I am reading about Heino Falcke.
Dr. Falcke is a scientist. He is the leader of the Event Horizon Telescope project, the first successful attempt to image the event horizon (actually, the shadow of the photon sphere cast on the accretion disk background) of a black hole.
Dr. Falcke also happens to be religious. A lay pastor, no less, in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.
He represents yet another example of how faith and the sciences need not be in conflict.
I happen to be nonreligious. I even mock religion (not the religious! Never!) occasionally when I talk about “imaginary friends”, “sky daddy” or the “Flying Spaghetti Monster”. My mockery is not intended to hurt: rather, this truly is how I feel about these supernatural concepts, as surreal, outlandish flights of fancy, fairy tales, nothing more.
Yet I think I understand how faith can also give strength to people. Offer motivation. Fill their lives with meaning.
It has been invariably my experience that the company of a person of faith who is open-minded and capable of critical thinking is much preferable to that of a dogmatic atheist.
In any case, while I may not have much respect for the supernatural aspects of religion, I certainly take no issue with the basic tenets of Christianity, such as loving thy neighbor or not committing murder. If the core message of religion is to try to be a decent human being, well, I don’t need to believe in imaginary friends to accept and fully embrace these principles.
This always reminds me how the best description of Christianity I ever came across came from a devoted atheist, the late Douglas Adams (of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame): “And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change […]”