Science is a complex thing. Our knowledge on various subjects is constantly changing. What was true and valid last week is disproved and replaced with another theory this week. We are still unsure about the world that we are living in. Charles Liu, the Director of the Macaulay and Verrazano Honors College at CSI, challenged us to think outside the box.
When Dr. Liu came in to speak with us, he spoke on the matter of combining religion and science. He posed a question: “Could someone who is verbose in science be just as verbose in religion?” Most of us answered “no,” but in fact, the answer is yes. Look back at some of the famous scientists in history such as Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, even Benjamin Franklin. Besides Science, what else do all these famous people have in common?? The were all philosophers! They were just as well read in science as they were in religion. Fast forward a few hundred years to 2012. When we hear that someone is a scientist, we automatically assume that they have no religious background at all.
On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, we had the honor of attending the opening of an art gallery at CSI. The name of the gallery was “Expanding Frames of Reference: Art, Science and Religion.” Normally, you don’t see those three terms in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence! Well, a Swiss scholar Johann Jakob Scheuchzer challenged this idea and developed scientifically based art commissioned to mimic passages from the Bible. The idea was brilliant!
One of the paintings that illustrates this the best is Physica Sacra plate CCCLXXI. The bible quote to go with this plate is found in Joshua, chapter 10, and reads:
“Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.“
In the painting, we see the sun shining over a mountain top and the moon in the back right. Around the frame we can see the changing of the moon and sun over the course of a day. At one point though, it seems that the light patterns have remained static, illustrating the above quote.
I was quite taken back by all of this. I had always been one of those naïve persons who believed that science and religion could never co-exist. However, Scheuchzer, through his art, demonstrates that scientific principals found their origin in the Bible. After viewing this exhibition, my mind has definitely been changed in regards to this. Science and religion can and do, in fact, co-exist.