Kepler-78b is a planet that astronomers admit baffles them.
Oh, good. I love it when scientists have to throw up their hands and admit they have no earthly (or Keplerly) idea what is going on.
So today, as part two of a brief series, we'll look at Kepler-78b and think about what it might mean to people of faith on Earth.
As the press release about this notes, "the tight orbit of Kepler-78b poses a challenge to theorists. When this planetary system was forming, the young star was larger than it is now. As a result, the current orbit of Kepler-78b would have been inside the swollen star."
Dimitar Sasselov, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, says that "it couldn't have formed in place because you can't form a planet inside a star. It couldn't have formed further out and migrated inward, because it would have migrated all the way into the star. This planet is an enigma."
People of faith who look at the cosmos believe that what they're seeing is in some ways God's creation. What they often don't know is how the process worked and whether God simply set the process in motion long ago and sat back to see what would happen or whether God continues to be active in the day-to-day cosmos creation business.
What they do know is that it often takes a very long time to understand at even a basic level how things function in the world. So when scientists are surprised by something like Kepler-78b, it comes as no surprise to the world of theology. But that world -- or, anyway, much of it -- cheers on the scientists who are trying to puzzle out the enigma. For most residents of the world of theology are not worried that science will turn up something that will destroy that world. Science can answer lots of questions, but not the ultimate "Why?"
(The image here today came from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.)
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HANDING OFF THE FAITH
Religion News Service reviews a new book about how faith is transmitted from parents to children. Now there's a topic no one ever worries about, right? Except for all the time.
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THE BOOK CORNER
The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Faith in Hard Times, by Frederick W. Schmidt. The author, an Episcopal priest, is properly fed up with people who offer simple (also stupid) bromides when they run into friends in great pain. Oh, they say, it's God's will. Or, they say, there's a bigger divine plan at work here. That sort of spilth. So after going through the experience of losing his brother Dave to cancer, Schmidt decided that it was time to share with the world Dave's approach to such people in the hopes that they (including you and me) would offer real comfort and presence to those who are suffering and not just self-referential bunk. The book is a call to be realistic, to be gentle, to be honest and to confront real suffering in ways that help, not hurt. And it turns out to be full of good advice. The world is packed with wounded people in need of companionship that takes their wounds seriously. Schmidt can teach you here how to do that, though I must add in the interest of honesty that here's one more book with a terrible cover, something I find happening more and more. And the book's title is a mystery until you get into the book, meaning it doesn't attract readers. Rather, it puzzles them. Strange approach to a valuable book.