*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 20th of June 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
On yesterday’s show, we looked back at the case of Edwards v. Aguillard regarding the teaching of creation science and evolution in American public schools. This is completely coincidental, but fun nonetheless to remember Georges Lemaître (Lə-MET-rə) the priest and scientist on the anniversary of his death in 1966.
Georges was born in Belgium in 1894 to a Catholic family. His father wanted him to train as an engineer but he went to the Catholic University of Leuven in 1911. He cut his studies short to fight in World War I.
After the war, he went finished his degree in mathematics and physics and then went to seminary to train for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1923 but then went to Cambridge to study with an astronomer and to study Einstein’s theory of relativity. He was then off to MIT where he completed his Ph.D. in 1926.
His major contribution was to take Einstein’s theory and expand on it to argue that the universe is expanding in every direction. The universe is not static, according to Lemaitre’s reading of Einstein and the available data. He argued that the universe must have begun with something singular that would then expand. Others would call this “the Big Bang”.
(Note: you may be thinking, “isn’t this a lot like Hubble Law?” Yes, it’s the same thing but as of 2018 it is called the Hubble-Le Maître law to reflect the parallel work being done by Le Maître)
But this was not the evil secularist trying to erase God from the conversation about origins. In fact, this first act he understood as the act of creating light by divine fiat.
Le Maître would also suggest that this would have left behind a kind of primordial
radiation. This microwave radiation was discovered in 1965 by Penzias and Wilson, a year before Le Maître’s death.
I find this story striking for a number of reasons:
First, have you ever heard of Georges Le Maître? Did you know that the “big bang” was proposed by a devout Belgian priest?
Does this suggest that Religion and Science- or more particularly, Christianity and theories of origins are not necessarily incompatible?
Also, his work was taking place in the context of the Scopes Monkey Trial (the 1925 case made famous by the book “Inherit the Wind”).
Lastly, could Catholic natural philosophy serve as a bridge between Protestant Fundamentalism and the scientific community?
These questions and more were raised by Georges Lemaître, the Belgian Priest and Scientist. We remember him on the anniversary of his death on this, the 20th of June in 1966.
The last word for today is a word from the Epistle to the Colossians about the place of Christ in the created Universe:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 20th of June 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite Hubble’s include the telescope, the city in his home state of Indiana, and Hall of Fame Giants pitcher Carl, he is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man devastated by Kawhi’s right knee, I am Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.