Gerald Schroeder, an MIT-trained scientist who has worked in both physics and biology, has emerged in recent years as one of the most popular and accessible apostles for the melding of science and religion. He first reconciled science and faith as different perspectives on a single whole in The Science of God. Now, in The Hidden Face of God, Schroeder takes a bold step forward, to show that science, properly understood, provides positive reasons for faith. Recent research in biology, chemistry, physics, and neuroscience contains unmistakable hints about the ultimate nature of reality. Simply put, we now know not only that behind matter lies energy, but also that behind energy lies wisdom. Scientists have touched on this wisdom in the laboratory, and its implications are awesome.
From the wisdom encoded in DNA and analyzed by information science, to the wisdom unveiled in the fantastic complexity of cellular life, to the wisdom inherent in human consciousness, The Hidden Face of God offers a tour of the best of modern science. Schroeder makes no attempt to "prove" the existence of God. Yet his interpretations of the work of his fellow scientists touch on life's ultimate mysteries. His wise observations on the organization of organic life, on the power of humans to make sense of their sensory inputs, and on the complexities of the code of DNA all show that life has a direction and purpose that cannot be explained in purely physical terms. Throughout, he addresses three great themes: the question of first causes (i.e., where do the laws of nature come from?); the inseparability of mind and matter; and the philosophical problem of design. To believe that a designer must have been involved, he reminds us, we need not insist on perfection or on our view of perfection in the design.
The Hidden Face of God will open a world of science to religious believers, and it will cause skeptics to rethink some of their deepest beliefs.
Israeli physicist Schroeder extends the approach taken in previous works (Genesis and the Big Bang; The Science of God) by reviewing biological phenomena whose intricate complexity hints at "wisdom within wisdom" in the design of the universe. "If we could see within as easily as we see without, every aspect of existence would be an unfolding encounter with awe; almost a religious experience even for a secular spectator," he writes. Although Schroeder can claim no special expertise in cell biology or neuroscience, his enthusiasm and sense of wonder are personally engaging, and his metaphysical speculations reflect a wry humility that cannot be taken for granted in this genre. Schroeder writes in two moods, sometimes discerning the transcendent unity of the divine wisdom with unequivocal clarity, sometimes tracing the pattern only faintly and accentuating the continuing hiddenness of God. Although he expresses obvious impatience with orthodox Darwinism and the "materialist superstition" of hard-core reductionists like Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker, he is gracious toward religious skeptics and often addresses them as his primary audience. While many in the scientific community have been openly distrustful of the "intelligent design" movement and suspicious of its (generally Christian) religious associations, Schroeder's professional stature and his nonliteralistic approach to the Bible may help him connect with a wider readership. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 29, 2002
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Excerpt from The Hidden Face of God by Gerald L. Schroeder
A single consciousness, an all-encompassing wisdom, pervades the universe. The discoveries of science, those that search the quantum nature of subatomic matter, those that explore the molecular complexity of biology, and those that probe the brain/mind interface, have moved us to the brink of a startling realization: all existence is the expression of this wisdom. In the laboratories we experience it as information first physically articulated as energy and then condensed into the form of matter. Every particle, every being, from atom to human, appears to have within it a level of information, of conscious wisdom. The puzzle I confront in this book is this: where does this arise? There is no hint of it in the laws of nature that govern the interactions among the basic particles that compose all matter. The information just appears as a given, with no causal agent evident, as if it were an intrinsic facet of nature.
The concept that there might be an attribute as nonphysical as information or wisdom at the heart of existence in no way denigrates the physical aspects of our lives. Denial of the pleasures and wonder of our bodies would be a sad misreading of the nature of existence. The accomplishments of a science based on materialism have given us physical comforts, invented life-saving medicines, sent people to the moon. The oft-quoted statement, "not by bread alone does a human live" (Deut. 8:3), lets us know that there are two crucial aspects to our lives, one of which is bread, physical satisfaction. The other parameter is an underlying universal wisdom. There's no competition here between the spiritual and the material. The two are complementary, as in the root "to complete."
When we see through the camouflage haze that at times convinces us that only the material exists, when we touch that consciousness, we know it. A joyful rush of emotion sweeps over the entire self. This emotional response -- some might call it a religious experience -- is reported in every culture, from every period. It tells us that we've come home. We've discovered the essence of being. Everyone has felt it at some time or other. Perhaps at a brilliant sunrise, in a work of art, the words of a loved one. The physical and the metaphysical have joined.