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Jul 15

You don't like it? Imagine how Hades feels

In case you are living under a rock, the New Horizon space craft made the closest approach to the dwarf planet Pluto this morning.

(And no, I do not care if you think it is a planet. "Dwarf planet" is a scientific designation and your rejection of it due to nostalgia is meaningless.)

So, what does that have to do with a blog about faith?

First, Pluto is named after the god of the underworld also known as Hades. The really big moon, comparatively, is named Charon, the name of the ferryman who transports the dead to see Pluto and a homophone for the discoverer's wife "Sharon."

Second, in some ways pictures of Pluto are the ultimate nail on the coffin of geocentrism, the belief that Earth is the center of the universe and everything revolves around us. A belief, by the way, that says more about our egos than anything else. In the Western world geocentrism, or at least its formulation, is a produce of our old friend Claudius Ptolemy - who in turn got it mostly from classical Greek philosophers - in the early days of Christianity, although he was at least nominally a pagan. Later the official position of the Church, along with that of Judaism and Islam, was that the sun revolved around the Earth. The adoption of prevailing wisdom as dogma is always, always a bad idea. Galileo was probably not put on trial for teaching a heliocentric system, it was a political maneuver, but that is at least what they used to charge and convict him. Others have suffered more for similar reasons.

Which leads me to point the third. The universe is a big big place and there is more in it, Horatio, than is dreamed of in your philosophies. Certainty is the enemy of enlightenment, whether religious, scientific, personal, or otherwise. Yes, have a deep core of faith. Have a place where you are sure you have experienced the divine and hold on to that. Everything else be willing to scrutinize. And scrutiny, criticism, is neither a rejection of or an attack on anything. It is just looking carefully. The scientist who are looking at Pluto have discovered it is bigger than they thought. Its existence and the fact that we can plot a course there invalidates Ptolemy, one of the greatest minds of his age. Pluto, by any name, is not mentioned in the Bible. Lot's of things that are very real and have a real impact on your existence are not.

Why is a fly by of Pluto important when discussing faith?

It reminds us to explore, to examine, and to THINK.

And if you believe that you are a product of divine intervention, made in the image of God, with full faculties to learn and grow and understand, can you be true to your God and do anything less?

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