Syracuse University physics professor Peter Saulson spoke on how he integrates the ideas of religion and science this Saturday at the event “Big Bang, Black Holes and God.”
Dr. Saulson is a conservative Jew, and also last spoke at UR during Meliora Weekend two years ago.
Denise Yarbough, UR’s reverend, who invited him to UR, told the Campus Times that although there is a notion that religion and science are incompatible, she wanted to let people know that it “simply isn’t true.”
Saulson began by giving the audience his “religious autobiography” — his journey of being torn between faith and scientific reasoning.
The audience was shown a presentation on black holes and the Big Bang. He explained that his scientific research, which concerned gravitational waves emitted by black holes as they move closer to each other, had caused him to truly be in “awe” of the workings of the universe.
It was this moment of admiration, he said, that had made him consider the magnificence of the cosmos in a religious context. Throughout the presentation, he interspersed scientific discovery with Jewish prayer that highlighted the wonders of the universe.
One of the prayers he introduced was the blessing upon hearing thunder. Hearing the vibrations produced by those gravitational waves, which was able to be picked up by an observatory called LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), was like “hearing the thunder of the universe,” according to Saulson.
After Saulson’s address, attendees read an excerpt from Leonard Susskind’s novel, “The cosmic landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Cosmic Design,” and debated whether humans were the center of the universe.
The Interfaith Chapel holds meetings to further discuss religious and scientific ideas at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.