Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Religious Scientist - Lo and Behold

The most interesting thing (to me) about MIT professor Jeremy England is that he's so "out" religiously.  With the atmosphere in the academy so toxic for those of the spiritual persuasion it seems remarkable that he survived it - and is even getting positive press! Check out this profile in OZY optimistically entitled "The Man Who May One Up Darwin."  Considering the esteem that Darwin is held in materialist circles it strikes me a doubly remarkable that this piece simultaneously questions the durability of the Darwinian principle while admiringly exploring the musings of an Orthodox Jew - who's research could upend it in time.

For those of us who believe that science and theology are just two sides of one coin - methods of exploring and making sense of the world that we find ourselves in - its awfully refreshing to hear a contemporary scientist reflect on the study of Torah and remark "that studying the Torah provided an opportunity for intellectual engagement that he says was 'unlike anything that I had ever experienced in terms of subtlety and grandeur of scope.'"  Yep.

He has also drawn the correct conclusion vis a vis the inherent limitation that science is subject to - that it cannot tell us anything about the meaning of the discoveries that it makes.  As the article notes "for his part, England believes science can give us explanations and predictions but it can never tell us what we should do with that information.  That's where, he says, the religious teachings come in. Indeed, the man who's one-upping Darwin has spent the past 10 years painstakingly combing through the Torah, interpreting word by word much the way he ponders the meaning of life."

It remains to be seen if Professor England will have the scientific impact that many are predicting for him, but I sincerely hope that he blazes another trail within the scientific community - one that once again makes it scientifically acceptable to take metaphysics as seriously as the physical sciences.