Light vs. Heat

The fields of science and religion ask fundamental questions about life—How was the universe created? Who is God?—and because of that, our public conversations often focus on ways science and belief are incompatible, rather than the harmonies that exist between them. Plenty of scientists have navigated these waters, of course, and their intellectual and faith journeys—touched on in the books below—make for good reflection.

God’s Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense of Religion, by Guy Consolmagno, SJ, also author of Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist. The Jesuit astronomer writes about his faith and life as a “techie” and interviews other scientists and engineers to answer the perennial question: “How do these people, who are so dependent on empirical reasoning, find belief ... believable?” Jossey-Bass.

Questions of Truth: Fifty-one Responses to Questions about God, Science, and Belief, by John Polkinghorne, a quantum physicist and Anglican priest, and Nicholas Beale, a social philosopher. Using a question-and-answer format, the authors tackle some of the hundreds of questions they’ve received over the years—Can God’s existence be proved? Is evolution fact or theory? Is original sin a result of nature or nurture? An appendix outlines their view of how evolution and Christian faith fit together. Westminster John Knox.

A Science and Religion Primer, edited by Heidi Campbell and Heather Looy. Four introductory essays cover aspects of the science and religion dialogue, but the bulk of the book is an alphabetical encyclopedia that contains entries on everything from the anthropic principle to Intelligent Design to wave-particle duality. An accessible introduction to historical and contemporary figures and concepts. Baker.

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Sojourners Magazine November 2009
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Why Celebrate Columbus Day?

Gurgen Bakhshetsyan /
Photo via Gurgen Bakhshetsyan /

As an explorer, Columbus was not the first to reach the Western Hemisphere. Native Americans had been here for 10,000-20,000 years, and Vikings and Chinese are among those others who hold prior claims. Even after four attempts, Columbus never realized his goal of finding a western ocean route to Asia. As a “founding father type figure” he never set foot in what is now considered America but landed in the present day Bahamas, Cuba, and Haiti. 

As a Christian example he enacted terrible cruelties to friendly natives: assuming unlawful rights of authority; robbing and subjugating whole nations of their freedom and entire capital; allowing his men to rape, murder and pillage at will; and deliberately leading the way for the genocide of millions, considered by many to be the worst demographic catastrophe in recorded history.

So why do Americans celebrate Columbus Day?