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July 31, 2007

Name That Scientist

Jeff Jacoby presents, in a style not unlike Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story", a story about a scientist, and the school that he applied to, that will amaze you.

DID YOU hear about the religious fundamentalist who wanted to teach physics at Cambridge University? This would-be instructor wasn't simply a Christian; he was so preoccupied with biblical prophecy that he wrote a book titled "Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John." Based on his reading of Daniel, in fact, he forecast the date of the Apocalypse: no earlier than 2060. He also calculated the year the world was created. When Genesis 1:1 says "In the beginning," he determined, it means 3988 BC.

So we have a young-Earth guy who seems really into this Christianity thing, and who is applying for a science job at a very prestigious university. Did he get the job?
Hire somebody with such views to teach physics? At a Baptist junior college deep in the Bible Belt, maybe, but the faculty would erupt if you tried it just about anywhere else. Many of them would echo Oxford's Richard Dawkins, the prominent evolutionary biologist, who writes in "The God Delusion" that he is "hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. . . . It subverts science and saps the intellect."

In today's academic climate, things don't sound promising for our intrepid physicist. Religion and science don't mix, so they say.
But such considerations didn't keep Cambridge from hiring the theology- and Bible-drenched individual described above. Indeed, it named him to the prestigious Lucasian Chair of Mathematics....

To find out who this guy was who beat all the odds to get hired, click here for the full column. (And if you're a regular reader of this blog, you may already know the answer. I covered it last month.)

Posted by Doug at July 31, 2007 01:22 PM

Trackback Pings


This site for Bible and Science Ministries seems kinda interesting.

Esp the book Men of Science, Men of God in the order form section (seems to kinda relate to this post).

Posted by: plodon at August 3, 2007 08:16 PM

One from the "logic" legions reacts to the article referenced in this post.


Posted by: plodon at August 7, 2007 03:15 PM

Very interesting. They quote the guy who brought the Jacoby article to their attention, saying, "You can't simply pluck Newton out of the historical timeline and then mock Universities today for not accepting someone of his beliefs." The idea is that he was a man of his time, reflecting those beliefs.

Then why are guys who believe in what he did mocked today? Is the age of an idea enough to judge its credibility? Don't think so. There's lots of old ideas that we still venerate today.

Indeed, the Scientific American editorial (or is that just a blog post) doesn't really speak to Jacoby's main point; that atheists of today do indeed mock religious belief and insist that the two cannot ever intersect in a rational person. (Hitchens says it "poisons everything".) If that's so, regardless of era, Newton's beliefs should have tainted and nullified everything he did. But it doesn't, but today's atheists will hand-wave away anything done by someone who's religious.

Thanks for the pointer.

Posted by: Doug Payton at August 8, 2007 12:31 PM