The Hidden Face of God: How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth

The Hidden Face of God: How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth

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by Gerald L. Schroeder

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Gerald Schroeder, an MIT-trained scientist who has worked in both physics and biology, has emerged in recent years as one of the most popular and accessible apostles for the melding of science and religion. He first reconciled science and faith as different perspectives on a single whole in The Science of God. Now, in The Hidden Face of God, Schroeder


Gerald Schroeder, an MIT-trained scientist who has worked in both physics and biology, has emerged in recent years as one of the most popular and accessible apostles for the melding of science and religion. He first reconciled science and faith as different perspectives on a single whole in The Science of God. Now, in The Hidden Face of God, Schroeder takes a bold step forward, to show that science, properly understood, provides positive reasons for faith. Recent research in biology, chemistry, physics, and neuroscience contains unmistakable hints about the ultimate nature of reality. Simply put, we now know not only that behind matter lies energy, but also that behind energy lies wisdom. Scientists have touched on this wisdom in the laboratory, and its implications are awesome.
From the wisdom encoded in DNA and analyzed by information science, to the wisdom unveiled in the fantastic complexity of cellular life, to the wisdom inherent in human consciousness, The Hidden Face of God offers a tour of the best of modern science. Schroeder makes no attempt to "prove" the existence of God. Yet his interpretations of the work of his fellow scientists touch on life's ultimate mysteries. His wise observations on the organization of organic life, on the power of humans to make sense of their sensory inputs, and on the complexities of the code of DNA all show that life has a direction and purpose that cannot be explained in purely physical terms. Throughout, he addresses three great themes: the question of first causes (i.e., where do the laws of nature come from?); the inseparability of mind and matter; and the philosophical problem of design. To believe that a designer must have been involved, he reminds us, we need not insist on perfection or on our view of perfection in the design.
The Hidden Face of God will open a world of science to religious believers, and it will cause skeptics to rethink some of their deepest beliefs.

Editorial Reviews

MIT-trained physicist Schroeder explains that when the puzzle of the universe snaps together, the face of God is revealed. His position is not vaguely mystical: He insists that cutting-edge cosmological theories depend upon an unexplainable source of energy that, according to Schroeder, must be a divine prime mover.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Israeli physicist Schroeder extends the approach taken in previous works (Genesis and the Big Bang; The Science of God) by reviewing biological phenomena whose intricate complexity hints at "wisdom within wisdom" in the design of the universe. "If we could see within as easily as we see without, every aspect of existence would be an unfolding encounter with awe; almost a religious experience even for a secular spectator," he writes. Although Schroeder can claim no special expertise in cell biology or neuroscience, his enthusiasm and sense of wonder are personally engaging, and his metaphysical speculations reflect a wry humility that cannot be taken for granted in this genre. Schroeder writes in two moods, sometimes discerning the transcendent unity of the divine wisdom with unequivocal clarity, sometimes tracing the pattern only faintly and accentuating the continuing hiddenness of God. Although he expresses obvious impatience with orthodox Darwinism and the "materialist superstition" of hard-core reductionists like Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker, he is gracious toward religious skeptics and often addresses them as his primary audience. While many in the scientific community have been openly distrustful of the "intelligent design" movement and suspicious of its (generally Christian) religious associations, Schroeder's professional stature and his nonliteralistic approach to the Bible may help him connect with a wider readership. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Physicist and Biblical scholar Schroeder (The Science of God, 1997, etc.) argues that the origins of life and the universe are God-driven. As in his earlier works, the author invokes God (generally characterized here as wisdom) as the omnipotent force (or energy or idea) infusing the universe with information that explains, for example, some of the more bizarre phenomena of quantum mechanics. Thus, the photon in the double-slit experiment behaves as if it "knows" whether the other slit is open. Evolution, too, is directed by wisdom/information toward greater and greater complexity, culminating in the wonders of the human mind-brain. These arguments are nothing more than an updated version of 19th-century anti-Darwinian sentiments that invoked a Divine Watchmaker, since no watch could ever come into existence by chance. Indeed, Schroeder cites the complexity of cell-to-cell communication, cell division, and gene-driven protein production as too marvelous and miraculous to have come about by purely physical, self-organizing, mechanical, or random events. Others would argue that the very lack of understanding of the hows and whys of phenomena is what drives science and leads to new knowledge, as for example in the recent excitement at the discovery that the human genome numbers only 30,000 genes, just twice the number in the fruit fly, with many of these genes shared. Schroeder is a sophisticated and original scholar, and his approach will undoubtedly find a wide audience. But his explanations are not without problems. Neurons are not nerves, as Schroeder calls them, and one wonders what students of animal behavior would make of statements like, "The chimp knows there is a limit to thatwhich a chimp can comprehend." For those seeking mystic union with the universe, Schroeder may provide some hints in the right direction—but he is not to everyone's taste.

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Prologue: We Are the Universe Come Alive

A single consciousness, an all-encompassing wisdom, pervades the universe. The discoveries of science, those that search the quantum nature of subatomic matter, those that explore the molecular complexity of biology, and those that probe the brain/mind interface, have moved us to the brink of a startling realization: all existence is the expression of this wisdom. In the laboratories we experience it as information first physically articulated as energy and then condensed into the form of matter. Every particle, every being, from atom to human, appears to have within it a level of information, of conscious wisdom. The puzzle I confront in this book is this: where does this arise? There is no hint of it in the laws of nature that govern the interactions among the basic particles that compose all matter. The information just appears as a given, with no causal agent evident, as if it were an intrinsic facet of nature.

