As a person who considers himself to have a scientific viewpoint in most matters, I found the Dialogue discussion on Science and Religion extremely interesting and enlightening. I try to understand and explain everything. For that reason, I’ve never fully accepted the concept of creating the heavens and earth and everything on earth in seven days, at least as we now measure days. Dialogue gave me the opportunity to explore this apparent conflict between religion and science with the group and find a way to reconcile it in my mind.
Recently, I was reading a book by Stephen Hawking. He stated that all of our theories of physics work only as far back as the Big Bang. Prior to that (if there is a prior to that) time and the theories don’t follow the established rules. To accept the Big Bang, one might also accept that something “created” it and that before the Big Bang time might have been indeterminate. We have no way of knowing what occurred before earth’s creation, since we have no way of looking back farther than the Big Bang. This could explain how seven days for the creation might be millennia as we now measure time. For me this concept helps reconcile science and the biblical story.
I found it extremely interesting to discuss and discover how many rules, dictates and laws in the Bible have in modern times been shown by science to have medical value. Before partaking of the Passover meal we ceremoniously wash our hands; after Sabbath service as we enjoy the Kiddush (social gathering), we also wash our hands. This cleanliness, while a religious ritual, has obvious health considerations. In the Torah there is a list of those foods which are “unclean” and are not to be eaten. Many of them, like pork and shellfish, are scavenger animals. In Biblical times there was no medical or scientific reason for these prohibitions, yet today we know of the illness potential from improper storage and preparation of them, as well as the general health related reasons to at least limit their intake, such as fat and cholesterol and their relation to heart disease and other medical concerns.
Prior to Dialogue, I never had a reason to consider the number of times things that are discussed and “taken on faith” in the Bible, today have a scientific explanation. Those that still seem to be miraculous may be true miracles – I am not discounting that possibility – but they may also be something that we don’t understand yet. Dialogue has fostered the more in depth thinking to explore where and how science and religion are not antagonists but partners in enlightenment. They are coming at the issue of life and growth from different perspectives, but in the final analysis both have the goal of making our lives better.