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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Science of God

This will be a quick intro to a series of a few posts that I would like to write about what I feel is a seldom spoken about but often thought about topic… where is there - or is there convergence between what we know about the origins of our world/universe from physics and the Biblical creation story. With these words, I by no means intention proselytize – it is actually more of a personal attempt to rationalize my understanding of these concepts. I am writing about it because I feel they probably don’t seem to fit for many folks and at the same time, there is probably some room for open mindedness on both sides of the argument. One has to believe there is always new information to be considered about even our most basically held beliefs.

Given my young career in a heavily evidence based scientific field, I would never dismiss any evidence collected and analyzed in the same way which I myself plan to make decisions after decisions affecting the lives of people’s health. Yet, at the same time, I know in my heart that constantly developing Christian faith has an infinite limit of understanding when it comes to that truth. In this way, after a recent conversation with a friend regarding how one could possibly reconcile belief in both, I realized that he nor I sufficiently were able to support what we were saying with logic. After all these years of education, I felt like that should be remedied. That conversation propelled me on a search for literature on the topics and I luckily stumbled upon the book I plan on writing about: “The Science of God – The Convergence of `Scientific and Biblical Wisdom” by Gerald L Schroeder.

Just some quick background on the author: he is an Orthodox Jew, he is a well respected scientist (having earned his PhD and couple other degrees in nuclear physics and planetary science from MIT), he has written 4 books on this topic. For his work, I am grateful. Regardless of whether he is right or wrong, his effort to seek the truth is inspiring and I hope to emulate that in my own life. At the heart of his thesis, Schroeder attempts to reconcile a young Earth creationist Biblical view with the scientific model of a world that is billions of years old. To do this, he analyzes perceived flow of time for a given event in an expanding universe and that it varies with the observer’s perspective of that event. Certainly a difficult feat, and to do this he critiques the two perspectives numerically, calculating the effect of the stretching of space-time, based on Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Next time I’ll get into some of the nitty gritty of his book, (like the beginning of time, the existence of the dinosaurs, the concept of 6 days of creation…) but as a lead to set the stage, here is a quote from a philosopher that Schroeder quotes a couple times named Maimonides:

- “…conflicts between science and the Bible arise from either a lack of scientific knowledge or a defective understanding of the Bible. Acknowledged experts in science may assume that although scientific research requires diligent intellectual effort, biblical wisdom can be attained through a simple reading of the Bible. Conversely, theologians who have devoted decades to plumbing the depths of Biblical wisdom often satisfy their scientific curiosity through articles in the popular press and then assume they can evaluate the validity of such discoveries. The opposition is viewed with a level of knowledge at a high school pre-high school level. No wonder the other side seems superficial, even naive… It is time for the religious believer to render unto Einstein that which is Einstein’s … and colleagues who follow in the footsteps of Einstein would do well to render unto the Bible that which is the Bible’s, the search for purpose” because science has its limitations when discussing the “why” of life…

And of course, thanks for reading. J