29 September 2010

God and Science

I sit on my tug on the ramp.  I should be pulling my departure around, but I've some time to spare, and so I pull the park brake and turn the engine off.

The sun is just beginning to peek above the FedEx building across the airport to the east.  The air is quiet, still, and for a fleeting moment I imagine my dusty fly rod in my hands.

I breathe deep of the cool morning air and watch the day begin.

I could explain that at this moment we're moving toward the sunrise at approximately 700 miles an hour as the earth rotates, and that we are also orbiting around the sunrise at about 67,000 miles an hour.  I could tell you that the sun and it's planets are moving at 155 miles per second through our Milky Way galaxy, and that the Milky Way itself is moving through the universe at about 185 miles per second.

I could tell you that the radiation given off from the sun is of a certain composition well suited to provide light for the photosynthesis of plants, as well as heat that provides the engine that drives our weather patterns, distributing the water of this fine planet to the plants and the animals.

I could explain that the earth's atmosphere is of such a combination of elements so as to provide a diverse mixture of gasses to support the abundant life on this planet, as well as refracting our sun's light to make our skies blue and our clouds white.

I could say that the many beautiful colors of the sunrise are a result of this refraction, moving through the visible spectrum from red to orange to yellow to green to cyan to blue to violet, and I could say that all of these colors and all combinations of these colors could be seen on any given day.

I might even go so far as to explain that the inner workings of our eye are best suited to receive certain colors and that we see the world differently than some animals because of the features of our eye.

I could say all these things.  I could give you endless links to Wikipedia, and university websites where people spend their entire careers studying sunrises and sunsets and sunlight.

I could tell you all of this and more, but you will still never know a sunrise.

We can understand every little shred of insignificant scientific facts about the sunrise, and still not understand the sunrise.

Instead, I will invite you to sit next to me on my tug, with the engine quiet and the windsock limp, to breathe deep of the cool morning air, and truly understand the sunrise.


jj

3 comments:

bradley said...

awesome.

you left out that the light is traveling @ roughly 3.0x10^8 m/s
:D

The Wingnut said...

I did, didn't I! Or that even at that speed, the light from the sun takes over eight minutes to arrive here. That's about how long it takes for me to get downtown. Because I don't have a warp drive installed on my Blazer.

jj

Ted M. Gossard said...

jj, Thanks. Yes. There certainly is an emphasis nowadays on knowledge, but it is mostly relegated to facts. And the wonder is all but gone.

Little wonder we today can scratch our heads to a large extent over how God answers Job. The wonder of creation has been reduced to science, good in its place, but never at the expense of experience itself.