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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Adam Frank Says He's an Evangelist of Science

"I have experiences where the person next to me on a plane asks what I do. I say I'm an astronomer. I can do two things when they tell me they're fundamentalist. I can have my back up and say, 'How can you believe those crazy things?' or I can show them that science has incredible power to reveal the mechanisms by which the world came to be and has a place for their feelings of rapture, awe, and wonder," University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank says in a Q&A with the Rochester City Newspaper.
Frank, who recently wrote The Constant Fire, a book about the science and religion debate, says that if "you look at what mystics were doing, they weren't looking for easy answers and they weren't necessarily describing the world. They were interested in going inward and having this internal exploration of their experience. They described a sense of unity, a fundamental oneness. That aspect of religion is often not looked at. We tend to see its social control side. The debate can't focus on the stories about the physical world that individual religions make up. We have to go beyond it and below it and before it to see where the roots of both science and religion emanated from. That's why mythology is so important."