Kevin Hiebert’s message opened with Jonah despairing his failure as a prophet, resenting God’s mercy and ignoring God’s dominion over creation, as paralleled in Psalm 145. Kevin led us through the stories of scientists and mathematicians whose explorations of creation and faith informed later philosophers. Although the Aristotelian world-view of the Sun revolving around the earth seemed to harmonize nicely with Scriptural accounts, this geocentric model wasn’t consistent with motion of the heavens to Copernicus, whose heliocentric cosmology was confirmed by new evidence from Galileo’s telescopic observations. The Church had elevated its literal interpretations of natural phenomenon in Scripture to the same level as core doctrine and branded Galileo a heretic, but Pope John Paul II would later praise Galileo for not accepting a contradiction between science and faith: “both come from the same Source and are to be brought into relationship with the first Truth.”
Albert Einstein appreciated the mysteries of creation while subscribing to a view of God closest to that of Spinoza, a 17th Century Dutch philosopher who believed that creation exists in God as a subset of His infinite attributes. While Einstein is famously quoted as saying, “science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind”, he always maintained humility about his theology, corresponding to the weakness of our understanding of nature and the human condition.
The difficulty of reconciling scientific discoveries with Christian theology also challenged Georg Cantor, a mathematician whose writings in the 1880s on infinity and set theory inspired Benoit Mandelbrot, a recently deceased mathematician best known for his work since the 1980s on fractal geometry in fields as diverse as biology, economics and climatology. Kevin described how Mandelbrot’s work has been used in Theosophy, a combination of theology & philosophy which attempts to reconcile scientific and religious disciplines. A mesmerizing video of Michael Hogg’s deep zoom into the never-ending Mandelbrot set illustrated Kevin’s point that our search for knowledge doesn’t have to preclude our search for God, such as when physicists search for the Higgs boson, also known as the “the God particle”. [AP & KH]