U of T Magazine

Autumn 2017


How Did the Universe Begin?

Professor Barth Netterfield’s lifelong journey into faith, physics and astronomy

Click on the box below to see the comic in full-screen


# 1
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 25th, 2017 @ 4:52 pm

This comic by Prof. Barth Netterfield is eloquently phrased, and the illustrations by Jonathan Dyck are ingenuous and will delight all, including small children.

Growing up in scientific household with a very devout father (Donald S. Ainslie, a 1927 grad who became a physics professor at U of T), I often asked him how science affected his religious beliefs. He always replied that the more he learned about science, the more he believed that the universe was the design of a higher power or “God.”

Your article reinforces the very ideas that my father talked about many years ago, and I was delighted to be reminded of them.

Margaret (Ainslie) Tuer
BA 1955 Trinity
Toronto

# 2
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 25th, 2017 @ 4:55 pm

Like Prof. Netterfield, I’m a lifelong believer in the Creator. And like him, I’ve never felt that my faith has come into conflict with my intelligence, my understanding of science, or my ability to think critically. Bravo for including a view about the creation of the universe that at best is often misunderstood in western countries and at worst condemned.

Kathryn (Pequegnat) Kuehl
Dip DH 1973
Elmvale, Ontario

# 3
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 26th, 2017 @ 9:22 am

Just because you can pose a question doesn’t make it a good one. And not all questions deserve an answer. You could ask: “Where is the edge of the Earth?” or “What’s the colour of fear?” Science can’t answer these questions, but this doesn’t mean that something else must.

Mohammad Shaban
Biology student, U of T Mississauga
Mississauga, Ontario

# 4
Posted by Mary Gunson http://M.Ed.%201997 on September 26th, 2017 @ 9:07 pm

Thank you for this excellent article. There are many Christian scientists who find no conflict between their faith and science.

Mary Gunson
MEd 1997
Tara, Ontario

# 5
Posted by Barnabas Emenogu http://Ph.D.%202006 on September 27th, 2017 @ 4:04 pm

The comic by Prof. Netterfield is hilarious. It is very accessible and friendly and clearly shows that science and faith are not in conflict. But, more importantly, it also demonstrates that it is actually a very intelligent activity to appreciate the existence of God.

# 6
Posted by Daberechi Emenogu http://Grade%2012,%20Lorne%20Park%20Secondary%20School on September 28th, 2017 @ 9:44 am

I like that this comic counters the misconception that science and religion don’t mix. It shows how science, and all the discoveries that have been made, don’t diminish God’s power but instead magnify it.

Daberechi Emenogu
Grade 12, Lorne Park Secondary School
Mississauga, Ontario

# 7
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 28th, 2017 @ 1:09 pm

It was a treat for eye, as well as mind, to read Barth Netterfield’s graphic article on faith and the beginning of the universe. Kudos to the editor, author and illustrator for this imaginative essay.


Perhaps a sequel is in order. Beginning is one thing, but continuing is another. The question of how the Creator continues to relate to the universe is much debated today, and affects one’s understanding of providence and prayer. Since the sciences are invoked in current discussion, it would be stimulating to hear from Prof. Netterfield on how he conceives of divine agency.

Peter Wyatt
BA 1966 Victoria
Magnetawan, Ontario

# 8
Posted by Scott Anderson on October 2nd, 2017 @ 11:44 am

Professor Netterfield’s article gives us a lot of the latest scientific theories about the beginning and current state of our universe. The article admits there are still a lot of answers that science can’t supply. One of the most important is whether there is life after death. Can we trust religion to do that?

Mike Reiter
Aylmer, Ontario

# 9
Posted by Scott Anderson on October 10th, 2017 @ 12:53 pm

When so many universities and professors are rejecting faith-based messages and student unions are attempting to stifle the rights to free speech of religious groups, it was heartwarming to see this cartoon, which balances science (astronomy) with a positive conclusion about God as Creator in its concluding frame.

Jim Pigott
BASc 1970
Burnaby, B.C.

# 10
Posted by Scott Anderson on October 12th, 2017 @ 12:24 pm

This article was a pleasant surprise because it’s rare to find anything published about God (let alone Christianity) in a positive light — especially in an academic setting.

Thanks for practicing tolerance and having the courage to publish something that’s likely going to offend a few people, but deserves to be heard none the less.

Gavin Singh
BASc 2006
Vaughan, Ontario

# 11
Posted by Scott Anderson on October 13th, 2017 @ 4:48 pm

Thank you so much for this insightful piece. Prof. Netterfield and illustrator Jonathan Dyck are to be commended on a fine and thoughtful presentation of faith, physics and astronomy.

Eileen Skillen
BA 1975 Victoria
Toronto

# 12
Posted by Murray Funk http://B.Sc.%201979 on October 14th, 2017 @ 2:23 pm

The article on faith and science is maybe the best and most relevant that you have ever published. Thank you and congrats!

# 13
Posted by Anastasia Lazenkas http://MA%202007 on October 25th, 2017 @ 10:36 pm

I was pleasantly surprised by this very creative and clear presentation of how science and faith can work together in one’s life. Thank you for having the courage to write the piece, Dr. Netterfield, and thank you to U of T Magazine for publishing it. Dr. Alvin Plantinga has written a very informative book on the subject called Where the Conflict Really Lies, if anyone is interested.

# 14
Posted by Scott Anderson on October 26th, 2017 @ 9:08 am

U of T Magazine is great, but this article should not have been included. It pushes a specific religion and makes me question the professor’s credibility.

Christian Poyo

# 15
Posted by David Canham on November 3rd, 2017 @ 11:08 am

I was shocked to see the comic by Barth Netterfield included in a magazine from an institution that purports to support education and learning. What Prof. Netterfield has done is assume away the question.

It is wonderful that we have been able to peer back in time and make educated evaluations of the likely origins of the universe. But to overlay god on that simply brings up the question of … where did god come from?

To say that we haven’t discovered why the universe exists or the purpose it has … and to answer that with god did it … simply ignores the question. If you insist on a god belief, then why does god exist and what is his/her/its purpose?

if one can assume that god came from nothing … then one can easily see that the universe could expand from nothing as articulated in some theories.

How would Prof. Netterfield feel if his students made assumptions on their examinations? Would the answer “god did it” be good enough for a passing grade?

I expect more from your publication.


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