Zhao: The core of theology is the existence of God, and the basis of theology is the Bible. I doubt if humankind can find the ultimate truth. We can only work to approach it steadily.
Scientists and theologians have different definitions of truth. This is quite a complicated issue. Even among atheists as well as among theists, many have different definitions of truth, just as there are different definitions of religion among theologians.
Palau: Yes. There is material truth, mathematical truth, and philosophical truth. But above it all is God. Now it doesn't stifle scientific inquiry. Believing in God actually helps a scientist enjoy his research even more. To put it simply: The Bible doesn't say to the scientist, "Believe in God, shut your mouth and shut off your brain." The Bible says to the scientist, "Believe in God, the Creator, and enjoy the search for different truths of creation."
Zhao: Well, in our view, besides such sciences as mathematics, physics and chemistry, it is also the mission of philosophy to explore the ultimate truth. Hegel, the famous German philosopher, once said, "Philosophy is like Minerva's owl which sets out only at sunset." I think what he means, firstly, is that philosophy is a reflection on things which have already happened concerning the universe, the earth, humankind, and individuals, and on that basis, extract the truth. Secondly, he was saying that the owl can fly high and see far. It can even see in the dark.
Philosophers should also have such abilities. I think the significance of philosophy lies in reflecting over the past, and from that, drawing conclusions to guide actions in the future.
In the beginning of the last century, the Chinese translation of the word "philosophy: was zhi xue, literally meaning "science of wisdom". That means people should transcend existing knowledge to reach a higher level of thinking and logic.
Palau: It is interesting. The word "philosophy" itself is from two Greek words: philo is love and sophia in Greek is wisdom. So the original meaning of the Greek word philosophia, or philosophy, is a combination of love and wisdom.
Zhao: I understand "love of wisdom" also to mean "love of truth".
Palau: Yes, seek truth and enjoy life.
Zhao: Truth is also a kind of beauty. People can enjoy the beauty of searching for and finding the truth. There are many kinds of beauty-the beauty of nature, beauty of paintings, of music, of architecture and so on. A philosopher will find beauty in philosophy, when after reflecting, he gains new ideas. Such beauty is of a very sophisticated kind. For instance, there is the famous equation E=mc2 formulated by Albert Einstein. Einstein saw it as a beautiful equation, because it not only, in very simple terms, showed the relationship between matter and energy, but also embodied philosophical meaning.
Palau: I think you need to distinguish between science and your commitment to atheism because you're taking a big leap between saying, "I am a scientist" and "there is no God." You cannot prove that there isn't a God. You made a decision in your head: Human creation is there and I'm going to study it, but there is no God. So you've got to keep an open mind about the existence of God. Science, you're an expert, and you can prove scientific matters. But scientists didn't believe in neutrons and so on a hundred years ago. Science has progressed. One of these days, a scientist is going to say, "I can prove that there's a God" and Dr. Zhao would say, "Hallelujah"!
Zhao: Maybe we need a really great man, one who is even greater than Albert Einstein. Since God once said that "Let there be light" and there was light, if God now says, "Let there be a scientist greater than Albert Einstein", then there will be a greater scientist.
Palau: And I've got the name of the scientist greater than Einstein-Jesus Christ.
Zhao: Yesterday you gave me a book, The Creator and the Cosmos. I think maybe the author's views overlap with yours.
Palau: You have a lot of faith, Dr. Zhao. In some ways you have more faith than I do. Here's a question. When you think of the birth of a little baby, it comes out of the mother in absolute perfection. When you think about a chick in the egg, what a strange thing, did all this happen by chance? Who taught the hen to sit on the egg? And then peck, peck, peck and here comes the little chick. Is this all by chance? And the television station can tell us tonight "Tomorrow the sun is coming out at 6:17 in the morning. On Saturday it's coming out at 6:18 in the morning. There is perfection to the cosmos. It can't be the result of a Big Bang with no God behind it. Believing that the cosmos was created by chance in a big explosion without God is like believing that the Oxford Dictionary was the result of an explosion in a print shop. The dictionary wasn't a result of an explosion in a print shop-some brain had to put it together-so you have more faith than I do.