Too often, the discussion around religion and science produces a lot of heat, but very little light. Over the next few months, Sinai and Synapses will be working to change that.
Through a series of conversations, some of the most interesting and dynamic thought leaders — from both the religious and scientific worlds — will be sharing their perspective on how science and religion can interact more productively.
In other words, these discussions will strive to bring more light and less heat to the public discourse surrounding religion and science.
This first pair of perspectives comes from Rabbi Josh Stanton, a congregational rabbi, editor emeritus of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and a member of the Sinai and Synapses working group; and his friend and colleague Imam Abduallah Antepli, the Muslim Chaplain of Duke University.
Rabbi Josh Stanton finds that scientific language offers him more precise language for the complexities of theology:
Imam Abdullah Antepli finds nobility in the pursuit of scientific knowledge:
Rabbi Josh Stanton:
Hi, I’m Rabbi Josh Stanton. The reason that I care a lot about science is because it helps me find a language in which to describe my experiences.
Sometimes theology can get really confusing for me. And because science is so precise, it describes the world around me, the world that I look at in awe, with a greater deal of precision.
To give a concrete example, I don’t believe in a God with which I can interact. When I pray, it’s not like I’m having a conversation, but rather than I am connecting with a part inside of myself that somehow relates to the world around me.
If God is an ordering force in the universe, then God is the force that defies entropy, as defined in the second law of thermodynamics. I don’t think that everything can be random. I think there’s a stunning amount of order, and that there’s a magnificence to the world, and because of this, I believe in a God.
But without the idea of the second law of thermodynamics, without scientific language, I would find it very difficult to give words to my belief in that God with which I do not directly interact, and yet is a force that exists within me and beyond me.
Imam Abdullah Antepli:
Hi, this is Imam Abdullah Antepli. I care a lot about science because science and scientific work helps me to see, and even more importantly, helps me to experience and feel the presence of God in my life in a much richer, much more moving and beautiful way than any ritual, any type of worship, or any kind of theological work does to me.
As I believe in the transcendent God, [and] I can only get to know God through God’s manifestation in the universe, science facilitates that journey for me — that attempt to get to know God, fall in love with God, and feel in the presence of God in your life.
As scientific work sheds light into the very many manifestations of God in the universe, [it] allows me to see invisible fingerprints of God, signatures of God around me.
And therefore I consider scientific work as sacred, and I consider people who are in the business of producing scientific work as noble people, doing noble work in the name of science for humanity.