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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why is the Sky Blue?

Why is the sky blue? It’s a simple question, but it has messed me up for years. I have heard so many explanations; light passing through water molecules, light reflecting off of nitrogen or oxygen or something. I have finally found out the correct explanation, and I now realize that I was approaching the question from the wrong angle. I had always assumed that it was a particular particle in the atmosphere that caused the effect. Instead, blue sky is caused by the frequency of the blue part of the spectrum of light. The resonance frequency of blue light causes the light waves to deflect off of everything in the atmosphere; oxygen, nitrogen, dust, pollution, and scatters the light waves in every direction causing the blue sky effect. And so it was the direction of my thinking that caused me to look at this problem in the wrong way. Instead of coming at the problem by looking at particles, I needed to look at the frequency of light waves.
In the same way, many people are not looking at the assumed problems between science and religion from the correct direction. Most of us assume that science and religion can come together with some kind of shared experience. In the world of science, shared experience is through experimentation that can be duplicated by other scientists. Several friends are going to help me make a telescope mirror. If I don’t mess things up, the mirror should turn out the same as the mirrors that they have made. Thus science is experiential; we can all experience the same things. If the formula or experiment works once, then anyone can repeat it and it should work every time.
Religion is experiential as well, but in a completely different way. Jesus said; “The Kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:21. People of faith experience God’s presence. God talks with me and I talk to Him. There is no other way to explain it. And therefore, experiencing God in a real and personal way is at the core of religion. People of faith can verbally share their experiences with God, but no one can duplicate an individual’s personal spiritual relationship. There are no formulas or experiments that can be performed over and over. And so though both science and religion are experiential, they are profoundly different.
Scientists and religionists are trying to understand one another through dialogue. But most of the current dialogue approaches the subject from the wrong direction. Too often religionists are trying to create a proof of religious experience. They try to create an argument or some kind of model that will sway the audience to their side. Since there are no experiments or formulas that can be repeated by others, these attempts to prove religious experience fail. Scientists also fail to win over the religious audience. That is because they argue for proof through shared experience, like experiments. But no one can experience God in the unique and personal way that each person of faith does. I know that God is with me right now. I can’t prove it, but I don’t have to.
Both sides of the debate need to approach science and religion from the correct angles. Science is based upon shared experience. Religion is based upon personal experience. It’s as simple as understanding why the sky is blue.
God bless you,
Pastor Bill

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