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February 23, 2006

Thought for the Day - from BBC

Science, Just Science - News

Thought for the Day, 23 February 2006

John Bell

I met Lucien Zell the other day in a café in Prague. He looked Bohemian and indeed he was, though not in terms of his ethnic origins. He's a poet and a singer in a rock band.

It was the poet bit which interested me, the more so when I began to read some of his work and conjecture what was behind it.

There were various allusions to God - that fitted well with him being Jewish. Several poems concerned children - which was to be expected, given that he has three of them.

Travelling was another prevailing image. That could be explained by his itinerant lifestyle. And an unabashed sense of vulnerability pervaded his writing, which I attributed to him being born with only one hand.

So I developed theories about how his different attributes were responsible for Lucien Zell's poetry. And then I thought: but surely there are other disabled religious travellers in the world, yet they don't all write poetry. So my theorising had to be set aside. It was not the full story.

I was musing over this on the flight back to Scotland when I read in a newspaper how in British universities the debate about Darwinism versus Creationism is heating up. Here we have an alleged scientific theory and deeply held religious belief both purporting to explain the origins of the species.

The most rabid proponents of both Darwinism and Creationism tend to polarise their perspectives from each other, but need this be so?

For it seems to me that here we have two languages with different intentions. One is the language of science concerned with process. It's an ever-changing and intrinsically imprecise language because new discoveries can force established theories to be revisited.

And the other is the language of faith, primarily concerned not with process but with purpose and meaning. It is also an intrinsically imprecise language, for, as St. Paul pointed out, our knowledge of the purposes of God will always be partial this side of time.

Is it beyond the realms of possibility that these two ever-changing perspectives on life might complement rather than threaten each other?

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