Podcast S1E3 - Jennifer Wiseman


(James Stump) #1

For the third episode of “Language of God” our friend Rebecca McLaughlin talks with astronomer Jennifer Wiseman. We’re not allowed to talk about her professional affiliations, but suffice it to say that she is at the top of her field. They talk about astronomy and other sciences, but also Jennifer’s Christian faith and background.

Find episode 3 at: https://biologos.org/resources/language-of-god-jennifer-wiseman
All the other episodes are at: https://biologos.org/podcast

What shall we discuss about their conversation?


(Mitchell W McKain) #2

The first thing Jennifer does is compare our search for significance in both science and religion and it seems she is saying they compliment each other to some degree. With religion we find significance in a relationship with God the creator and with science we find significance by understanding the universe God has created.

I was startled by the mention of Psalm 8:5 where it says man was made a little lower than the angels, for my understanding came more from the epistle of Hebrews where it seemed to be saying the opposite that man was so much greater than the angels though particularly in the person of Jesus – that the angels are but servants and messengers rather than children. Then I realized that this simply points to a huge difference in our natures, angels as spiritual being are created with vast powers and knowledge, and man as physical living organisms grow from a microscopic beginning having to learn and acquire all of the power and knowledge we have. I believe it is the latter which makes us made in the image of God as in a reflection, because while angels are exactly what God made them to be in all their vast knowledge and power, we humans have an infinite potential which makes us perfect for an eternal parent-child relationship where there is no end to what God can give and no end to what we can receive from Him.

When Jennifer mentioned seeing in to the distant past with the light we receive from distant sources I was struck by the similarity this has with the fossil record by which we can look into the past to see the development of life on the earth. I was struck by the idea that both represented a communication from God when we were ready to read it, telling us the story of how all of this came to be. And that the revelation we have from God in the Bible was just the beginning in order to ready us for these other revelatory texts in nature.

Next Jennifer broaches the topic of purpose, and I was reminded of my own belief that as children and thus an end in ourselves rather than tools made for an end, it is for us to decide our own purpose in existence whether a creator of art, an investigator of nature, to help others in health or rescue, or one of the many many other ways we contribute to the improvement/enrichment of human life. And so I thought that while there is no doubt some divine purpose in the universe, there may also be some openness to finding purpose in the universe for ourselves in partnership with God.

In response to picture of evolution as a violent origin of mankind, Jennifer extols evolution as a gift of adaptability and suggests that by resolving the real problem of our relationship with God we look forward to a promise of a future where death and suffering is not a part of it. This is different from my view that rather than not being a part of life we will accept and see the value in them as making our lives richer rather than poorer, partly because we will know that physical life is just the beginning like womb in which our spirit is formed.

In response to the non-Christian nature of the scientific community, I like it that Jennifer points out the unifying nature of the scientific enterprise that this is something that people of all different religious beliefs can contribute to. And thus science brings all together, and I would say reading a text more directly from God to explore what God has given us together.

In looking at the future of scientific inquiry, Jenniffer first points to the exciting discovery and study of exo-planets and suggest that in one or two decade we should find out whether life is probable or improbable in the universe. She also looks forward to the observation of how galaxies formed in the most distant sources of light. She also hopes for a solution to the dark matter conundrum. To this I would add my own hope for a working theory of abiogenesis which I see considerable progress being made towards in recent times.


(Randy) #3

Thanks, @mitchellmckain. You have made good synopses of the podcasts. They help me with understanding and enjoying them even better.


(James Stump) closed #4

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