- Dr. Thomas Ryba is a senior lecturer and adjunct professor teaching philosophy and religious studies at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies in Purdue University’s College of Arts. He also holds the title of Notre Dame Theologian-in-Residence for the Aquinas Educational Foundation, offering instruction and guidance on staff at the Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center at Purdue.
- Ryba kindly adjusted his schedule to meet with Paul and Bill in December 2019 for an interview about themes central to his 30 years of teaching in service to students and faculty and his enduring interest in the connections between the learning of science and religion.
- We discussed trends which suggest today’s cultural and academic emphasis on science-based knowledge draws young people away from their interest in religious insights and practices. He said that, while he’s seen a doubling in the proportion of students who come to college having received no substantive knowledge of traditional faiths, a sizable percentage of people engaged in the hard sciences at Purdue are actively interested in religion. He added he observes a strong ethos of welcoming of diverse people of faith on the campus.
- Ryba is among those planning an academic conference which this year will explore links between articificial intelligence and human consciousness, including ethics for robots.
- His convictions about a long-standing complementarity of insights from science and faith echo his own graduate research, which explored analogs between Girardian mathematical group theory and an understanding of the Holy Trinity in Christian belief.
- In our TSSM interview, Ryba spoke of a Purdue graduate whose studies of physics and electrical engineering have gone hand-in-hand with his preparation for the Jesuit priesthood. Rev. Luis Jimenez, SJ, continues his academic work at the University of Puerto Rico while serving as a priest and lecturing throughout Latin America, he said.
- Father John Hollowell is a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He is well-known for his blog, “On This Rock.” His pastoral duties include parish leadership and chaplain roles at DePauw University and the Putnamville Correctional Faciltiy.
- Fr. Hollowell spoke with Paul Giesting about the number of priests throughout history who have also been active as scientists. Here is one list of priest-scientists provided by National Catholic Register.
- Pope John Paul II created a commission to review the Galileo Affair, and this resulted in documents officially apologizing for the Catholic Church’s historic, and hyperbolized dispute against Galileo’s statements.
- Here is a link to the book that was discussed: Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.
- Fr. Hollowell and Paul discussed the long-running football rivalry between DePauw University and Wabash College.
- See Fr. Hollowell online at Facebook and YouTube. And also see his interview with well-known digital Catholic voice Brandon Vogt.
- Father Lawrence Machia, OSB, is a Benedictine monk at St. Vincent College and Archabbey in Latrobe, PA. The public can view his 2019 Society of Catholic Scientists presentation on You Tube.
- Father Machia’s talk made reference to Galileo’s letter to Benedetto Castelli.
- Dr. Daniel Vanden Berk is an associate professor of physics at St. Vincent College.
- Fr. Machia and Dr. Vanden Berk, both very interested in astronomy, have worked together on designing planetarium shows on the St. Vincent campus. They have always seen the complementarity of science and religion, faith and reason, in contrast to many people’s rejection of religion based on supposed conflicts with scientific, rational, experiential learning.
- Dr. Vanden Berk was intrigued at an early age by the “Cosmos”- series presented on PBS by Carl Sagan, but the program posited a conflict between science and faith.
- Among Dr. Vanden Berk’s astronomical adventures: working on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He has worked with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, processing data captured by the Digital Sky Survey.
3:00 Machia's time in college, science to theology
5:00 Machia's beginning to discern a religious vocation
8:00 St. Vincent College and the archabbey
10:00 Pre-novitiate and novitiate
15:00 Why TSSM, following on from Lawrence's plans to finish and continue his physics education
16:00 Begin vanden Berk
18:00 Sci-fi influences
20:00 He and his wife's discernment process
22:00 Daniel's early career, the early Hubble mission
24:00 Sky surveys
26:00 Texas sky survey
This ended up being an emergency episode Paul recorded solo, since Zencastr ate all but a few minutes at the beginning of each recording. There seem to be serious problems with Zencastr since Paul’s MacBook died and he had to resurrect his Windows laptop.
The Big Bang; cosmology seems to require a beginning, uncaused cause
Problems of mind; intellect / qualia, possibility of free will.
There is no materialist explanation of human intellect, only assertions of dogma and crude shufflings of the feet.
Ongoing occurrence of miracles, Lourdes medical board, Fatima, Shroud of Turin; Bob Schuchts
There are far too many miracles and supernatural phenomena that defy materialist explanation: Eucharistic miracles, healings at Lourdes and elsewhere, Fatima, demonic possession…
The testimony of the first Christian disciples requires absolutely crazy explanations that themselves defy our best science even if we reject the idea that Jesus rose from the dead.
The continuing existence and expansion of the Church in the face of persecution is likewise historically unparalleled, save only for the continued existence of Judaism.
Second of all, it provides perspective and healing for human problems that nothing else does.
John Warner Wallace from Breakpoint podcast; LAPD homicide officer
What has God done in my life... we GET to that, we don't start there like Mormons
Christianity provides a shockingly direct answer to the question of evil: the transcendent, all-good God is Himself willing to experience it.
