Let There Be Light! Creation and Physics

Et vidit Deus lucem quod esset bona et divisit lucem ac tenebras.

(via wikipedia.com)

As a Catholic I feel no conflict between faith and science. I’m no more a fideist than I am a rationalist. So when someone says, “The universe was created in seven days. It says so right there in Genesis,” I get a little uncomfortable and want to say, “Sure, but Genesis isn’t a book about science.” Some people of faith take this as an indictment of the Bible, and seem to think I (and likeminded Christians) don’t believe the Book to be true. But reading parts of something literarily rather than literally is not the same as declaring it false.

That said, check out this clip from Radiolab. Probably I should have been paying attention in my high school science classes, but this is news to me. The Big Bang produced a primordial soup of light. “And God said: Be light made. And light was made.” That’s pretty fantastic. All matter was born of light, high-energy light belching out particles. Truly awesome.

(via newyorker.com)

I thought of that Radiolab episode last week during my drive to work. Timothy Beal was being interviewed on Interfaith Voices. In the middle of the interview (around 13:00) he reads the opening verses of Genesis in three different translations: The King James, the Tanakh and the Message*. He highlights the differences between the three, but I find the complementarity as fascinating.

The King James Bible:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

The Tanakh:

When God began to create the heaven and earth, the earth being unformed and void with darkness over the face of the deep, and a wind from God sweeping over the water, God said, Let there be light, and there was light.

The Message:

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.

Meditate on these passages of a preëxistent God overbrimming with love speaking into existence light, pure light, of such uninhibited energy it begat particles and antiparticles zooming about the newborn universe and so began you and me.

*The Message is better called a paraphrase than a translation.
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This entry was posted in Christianity, History, Science, Scripture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Let There Be Light! Creation and Physics

  1. Pingback: Lord Byron’s “Darkness” and Some Other Things | Tolle, Lege!

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