Monday, January 14, 2008

my 200th post -- the God post!

Over winter break, the topic of belief in God came up briefly with Offspring #2. I use the word "briefly" because I couldn't articulate my thoughts well enough on the spot to make it a more lengthy discussion. So, I've thought about things more and here's why I give the nod to God. (I guess you'll be the judge if I can articulate any better at this point!)

I should perhaps start by saying that I've always been interested in both science and theology -- especially where they 'intersect'. (I'm sure that explains why several of my undergraduate electives were theology classes while getting my biology degree.) It's not that I'm trying to use science to either prove or disprove the existence of God (that can't be done anyway), but I believe one's 'faith' shouldn't contradict reason either. I've never been willing or able to suspend my brain activity for the sake of any 'religion'.

Having said that, I do think science provides some 'evidence' that points to a transcendent cause. For starters, there is this incredibly narrow band of parameters which made complex forms of life and consciousness a possibility. In fact, Stephen Hawking made the comment that if the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even 1 part in 100 thousand million, the universe would have recollapsed. He said, "The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications." Of course you can argue if this is design or accident, but the numbers, at least in my mind, are pretty compelling.

Then there's the fact that nature obeys laws. For me, this begs the question "What brought about these laws of physics to make evolution possible?" I find the newest work by physicists on string theory and M-theory particularly fascinating. Some physicists believe that it will be possible one day to write a single (and beautifully simple) 'ultimate equation' from which all laws of reality can be derived. So, then I'd have to ask: Why that particular equation? And, Who 'wrote' it?

It's enough to make a brain hurt so I'll just close with a limerick written by George Gamow (a physicist and cosmologist) which seems appropriate for this post:

There was a young fellow from Trinity
Who took the square root of infinity
But the number of digits
Gave him the fidgits;
He dropped Math and took up Divinity.

I'd welcome any comments out there in bloggerland!

(Big Bang pic from here. It's difficult to find good Big Bang photos. Hmm... guess there weren't many cameras around at the time.)


dust bunny said...

Wow...this theo-bunny has no words to add. But I love the way your brain works!

dust bunny said...

And congratulations on your 200th post!!!

Presbyterian Gal said...

Congratulations on your 200th! Physics is an excellent way to celebrate! We must be surfing the same mind wave today indeed!

If you've never heard of this guy before, you might want to check him out.

He's an MIT grad, a physics professor at Jerusalem University and a Bible scholar. My two favorites are "The Science of God" and "The Hidden Face of God".

David said...

Very good thoughts. The Hawking big bang thing was particularly interesting.

Why isn't there more of a push then by educated people to find out more truth? Christians hold the notion that Jesus is the son of God and saved us all and yada yada yada. I think Jesus existed, and talked about morality, and money and other things a lot. Do I think he was divine? No. While your thoughts here are great for addressing the points of creation and the existance of a higher being, I still want more questions answered about Christianity, and what christianity centers its faith on - Jesus. I think the Bible is such a small, small, small piece of the truth, it's just a snapshot of people who have faith. We shall be continuing our conversation sometime I think :)

Barbara B. said...

PG -- Thanks for the amazon link. I'll be clicking 'order' soon. :)

David -- Ah yes, I guess this post was just "phase one". I'll be needing to do a "Jesus post" too. Although I must confess that if I thought it was difficult to articulate my thoughts on God, it will be even MORE difficult for me to articulate my thoughts on Jesus. Once my brain recovers from trying to stuff the universe in it from this post, I'll tackle "phase two". :)

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

mmm yes i too am very intrigued by string theory. i have a nuclear physicist here in boonieville! (retired)...but i love to pick his brain over things... and i think string theory is a great metaphor for the body of christ!

*****(hubhc highly recommends to you this read "The Hidden Face of God: How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth" by Gerald L. Schroeder)

well PG beat me to it! hee hee

more cows than people said...

barbara- there's a good insight in Shirley Guthrie's book Christian Doctrine about how science seeks to explain how things came to be, whereas scripture seeks to answer why things came to be. Something like that- that the creation stories in scripture need not be read as scientific texts,nor should scientific texts need to be read as theological texts. There is vast room for conversation between science and theology. I'm so glad that you delight in this conversational space!

And when you're ready to think on Jesus, I'll be eager to read.

Barbara B. said...

hot cup: oooh, string theory as a metaphor for the body of christ -- interesting!

more cows: thanks for the recommendation of the Guthrie book -- I'll have to check it out! And yep, I'll have to ponder Jesus a bit more before posting. :)

David said...

Oh I'm ready for it anytime, Jesus was one tricky fellow.

dust bunny said...

Barb and Dave....Because I AM such a theo-bunny (meaning I'm somewhat clueless), I'm looking forward to reading what you both have to say.

Diane said...

yes, mega-congrats on 200. and such an awesome post! I've never felt competent at science, but I've read a little of John Polkinghorne, who is a british scientist/theologian.

Jan said...

YAY for 200! Great picture. Do you ever look at the Astronomy Picture of the Day? They change everyday and are gorgeous. (You can google that)

Barbara B. said...

diane, I'll have to check into Polkinghorne!

jan, thanks, just googled the astonomy picture of the day -- cool!

mompriest said...

Ok. I googled "string theory" and I really don't understand it...but...I think it speaks to the idea that everything in the universe is connected through a kind of vibration or gravitational pull and that their are a variety of vibrations and gravitational pulls that connect one "thing" to another.

Therefore as Christians we believe in God and from God emantes, vibrates, the Word. The Word of God is an energy force with both an outward and an inward pull. This Word is known by Christians as Jesus. In addition to emmanating and vibrating (creative output) his Word pulls forth, or contains a gravitational force, which attracts energy (humans) back to God.

And then of course there is the Holy Spirit, which our Nicene Creed states, proceeds from the Father and Son - the Holy Spirit is that "energy" which enables all of this to be possible....maybe the HS is the "string" that holds it all together?

(somehow I think I am just waaay out in left field...but this got me thinking...)

But I like what more cows says, science explains how, theology explains why.

Barbara B. said...

mompriest... cool! I love your relating string theory to God, Word (Jesus), and Holy Spirit... It really does stimulate the thought process!!

Barbara B. said...

p.s. mompriest, that would make a really great topic for a theo-discussion group (e.g. like a theo-pub or something!)