The concept that there might be an attribute as nonphysical as information or wisdom at the heart of existence in no way denigrates the physical aspects of our lives. Denial of the pleasures and wonder of our bodies would be a sad misreading of the nature of existence. The accomplishments of a science based on materialism have given us physical comforts, invented lifesaving medicines, sent people to the moon. The oft-quoted statement, "not by bread alone does a human live" (Deut. 8:3), lets us know that there are two crucial aspects to our lives, one of which is bread, physical satisfaction. The other parameter is an underlying universal wisdom. There's no competition here between the spiritual and the material. The two are complementary, as in the root "to complete."

When we see through the camouflage haze that at times convinces us that only the material exists, when we touch that consciousness, we know it. A joyful rush of emotion sweeps over the entire self. This emotional response -- some might call it a religious experience -- is reported in every culture, from every period. It tells us that we've come home. We've discovered the essence of being. Everyone has felt it at some time or other. Perhaps at a brilliant sunrise, in a work of art, the words of a loved one. The physical and the metaphysical have joined.

If we dared, we'd call the experience spiritual, even Godly. But there's a reluctance to use the "G" word. "Listen to the Force" is acceptable on the great silver screen. If the Star Wars scriptwriter had used "Listen to God," the theater would have emptied in a flash. The reluctance is not surprising, considering the bizarre claims erroneously attributed to God through the ages and especially in our age. A bit of scrutiny reveals that most of those claims are based on the expectations for the putative (and generally misunderstood) God of the Bible that we learned as children. Obviously, when our child-learned wisdom is evaluated by the sophistication of our adult minds, that wisdom is bound to seem naive.

The age-old theological view of the universe is that all existence is the manifestation of a transcendent wisdom, with a universal consciousness being its manifestation. If I substitute the word information for wisdom, theology begins to sound like quantum physics. Science itself has rediscovered the confluence between the physical and the spiritual.

If a spiritual unity does underlie physical reality, it would be natural for people to search for that unity. Regrettably in the rush of our daily obligations we often become disconnected, losing the realization that such a unity might actually exist. Our private worlds today seem to expand almost as rapidly as the universe has been physically expanding since its creation. The scientific discoveries facilitating this nomadic mobility of the mind come at a rate that far exceeds the ability of our cultures to adapt. New technologies simply displace old cultural ties, and in doing so jettison traditions that formerly stabilized society.

In the developing world, those referred to as the poorest of the poor are the landless. In a sense we have become landless nomads, cut off from our roots, even in the midst of wealth. We deal in tokens. Other than artists and the one percent of the population that works on a farm, most of us have no relation to the final product of our labors. We buy and sell stocks of companies making products we barely understand. We deal in the ultimate of tokens, money. Money has no intrinsic value. It may promise security, pleasure, even freedom, but it doesn't provide those insatiable and all too often elusive goals. The resulting angst is almost palpable. Divorce rates exceed 50 percent. Violence in homes crosses socioeconomic divisions. Histories have been exchanged for gossamer hopes of a freedom untethered to tradition.

Accessing the consciousness within which we are embedded requires skills that go beyond our intuitions. The amazing, even startlingly illogical, discoveries in physics and biology during the past few decades have given us the tools to gain scientific insight into the metaphysical underpinnings of our world and, in return, acquire spiritual insight into scientific, empirical fact. Understanding nature's wonders need in no way detract from its majesty. By realizing the interwoven complexity of existence, we experience the oneness both by revelation and by reason.

No monk's life of isolated contemplation is being proposed here, no excluding of oneself from the world. The upsurge of interest in meditation, Eastern religions, and kabala reflects an almost desperate search to rediscover our spiritual roots. Those roots are best found while fulfilling the usual responsibilities of adult life, not within some cloister. Exposing the awe of existence within the reality of daily life is what this book is about.

We are, each of us, a part of the universe seeking itself. We struggle between a world that seems totally material and the emotional, even spiritual, pull we all feel at times. To relegate, a priori, those feelings of love and joy and spirituality to some assumed function of our ancestors' evolutionary drive for survival masks the greatest pleasure in life, the experiential realization of the metaphysical.

In the following pages, as we journey through the newly discovered marvels of the cosmos, of life, and finally of the brain/mind interface, I ask only that, as you read, you use these facts to reexamine your opinions concerning the origins, evolution, and essence of this wonderful world in which we live.

Copyright © 2001 by Gerald L. Schroeder

Meet the Author

The author of The Hidden Face of God and Genesis and the Big Bang, Gerald L. Schroeder is an applied theologian with undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work has been reported in Time, Newsweek, Scientific American, and in leading newspapers around the world. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and their five children.

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The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
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Such a great deal of knowledge packed into one place. Should be part of teaching in every high school.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
As a kinesiology major we read this book in our senior seminar class. I cannot even begin to explain the theological and scientific doors it opened. While grappling with deep theological issues, the author manages to lay out his scientific basis as simply and plainly as possible. I recommend this to anyone...although some scientific knowledge is covered, he does explain a good deal in the book and so it is not necessary.