The Museum of the Bible has launched an exhibit showing how religion and science cooperate, hoping to debunk the “myth” that science and Scripture are at odds.
“There’s no central conflict between faith and the study of nature,” said Anthony Schmidt, the museum’s director of collections and curatorial. “In fact, this is kind of a modern myth that has persisted over time.”
Along with manuscripts and “rare printed books,” the display will include letters from pioneering scientists and early photographic plates from members of the Sisters of the Holy Child Mary, a Roman Catholic order, who in the early 20th century helped map the stars visible in the night sky.
“It’s really a diverse range of objects we have on display, but we’ve also paired these with engaging interactives that help people explore ancient philosophers in their understandings of the universe, some of the groundbreaking inventions from the 19th and 20th centuries, along with videos and interviews of scientists, so this is really an immersive environment that we hope will offer something for people of all ages, and all backgrounds,” Mr. Schmidt said.
The exhibit looks back over 2,000 years of human history to answer “timeless questions” about our place in the universe, including “Where did we come from? What makes me human? How did it all begin? And how is it all going to end?” he added.
Mr. Schmidt said the Bible has “influenced some of history’s greatest philosophers and scientists,” and its text has “really shaped the way people have understood and talked about and thought about these discoveries.”
Retired Army Col. Jeffrey N. Williams, a NASA astronaut who spent a record 534 days in space, said in an interview that the premise that both fields are related is a valid one.
“History shows that after the Reformation, all of the great scientists that we all learned about in school, [Johannes] Kepler, [Sir Isaac] Newton, [Robert] Boyle, [Michael] Faraday, [James Clerk] Maxwell and many others, were first theologians,” said Mr. Williams, who was to speak Thursday at the exhibit’s opening.
“Their biblical view of things drove them to answer what they perceived as the calling that they were given to pursue science as an answering the call to subdue God’s creation,” he said. “That’s what’s driven me throughout my career, as well.”
Mr. Williams said that while Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer and Thomas Henry Huxley, among other scientific leaders in the 19th and early 20th centuries, worked to excise any links between the Bible and science, it’s time to reverse that train of thought.
“What needs to be put back on the table is what I believe is the fact that the Bible is the source of truth, the source of understanding life, the source of the philosophy [and] the philosophical questions that we all have,” he said.
The exhibit will run through Jan. 15, 2024. Mr. Schmidt said its funding came from the TBF Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation and the Templeton Religion Trust.
The Museum of the Bible is located at 400 Fourth St. SW. in Washington.
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