First Verse of Genesis

The inability of science and religion to reconcile their points of view occurs in the first verse on the first page of Genesis. “When God began creating the heavens and the earth” is interpreted by literalists as the scientific beginning of the world as if these ancient monotheists were modern scientists publishing their findings. Science as we understand it today was not invented when Genesis was committed to parchment. Debunking their argument, the Bible is not a scientific text and should never be construed as one. Tanakh (Hebrew for “Bible”) is first and foremost, a proudly theological collection of books. The books are about Adonai God and the people of Adonai God, the children of Israel.

Theology and science are disparate disciplines, fundamentally different and incongruous. To read a compromise between theology and scientific inquiry on the first page of Genesis is an act of futility – there is no compromise because theology and science are two divergent disciplines. The battles we witness between the “the Bible is wrong” crowd and the “science is evil” crowd is the continuing failure to find compromise when none is available, plausible, or more to the point, necessary. The battle is the result of a categorical error.

Too many assume that the both approaches are attempting to answer the same question: how was the universe made? Science asks that question and has reams of exciting facts, theories, and emerging hypotheses. Science asks what is the process and how does it work. Science leaves the “why” or more precisely, “why was the universe created?” to philosophy and religion.

The author(s) of Genesis ask a different question: “Does the universe have meaning?” The typical-of-its-time mythology of the Greeks has Zeus chopping off the head of the monster and hoisting it up in the heavens as a bloody trophy called earth. There is no meaning for humans in crawling across the face of rotting skull like maggots. In contrast, the Genesis story argues that if God made the world, then the world has meaning. By being created by God, humans have a meaning for existence as well. To argue that our lives have meaning is a worthwhile theology to hold dear.

Science has nothing to say about the maker of the universe and Genesis has nothing to say about the science of creating universes. They are asking different questions. The fault of our thinking is assuming that science and religion are opposite of each other when they are actually working in two different, though parallel realms, answering different, though both worthy questions.

Got Research?

An NPR story today  tracks the loss of academic jobs in science and medical fields. Only 15% of the PhD’s who have graduated in the past decade will actually get a tenure track job. These fresh PhD’s are working temporary jobs in labs across the country for as little as $40,000 a year. These are some of the best and brightest minds in the United States.

Up until the 1980’s, the U.S. government supported basic research in universities and colleges across the nation. In the 1980’s a new political philosophy emerged and the curtailment of government monies for research began to wane. At times the money has increased temporarily, only to dissipate just as rapidly, further eroding the amount of government sponsored research.

All of this basic research was the genesis for many of the new fields of employment we have today. Biomedical research, pharmaceuticals, energy sources (both repurposed and alternative), computer hardware, software, opticals, nanotechnology, quantum physics, and especially cell phone technology all began with government sponsored research in anonymous college labs.

Private corporations are not going to fund research in any significant manner. They have not done so in the past thirty years.

This report should be a call to arms. We should be having a conversation about how Congress spends our money. However, I fear that our national legislators are unusually nearsighted and are unable to see beyond their next election, which has little to do long term issues and trends of our nation.

We need to get these people to work at their best levels, doing the research they have spent years training to do. <;