John Livingston News

Liberty and Science

When I arrived on the Wittenberg College Campus in the summer of 1969 for 6 weeks of two a day football practices, my football coach was my assigned academic adviser—Davie Mauer who was, along with his mentor and predecessor Bill Edwards later admitted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Both coaches were incredible men and coaches but neither was a very good academic advisor and the direction they started me on in my college journey rapidly put me on a course toward academic probation. Coach Mauer assigned me to a Chemistry 101 Class taught by Howard Glasgow. The course met at 12 noon and there were 6 people in the class—5 “Glasgow Scholars” who had competed for a named scholarships—named after the teacher of the class—and me.

The 8AM Chem 101 Class had 120 people! A wise academic tactician would have known something was up—I was obviously a rookie in the classroom and on the football field After 15 weeks the Glasgow Class had produced 1 A student—1 D student and the rest of the class had F’s. But that was singularly the most important class I would ever take. Dr. Glasgow used the last two weeks of the class to prove the creation story using the Laws of physics—Thermodynamics and Relativity. Dr. Glasgow was both a man of faith and a man of science. A very rare breed. Or so I thought.

My life for the next 20 years was consumed with other things—family career etc. but in 1990 a colleague of mine presented me with a book called GENESIS AND THE BIG BANG by Gerald Schroeder who was a PHD. Physicist at MIT and a Jewish Rabbi. I read the book and his theory and math proofs—the math in the book was far more elementary than Dr. Glasgow’s calculous, but was very much the same as the class notes that I was able to retrieve from my college course. I have misplaced the notes, but I have reread the book on several occasions. Dr. Schroeder is both a man of faith and a scientist. A very rare breed. Or so I thought.

And then last week I read a review by Jeremy England who is also a physicist and a Jewish Rabbi entitled THE CREATOR’S CALLING CARD. He describes how he and his colleagues have shown how recently identified “dumb” collections of particles can recapitulate life like characteristics when the right type of energy is applied to them. “From dust you came….from dust you will return” The discrepancy between the 5700 year age of the Biblical Universe and the 15 billion year scientific version can be reconciled by using the laws of Thermodynamics, and General and Special Relativity Theory. What I have come to believe is that the events that followed the Big Bang and that are described by physicists and the events of the first 6 days in Genesis can actually be reconciled when we understand that God travels at the speed of light and His time is very different than our time.

People who poses an understanding of Judea-Christian Theology and Thermodynamics at the same time is not as unusual as I originally thought. In discussing my experience with a dear friend who is a nuclear engineer and not very religious, I found that he did not find this to be unusual. It had been his experience that many scientists in the hard sciences had a reverence for the processes that started with the beginning of the universe and continues through today. They may not subscribe to traditional theological tenants, though more do than I appreciated, but because they poses the “humility of a scientist” they do not dismiss these tenants as out of hand as so many of the practitioners of the “soft sciences”—sociology, political science, humanities do. From my own limited experience working summers in a biochemistry lab, I learned first hand how many things in an experiment had to go right, and at the right time and in the right order, so that the experiment would produce the desired result. An appreciation for process is something the theologian and the scientist have in common.

Faith and science are not diametrically opposed to each other. There are many people who see science as “Our Creator’s Calling Card”. As Jeremy England states: “life itself is perhaps the best expression of transcendent intention in the arrangement of the world.” WE are not forced to take the Bible as an allegorical statement or a fairy tale. There are those who believe that the events in Genesis when taken at their most literal meaning provide a true and accurate description of the universe’s history. Using the laws of thermodynamics and relativity we can prove it. In the end there will be believers and non-believers, but the nonbelievers will remain skeptical because they want to be the center of their own universes. They want to make the rules that run their lives—and the lives of others. They want to be in control and they cannot relinquish control. They don’t understand the limitations of man. They believe in the false promises of utopia on earth and reject Natural Law concepts of the Devine promise of liberty. It is not because of science that they don’t believe—it is in spite of it.

Our Founding Fathers and our Founding reflects this understanding of “The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”. Humility and reverence is what grounds us all—scientist, believer, and patriot. And (scientist believer)—patriot.

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