Let There Be Light

Howard A. Smith
  • Review
By – December 19, 2011

This past Novem­ber, a forum of world renowned sci­en­tists at the Salk Insti­tute for Bio­log­i­cal Stud­ies in La Jol­la, Cal­i­for­nia, pro­claimed that reli­gion has no place in the mod­ern world. I wish that Dr. Howard Smith, senior astro­physi­cist at the Har­vard- Smith­son­ian Cen­ter for Astro­physics and tra­di­tion­al­ly obser­vant Jew, had been there. In Let There Be Light, instead of dumb­ing down’ sci­ence, as in Cre­ation­ism,’ or tak­ing a kinder­garten approach to the Bible, he com­pares the most recent the­o­ries of cos­mol­o­gy with a sophis­ti­cat­ed read­ing of the first lines of the Torah, draw­ing on Jew­ish mys­ti­cism, the Kab­bal­ah. He deals with two extreme­ly eso­teric fields, but by using a con­ver­sa­tion­al tone, he explains each in the sim­plest yet tech­ni­cal­ly cor­rect terms, and gives exam­ples and analo­gies. The read­er is reward­ed through­out with gems of insight; for instance, the Bible says that light was cre­at­ed first, way before the sun. The­olo­gians puz­zled over that for cen­turies, but the star­tling truth is that light was the first thing in the uni­verse cre­at­ed, and the Kab­bal­ists knew all along. 

By show­ing us the intri­ca­cies of par­ti­cle physics, and illu­mi­nat­ing sci­ence through reli­gion and vise ver­sa, Dr. Smith evokes a sense of won­der, and deep­er appre­ci­a­tion of this glo­ri­ous uni­verse, and its Cre­ator. Charts, index, notes and com­ments, rec­om­mend­ed read­ing, references. 

Sydelle Shamah has been lead­ing book club dis­cus­sions for many years, and is a pub­lished sci­ence fic­tion writer. She was pres­i­dent of the Ruth Hyman Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter of Mon­mouth Coun­ty, NJ.

Discussion Questions