Angela Berg Robertson: Scientifically seeking religious truth

By Stephanie Moreton

For Mormon Times

Published: Wednesday, April 27 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Third in a series

Although religion and science may have their differences, perhaps it takes a true scientist to find their similarities.

Angela Berg Robertson, a biologist and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has used her scientific training and her faith to help her rectify the differences between the two.

After completing her doctoral work on the biomechanics of bird flight at Harvard University, Robertson moved to the University of Houston as a postdoctorate fellow to study the biomechanics of walking and running in humans.

As she studied bird flight at Harvard (one of the first scientists to do so), she realized just how much she did not know compared to God's infinite wisdom.

"There's so much we don't know, but God knows how all of this works," Robertson said. "We're just trying to answer some questions that we find interesting and that improve life."

It is the nature of a scientist to follow the scientific method: ask a question, conduct research, construct a hypothesis, test that hypothesis by experiment, analyze data obtained, draw a conclusion and report results.

Robertson, a scientist at heart as well as a Mormon, applied the scientific method way of thinking to reconcile the differences between science and religion.

"Based on what I've studied and how I understand the way God works, I don't see a conflict between evolution and God's involvement," Robertson said.

In fact, maybe applying the scientific method to religion is not that foreign of an idea.

In Malachi 3:10, the Lord said that if we experiment in paying our tithing, he shall "open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

And Moroni 10:3-5 promises that if we read the Book of Mormon and ask a question to God through prayer (a question and an experiment to test that question), we "may know the truth of all things."

"For whatever reason, there's developed this idea that religion and science are mutually exclusive," Robertson said. "Darwin was religious. It wasn't until the end of his life that he started questioning the existence of God. But then there are other biologists who it's not important to them."

So although some biologists may only see only the differences between science and religion, Robertson has learned that both fields can work together to uncover truth.

"Creationism and evolution go hand in hand — (God) organized what was already there. I don't see why life should be any different," Robertson said.

Email: mormontimes@desnews.com

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