The Christian faith continues to spread in Africa and Asia in the face of continued persecution, whether of the violent or of the brainwashing variety. Why is that?
The attempts of Western society to escape Christianity have made us amazingly miserable amid all our material possessions and security. Why do we so halfheartedly turn away from these distractions?
The most characteristic failing of our age, I would argue, is addiction, and addiction has evoked a powerful response in the form of the Twelve Steps. Although these Steps are deliberately offered to everyone with no attempt made to proselytize them to any specific religion—indeed many recovering addicts refuse to identify themselves as religious—nevertheless, the principles of the Steps are completely and suspiciously consistent with Catholic Christianity.
The Catholic intellectual tradition has a tremendously formidable intellectual structure, the most robust philosophical realism, an enormous storehouse of moral philosophy and psychological insight, and a wealth of stories of human drama in the lives of both saints and sinners.
Why do we slave along as intellectual second or third-class citizens in the modern world? I was just looking at the want ads of literary agents and realized that they are all blithely “progressive” members of the stumbling, bumbling cultural vanguard. Our culture is shaped by stories forged out of this nihilistic experience of forgetting an entire civilization’s worth of wisdom.
We are looking to help out at the Society of Catholic Scientists Conference this year, and are in talks about how we can do that. We’re really excited about working to create a greater sense of community among Catholic scientists!
The times below are continuations from the last episode. My opening is about 1:30, and then we start with galaxy motions at "26:00".
26:00 Galaxy motions
27:00 Galaxy rotation curves: do not match Keplerian orbits
28:00 Galaxies spin more like records (laggy soft records); mass distribution is nothing like the Solar System
29:00 Hurricanes as a better analogy for galaxies
30:00 Stars in a galaxy move in local organization
34:00 The opposite extreme: rigid body rotation
35:00 Gravitational attraction between stars creating coherence
36:00 Curiosity that gravity and electrical forces are both inverse square laws
37:00 Poisson's equation
38:00 Summing densities in Poisson's inhomogeneous term is physically meaningless; intensive quantities can't be summed that way
40:00 Gauss' theorem: flux through a surface and quantity within a volume
41:00 Summing is for extensive variables
42:00 Pressure an ambiguous variable
43:00 Future work
44:00 Thermal expansivity: Giauque
45:00 Problems with the glass transition measurements done in the past: need to completely drive out water from the experimental charges
TSSM goes heavy: hard-hitting journalism from one of science's great controversialists, Anne Hofmeister. Intrigued? Disagree? Write me an email (email@example.com) or look her up at Washington University in St. Louis' EPS department website.
The times below are keyed to the start of the interview and ignore my opening (just over 2 min).
1:00 Anne's background (sorry, this part Anne was talking so quietly that I can't seem to fix it with Audacity, but bear with us; we moved the microphone and figured some things out and it gets better)
2:00 Spectroscopy and heat transfer
3:00 Thermal conductivity experiments and their pitfalls
5:00 Criticism of the history of thermodynamics and heat transfer; identification of light and heat
6:00 Problems with equilibrium and elastic collisions in theories of thermodynamics
8:00 Criticism of phonon theory
10:00 Electron and vibrational transfer of heat decoupled; metals and heat transfer
14:00 Earth's interior: convection, the Rayleigh number
16:00 The Earth's mantle: nearly all solid
17:00 Plate tectonics without mantle convection
18:00 An even more radical idea: heat is being trapped inside the solid Earth
19:00 [there was a distortion I had to cut]
20:00 Implications: heat generation is in the crust (this part is widely known!)
21:00 Implications: the core is melting, not solidifying?
22:00 The geodynamo and magnetic field
23:00 The core: buffered at the temperature of melting high pressure iron
24:00 Magnetic modes diagram for the planets: spin and magnetic field
0:00 Paul introduces
1:00 Bill: Lemaitre announcement
2:00 Lemaitre: faith & science not opposed
3:00 Barr: Lemaitre announcement
4:00 Ignorance of Lemaitre
5:00 Ignorance of the Christian, Catholic origin of science & famous Catholic scientists
6:00 Barr: late 19th century critical period for the forging of the myth of Church as anti-science
7:00 Science only professionalized in the late 19th century, looking for influence
8:00 More famous Catholic scientists
9:00 Mission of the Society of Catholic Scientists; religious people looking askance at scientists, 10:00 Scientists timid about showing their faith in the presence of a few loud atheists
11:00 Catholic scientists joining SCS & finding others like themselves
12:00 Witness to the world
13:00 Conferences, past and future: next June at Notre Dame
14:00 2017: origin of universe, life; 2018: mind and matter
15:00 2019 conference: what is it (and has it been) to be human; speakers from outside the faith
16:00 Past non-Catholic conference speakers
17:00 Peter Koellner's talk at 2018 conference
18:00 Koellner and Godel's theorem
19:00 Neaderthals, language, reason
20:00 Godel's beliefs about mind and mathematical truths
21:00 Mathematical truth and religious truth
22:00 Depth & sophistication of the law that governs the universe