Science Delves Further Into the Depths of the Riches of the Wisdom of God


I love the question, “How is science compatible with faith in God?”

It’s like asking, “How can you believe in art criticism and that Michelangelo really lived?” or “How do you know there is a car company just because you have a car?”

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

Science is our attempt, through the power of reason, to figure out exactly how it all works, how God designed it all to work. Even our very power to reason, and the realization that there is something to investigate, are not things we gave to ourselves but came to us from outside.

With that as preamble, I stumbled upon this is beautiful new potential “quantum biology” discovery this morning at the BBC:

Plants gather packets of light called photons, shuttling them deep into their cells where their energy is converted with extraordinary efficiency. …

What has surprised even the researchers behind the research is not only that these coherences do indeed exist, but that they also seem to change character, always permitting photons to take the most efficient path into the reaction centres.

Until very recently, quantum mechanics – a frequently arcane branch of physics most often probed in laboratory settings at the coldest temperatures and lowest pressures – would not have been expected in biological settings.

The fact that plants and animals are extremely warm and soft by comparison would suggest that delicate quantum states should disappear in living things, leaving behaviour explicable by the more familiar “classical physics” that is taught in school. …

This is linked to the quantum mechanical notion of a “superposition”: that a particle can effectively be in multiple places at once – or try multiple paths simultaneously.

“What you see here is this photon comes in, and it sees many energy pathways,” explained Prof [Niek van Hulst of the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Castelldefels, Spain].

“Where does it go? It goes to the one that’s most efficient, the one where this quantum effect tells you it has the highest probability (of being put to use),” he told BBC News.

But the soft, flexible, warm conditions at room temperature mean that, as things move and jiggle – as life tends to do – that most efficient path can change. Remarkably, so did the evident path along the rings.

“Nature is very robust at keeping this up no matter what happens – this for me is something shocking,” Prof van Hulst continued.

“The result is that this fluffy stuff at room temperature where everything is variable, it just works – with an efficiency of 90%: way, way better than any solar cell we can make ourselves.”

The original (and best) solar cell.

The original (and best) solar cell.

Yes: nature is imbued with processes worked out in ways we cannot fully fathom or hope to recreate. But the pursuit of the knowledge of how it all works is vitally important—in seeking out how nature works you are seeking how God designs nature to work. And when discoveries shock and amaze us with their intricacy, their unexpectedness, their beauty, we can sit back and realize how little we actually know about what’s happening around us all the time, has been happening around us since the beginning, and will continue to happen around us in ways and for reasons that we possibly will never know. But that’s okay. The fact that it all keeps on happening, life is sustained, and there is an orderliness and beauty to nature should make us smile, thank the Creator who made it all, and continue to seek out the hows and whys of His perpetually creative ways.

In that way, science, far from being a hindrance to knowledge of and faith in God, can be a great boon to faith and love of God.


We humans are fairly intelligent designers, but we have our limitations. God? Not so much.

Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments and unsearchable His ways! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counselor? Or who hath first given unto Him that recompense is due him? For of Him and through Him and for Him are all things; to Him be glory forever. (Romans 11:33-36)

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Tom Crowe is a cradle Catholic with a deep love for and commitment to Holy Mother the Church, colored by a rather interesting life-long relationship with her. Born during the great liturgical upheaval of the 1970s, Crowe was brought up in a parish that continued using the Missal of 1962—the Traditional Latin Mass—for which he developed a love. Crowe learned the faith as a child from the Baltimore Catechism, and didn’t stop learning and wrestling with the Church’s teachings at his Confirmation. Through reading and many conversations with friends and converts far smarter than he, Crowe came to know, accept, and love the Church and what she proposes far more intimately. For three years these conversation took place in seminary before Crowe, with the blessing of the formation team, determined that seminary was not right for him. In the wild and humorous ways of God, Crowe landed on his feet in Steubenville, Ohio, where he manages the online presence for Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he also trains altar servers and is the head master of ceremonies for the Mass in the Extraordinary Form on campus.

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