The doctrines of Christianity, even in a liberal interpretation, was inextricably linked to the world-view of the first century, which saw the earth as a flat disk with a dome of sky over it, surrounded by the planets and stars, beyond which was God. The earth was the center of the universe and human beings were the center of God's attention. The whole thing had only been around a few thousand years and was not expected to last much longer. They knew next to nothing about the other people of the world nor of the true history of the universe. Things happened because God (or gods) and spirits caused them to happen, often in response to what people believed and the rituals they performed.
Now we know that the earth is not the center of the solar system, much less of the cosmos. We are but one in countless trillions of solar systems across an unimaginably large universe. Our stay on earth stretches into the millions of years but that is but a tiny fraction of the age of the universe. Humans came to be by the same forces as shaped all the rest of the species on the planet. The laws of the universe are universal and available to anyone who looks with an open mind and an inventive spirit. And the perspective of the early Hebrews and Christians are but one of hundreds of other cultures that have survived and thrived over the centuries all around the earth. Things happen because of universal laws. These laws have nothing to do with the things people do, except in the case of pollution of the environment.
How to reconcile this view of the universe with even the most liberal interpretation of the first century? Even if Jesus were God incarnate, he would have to communicate using the accepted view of the universe of that time. The universe we live in is a marvel and a wonder, but it is nothing like what the people of 1st century Palestine understood. Such a radically different universe demands a radically different religion.
By the time I started graduate school, I no longer felt called to be a physicist. I wanted to explore the world of religion. I wanted to see what other religions had to say about our place in the cosmos and how to live a life in harmony with the universe that science is revealing. By the time I had earned my Ph.D. in religion and social ethics, I had found many possibilities for religion in harmony with science. I also better understood the perspective of those religions that tried to deny the findings of science. In the years since, I’ve explored this further.
I am now a member of the Unitarian Universalist religion, one of the few religions to take the contributions of science seriously. I have developed adult religious education classes to share these ideas with my congregation and have also presented a number of worship services around the themes of science and religion.
I hope in this blog to get some of my ideas out into wider circulation and interact with those in the blog0sphere who are interested in the relation of science and religion. While my perspective is distinctly liberal, I encourage respectful comments from the conservative side of this issue. As time goes on, I hope the various categories of posts will begin to provide a comprehensive overview of this complex and fascinating issue.