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Judaism, Physics, and God: Searching for Sacred Metaphors in a Post-Einstein World, by Rabbi David W. Nelson, Lecturer on Rabbinic Texts, HUC-JIR/New York

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Monday, August 1, 2005

Announcing the publication of Judaism, Physics and God: Searching for Sacred Metaphors in a Post-Einstein World, by Rabbi David W. Nelson (Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock, VT, ISBN 1-58023-252-3). 

This book offers a unique approach to the religion-science dialogue. Instead of trying to "prove" the revealed truths of religion by appeal to science, it explores in detail how religious metaphors might be enhanced and challenged by invoking the basic language of modern physics. For example, whereas ancient religious writers referred to God as King, Shepherd, Father, and so on, Nelson explores God as Big Bang, as fractal-shaped, as Light (this last example is a re-framing of an ancient God-metaphor, in terms of new insights, namely, those given us by Einstein's theory of special relativity), and so on. The book requires no prior knowledge of physics. And, although its specific point of view is Jewish, its premises and methodology are equally applicable to other religious traditions and to religion-in-general. 

Nelson's work is especially relevant at this moment in time, since 2005 has been declared the World Year of Physics, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the year in which Einstein published special relativity and two other groundbreaking papers in modern physics. The goal of the World Year of Physics is to make the general public more aware of, and interested in, the marvels and mysteries of this fascinating science. Unfortunately, these efforts have not been all that successful so far. It is hoped that this new book will broaden the discussion of physics into the religious community, with benefits to both science and religion. 

Judaism, Physics and God has been enthusiastically endorsed by: Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg, the Rev. Janet Cooper-Nelson (Chaplain of Brown University), Rabbi Shira Milgrom, Rabbi Art Green, Dr. Michio Kaku (Professor of Theoretical Physics, CUNY), and the Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne. 

Rabbi Nelson was ordained at HUC-JIR (NY, 1980), and received his Ph.D. from New York University. A former Senior Teaching Fellow at CLAL, he has taught at HUC-JIR (SSM) for 20 years. He lives in Teaneck, NJ. 

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Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.