Monthly Archives: January 2013

Science and the Bible

I am a person of Faith.  And I am also a scientist (well, almost – I’m an engineer).  I’ve often tried to understand the Bible in the context of what we have learned through science.  This is kind of like a science of the Bible.  In contrast, sometimes it seems impossible to understand God’s Word in the context of scientific knowledge.

ImageFor example, Exodus tells us that God sent nine plagues to the Egyptians so that Pharoah could see God’s power.  Were these plagues caused by something that can be explained by our scientific knowledge, like the plague of darkness by an eclipse, or the plague of blood by red tide?  I find this to be an interesting question.  Arguably the biggest question is how to reconcile the story of creation in Genesis with our scientific observations that, for one, date the earth at billions, not thousands, of years.

I suppose that one could put these inquiries and others on a firm scientific foundation by using God’s Word as an axiom.  Thus, all scientific observations at odds with God’s Word would be either incorrect or incomplete.  This seems like a difficult standard to me.  I do believe in the scientific process.  I’ve seen that some of our knowledge gained through this process has seemingly been at odds with God’s Word.  However, I wouldn’t dismiss that knowledge as being false.  There is a lot of activity in this area of science and God’s Word; the notion that science and Faith cannot coexist is anathema to me! 

In contrast, who says that God has done everything in ways that humans can or do understand?  For example, perhaps God simply made Egypt dark through his direct action.  This is by definition incomprehensible and not really science. 

Ultimately, it does not matter how God works.  However, this seems to contradict the fact that we were made in God’s image as scientific, knowledge-seeking people.  Science will never provide evidence of God, but maybe it can help us understand our relationship to him.



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An American Story from the Joint Mathematics Meetings

British One and Two-pound Coins

British One and Two-pound Coins

The following story came from a talk entitled, Your Humble Servant, Is. Newton.  This talk highlighted the interesting and unique pieces of correspondence between Isaac Newton and his peers in the scientific community.

A 1676 letter from Newton to Robert Hooke contained this quote: “If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants.”  The quote is famous enough to have been milled into the edge of the British two-pound coin.  The above letter would certainly not be out of place in a British museum, or at The University of Cambridge where Newton studied.  Instead, it resides at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in the Simon Gratz Collection.

Simon Gratz was a Nineteenth Century Philadelphia lawyer, descended from a prominent family with roots in Colonial Philadelphia.  He bought and sold autographs and letters from around the world; his collection contains pieces from the late fourteenth century through the nineteenth century, including the famous letter from Sir Isaac Newton.  What a quintessentially American story!


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War on Science

Consider these stories on fracking: Vermont Bans, City Council Pushes Ban, Hollywood Blowhards.  Are these examples of the Left’s “War on Science”?

Hollywood Blowhard

Hollywood Blowhard

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With all due respect

I reacted strongly to this post and what Sen. Grayson said. But I actually think that this post is kind of funny. I mean, when I say that the Democrat Party is the party of baby killers, I don’t mean the Democrat Party any respect. Do I really believe this about the Democrat Party? Maybe, maybe not. But I am not a U.S. Senator either.

Another way to interpret this post is that merely accusing the Republican Party of institutional racism is disrespectful. Thus, Sen. Grayson’s “with all due respect” utterance is a load of you know what.

In either case, I enjoyed this short post from Quomodocumque.


I think I heard this phrase finally lose the last shred of its meaning this morning on NPR.  Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL):

“The Republican Party has been in many respects, with all due respect, the party of racism in this country, going back to the time of Nixon.”

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It’s That Guy!

Google, “Why is gas more expensive in Europe?”  I never expect a complete answer by googling, but it is a quick and dirty way to begin to answer a question.  Plus, the answers you get tend to be amusing.  Consider this, from “It’s That Guy”:

Europeans realize the real cost of gasoline is more than its cost at the pump, so they have always put heavy taxes on it. This encourages less use, smaller cars, more use of public transportation. Part of this is that no European country (except Finland) produces its own gas so it was always an imported item.

In the US we wanted to -encourage- people to use gas. Our two most powerful industries were cars and gas, and road building was up there in the top 10 at one point. And for the first 100 years or so the great majority of our oil was from right here. So we never taxed gas or energy as much. Now that we are importing most of our energy and oil is $100/barrel, we should consider raising taxes on gas to get people to consider smaller cars and more public transportation and other alternatives.

Also, when you talk about the price we pay for gas, you have to include a big expensive war in the Gulf every 10 years.

What an amazing grasp of economics and history!  I especially enjoyed the part about a big expensive war in the Gulf every ten years.  It seems it’s about time for another one.

Now, consider the last answer on the page:


This answer is no more or less helpful than the answer given by “It’s That Guy”, but it certainly is without the smug self-righteousness.

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Must-click link: The Sam Khalifa story


I remember watching some Reds-Pirates and Braves-Pirates games on TV in the mid-80s and seeing a guy named Sam Khalifa play shortstop for Pittsburgh. I don’t recall anything notable. I just remember the name and some announcer noting that the American-born Khalifa was (my memory had it) of Libyan or Egyptian or Tunisian extraction. Or something like that. I had completely forgotten about him until this morning.

Why this morning? Because this morning I read Paul Brownfield’s engrossing story about Khalifa in the New York Times, and I now know everything I’d want to know. And so much of it is sad: in 1989 Khalifa had reached a crossroads in his baseball career and left his minor league team. Five months later his father — an idiosyncratic and divisive Muslim leader in Tucson — was brutally murdered. Khalifa never played ball again. He now drives a taxi in Tucson. The story is…

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