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Friday, April 15, 2011

Untitled

review done by Matt

Garlick, George F. (2009) The Journey to Truth: How scientific discovery provides insights into spiritual truths (Sisters, Oregon: VMI Publications). ISBN: 978-1-933204-89-5. RRP: $14.99/£9.26

There are a number of ‘God and science’ books on the market at the moment, of which this is one.  Beyond that, however, this book is relatively difficult to categorise.  Garlick certainly aims to show that there is no inconsistency in being a scientist and a Bible-believing Christian.  But his concern is not, as in so many other cases, merely to disarm the ‘scientific’ arguments of sceptics (although there is some of that), and if there was any positive argument for God in this book then I missed it.  Rather, he also and most importantly appears to feel a burden to enthuse fellow Christians about science (or at least, some particular areas of science) and to encourage us to integrate our scientific and theological thinking.  For these reasons, although perhaps not only these reasons, The Journey to Truth is an interesting if sometimes uneven mixture of autobiography, apologetics, popular science, devotion, natural theology and theology of nature, to name but a few themes.  In his own words: ‘My goal is to present my understanding of scientific facts and new scientific theories as honestly as possible and them demonstrate how they can help us interpret the truths of challenging passages in Scripture’ (p 11).  Some of those understandings and interpretations are a little unconventional, on both the scientific and theological sides.  I will try to give a flavour of this in what follows.

Garlick endorses a version of (super)string theory, according to which all matter is fundamentally made up of ‘strings of energy’ of approximately 10-35m long each.  He identifies the Big Bang as the creation event, when an infinite quantity of energy began to be converted into matter of this kind.  The reason that there isn’t an infinite amount of matter/energy in the observable universe is that most of it exists in higher dimensions.  On Garlick’s view, God inhabits the the totality of the fifth dimension (and all higher), through which he is able to act anywhere on our more familiar four-dimensional (including time) world.  The fifth dimension, unlike the four below it, is unaffected by sin.

Garlick draws a parallel between the notion of infinite energy and God’s omnipotence.  I wasn’t quite able to tell just how close this parallel was supposed to be, except that it seems to be stronger than the assertion that God created infinite energy ex nihilo, but weaker than the claim that God just is this infinite energy, out of which creation comes (which would be a form of panentheism).  A similar situation affects the discussion of the nature of light later on in the book.  God and light are compared at length in chapter VIII, as summarised in the following:

Both God and light are constants 
Not of the World 
Invisible yet Visible 
Paradoxical 
Eternal. 
---------------------------------------------------- 
Both God and light are constants (p 103)

Garlick says that the assertion ‘God is light’ (1 John 1:5) ‘has far more meaning and revelation of the nature of God than a metaphor’ (p 103), including the derivation that ‘any time in the fifth dimension would be an infinite time in our earthly existence’ (p 123), since all velocity on earth is relative to the speed of light and light itself ‘is a vibration in the fifth dimension’ (p 84).

I won’t pretend that I fully (or even mostly) understand all (or even most) of that.  Garlick does his best to explain it, including with the aid of many diagrams, drawings, tables and equations, but at certain points I got the impression that his reverence and enthusiasm were getting the better of his clarity of expression.  Not that that is such a bad thing overall, and not that I blame him for my not getting to grips with these complex and often counterintuitive concepts.  I only think that perhaps he tried to cover too much ground in a short book, and that this situation could have been helped if he had dedicated less space to autobiography (which, I’m afraid, I didn’t find all that interesting).  Still, this short book certainly does cover an awful lot of thoroughly interesting ground, for which we can be grateful.

To read more reviews like this, go to our review blog, Tell Us The Truth Reviews

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