Friday, February 17, 2017

More Work in Progress: Preface, Table of Contents
Intersections: Catholic Teaching | Modern Science

3 March--there's been some minor editing, if you want to reread.
Go to here and here;  use the usual password;   Preface and Table of Contents will be shown.    Again, comments invited.

More Work in Progress: Cover for New Book
Intersections: Catholic Teaching | Modern Science

Superposed images of CRISPR-Cas9, the tool for Genetic Modification (from Wikimedia Commons) and a Cross and Christian Symbol, done with Sketchbook.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

On Euthanasia and Going Gentle into that Good Night

Toby,  Age 2
We took our Shih-Tzu, Toby, to the vet's today, to be euthanized.   It was a hard thing to do, and my wife remarked afterwards, "if it's this hard for us to put a pet down, what must those wives/husbands/children feel when their spouse or parent is euthanized?"

And our answer was, probably nothing, or they couldn't do it.

Toby went peacefully.   He was 17 years old (dog years=119 human?) and had been undergoing progressive deteroriation.   He was scrawny, resembling those emaciated prisoners in the concentration camps, ribs, back vertebrae outstanding.   The last few weeks he had trouble standing, and he had been incontinent for about six weeks--we had used baby diapers (#1) and a wrap to minimize cleaning up.    One of our other dogs, a very sensitive and intelligent terrier mix (he looks like a teacup Scottish deerhound) was very upset by all this.   He would avoid going into the room where Toby slept, and when in the room would go over to Toby, smell and nuzzle him.

The last several days had been particularly bad;  there were periods when he would be continually uttering a high, piercing cry, unlike any bark or whimper he had voiced before.    We would rearrange him on his bed, help him to stand, offer him water or food, which would seem to give him a little peace.   Finally, the last few days he was eating very little, not able to stand or walk at all, so we decided it was time.

The question I have, why is it permissible to euthanize a pet, but not a human being?   And the answer is:  humans have a special soul, an intellective soul, to use a scholastic term.   We can know of our own death; we can know of a God. .We are created special.   C.S. Lewis has written a last chapter in his book "On the Problem of Pain" that deals with this question.   His answer, which I like very much, is that, as in the Garden of Eden, man is meant to be head of the kingdom and as such, in heaven, will be with the animals who have been his companions in life.

Finally, I'd like to link to an earlier post: Memento Mori--Thoughts on Growing Old,  in which I wrote about growing old with my Shih-Tzu.

Goodbye, Toby;  may we be with you in heaven.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Work in Progress:
Intersections--Catholic Teaching and Modern Science.

Hello followers and occasional viewers of this blog.

I want to preview a forthcoming web-book entitled

"Intersections--Catholic Teaching and Modern Science"

It will cover lessons (no math, "for Dummies") in quantum mechanics, cosmology and relativity,  molecular biology, thermodynamics and information theory to give faithful Catholics a basis to understand how modern science, non-speculative, intersects with Catholic teaching.

The first chapter is a brief account of quantum mechanics, based primarily on the historical development.
The post is titled   "Quantum Mechanics--What It's All About"

The second chapter discusses "Quantum Mysteries", the Double-Slit Experiment and Entanglement.

I've been told that book publishers will not accept material that's been previously published (even as Web blog posts), so I'm making the preliminary viewing (that sound like a funeral!) private, i.e. password protected.    Please email me at
drkurland@post.harvard.edu to request the password.

Comments, including criticisms, solicited and welcomed.

About Me

My photo

Retired, cranky, old physicist.   Convert to Catholicism in 1995.   Trying to show that there is no contradiction between what science tells us about the world and our Catholic faith.   Intermittent blogs and adult education classes to achieve this end (see http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/   and http://home.ptd.net/~rkurland)

Extraordinary Minister of Communion volunteer to federal prison and hospital; lector, EOMC.
Sometime player of bass clarinet, alto clarinet, clarinet, bass, tenor bowed psaltery for parish instrumental group and local folk group.

And, finally, my motivation:
“It is also necessary—may God grant it!—that in providing others with books to read I myself should make progress, and that in trying to answer their questions I myself should find what I am seeking.
Therefore at the command of God our Lord and with his help, I have undertaken not so much to discourse with authority on matters known to me as to know them better by discoursing devoutly of them.”
St. Augustine of Hippo, The Trinity I,8.