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Abstract

Emma Cheng speaks with molecular biology pioneer Robert Pollack, Director of the Center of the Study of Science and Religion at Columbia University, and professor of biological sciences. In this episode, Dr. Pollack talks about how scientists may surprisingly benefit from the study of religion.

Kenneth Li

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In Episode 17, part 1 of WiGH?, “The Religion of Science: Conquering the Unknowable,” molecular biology pioneer Robert Pollack, Ph.D talks about how scientists may surprisingly benefit from the study of religion. “The most bizarre religion in my experience is the religion of science. The religion of science simply says that everything is explainable and if I pick the right way to ask it, I can explain it in my life so that there is nothing unknown. That’s a religious position… This machine for asking of nature ‘why is it this way’ is built on the most wonderful framework of human imagination. The answer doesn’t become smart because you’re smart, clever or articulate, but it becomes right because you frame your question in a way that it can become subject to disproof. ” – Robert Pollack

For almost three decades, Robert Pollack was a highly accomplished molecular biologist at Columbia University, where he served as Dean of Columbia College (1982-1989), was elected as a 1994 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow, and amassed over one hundred publications in journals ranging from Nature and Science to Cell and PNAS. In 1995, however, Pollack decided to stop his laboratory work and focus his academic pursuits on something rather unexpected for a molecular biologist: The intersection of science and religion. Today Pollack serves as Director of the Center of the Study of Science and Religion at Columbia University, in addition to serving as a professor of biological sciences. Emma Cheng and Karen Gambina contributed to this episode.

Photo credit: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/biology/faculty-data/robert-pollack/faculty.html