You said the other day that no one is interested any more in questions like "Who created the universe?" But a recent edition of Time magazine devoted considerable space to an article entitled "In the beginning: God and science."
The basic theme of the article was that science and religion have been brought close together by the "big bang" theory of creation in which the universe is supposed to have come into being through a vast fireball explosion, fifteen or twenty million years ago.
Time says that this sounds very much like the story which the Old Testament has been telling all along, namely that the universe began in a single flashing act of creation.
What is wrong with the hypothesis that the universe was created, that it had a beginning? And why do you assert that it did not? Is it not a step in the right direction when science and religion agree?
The first thing to remember: that for three hundred years religion has been losing its territory continuously. First, religion tried to destroy science. It was unable to do it – because you cannot destroy truth, and science was truer, as far as the objective world is concerned, than religion. In fact religion has no authority to say anything about the objective world.
When you are ill you go to the physician, you don’t go to the poet. The poet has no authority; he may be a great poet but that is irrelevant when you are ill. He may be a great poet, but when something goes wrong in your bathroom you don’t call him, you call a plumber. The plumber may not be a poet at all, but the plumber is relevant there. You don’t call Albert Einstein – he may be a great physicist, but what does he know about plumbing?
Religion was proving to be utterly wrong. It was wrong about the objective world. Once science started investigating the objective, organized religion was very much afraid. If there had been a Jesus he would not have been afraid, he would simply have said, “About the objective, listen to science.” If a Buddha was there he would have said, “Listen to science.”
But there was no buddha in the West where science was growing. And people like Galileo and Copernicus and Kepler were tortured in every possible way because organized religion, the church, became very much afraid: what they were saying was going against their scriptures.
The scientists were saying that the sun does not go around the earth – and the Bible says it does. The scientists were saying the earth goes around the sun. Now, if the Bible can be wrong in one thing, then why not in others? That was the problem; that was the fear.
The person who said that the earth goes around the sun was called to the court by the Vatican. Galileo had to appear, in his old age – he was more than seventy, ill, on his deathbed, but he was forced to come to the court to declare there that whatsoever he had said was wrong.
He must have been a man of great humor. He said, “Yes, if it offends you, I declare that whatsoever I have said is wrong – that the earth does not go around the sun, but the sun goes around the earth.”
Everybody looked happy, and then Galileo said, “But sir, nothing will change by my statement. The earth will still go round and round the sun – my statement makes no difference! If you are offended by my statement I can take it back, I can refute it. If you want me to write another treatise, I can write that too. But nothing will change by that. Who cares about my statement? –neither the sun nor the earth cares.”