Finding The Centre Of Gravity.
The finding came on February 11 when the LIGO [the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory] at Hansford recorded 'chirps' which indicated gravitational waves which accompanied the coalescence of two orbiting black holes about 1.3 billion light years away.
The discovery of these gravitational waves has opened up a new window into the study of what is now being called 'gravitational-wave astronomy'. We are now beginning to "listen" to the universe rather than merely looking at it through powerful and more powerful telescopes, including radio telescopes. In an article in The Hindu of February 15, R. Ramachandran waxed eloquent about the fact that "The discovery has thus now tuned our ears to an entirely new and unfamiliar symphony of the universe." "To listen to the full range of that symphony" he goes on to add, "a network of terrestrial instruments similar to the LIGO interferometer in the U.S. is needed . . ."
What we ordinary human beings need to understand is that these are only "discoveries" which science has been able to make. We should not delude ourselves that we have "created" anything new. The universe is older and more complex that we the creatures who inhabit it. We should receive the discoveries with great joy and humility and thank our Creator for giving us the gift of understanding. Like the man who finds a diamond or gold, we should be grateful but not pretend that we created that diamond or that gold.
Unfortunately, humankind has regressed into arrogance of a kind that is not only deeply distressing, but which is also irrational. We have used our ability to discover and understand nature in a manner which subverts nature itself and seeks to convert it for our own selfish and often stupid ends. History is replete with examples of humans using their scientific knowledge and technological skills to kill one another and threaten one another with violence, unless we get our own way. All wars are stupid; but we still pursue wars and military superiority to achieve questionable ends.
The stupidity of conflict among humans became most prominently evident when scientists developed the atom bomb. The knowledge of how to release enormous amounts of energy to destroy people and entire cities brought us face to face with the question of whether it was worth it to continue developing instruments of mass destruction. Even those scientists, including Robert Oppenheimer, under whose guidance the process of fission was incorporated into a bomb, became pacifists and advocates for nuclear disarmament. In the meantime, however, scientists developed other types of weapons of mass destruction such as chemical, biological and electrical weapons.
The unfortunate and totally unnecessary battle between "science" and "faith" continues to distract us from concentrating on the more important task of improving the plight of our weaker brothers and sisters. The trend, ever since the so-called Age of Enlightenment, has been towards becoming more selfish and more individualistic. This has given rise to ever more psychological and sociological problems which today confront individuals, communities and nations.
Knowledge has been abused to disempower the weaker and to compete with the stronger. Our knowledge of the reproductive processes in women brought in its wake the practice of contraception and even abortion. Our growth in the knowledge of chemical science has brought in its wake the imposition of dangerous drugs into the practice of medicine and even into the food industry, which is causing untold physiological, psychological and medical problems in our societies.
The truth remains that God has endowed us with the gift of knowledge and understanding, but we are only the "custodians" and the "trustees" of His creation - not its masters. When humankind forgets this basic principle we become idolaters and begin to worship created things instead of serving and worshipping God alone. There is ample evidence around us to prove that when we stray from the plan of God as revealed in His created universe, we begin to harm ourselves and our children.
Antonin Dvorak composed a very beautiful symphony which he called the New World Symphony, which expresses the harmony which exists in the universe. The famous Jesuit palaeontologist Teilhard de Chardin wrote a beautiful book titled "Hymn of the Universe" - a book that should be required reading for all scientists and rationalists. The best expression of our relationship with God's universe, of course is the exquisitely beautiful Psalm 8 :
"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth!
Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouth of babes and infants, thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?
Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honour. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth!"
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indian Currents.
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