All posts tagged: faith and reason

I Used to Be a Creationist

I have a confession to make: I used to be a creationist. This probably sounds absurd, especially coming from a student at a university which prides itself on its commitment to faith and reason—a university which was even home to one of the first Catholic defenders of scientific evolution—Fr. John Zahm. It will most likely sound even more absurd when I tell you that I am now making faith and reason my life’s work by studying theology, philosophy, and physics. I have quite clearly come a long way from thinking that science and religion do not work together, and would consider myself the better for it. Nonetheless, I am incredibly grateful for the time that I spent holding the opinion that we have to take the book of Genesis to its literal extremes, and thus that evolution just had to be wrong. It helped me identify one of the central aspects of the science and religion debate: science and religion are not at odds with each other if you recognize that science does not have …

Nourishing the Imagination: Science & Religion

As anyone reading this article is likely to know already, the McGrath Institute for Church Life is dedicated to nourishing the Catholic imagination and renewing the Church. The past three years of my work in the MICL have made the claim that we are in fact serving the Church in this way very easy to believe. Yet, what has escaped my attention until fairly recently is the fundamentally biological nature of the metaphor of nourishment. To nourish is a particular function, more interior and deliberate than merely to feed. To nourish assumes an understanding of nutrition and digestion, as well as organicity, ecology, that is, it assumes a whole biology, and a dynamic and integrated one at that. In his 1844 Handbuch der Physiologie des Menschen, Johannes Peter Müller, an eminent German physiologist and comparative anatomist, made a then startling claim about the nature of nutrition and its relationship to human physiology. He claimed, quite simply, that “nutrition is not an object of microscopial research.” Müller saw in the standard fare of the physiological science …

Contemplating the Cosmos: The Building Blocks of Nature, God Included

Protons, neutrons, electrons. Atoms, elements, and chemicals. These are words that you are probably used to hearing in a science class, not in a blog post about how one encounters God. I am a chemist, though, and as strange as it might sound, through these basic building blocks of matter, I find God in my work. In chemistry, we manipulate chemicals to make new compounds, to treat diseases, to improve energy efficiency, and to lessen climate change. We tackle a variety of projects to improve our lives. An individual chemist cannot work on all of these projects during his or her lifetime, and only the most extraordinary chemists make world-changing discoveries that catch the public’s attention. Most of us work on projects that, while significant, remain disguised in technical jargon and are only understood by other scientists. The scientific advances that we have made and the ways in which we now understand nature are amazing. There’s one thing, though, that I’ve always wondered about that seems to go beyond a simple chemical explanation: life. Synthetic …