Weekly Buzz: 9/15/14

Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi. (Photo: Rosana Prada)

This week’s buzz features Stephen Hawking’s doomsday prediction, Bon Jovi’s wise words, and why theology is an important subject—even if there is no God.

Buzzkill: “Stephen Hawking Fears Higgs Boson Doomsday, and He’s Not Alone”

I hope you’re having a good day, because Stephen Hawking has some bad news for you. He thinks the Higgs boson, aka “the God particle,” could destroy the universe:

Hawking is not the only scientist who thinks so. The theory of a Higgs boson doomsday, where a quantum fluctuation creates a vacuum “bubble” that expands through space and wipes out the universe, has been around for a while. However, scientists don’t think it could happen anytime soon.

“Most likely it will take 10 to the 100 years [a 1 followed by 100 zeroes] for this to happen, so probably you shouldn’t sell your house and you should continue to pay your taxes,” Fermilab theoretical physicist Joseph Lykken said during a Sept. 2 lecture at the SETI Institute.

Well, that’s a relief! At least it’s not like this could have already happened, and we could be annihilated at any moment, right?

“On the other hand, it may already have happened, and the bubble might be on its way here now. And you won’t know because it’s going at the speed of light, so there’s not going to be any warning.”

What?! In that case, it’s time to heed Bon Jovi’s words of wisdom:

It’s my life, it’s now or never! I ain’t gonna live forever!

What Does the “Tree of Good and Evil” Represent in Genesis 2?

Peter Enns highlighted Richard Rohr’s interesting interpretation of this infamous tree. The last part of Rohr’s take struck me:

I guess God knew that dualistic thinking would be the direction religion would take. So the Bible says right at the beginning, “Don’t do it!” The word of God is trying to keep us from religion’s constant temptation and failure—a demand for certitude, an undue need for perfect explanation, resolution, and answers, which is, by the way, the exact opposite of faith. Such dualistic thinking (preferring a false either/or to an always complex reality) tends to create arrogant and smug people instead of humble and loving people.

This last line is very reminiscent of Mike Saou’s guest post about The Walking Dead, relativism, and Jamie Smith: “In the demand for absolute truth, American Christians have claimed for themselves God-like capacities for knowing . . .”

What do you think of Rohr’s interpretation? Is it a false dichotomy, or is there something to his observation that worshipping “perfect explanation” creates “arrogant and smug people”?

“Television’s Best Depictions of Christians”

Relevant compiled a list of eight of the most flattering depictions of Christians in recent TV history. You’ll recognize some of them, like Flanders, but others might surprise you.

“Why theology matters even if there’s no god”

John Dickson, co-director of the Centre for Public Christianity, makes this bold claim in a recent Australian Broadcasting Corporation opinion piece:

Practically no important field is untouched by the discipline of theology. . . . Theology is perhaps the most comprehensive integrative discipline around. It explores all important forms of human knowledge and probes how they shed light on Christian belief and, indeed, how Christian belief might shed light on them. And given that more than two billion people today identify as Christian, these attempts to integrate human knowledge are perfectly relevant and academically sound.

Christian belief is a fact; it is a phenomenon of the real world – just as Australian history is, or Shakespearean literature, or Aristotelian philosophy, or feminist studies, or anthropology, or musicology. . . . Even if there is no god, in other words, theology remains one of the most subtle and sophisticated academic pursuits on the planet.

What do you make of his argument? Is theology important, even if God doesn’t exist?

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