Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Documentary: "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story" (2017)


Starlet. Screen Siren. The Most Beautiful Woman in the World. All phrases used to describe 1940’s Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr, whose ravishing visage was the inspiration for Snow White and Cat Woman. Alexandra Dean’s illuminating documentary adds Inventor to the list. Known for her matchless beauty and electric screen persona, Lamarr’s legion of fans never knew she possessed such a beautiful mind, whose concepts were the basis of cell phone and bluetooth technology. An Austrian Jewish émigré who acted by day and drew mechanical and electronic inventions by night, Lamarr came up with a “secret communication system” to help the Allies to beat the Nazis. Weaving in Lamarr’s own voice from archival recordings, Dean reveals how Lamarr gave her patent to the Navy, received no credit for her contributions, and wound up impoverished in her latter years. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is a film for lovers of history, Hollywood and science.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

R.I.P. Stephen Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018)

R.I.P. Stephen Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018)

The brilliant Stephen Hawking, who was an theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, died at his home in Cambridge, England, early in the morning of 14 March 2018 at the age of 76. His family stated that he "died peacefully".

Hawking was best known for his discoveries in relativity and black holes. Though at one time a theist, he gradually became dissatisfied with the idea of God and the afterlife, being satisfied with what scientific knowledge alone can offer to mankind. One thing is for sure however: he thought a lot about God and often spoke of a Creator, although he did not believe a personal one existed. Below are some articles from the past that reference Hawking and his thought, some from an Orthodox Christian perspective.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Earliest Manuscripts of the Book of Genesis

Jacob Wrestling the Angel and Rebecca and Eliezer at the Wall, from the Vienna Genesis.
Early Byzantine Europe. 6th Century C.E. Illuminated manuscript.

The earliest substantial fragments of the Old Testament we have are the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Qumran and other sites in the Judaean Desert (ca. 2nd century BCE-1st century CE) and the Nash Papyrus (150-100 BCE), which contains the text of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 + Deuteronomy 5:6-21). The earliest artifacts we have which contain a biblical text are two small silver scrolls from the Jerusalem area dating from the 7th century BCE inscribed with portions of the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26).

The oldest known copy of Genesis (4QPaleoGen[sup]m[/sup], from Qumran) is really just a small fragment containing ten (or nine) complete words and eight (or nine) parts of words from Genesis 26:21-28. Written in paleo-Hebrew (the script used by the Israelites before they switched to the ‘square-script’ Hebrew letters used today), the fragment probably dates from the mid-2nd century BCE.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

"And God Saw That It Was Good" (St. Basil the Great)


By St. Basil the Great

Hexaemeron (Homily 3, 10)

"And God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:13).

God does not judge of the beauty of His work by the charm of the eyes, and He does not form the same idea of beauty that we do. What He esteems beautiful is that which presents in its perfection all the fitness of art, and that which tends to the usefulness of its end. He, then, who proposed to Himself a manifest design in His works, approved each one of them, as fulfilling its end in accordance with His creative purpose. A hand, an eye, or any portion of a statue lying apart from the rest, would look beautiful to no one. But if each be restored to its own place, the beauty of proportion, until now almost unperceived, would strike even the most uncultivated. But the artist, before uniting the parts of his work, distinguishes and recognizes the beauty of each of them, thinking of the object that he has in view. It is thus that Scripture depicts to us the Supreme Artist, praising each one of His works; soon, when His work is complete, He will accord well deserved praise to the whole together.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

‘Intelligent’ Design? Relax, God is Stranger Still


By Fr. John Garvey

There has been some debate, even at local school-board levels, about the theory of evolution vs. creationism and the more recently offered idea of “intelligent design.” Now Cardinal Cristoph Schönborn has weighed in with an op-ed piece in the New York Times (July 7), claiming that Christians cannot believe that life’s origins can be found in natural selection’s chancy, random stabs at development. Some kind of intelligent design must lie behind it, and reason can lead to a rational belief in an intelligent designer. This has been seized on as a retreat from John Paul II’s endorsement of the theory of evolution as real science, a sign that the new papacy will retreat from serious science into the intelligent design camp. (It may only show that Cardinal Schönborn is not as sophisticated in his understanding of contemporary philosophy and science as John Paul II was.)