Friday, February 13, 2009

Shout-Out to the D-Man!

“The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic”

“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”

“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.”

“We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universes, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.”

The Rabbi said tonight that this weekend is "Science Shabbat", if I have that right, in honor of Darwin's 200th birthday, and the 150th anniversary of "On the Origin of the Species", so I want to talk about science for a moment.

I never understood the whole science/religion debate; why are these two things separate and irreconcilable? We are told G-d made the world, but the book is awfully vague as to how. Assuming knowledge about G-d's ways is the height of arrogance; what special source told you G-d does not use evolution? And from the other direction, the more I learn about science, the more depth and detail we discover, the more I have to believe there's some guiding force behind it - Maimonides's "unmoved mover"; the mere fact that the system works and is so darn complicated suggests some originating power.

If G-d created everything, then G-d also created the natural laws that scientists use. G-d created all of matter and of its properties, including things like gravity, electromagnitism, molecular mass, and, yes, evolution. Giving G-d direct responsibility for the end products of the system is akin to - and I know people will love this example - giving Bill Gates credit for this essay since I wrote it originally in MS Word. Created the rules, created the system, yes; it was other users that crafted the end products.

Fun fact: The word "science" shares a root with "scythe", deriving from the Greek root meaning "to seperate". Which means science is the procss of seperating things, at ever increasing levels of detail, until we have seperated a thing down to its smallest possible category. What's an electron? To fully answer that I have to explain why it's not a proton. The first modern science was taxonomy - seperating animals into categories by kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. So who was the first Biblical scientist?


And people think science and religion are incompatable?

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