Posted by: Mark Nielsen | June 17, 2013

Einstein’s Special Cosmological Theory of Fatherhood and Peacemaking

Father’s Day with Graham was terrific. He got out of bed in the morning, and completely true-to-form, the first thing he wanted to talk to me about– out of nowhere (for everyone but him) –was the nature of Jupiter and Saturn as gas giants, and what it is about their gravitational fields that keeps them from being stars instead of planets.

Bear in mind: he’s 11 yeinstein's tongueears old. That’s my boy. He probably spent the night talking to Galileo in his dreams, straightening the old guy out on a few minor points he hadn’t considered.

After church (see below for the “Father’s Day prayer” I offered on everyone’s behalf), we spent the afternoon unpacking boxes and setting up housekeeping in our new apartment on Chicago’s northwest side. Even though I moved in last Tuesday, Sunday was the first time Graham actually went into the apartment (we’re still staying by Grandma some, for childcare support and to ease the transition… since this is G’s first move of any kind in his lifetime). Met the new neighbors from the third floor of our three-flat (we’re in the “garden” apt., a euphemism if ever I heard one… but it IS a cooler temperature than upstairs). Then tried to determine if in fact the noisy fridge is dying or not. And then found a minor plumbing issue the landlord and I will have to follow up on.

Oh well. It ain’t perfect, but it’s mine!

Later Graham found our bulletin board and put pushpins on a couple of maps (one U.S., one of the world). One blue pin for each of the states/cities he has visited, a red pin for each state where he has family, and a yellow pin for each European country where he has “nationality” roots. Finally, green pins for the “countries of interest”, as in places he knows something about, or wants to visit. When I questioned him on why North Korea gets a pin, he vaguely stated that he is aware  they have been testing atomic weapons. Personally, I think he’s been recruited into the CIA or NSA, and he knows a lot more than he’s telling me.

If I get a chance, maybe I’ll snap a couple map photos and post them here. They’re very cute… and I don’t use that word much. Cute (even cute children) is overrated in my opinion… the internet equivalent of mosquitoes.

Later in the day, Mr. G and I got to talking about science, history, and World War II. Graham thought Albert Einstein had fled Germany during the war itself. But then we looked it up, and Einstein actually came to the U.S. in 1933, well before the war. He basically defected: chose not to return to Berlin from a visit here, mostly to keep Hitler from conscripting his physics genius for the Nazis’ world domination plans.

Later in life Einstein took a stand again, as he co-wrote and published the Russell-Einstein Manifesto with British philosopher Bertrand Russell and Dr. Joseph Rotblat (the only scientist to leave the Manhattan Project on moral grounds). In the document– signed just days before Einstein died in 1955, and at the height of the Cold War– these and other major intellectuals opposed further development and use of nuclear weapons.

Good for you, Albert. Graham and I honor you today not only for your scientific acumen, but also for your spirituality and social conscience. Your holistic perspective has perhaps been lost by the scientific and political barbarians with atheistic or power-hungry leanings in the postmodern era, but as far as I’m concerned, you are the father of modern conscientious and cautious scientific inquiry.

For example, I went back to his Wikipedia article today, and in the section on Cosmology, I found this:

“In 1917, Einstein applied the General theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe as a whole. He wanted the universe to be eternal and unchanging, but this type of universe is not consistent with relativity. To fix this, Einstein modified the general theory by introducing a new notion, the cosmological constant. With a positive cosmological constant, the universe could be an eternal static sphere . Einstein believed a spherical static universe is philosophically preferred… “

Einstein, sitting at a table, looks up from the papers he is reading and into the camera.

Einstein in his office at the University of Berlin.

Did you catch that? Extending a scientific theory further, and keeping an open mind, based on a pre-existing philosophical principle. That’s the kind of three-dimensional, creative, and conscientious mind and heart I am talking about.

Or, immediately below Cosmology is the Wiki section on Modern Quantum Theory, and it was there that I found this:

“Einstein was displeased with quantum theory and mechanics, despite its acceptance by other physicists, stating “God doesn’t play with dice.” As Einstein died at the age of 76 he still would not accept quantum theory.”

