Dr. Jennifer Wiseman is a leading astrophysicist and a committed Christian. A senior scientist with a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard, Wiseman spoke with TCW about the dynamic relationship between faith and science.
The Genesis story of creation, with God resting on the seventh day, has suggested to some that God dusted off his hands and was done creating. But science suggests that, in a sense, creative activity continues to unfold. How would you describe God's role in his creation?
I think Scripture, as a whole, better describes God as the one who is responsible for all of creation, including its ongoing activity, rather than just "starting" it. Read Job 38-39 if you want a strong dose of God's own view of this! This does not mean that God is constantly tinkering with the laws of nature, but rather that he is responsible for the framework of those very laws and he upholds them. Those very laws and stable features of nature enable ongoing change and activity in the natural world and adaptations of life to suit changing environments. We should rejoice in that.
In fact, the writer of Hebrews mysteriously asserts that the universe was created through the Son of God, who also is the heir of the universe and sustains all things through his word (Hebrews 1:1-2). This would include both the physical realm and any realities beyond that, I believe, and gives us cause to both tremble and praise.
Throughout your journey as a scientist, at what points—if any—have you run against conflicts because you are a Christian?
I've never really had any major internal conflicts between my scientific understanding of the natural world and my faith in God as Creator and Sustainer. In fact, just the opposite: the more I learn about the natural world, the more my faith is enriched. I think this stems from my upbringing. Though I was raised with a reverent and traditional view of Scripture and its teachings on creation, I was also admonished to keep a sense of humility regarding Scripture and reminded that God hasn't revealed every detail of his workings in the Bible alone, nor was Scripture meant as a science text. So, therefore, the world of science was wide open for me as a blessed path for discovering more of those details.