Thursday, August 8, 2013

Again Disturbing the Universe: Gallileo, Creationism, and Me.

I just wrote the start of a blog post, thought about it, and deleted it, mostly because I value my family's privacy over my writing.  I try like heck to not embarrass or offend them, or tell stories that are not mine.  Which is such a bummer, because as my son is about to leave for college I keep remembering every little funny story about his baby- and childhood, and he'd kill me for telling you.  I'll just have to work the stories into my fiction.

Yes, I do that.  But if you think you recognize yourself or someone else in my books, you're probably wrong.  I'm good at disguises.

Okay, so instead today I'm going to approach a mild topic.  Science vs. Religion.  Noncontroversial, right? 

Once upon a time, the Catholic church (which was, at that time, the only Christian church) got very upset with Gallileo, because he proved via science (astronomy and math) that the earth was not in fact the center of the universe.  Gallileo offered scientific proof that the earth and other planets revolved around the sun.

This made church leaders very afraid.  For centuries they'd taught that the earth was the center, the literal physical center, of God's creation.  If people quit believing that the earth was the literal physical center of the universe, the Church was afraid they would quit believing in God.  That's what was at stake.  So, entirely ignoring the logic and beauty of Gallileo's findings, the Church arrested him, excommunicated him, and eventually forced him to recant.  Forced him to say that his greatest discovery--one of the greatest scientific discoveries in history--was a lie. 

A few years back, the Catholic Church formally admitted that Gallileo had been right all along.  By that point the scientific argument had been over for so long that barely anyone remembered it; everyone knew the earth went around the sun.  They also still mostly believed in God, and if they didn't believe in God, it wasn't because of the sun's orbit.   Funny, that.

Now, as far as I can tell, we've got another similar problem:  creationism vs. evolution.  The age of the Earth.  Is it six billion or six thousand years old?  Does life on earth evolve?  (Please note, before you get all hippy in the comments:  whether life evolves is NOT the same thing as saying humans [I first accidentally typed "husbands," talk about your Freudian slips] descended from monkeys.  It really isn't.  If I have to I'll address that in a later post.  I hope I don't have to.)  Science says pretty emphatically that the earth is 4,540,000,000 years old, give or take 50,000,000 years.  Biblical literalists say it is 6,000 years old.  There's a difference there, and it's this:  biblical literalists think that if people quit believing the earth is only 6,000 years old, they will quit believing in God.

Which begs the question:  do biblical literalists still think the sun orbits the earth?

Here's what I think:  First Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see as though through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know even as I am also known."  In other words, we're not supposed to understand everything on this earth.  It's okay if we haven't got it all figured out.  It's okay if the universe doesn't bend itself to our small human understanding.

Also, the more science you know, accept, believe, the cooler God's creation gets.  There's a reason most scientists believe in God.  This stuff's amazing.