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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 25, 2007 / 10 Menachem-Av 5767

A teacher with faith and reason

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Did you hear about the religious fundamentalist who wanted to teach physics at Cambridge University? This would-be instructor wasn't simply a Christian; he was so preoccupied with biblical prophecy that he wrote a book titled "Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John." Based on his reading of Daniel, in fact, he forecast the date of the Apocalypse: no earlier than 2060. He also calculated the year the world was created. When Genesis 1:1 says "In the beginning," he determined, it means 3988 BCE.


Not many modern universities are prepared to employ a science professor who espouses not merely "intelligent design" but out-and-out divine creation. This applicant's writings on astronomy, for example, include these thoughts on the solar system: "This most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and domination of an intelligent and powerful Being . . . He governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done."


Hire somebody with such views to teach physics? At a Baptist junior college deep in the Bible Belt, maybe, but the faculty would erupt if you tried it just about anywhere else. Many of them would echo Oxford's Richard Dawkins, the prominent evolutionary biologist, who writes in "The G-d Delusion" that he is "hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. . . . It subverts science and saps the intellect."


Equally blunt is Sam Harris, a PhD candidate in neuroscience and another unsparing foe of religion. "The conflict between religion and science is inherent and (very nearly) zero-sum," he has written. "The success of science often comes at the expense of religious dogma; the maintenance of religious dogma always comes at the expense of science." Less elegant but more influential, the National Science Education Standards issued by the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 classified religion with "myths," "mystical inspiration," and "superstition" — all of them quite incompatible with scientific study. Michael Dini, a biologist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, made headlines in 2003 over his policy of denying letters of recommendation for any graduate student who could not "truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer" to the question of mankind's origin. Science and religion, he said in an interview at the time, "shouldn't overlap."


But such considerations didn't keep Cambridge from hiring the theology- and Bible-drenched individual described above. Indeed, it named him to the prestigious Lucasian Chair of Mathematics — in 1668. A good thing too, since Isaac Newton — notwithstanding his religious fervor and intense interest in Biblical interpretation — went on to become the most renowned scientist of his age, and arguably the most influential in history.


Newton's consuming interest in theology, eschatology, and the secrets of the Bible is the subject of a new exhibit at Hebrew University in Jerusalem (online at jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/mss/Newton). His vast religious output — an estimated 3 million words — ranged from the dimensions of Solomon's Temple to a method of reckoning the date of Easter to the elucidation of Biblical symbols. "Newton was one of the last great Renaissance men," the curators observe, "a thinker who worked in mathematics, physics, optics, alchemy, history, theology, and the interpretation of prophecy and saw connections between them all." The 21st-century prejudice that religion invariably "subverts science" is refuted by the extraordinary figure who managed to discover the composition of light, deduce the laws of motion, invent calculus, compute the speed of sound, and define universal gravitation, all while believing deeply in the "domination of an intelligent and powerful Being." Far from subverting his scientific integrity, the exhibition notes, "Newton's piety served as one of his inspirations to study nature and what we today call science."


For Newton, it was axiomatic that religious inquiry and scientific investigation complemented each other. There were truths to be found in both of the "books" authored by G-d, the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature — or as Francis Bacon called them, the "book of G-d's word" and the "book of G-d's works." To study the world empirically did not mean abandoning religious faith. On the contrary: The more deeply the workings of Creation were understood, the closer one might come to the Creator. In the language of the 19th Psalm, "The heavens declare the glory of G-d, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."


To be sure, religious dogma can be a blindfold, blocking truths from those who refuse to see them. Scientific dogma can have the same effect. Neither faith nor reason can answer every question. As Newton knew, the surer path to wisdom is the one that has room for both.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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