I was at the Maryland Science Centre in Baltimore, in the exhibit called Our Place in Space when I came upon a quote by James Irwin. He was the pilot for the Endeavor Lunar Module that landed on the moon July 26, 1971. He explored the moon for three days.
These are his thoughts about that trip.
"The Earth reminded us of a Christmas tree ornament hanging in the blackness of space. As we got farther and farther away, it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God and the love of God."
"I felt the power of God as I'd never felt it before."
For centuries, men and women of science have felt a sense of the ephemeral, a feeling of the presence of something greater than themselves.
Sir Charles Darwin, the author of Origin of Species and the theory of evolution, was a man of faith who studied multiple disciplines including, theology, geology, geography, culture, and fossils. He saw the natural world much the same way as his contemporary, Charles Lyell, saw the earth, as constantly changing in small and gradual increments.
Darwin's theories on evolution did not take away from his sense of awe at the origin of species. He referred to it as the "mystery of mysteries."
We can continue, today, to bring Darwin and God to the same table. I know the place of evolution in scientific knowledge. My left brain understands it completely. It's the right brain; the one that experiences all boundaries slipping away, that lets me imagine the hand of God, the ultimate artist working behind the scenes.
There is no need for shame or a sense of guilt nor to explain or justify the presence of something ethereal at play in evolution. Our brain gives us the joy of perceiving reality in a way that makes sense to each of us uniquely. We choose the metaphors that best help us comprehend our world. As we become more knowledgeable about our world, our view of God changes. We come to realize that evolution is part of God's plan from creation.
Dr. Fraser Duncan, Snolab's assistant director of Snolab in Sudbury, Ontario is one of many scientists who searched for dark matter which "causes large-scale structure and evolution of the universe. Normal matter would not have been able to coalesce into stars and planets if dark matter hadn't been there to guide the process."
Physicists have only recently proven the existence of dark matter. It had been stubbornly challenging to spot in real life. As Dr. Duncan said during the years of searching that they were "looking for something that we don't know is there. We don't know for a fact that dark matter exists, but there's very good circumstantial evidence for it."
The language that Dr. Duncan uses to describe the search for dark matter is like describing a religious pilgrimage. Scientists are searching for the Holy Grail of the beginning of the universe. This search is filled with religious metaphors and similes. There are some who refer to the Higgs boson, the particle that is responsible for creating mass, as the "God particle." I think it is that way because science, like religion, is involved in the mysterium and tremendom of creation.
In religious terms, the mysterium and tremendom, fear and trembling, refer to our relationship with God. We are pulled in closer and closer wanting to know more and more about Him, yet as we get closer, there is a sense of trepidation, a fear of getting too close. We stand back in awe. If we get too close, too fast, we may get burned by a living fire. So at the last minute we pull back, take a moment, and then unable to resist we start the journey again.
In science, the mystery of the beginning of the universe calls; there is a call to uncover its secrets. Scientists push forward, perhaps with moments of trepidation, hoping for answers, yet fearing the answer will elude them. The idea that Dr. Duncan knew, perhaps in his soul, that dark matter exists, gave his search purpose, meaning and value just as my search for God gives me purpose, meaning and value.
One must never confuse religion with science or use the Bible as a source of scientific fact. The Bible is not, and never was, a science text book. While science searches for the beginning of life, religion adds the sacred.
God is continually involved in creation and evolution. His word continues to spread through the universe side by side with the energy that burst forth with the initial big bang. We are expected to continue to evolve and develop better moral discernment based on the teachings of this monotheistic God. We are compelled to question, question, question, if we are to be honest children of God. Questioning is part of our nature, just as Abraham and Moses questioned God. If we stop questioning, it means we have stopped noticing; we have lost awareness; we are losing our sense of awe and wonder and our souls will shrivel and die.
The German philosopher, Heidegger wrote that "questions are piety, the prayer of human thought." The questions James Irwin asked led to his exploration of space where he said, "I felt the power of God as I'd never felt it before."