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Faith-science link examined

Katlyn Smith | Friday, April 18, 2008

Lecturer and author Barbara Fiand explored the relationship between scientific discoveries, particularly in quantum physics, and spiritual views Thursday at Saint Mary’s 23rd annual Madeleva Lecture.

In her lecture, entitled “Awe-filled Wonder: The Interface of Science and Spirituality,” at the College’s Little Theatre, Fiand said humans interpret their place in reality through a worldview, a perception currently being transformed by scientific discoveries.

Traditional perceptions, such as dualism, Fiand said, stress the division of spirit and science.

“[Dualism] has been responsible for dividing the worlds of spirituality and science,” Fiand said.  

According to Fiand, the two concepts stem from very different sources. Scientific beliefs, Fiand said, are rooted in a materialistic view of society, whereas religion has a spiritual worldview.

“The dogmas for science and religion are rooted in dualism,” Fiand said.

But Fiand said the significance of science for religion is a new phenomenon and a concept powerful for human growth.

To illustrate her point, Fiand provided an example of a significant interface of science and spirituality.

In 1914, “Einstein heard the universe whisper to him that it was expanding in all directions,” Fiand said.

Rather than thinking of the universe as a “celestial container,” Fiand said, the center of the universe is everywhere.

In relation to Christianity, this discovery of a growing universe alters traditional images of God and metaphors of faith, such as the heaven above and the hell below.

“The God of today can no longer be seen as external to the world,” Fiand said.

She also said this discovery challenges the finalization of Christian dogma.

“Creation is an ongoing, evolutionary event bursting from the center of the universe,” Fiand said.

The Christian imagery of a heaven above and a hell below also does not agree with the emerging world perspective.

Rather, humans inhabit an omnicentric universe in which God flows in each of us, Fiand said.

In addition, quantum discoveries refute religious interpretations of a static universe with linear and spatial time frames of a beginning and end, Fiand said.

“The quantum perspective tells us that separation is an illusion, communion is our essence, where the outside and the inside intertwine,” Fiand said.

Fiand suggested an ultimate collaboration between science and religion.

“The meeting point of science and religion is humility and a common passion for the unknown,” Fiand said.