Century Marks

Century Marks

Self-understanding

Caltech physicist Sean Carroll says he will never accept funds from the Templeton Foun­da­tion because the organization blurs the line between science and religion and suggests that they are two different paths to the same ultimate truth. In a rebuttal, Connor Wood calls Sean Carroll’s view “a very nice textbook example of science chauvinism” that overlooks the variety of science projects Templeton funds, from the roots of human compassion to the fundamental nature of time. Templeton also funds research that helps us better understand religion itself. “Religion is the structure upon which culture rests,” says Wood. “If we fail to understand religion, we fail to understand ourselves” (Patheos, May 17).

Free at last

Erskine Johnson, an African American who changed his name to Ndume Olatushani, spent 28 years in maximum-security prisons for a murder he didn’t commit. He never even set foot in Tennessee, where the murder took place. His life in prison hit rock bottom after learning that his mother and a niece were killed in an automobile accident. He then taught himself to paint and he painted images and scenes he imagined outside his prison walls—mostly of women and children, often with gentle faces. Asked if he’s bitter about the years spent in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, he says: “I let go of anger a long time ago. In letting go of anger, I freed myself” (Nashville Arts Magazine, May).

Christian science?

A group of paleontologists capped off a conference by visiting the Creation Museum in Kentucky. The museum’s mission is to “bring the pages of the Bible to life.” Some of the paleontologists present were Christians who were more saddened by what they saw than humored. “I think it’s very bad science and even worse theology—and the theology is far more offensive to me,” said Lisa Park, a Presbyterian who teaches at the University of Akron. She was particularly saddened by one exhibit that blamed wars, famine and natural disasters on belief in evolution. Daryl Domning, professor at Howard University said: “This bothers me as a scientist and as a Christian, because it’s just as much a distortion and misrepresentation of Christianity as it is of science” (AFP).

Fuel up

Leaders at the Pentagon are not among those who deny the reality of global warming. They’re working on strategies to respond the effects of climate change. They are also trying to reduce depen­dence on fossil fuels through the use of alternative energy. The Defense Depart­ment consumes 90 percent of fuel used by the federal government, at a cost of $16 billion in 2008. No wonder the Pen­ta­gon is ex­perimenting with fighter jets fueled by a combination of jet fuel, cooking grease and algae (Orion, May/June).

Rain down

From the heart of New Mexico to West Texas and Oklahoma, the pressures of drought have led Christian preachers and Catholic priests to encourage prayer processions and American Indian tribes to use their closely guarded traditions to coax Mother Nature to deliver some much needed rain. An interfaith service in Oklahoma City was held where Christian, Muslim and Jewish prayers were used for rain. The Catholic bishop in Lubbock is planning a special mass at which farmers can have their seeds and soil blessed. The archbishop of New Mexico’s largest diocese has turned to social media to urge parishioners to pray: “Look to our dry hills and fields, dear God, and bless them with the living blessing of soft rain. Then the land will rejoice and rivers will sing your praises, and the hearts of all will be made glad” (AP).