The Lost Science Found

At my parish, I’m the liturgy consultant for weddings. Good news, that I don’t get to play many of them, except for those of friends. Good news also that I get to meet many fascinating people and talk about one of the happiest days of their lives.

Today I met a young woman who is marrying a man who hopes to fly to Mars. His timing seems about right. Her husband will be in his mid-thirties when NASA returns to the moon. If scientists can solve the many problems of long-term spaceflight to another planet, he might be of an age to command a mission to the Red Planet when the time comes. Is that cool or what?

One of the most enjoyable things about meeting with engaged couples is the enthusiasm many young people have for life–and not just about the love of their life.

I was thinking back to my own late college days after this meeting today. I regular read and post on astronomy and its various disciplines, and you may well wonder what happened to this interest of mine when I was younger. I wasn’t even an astronomy major when I was in college. I’m not sure I can tell you why, other than I had it in my head to be a doctor until I actually made it to college. By far the most enjoyable courses I took were in astronomy. I was a little afraid of the physics (my alma mater has a rigorous physics department which had rather subsumed the astronomy profs). But motivation is a great tool for mastering difficult educational challenges. Too bad I waited till grad school to discover that!

Anyway, when I was a senior biology-geology major, I applied for a NASA summer program in Houston. I was sure that a decent student with a geology background would stand out enough to get considered along with the astrophysics, astronomy, and engineering majors. I was already growing disenchanted with academia, as I’d experienced it. Looking back, I probably just attended the wrong university.

But I took the rejection from Houston bitterly hard. It was the first academic opportunity for which I was really on fire. And the experience pretty much soured me on any future in science. Soon after graduation, I fell into a job as a telemarketer for my university. And when a permanent position opened up in the Development Department, I lost out to a friend who wasn’t even an alum. Then I found out I wasn’t even seriously considered for the position. And that pretty much soured me on my alma mater. Which may well have been part of God’s subtle guidance that led me into ministry.

Today, of course, geology is all the rage as an associate discipline of astronomy. Space probes examine planets and moons. We theorize about planets orbiting far stars. And these planets and moons have the substances one finds poked about by earthling geologists.

For the last ten years, since Galileo began probing Jupiter and its moons, I’ve gotten excited all over again about all things space, not just looking at pretty pictures on the web, but dusting off old things I knew about geology and other sciences.

I can’t tell you why I enjoy astronomy so much to share it with others. It has an artistic appeal, undeniably. Much of it deals with knowledge of things far away, and that has a certain spiritual allure. And perhaps there is something to be said about such things that lift our attention away from the firm ground to things high above.

About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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7 Responses to The Lost Science Found

  1. Dick Martin says:

    Interesting! I would hope some day you would study the greatest Book ever written and use your intellect to show people how to travel back to their celestial home in Heaven and spend eternity with their Father God. Then we can travel with the speed of thought. Your important position now will require a greater responsibility . better get busy. The scriptures are the only writings, written by God Himself.

    • Todd says:

      Hello, Dick. As you are not keen to admit, I not only study the Bible but pray it and pray with it. This may be indeed galling to you, but I don’t plan to abandon a catholic and Catholic approach to Christian faith.

      One must use more than human intellect to draw closer to God. We’ve been given more than brains–we are also people of emotions, of a social life and interaction with others. It involves listening to brothers and sisters in belief, and not just attempting to align everybody to one’s own way of thinking.

  2. Jen says:

    As Brian May’s proven, it’s never too late. :)

  3. Dick Martin says:

    Your comments are full of holes according to my Christian Faith. Your Catholic approach is just that; taught by tradition of men and the doctrine of devils. When you study the bible it will lead you to all truth. We are three part beings 1. Spirit- that is who we are. 2. Soul – this is you intellect, emotions, your will, social life, interaction with others. things of your mind. Unreliable .3. Body.

    • Todd says:

      Dick, I think you have hit on the issue at hand. You speak of “your” Christian faith, but Christians have always been assembled into communities. No single person, no matter how earnest, speaks for the entire Body. But Christ.

      Do you have a Biblical citation for your three-part theory? I’ve never heard the soul as inclusive of what you describe.

  4. Dick Martin says:

    If you read and study the Bible ,pray it and with it then answer the most fundamental question; ” what do I need to Do to attain Heaven”? Listening To brothers and sisters in BELIEF–What do you believe that you would share? If there is difference between Catholic teaching and (Bible) Fundamental Christianity.. which would you side with?

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