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‘Biology is, Ultimately, Theology,’ says Respected Scientist

by Bob Russell

     Dr. Roberto Bolli is a highly respected professor of Medicine, Psychology, and Biophysics at the University of Louisville. He’s a Distinguished University Scholar who serves as the Jewish Hospital Heart and Lung Institute’s Distinguished Chair in Cardiology. He’s also the Director of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology.

     I have met with Dr. Bolli on a couple of occasions, and it was thrilling to listen to him discuss his belief in God as the Creator. He boldly states that science reinforces his faith. Although many of his peers object, Dr. Bolli concludes it is simply not scientifically tenable to be an atheist. For him to hold that position is exceptionally courageous because academia usually scoffs at the slightest suggestion of a Godly explanation of origins.

      For over a decade, Dr. Bolli served as the editor of “Circulation Research,” a biweekly peer-reviewed medical journal, covering research on all aspects of the cardiovascular system. This scholarly journal is the official periodical of the Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences of the American Heart Association.

     Most scientists consider it anathema to attribute origins to the supernatural – and rarely would a scholar suggest it in a scientific journal. However, upon completing his term as editor, Dr. Bollli wrote a twelve-page discourse that concluded with a prayer for the scientific community. Dr. Bolli says he wrote it for the purpose of shining some light in the darkness of the academic world (which is a godless world). He then added, “I consider it to be the most important thing I ever wrote.”

     I have reprinted Dr. Bolli’s prayer below. I urge you to read it carefully. Thoughtfully consider his insights, and share with others – including those who consider themselves too intelligent to believe in God. Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that people are without excuse.”

     After this 11-year journey, I now return to my favorite activity, full-time research, and I do so with a prayer. I know that scientific materialism dominates our culture and the word “prayer” never appears in scientific journals, but that is precisely why I write these things. I pray that we, the scientists, have the humility to admit that our understanding of nature is limited, fragmentary, and woefully inadequate to explain it; that all that we know is infinitely less than that which we do not know; that we have no idea how life began and we do not understand how exactly it evolved from early forms to current forms; and that the level of complexity and organization of even the simplest living organisms is infinitely greater than that of even the most advanced and complicated machines ever built by human intelligence—a stunning reality that defies materialistic explanations.

     I pray that we realize that the events that we describe as “random” may, in fact, be the necessary consequences of preceding events that we do not know or cannot measure and that, therefore, nothing may be truly random. I pray that we keep an open mind, that we allow scientific evidence to lead us wherever it may even when this challenges materialistic biases, and that we eschew the bigotry of rejecting nonmaterialistic explanations solely because they make us feel uncomfortable or do not fit our prejudice that everything around us must have a materialistic cause. I pray that we start questioning how stochastic, aimless collisions of molecules could have assembled a living cell—an astonishing marvel of engineering that no biologist, harnessing all the power of our intelligence, foresight, and reason and all our modern resources, computers, knowledge, and technology, could dream of assembling. May we admit that it takes more faith to believe that life came about and evolved only by random chemical reactions than to believe in a supernatural reality.

     I pray that the wall that divides science from religion be taken down, for it is through science that we get a glimpse of the infinite power and intelligence of our Creator. We as investigators have been given the unique privilege of beholding the miracle of life. I pray that research will bring all of us closer to Him, for it is through research that we see His work first-hand, in our lab, every day. I pray that as we unveil the molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms of life, we experience a feeling of awe, wonder, and amazement. I pray that each discovery, each paper, each study that illuminates the unfathomable complexity of life be a hymn to His glory. In this sense, I pray that we recognize that biology is, ultimately, theology.

     For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse. —Romans 1:19–20, NRSV

     The world has been built for us by the best and most orderly workman of all. —Nicolas Copernicus

God is known by nature and His works. —Galileo Galilei

     All variety of created objects which represent order and life in the universe could happen only by the willful reasoning of its original Creator, whom I call the ‘Lord God.’ —Isaac Newton

     The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. Science brings man closer to God. —Louis Pasteur

     Both religion and science require a belief in God. —Max Planck

     The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five Books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole. Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly-improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.” —Arno Penzias (Nobel Prize–winning scientist who co-discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation)

     For me, the experience of sequencing the human genome… was both a stunning scientific achievement and an occasion of worship. God …can be worshipped in the cathedral or in the laboratory. His creation is majestic, awesome, intricate, and beautiful. —Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006), p. 211.

      Well done, Dr. Bolli. Thank you for being courageous enough to speak the truth and shining a light into darkness.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

 

Bob Russell is retired Senior Minister of the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.

                                                                         www.bobrussell.org

 

 




2 Responses to “‘Biology is, Ultimately, Theology,’ says Respected Scientist”

  1. Georgia Estes says:

    This is excellent. Well said!

  2. Ronald Bartanen says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s refreshing to know that not all “scientists” shut God out. I just hope he doesn’t get blacklisted.



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