Merriam-Webster’s has decided that the word for next year is…science.
That’s not so bad. I guess. I liked science growing up. Dissecting frogs was interesting (if smelly), but there were other subjects I liked better. Whenever people ask me if I’d like to give my body to Science after I die, I always say that I’d rather give my body to Social Studies.
And despite whatever stereotypes you may have about believers, I’m no anti-science fundamentalist. Yes, I believe in evolution–though I think God is the creator of the universe and had a hand in evolution. Well, more than a hand. I believe God guided it. Sue me.
And no, I don’t believe that science is opposed to religion. Both, as I see it, are in search of the truth. And frankly, the more science progresses, and deals with things like quantum physics, the more a lot of what scientists conjecture seem to be hypotheses that must be taken on…well, faith.
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Last year’s Nobel Prize in Physics, for example, went to two men who believed that an electron can be in two places at once. That’s right: two places at one time.
If I said that about a saint—in which case it would be called “bi-location”—I’d get laughed at. If you say that in Physics you get a prize. But like I said, I’m still pro-science.
And it’s an eye-rolling phrase, but some of my best friends are scientists. One of them, a Jesuit brother, is an astrophysicist who works at the Vatican observatory. He specializes in meteorites. We don’t talk that much about meteorites since I know as much about meteorites as, well…I know very little about meteorites. (I even had to spell-check the word.)
So I like science. But I’d propose another word for the year: God. As much as science is in the news—global warming, comets and bi-locating electrons and all that—God is in the news even more. Pope Francis—another Jesuit whom you may have heard of—is now the most popular person on Twitter or on Facebook or on the web, depending on what survey you have faith in.
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God is also mentioned quite frequently during the holidays. (Though perhaps not in the way that God should be: “Oh my GOD! A new iPad!”) Plus, as much as we rely on science for big things like, food, medicine, transportation and the like, we rely on God for the even bigger thing: that is, life.
Now, some religions don’t like their followers using the word “God,” because the divine name is considered too holy for utterance. Many of my devout Jewish friends write “G-d.” And when Moses asks God for God’s name in the Book of Exodus, God says, “I am who I am.” Some Bible scholars think that this may means, “I am the source of all Being.” A kind of philosophical statement. But most say that God is actually asserting the right to God’s name. In other words, “None of your business.”
So none of us should toss around God’s name lightly. (That’s Commandment #2 by the way.)
Still, if it’s not too late, and if others don’t object, I propose “God” to Merriam-Webster’s as the word of the year. Because, the way I look at it: no God, no science.
Not to mention: no Merriam and no Webster.