Teresa, For The Ages

By: Chris Warren.

I had started an article about Mother Teresa over a year ago, then changed my plans and never finished it. Now that Mother Theresa is officially Saint Teresa of Calcutta, it’s a good time to finish the story, even though the story of Mother Teresa will never end, nor should it.

Mother Teresa’s path to greatness started the same way as most great people: She wasn’t looking for greatness, she was just looking to make a difference. After starting the Missionaries of Charity religious order in 1950, Mother Teresa set out on a quiet mission to serve the poorest of the poor, the forgotten, the unseen, the unwanted, the untouchables.

Earning a Nobel Peace Prize, several honorary doctorate degrees, dozens of other awards and honors, being celebrated by Popes and Presidents, and even having an airport named after her was never part of the plan. Through it all, this woman of God kept plugging along and never diverted from her calling.

What impresses me most about Mother Teresa is her sense of humanity. Not only in her public service to others, but also her private personal struggles, admissions of doubt in her own faith, and her open acknowledgement that she was really just a regular person, a sinner in need of God’s salvation and no better or more deserving than all the rest of us.

It’s easy to see someone like her as some perfect being who operates on a level the rest of us will never realize. Yet, Mother Teresa herself would be the first person to deny having a special pipeline to holiness. She did not see herself as being much different than those she served.

If we dig into the biographies of figures who changed the world by peacefully serving others we find people who were, well, just people. They had faults. They did things they later regretted. They sometimes hurt others and were hurt by others. At their roots they were ordinary folk who somehow found a way to rise up and do big things in spite of their personal shortcomings. Their greatness was not that they were flawless, because they weren’t, and they knew it. Their greatness came from their faith that they could overcome both internal and external obstacles and live what they believed.

These “star throwers” know they are never going to save everyone, but that’s not the point. It did not stop Mother Teresa because trying to save everyone and coming up short is more virtuous than using the impossibility of the task as an excuse not to try at all. Her effort had the added benefit of being an example to others. Mother Teresa never knew how many others saw her good works and were inspired to go out and do something good themselves.

mother teresa 1

Pope Francis recently Tweeted, “To offer today’s world the witness of mercy is a task from which none of us can feel exempted.” This serendipitous statement is everything Mother Teresa lived for. Mother Teresa does not live on in the form of anything she directly did to help others, although those contributions are indeed memorable. Her gift to the world, and what she would want as her legacy, was her role as a guiding light for the rest of us to join her. As Pope Francis teaches, none of us are exempted.

No one ever received God’s grace, much less became a Saint, by watching others perform acts of mercy. To that end, the world’s adulation of Mother Teresa does not mean much if the world will not also walk a path of selfless service. Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s message for the ages is that she did not want to be admired; she wanted to be emulated.

Author’s Note: Please also see my related article, Strong Enough To Throw A Star.


pope francis

Pope Francis Crosses The Line With Class And Grace.

By: Chris Warren.

This is a big week for American Roman Catholics as Pope Francis is making his first ever visit to the USA. The media acts like he is some sort of visionary, but that only shows how little the media knows about the history of the papacy. It’s not unprecedented for a pontiff to dabble in politics and social issues; Pope Francis is doing it with an amazing level of class and grace. Popes have been inserting themselves into secular matters for centuries, and in many cases it went far beyond mere “dabbling”.

Pope Francis’ position on climate change or gay marriage or whatever provides material for endless chatter on the cable news channels. Had electronic media existed in times past, it would have been overloading the circuits with news of how popes were, literally, kingmakers. Pope Julius II (b. 1443, d. 1513) was known as the “warrior pope”. He raised armies and conquered territory, acquired vast art collections, and tore down then rebuilt what is now the present day St. Peter’s Basilica. Julius II was also the guy who hired Michelangelo to paint the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. One can barely imagine the media attention that would ensue if Francis attempted anything close to what Julius II did.

It is somewhat amusing that the media thinks Pope Francis made some huge splash when he gave a few sermons and wrote what is basically the Vatican equivalent of a college term paper on climate change. It’s barely an effort compared to his predecessors. Pope Paul V (b. 1552, d. 1621) put Galileo on trial for daring to suggest that the Earth revolved around the sun. Galileo was found “guilty”, given a light sentence, then was later tried by the Church a second time as a repeat offender. He lived the last few years of his life under house arrest.

Although the Catholic Church no longer places anyone on trial for scientific heresy, that of course does not stop the Church from having an opinion. It’s a fair argument that religion should concern itself only with spiritual matters, but since society by default is also a statement about collective values and beliefs, the line between religion and politics is quite fuzzy.

Pope Francis has been criticized for stepping out on the ledge, so to speak, and making bold statements about secular affairs. If he did not, then what is the point of having a Church? One of the primary purposes of any church is to glorify God by doing good works for others. Is Pope Francis supposed to sit in a chapel and quietly pray the Rosary all day?

One thing that always bothered me about secular people is that they wrap themselves in a veneer of separation of church and state, thinking they have a monopoly on social change. If it were not for organized religion, a lot of problems would go unsolved. I don’t see any atheists building hospitals in Africa or running homeless shelters in inner city America. They aren’t willing to admit it, but secularists do indeed have a de facto church –the government– to which they petition for help and guidance. It takes a lot of nerve for people who think the church should be separate from the state to treat the state as if it were a church.

pope francis

I don’t completely agree with everything Pope Francis says on political and social topics, but I do agree with his selfless message of God’s love. If his words makes people of any (or no) faith look a little more kindly upon their fellow man, then that’s a net plus. Pope Francis is in a position to reach people who otherwise would not have any interest at all in words of faith. He is not a political figure and thankfully is not bound by any political customs. Pope Francis teaches that politics may not belong in religion, but religion most certainly has a place in politics.