By Dennis P. McGeehan
Forget about discussing politics and religion, if you really want to heat things up start a discussion about science and religion. For many people the two are mutually exclusive, like dry water, but in reality, each one attempts to understand the fundamentals of creation.
There are many different religions and many different ways of viewing the cosmos. Ancient man attempted to comprehend the world he saw around him and the span of the sky above him. As a Christian, my resource book is the Bible for the religious viewpoint of creation found in Genesis.
Genesis tells how God was involved in and brought about everything. With apologies to my fundamentalist friends, Genesis — while being theologically true — leaves out much of the details that God used in bringing about the universe.
Humans seek truth. No one should fear the truth. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” I wish to talk about theological truth and scientific truth.
Theological truth is concerned with God’s relationship with us and our relationship with Him. In Genesis, after the seven-day creation narrative, the story concentrates on God’s promises to man and man’s response to God. The gist of Genesis is that God is always faithful, man not so much. The New Testament fully reveals how radical God is in His fidelity to man.
Scientific truth is concerned with the what, how and when of things that happen in nature. Man has used his God-given brains and figured out that the universe follows a set of laws that determine how matter and energy interact. These interactions are determined by values called physical constants, such as “G”, the Universal Gravitational Constant. Scientists have measured the value of G and other constants. Scientists tell us that if these constants were of a different value, by the smallest amount, like 0.00000000000000000000001%, or such, the universe as we know it would not exist. Now that’s precision!
For the honest person, the pursuit of knowledge should be a joyful matter. Truth will not contradict Truth. Theological truth should enlighten scientific truth and scientific truth should affirm theological truth. A closed-minded approach to studying God or the universe will necessarily yield poor results by rejecting what is patently obvious to those who are open to both schemes.
From a purely “no-God” approach, the Big Bang requires us to believe that matter and energy is created out of nothing, thus violating a fundamental physical law. Multi-verse explanations and inter-dimensional interactions merely move the question back to where did these other universes come from.
From a purely “ignore the evidence” standpoint, some insist the earth and everything else is only several thousand years old. The problem is that scientists and their God-given intelligence have figured out that the elements carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, gold, iron, etc., — in fact all the elements beyond hydrogen and helium — were created inside a star when it went nova or super nova. Now stars have lifetimes measure in millions and billions of years. The earth with its abundance of heavy elements is composed of star dust, literally. Our bodies are composed of star dust.
Think about that for a moment. God first created the universe with its precise physical laws. Then He used those laws to create heavier elements within the cores of massively hot stars that exploded with unimaginable force. The debris from that explosion was then gathered by gravity to form a new solar system that He then populated with us.
God is often described as a potter sculpting man out of clay. Now we can say that God molds man out of star dust and His kiln is the core of a star. Much more dramatic!
We cannot be afraid to use our brains; God gave them to us. We also cannot become so full of our own cleverness that we choose to ignore the truths revealed to us, whether they are scientific truths or theological truths.
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This post originally appeared on The Catholic Writers Guild Blog