Originally created 04/28/01

Big-bang lecture will look to the heavens for theological answers



The big-bang theory gives a tantalizing snapshot of the first seconds after Creation, but even scientists wonder what - or who - was around before the explosion many believe set the universe into being.

Fred Silva, an internationally known renal pathologist, researcher, author and lecturer, will use three large screens running simultaneously to show slides from the orbiting Hubble telescope, taking viewers on an intergalactic voyage and exploration of Creation, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel, 2 10th St.

Dr. Silva, secretary-treasurer and director of the United States-Canadian Academy of Pathology and adjunct professor of pathology at the Medical College of Georgia and Emory University School of Medicine, will be joined on a panel by Dr. Jeffrey J. Newlin, pastor of Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, and Rabbi Alex Greenbaum of Adas Yeshurun synagogue. The event is sponsored by the Forum for Advancement of Interreligious Tolerance and Harmony.

Dr. Newlin said he is fascinated by the intersection of Creation and science. "In recent years, astrophysicists have been talking about the possibility of God in a new way."

One scientist and theologian, Dr. John Polkinghorne, who taught mathematical physics at Cambridge for 25 years, spent the later part of his life relating quantum physics to Christianity, Dr. Newlin said. "He is just one example."

Rather than an ultimate showdown between science and faith, he said, all truth will ultimately vindicate God. "If something appears as a threat, it is that we just don't know enough about it."

There are different versions of the big bang, but various theories agree that some 15 billion to 20 billion years ago, all matter was packed into an infinitesimally small dot, one so small it was virtually nothing.

In an instant, the power that held it together was reversed, causing an explosion of swirling, superhot gases that took a billion years to cool down. As gases cooled, bits of matter began to form, then clump together. Stars and planets took shape, and life began.

"I find an underlying theme of the creation-and-evolution debate is whether or not God exists and what is God's role in the universe and in our lives today," Rabbi Greenbaum said. "I use science, nature and the order of the universe to prove God's existence."

For more information about the big bang, visit the Web site at www.bowdoin.edu/dept/physics/astro.1997/astro4/bigbang.html.

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336.