MANILA, Philippines - Exactly 96 years ago today, Albert Einstein submitted his revolutionary theory of gravitation to the prestigious peer-reviewed physics journal Annalen deer Physik (Annals of Physics).
Many Filipino netizens commemorated the historic scientific breakthrough by debating a provocative comment made by a Filipina scientist who confirmed Einstein's theory, Reinabelle Reyes.
The online exchange hardly touched on Einstein's concept of spacetime. It instead revolved around God's existence, which has always been a contentious topic.
The debate was sparked by a Rappler interview with Reinabelle Reyes, the 28-year-old astrophysicist who led a team of Princeton scientists in verifying on a cosmic scale Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity back in 2010.
"I don't personally believe in God," Reyes declared in the interview.
Facebook users who read the article reposted it on the popular Facebook page TANGINA THIS, which has more than 100,000 "likes." They took turns in either assailing or praising the view of Reyes, and Rappler's story on her generated nearly 300 comments on the wall of TANGINA THIS.
Citing the Bible, Peter Amaya had this to say to atheists and agnostics:
"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever."
Lydia Astorga believes Einstein's theory was a mere product of his mind and that God's existence is supported by historical facts and events.
She wrote: "One needs to go visit Jerusalem to figure it out herself that there was once a Jesus (son of God made into an ordinary man on earth) who did miracles during his lifetime, died on the cross for us, rose from his tomb after 3 days (was resurrected), joined his almighty father called God the Father in heaven. All marks of these happenings are visible there in Jerusalem, biblically compiled by his apostles ang being lived throught the years as told in the Bible which is considered a book of history. Agnostics & atheists of course will not believe in a higher being. Einstein on hearsay, although as intelligent as he was, had his own moments of hallucinations. In this era that would be considered a mental issue."
Others were just as passionate, invoking death.
"If you don't believe in God, I hope you and your loved ones will not die," Jbl Jerome LangbidI warned.
But some dismissed these arguments as mere manifestations of indoctrination, the Philippines being a predominantly Catholic country.
"I do think that most Filipinos believe, not because they really believe, but because they were taught and indoctrinated to believe," Martin Joshua Callanta said.
Obet Binoya was amused at how pre-Galilean ideas thrive in the 21st century: "Religions poison everything, let science do its thing - disproving what your churches tell you that the world is flat and was created for 7 days, that [the] dinosaur never existed."
Kelvin Knicks Dawal prefers that believers and non-believers respect each other's views: "If you believe in God, that is your choice. If you don't then that is you choice, too. And I don't have a reason to change your beliefs. Personally, I don't give a f*ck about religion, but people who feel supreme because they believe in God are idiots. Respect their view and we will respect yours. Didn't your god teach you that?"
Where Einstein, Reyes differed
Facebook user Lodel Magbanua posted a curious comment: "Interesting that she proved Einstein correct when Einstein sought out the mind of God."
In the Rappler interview, Reyes asserted: "I think science does make one more critical of religion...I also understand faith. It's just that I don't have any, at least not in a higher Being."
Historical records of his conversations show how Einstein apparently believed in the unity between religion and science: "Well, I do not think that it is necessarily the case that science and religion are natural opposites. In fact, I think that there is a very close connection between the two. Further, I think that science without religion is lame and, conversely, that religion without science is blind. Both are important and should work hand-in-hand. It seems to me that whoever doesn't wonder about the truth in religion and in science might as well be dead."
Einstein's claim about a "superior spirit" has likewise sparked a long-running debate on his beliefs.
Einstein had this to say: "If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds."
The theory of relativity has again been proven, but also the fact that faith is relative. - Rappler.com