Thursday, May 15, 2008

 
We’ve come full circle up at the house. It began with excavation and it’s ending with excavation.
Here is the divided trench that was dug to hold the foundations and posts that will support the photovoltaic solar panel array. It’s on the hillside up behind the house, where the panels will have totally unobstructed access to sunlight in all four seasons.
This much smaller pit is for the footings that will support the “cliff” end of the bridge out to the hillside. After it’s snowed, we’ll be able to walk directly from the second floor of the house up the rise with brooms and sweep the snow off the panels.
This impressive piece of rock—seven and a half feet wide—was blasted out of the hill a year ago. We first saw it standing alone in on the floor of the excavation in the middle of what is now our bedroom. From the beginning, we knew we wanted to use it for something dramatic.

After floating a lot of ideas back and forth with each other, we finally decided that it would be a kind of terrace in the steps leading up to the hot tub that’s going to be moved up from Fritz’s current house. Almost in the middle there’s a hole drilled into the rock that was originally to be used for dynamite in the blasting. For some reason it was left empty and now suggests an ideal socket for the pole of an outdoor umbrella.

*******

Now here’s a very interesting piece that could really open up a big can of worms:
Vatican says aliens could exist
By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

The Pope's chief astronomer says that life on Mars cannot be ruled out. Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the astronomer, Father Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space.

Father Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory near Rome, is a respected scientist who collaborates with universities around the world. The search for forms of extraterrestrial life, he says, does not contradict belief in God.

The official Vatican newspaper headlines his article 'Aliens Are My Brother'. Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God, and some aliens could even be free from original sin, he speculates.

Asked about the Catholic Church's condemnation four centuries ago of the Italian astronomer and physicist, Galileo, Father Funes diplomatically says mistakes were made, but it is time to turn the page and look towards the future. Science and religion need each other, and many astronomers believe in God, he assures readers.

To strengthen its scientific credentials, the Vatican is organising a conference next year to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the author of the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin.


This is somewhat amazing on several levels. Father Funes airily dismisses the Catholic Church’s persecution of Galileo at the hands of the infamous Inquisition as being a simple mistake from which we should all move on. Galileo declared the sun to be the center of the solar system, not the earth, something that had been known by Islamic astronomers for centuries, and by the ancients who had also known not only that the earth was a sphere, but had plotted its circumference with startling accuracy.

But the popes said the earth was flat (because pagans are always wrong by definition) and that the sun revolved around it because Jesus had come down to earth; therefore the earth had to be the center of everything, from our solar system on out into the greater universe. Presumably, God wouldn't have put people on, or sent Jesus to, anything that wasn't the center of something.
Galileo was eventually forced to recant his theory and say it was all a lie, for which he was allowed to live--under house arrest for the rest of his life. Others, many others, were not so lucky. They wound up chained to heavy wooden stakes and burned alive. These unfortunates weren’t able “to turn the page and look towards the future” as their futures ended the minute the popes got their hands on them. Murder, it would seem to me, rates something stronger than "mistake".

In Catholic school, we were taught that only earth could have life on it as Jesus came here, and because the Bible doesn’t mention the creation of any other life-bearing planets. I wonder if the Vatican’s insistence on all this in the past is covered under the doctrine of papal infallibility when speaking on matters of faith and morals.

It would seem so. While morals aren’t relevant here, it was obviously made a matter of life and death concerning one’s faith—believe the church’s errors and live, believe the truth and die, horribly. If they’re saying now that it was all a mistake, does that open the door to admitting that they were wrong in many other areas as well? Crack Infallibility in one place, does it stand firm elsewhere?

That conference on Darwin, roundly condemned by the church for a hundred and fifty years since publication of Origin of the Species in 1859, should be very interesting.

Comments:
i have a bit of empathy for the church; if they 'stayed fast' they would be criticized - but they are also critiqued for trying to be more in tune.
It is funny to see them wiggle around saying they were wrong in the first place.
btw - i recently wrote an entry on Jung and Opera. i would be curious to hear your thought on it - did i say anything nearly right?
 
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