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The Language God TalksReview - The Language God Talks
On Science and Religion
by Herman Wouk
Hachette Audio, 2011
Review by Samin Khan
May 3rd 2011 (Volume 15, Issue 18)

Why we are here, what purpose does faith serve, and how do scientific belief and fact fit into the big picture? -- these are questions most people come across in crisis-like situations. In normal waking consciousness we usually ask why I am here in this office, what purpose my letter serves and how would l feel after getting the promotion, is my money well placed? But thoughts keep on going till we fall into the crisis of faith and there from, start our own thinking.

Arguments between religion and science seem to have a future atleast for a century more but author has a humanist answer. God has his own channel of communication, it can be Arabic, English or Hebrew but beyond grammars there was always a different Logos, talk between scholars in the form of mathematical equations about Physics, Philosophers dialogues and scripture interpreters this level of talk has been called "The Language of God".

According to narration Pulitzer winning author Herman Wouk took his time to follow his true calling but in the end he found a way towards self-belief. Like the author we all do faith-wandering, when I discovered the Philosophy of Ibn Rushd's in "Tahafat" and Stephen Hawking "Brief History of Time" my faith wandering started and is still going; everyday I read more and more Sufi literature and find new stuff in my inner life. Is the Grand Narrative of Scientific enquiry good enough to satisfy all our curiosity? In Wouk's opinion this difficult  judgment is slippery ground in the border area between science and traditional religion felt deep within; on a fine sunny day away from the encroachment of other humans we may discover it so no one should mess with it.

The author in this long narration believes in the power of lived religious realities and observance. Like those who take faith seriously also come up with harsher criticisms of its traditional doctrines, his book is powerful and moving, deeply penetrating into the soul. Wouk is like all of us, the new age scientist who ends up not believing in traditional religion and sets out to create one's own. He identifies himself with storytellers; the dramatis personae in his storey are Richard Feynman and other leading scientists. The great scientist Feynman abandoned his Jewish background like Spinoza and went on to explore the expanding universe in order to find the real truth of his own thinking. For him the actual universe existing through the eyes of the world largest telescope was too bigger stage for the small theological concerns of doing good to one's neighbor, not that doing good to one's neighbor is not a good idea but probably it will not have an affect on the nebular gravitational outcomes as well as things on Mars.

In astronomy such crazy question like, is the universe eternal or with a beginning seems normal ideas. The author had the Mosaic Jewish idea to begin with but Greek thought took him away into Aristotelian direction the other way. On this journey he met Major Hubble who had a few things to say about the Milkyway along with Harlow Shapely and George Hail, two great scientist of their age. The book asks about the size of the universe and Immanuel Kant nebular hypothesis when the new machine of 100 inch telescope used by Edwin Hubble settled the question in 1936, the world was amazed.

The book is difficult for non-scientists to follow, with technical terms such as Andromeda, shapely, expanding universe, Hubble law, Red Shifts, velocity/distance relation, Hubble constant, speed of universe expansion are some of the areas covered in all its religiosity. In the end we know that creation is glorious not only for God to watch men struggle for good against evil -- there is more to it.


© 2011 Samin Khan


Samin Khan, Pakistan. Dedicated to all my coworkers in GTZ, UNHCR and Pakistan Television, FATA Secretariat and Frontier Post


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