Friday, March 13, 2009

Science & God - No Contradiction

Cosmology has always fascinated me. Graduating from high school, I was planning on earning a Ph.d in Astrophysics. Although my career took a different path, mostly because I realized I wasn't as good at math as I thought I was, my interest in the creation and structure of the universe continues unabated.

I served a mission to Japan. Before I left I took a year's worth of classes at the University as a declared Physics major (I changed majors after I returned to school). The Japanese are a wonderful people, generous to strangers, and always eager to talk to young Americans. When we met someone new we'd talk a little about ourselves, sometimes even bringing out a picture or two. During these introductions, I usually mentioned that I attended college for a year and was planning to study physics. Almost without fail, the next question was "How can you study physics and still believe in God?"

My heartfelt answer to the question was always the same: "The more I learn about our world and the universe, the more I believe in God." The response to that was usually "Ah so desu ka", roughly translated as "Is that so" or "I see." Sometimes I could tell it was just a polite response and sometimes it was said with an understanding nod. More than 30 years later, my awe and wonder at God's creation has only increased.

I don't really understand all the energy expended and good will lost by evangelicals (and others) fighting battles over intelligent design. Neither side will persuade the other by any meaningful measure. The line drawn in the sand by many evangelicals only results in a harsh backlash, doing more harm than good to all involved. A better approach, I believe, is simply to acknowledge the difference of opinion and move on. We don't fully understand the timeline of creation nor do we understand the root processes of creation. But one thing we can be sure of is that the creation occurred to further God's purposes and pretty much everyone would benefit by spending their precious time learning about those rather than fighting meaningless battles.

I personally see no theological problem with a universe and/or earth that is billions of years old. Nor do I have a problem with current theories such as the Big Bang, String Theory, Dark Matter, etc. They may turn out to be true, partially true, or only man's attempt to define something that is not fully understandable by intellect and experiment. Regardless, I don't think that we have the right to restrict God's ways to a box bounded by our own limited perspective. I value truth discovered through science as helping me understand God's creations better and I hope that I am a better steward of those creations as a result.

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