The man who laid the groundwork– who through God’s grace (I believe) was given a window into the nature of the universe, a window that nobody had ever previously looked through — this Einstein did not like how his scientific “children” had dirtied up the window, such that one could no longer see God in the spaces between the stars… or between the atoms.

As for other leading contemporary scientists with a conscience, or Einstein’s unique blend of open-minded humility and philosophic/scientific rigor, there are exceptions, of course. A belief in a deity — one whose love is a force as strong as any gravitational field and stronger than any multi-national corporation, university or government– can and should always be a help in coming closer to a truly unified theory of everything. But it’s not easy to hold hard science and what some call “faith” in tension with each other, and yet not drop either one– so the majority of scientists just sidestep the issue, or worse yet, take potshots at so-called “simpleminded” religionists.

But still, in theoretical and applied physics, astronomy, mathematics, medicine and biology, and even politics (science is all about business and politics now anyway, in the technologic and militaristic age), there are a few of Einstein’s descendents around. I have read about and even met some people doing important work, expanding the scope of our knowledge, but still okay with allowing some of the boundaries or rules to be determined by human dignity or spiritual standards, not just scientific, national security,  or market-driven standards.

The work goes on. Einstein’s scientific ethics and Socialist-leaning politics are still relevant, too, what with the recent rhetoric surrounding ethical dilemmas faced by democratic computer scientists working alongside the military (i.e. the Pvt. Bradley Manning/Iraq-war-video-leak court martial, recent concerns about drone usage and security policy, and especially the release of Edward Snowden’s scathing insider info about internet and cell phone privacy issues in the U.S.).

Just for the record, President Obama: You can have my phone/internet secrets if you want them, because I live right and I’ve got nothing to hide. But I do take offense at your using “security” and militaristic propaganda as your rationale for spying on your own people (though this spying has probably been going on since Einstein’s day anyway, just at a quieter pace).

Oh, also… You’re a good father, but I’m a better one. And you can’t have my son and his prodigious scientific mind for any of your dirty little wars.

Speaking of parenthood, and last but certainly not least, here as promised is the prayer for peace and forgiveness I wrote and spoke at church on Father’s Day:

*  *  *  *  *

[Please pray with me]

Heavenly Father,

We invite you to be present with us in a very real way AS a father, on this day when we bless and honor our earthly fathers, and the other men who have blessed us over the years with compassion, vision, and character. We recall the biblical Adam, the first father, who you allowed to give names to all the animals. In the same way we thank you that our own fathers have the privilege of naming us, and helping define us, by saying and doing so many things that guide us and shape our identity for the rest of our lives.

And dear Jesus, just as you prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing,” we also pray today that the fathers in our midst might do better, might love more as you did by laying down your life. We ask for the mercy and courage to forgive our own fathers, whether they were absent, neglectful, or hurtful. We are all wounded members of the dysfunctional human family. And so we come to you, and bring our fathers with us, asking for healing and forgiveness. Remind us daily of your deep love for your Father God, our best attitude to copy in loving our own fathers.

And on behalf of all fathers here, I say thank you for our children, the greatest gifts you have given us. I ask you to bless, protect and instruct our children directly through your Holy Spirit –even our grown children– and help us as parents to bless, protect and instruct with our own love, which comes from You. 

Lord, bring the kingdom of God more fully to our church, our nation and our world. We lift up our leaders and ask for your grace and wisdom in the important decisions they will make this week. Bring an end to useless violence, and protect those who are in harm’s way.

We thank you for the opportunity to birth a new congregation in Chicago, and we ask for stamina, clarity, and increased love in our preparations for the grand opening next week. Where service and support are still needed from us, please bring the right people forward. Where your salvation and grace are needed for new people, or lost people, please bring them through our doors both here and in Chicago. Make us a true joy to the town of Park Ridge and the city of Chicago, by imparting Your joy, fellowship and teaching.

We lift up the sick and struggling in our midst, and in our extended families, and ask that you would heal us and provide for our needs.

We ask protection for travelers, patience and grace for families transitioning to summer schedules, and guidance for graduates in the important next stage of their lives.

And as always, we say thank you. Thank you for everything, even the challenging things that help us to grow. Increase our awareness of your grace that surrounds us. Thank you for it all, for today and for eternity.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — Amen.

* * * * *


Responses

  1. Glad you could communicate the unity of the human family so clearly.

    Art


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