The Beginning of All Things: Science and Religion

By Hans Küng; John Bowden | Go to book overview

Let There Be Light!

“Let there be light!” That is what the Hebrew Bible says in its first sentences about the “beginning” of “heaven and earth.” The earth was “without form and void”: “darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:1-3). Light was created before all other things, even before sun, moon, and stars. Joseph Haydn in his oratorio The Creation expressed this more vividly than any words could, better even than Michelangelo could depict it in the Sistine Chapel: with the surprising fortissimo change in the whole orchestra from dark E minor into radiant triumphal C major, the biblical saying about light is, as it were, re-created in music.

But, scientists will ask me, do you seriously believe, as many fundamentalists — and not just in America — believe, that the Bible gives us an answer to the prime question of cosmology: Where does everything come from? Are you arguing for naive and unenlightened biblical belief in an anthropomorphic God who even created the world in six “days”? Certainly not! I want to take the Bible seriously, but that doesn’t mean I want to take it literally.

“Let there be light!” That was rightly also the slogan of the Enlightenment, which started in England and in France (“les Lumières”) and sought to help bring about “man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage” (as Kant put it)1 with the aid of reason. All those pious so-called

1. Cf. I. Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, and What Is Enlightenment (Indianapolis, 1959), 85.

-xi-

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The Beginning of All Things: Science and Religion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Let There Be Light! xi
  • Chapter I - A Unified Theory of Everything? 1
  • Chapter II - God as Beginning? 43
  • Chapter III - Creation of the World or Evolution? 85
  • Chapter IV - Life in the Cosmos? 129
  • Chapter V - The Beginning of Humankind 161
  • Epilogue - The End of All Things 199
  • A Word of Thanks 207
  • Index 209
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