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.


  1. Dear Rabbi you have just provided a refute that the origin of life needs a Creater. Citing the article "The 101 version of his big idea is this: Under the right conditions, a random group of atoms will self-organize, unbidden, to more effectively use energy. Over time and with just the right amount of, say, sunlight, a cluster of atoms could come remarkably close to what we call life. In fact, here’s a thought: Some things we consider inanimate actually may already be “alive.” It all depends on how we define life, something England’s work might prompt us to reconsider. “People think of the origin of life as being a rare process,” says Vijay Pande, a Stanford chemistry professor. “Jeremy’s proposal makes life a consequence of physical laws, not something random.” "

    Physical laws alone make life possible - no need for a Creator to actively manage the process.

    1. How did I know you were going to go there?

      Why do you suppose it is that Professor England does not conclude the same thing?

    2. Let me make my point clearer. I am simply citing Prof. England's opinion of how life emerges. According to him no special need for a Creator of Life. This means the the the Proof of God based on the Origin of Life would fail.. Regarding England's opinion of a Jewish G-d or God(s) I have no Idea what he believes or thinks, nor why he does so. I am gong to suggest he read my blog posts. Best Wishes,