Professor of Electrical Engineering · Associate Dean for Graduate Studies · Heafey 240 · ☎ (408) 554-2394 ·

Aleksandar Zecevic

Science and Religion

Over the past 15 years I devoted a great deal of attention to this topic, and it continues to be a key part of my scholarly activities. My interest in the dialogue between science and religion has resulted in the development of an interdisciplinary course entitled “Chaos Theory, Metamathematics and the Limits of Knowledge: A Scientific Perspective on Religion”, as well as the publication of two books (whose descriptions are shown below).

I now teach this course at four different universities on three continents (Santa Clara University, St. Xavier’s College Kolkata, Catholic University of Montevideo, and St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai). To get a sense for what this course is about, I would encourage you to take a look at my keynote presentation: “Unknowable Reality: Science, Mathematics and Mystery”, which was delivered on January 28, 2014 (as part of the Bannan Institute: What Good Is God).

Truth, Beauty and the Limits of Knowledge: A Path from Science to Religion

Book Cover

Is it rational for scientifically trained individuals to believe in God, and accept controversial theological claims such as the existence of miracles? Are science and theology essentially incompatible, or can their positions be reconciled on some level? This book addresses such questions by recasting certain key religious teachings in a language that is familiar to scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. It does so with the help of various science-based metaphors and analogies, whose primary purpose is to interpret theological claims in a way that is attuned to the spirit of our age.

A crucial step in developing such “analogical bridges” between science and religion involves challenging the traditional Newtonian paradigm, which maintains that physical processes are generally deterministic and predictable (i.e., “well behaved”). A closer examination of recent scientific developments will show that this assumption is incorrect, and that certain aspects of nature will remain unknowable to us regardless of future technological advances. This realization opens the door to a meaningful conversation between science and theology, since both disciplines implicitly accept the premise that the true nature of “reality” can never be fully grasped by the human mind.

The Unknowable and the Counterintuitive: The Surprising Insights of Modern Science

Book Cover

Although classical physics provides fairly simple explanations for a wide range of phenomena, it clearly fails to describe some of the subtler workings of nature. As a result, there is widespread agreement among scientists that the Newtonian paradigm is inadequate, and must be replaced by a more sophisticated view of reality. This book examines what such an outlook might entail, and explains why we need to reevaluate some of our most deeply ingrained beliefs about the world we live in.

A distinguishing feature of this book is that it combines insights from chaos theory, metamathematics, quantum mechanics, and the theory of relativity, which are seldom (if ever) united under a single title. What binds these seemingly disparate disciplines together is the recognition that each of them reveals certain counterintuitive aspects of nature, and suggests that human knowledge is inherently limited. In that respect, this book represents a natural “technical companion” to Truth, Beauty, and the Limits of Knowledge: A Path from Science to Religion (University Readers, 2012), which examines the philosophical and theological implications of modern science.