God Decides, We Measure
The former chair of the Harvard University physics department muses on how faith gives meaning to his scientific work.
God could have created a fertile planet miraculously in an instant, but when we look carefully at the physical evidence, it appears that the earth has a longer history as part of the universe.
This is a transcript of an interview given by Dr. Jennifer Wiseman at The Faith Angle Forum Conference on Religion, Politics, & Public Life on November 5, 2013.
In this talk, Professor Plantinga addresses the fact that many contemporary thinkers—including many theologians—believe that God cannot perform miracles, providentially guide history, or interact in the lives of people, as these activities would be contrary to science. Plantinga, on the other hand, makes the case that this popular view is mistaken; excluding divine action in the world is not a central feature of natural science itself, but a philosophical or theological preference that has been added on to science (and can just as readily be removed). Plantinga concludes that it is completely logical to accept the miracles of the Bible and support contemporary science.
When it came time to go to graduate school, one of Owen Gingerich's science professors told him “If you feel a calling to go to astronomy, you should give it a try, because we shouldn’t let atheists take over any particular field.”
When we get stuck on the idea of having biological ancestors, we can miss the point that being made in the image of God is a relational quality, not a biological trait. We can communicate and have a relationship with God, and we can reflect his character and represent him to the rest of creation.
In this video conversation, N.T. Wright suggests that what the book of Genesis and the apostle Paul mean by humans "bearing the image of God" is less a static picture and more of a creative, dynamic proposition-- specifically, how we "reflect" God into the world.
NASA astronomer Jennifer Wiseman asserts that studying creation can show us the nature of God; science can inform us of what we need to do as stewards of God’s creation; understanding the natural world gives us a deeper knowledge of Jesus Christ; and science can give us a better understanding of ourselves. This essay was presented at the November 2009 Theology of Celebration Workshop.