A Wrinkle in Time: where science and religion are friends

Written by The Mom


A Wrinkle In Time was one of my favorite books growing up. I first read it when my mom told me it was one of her favorite books growing up. I was maybe 8 at the time. I fell in love with it.

The main character, Meg (who the author reportedly modeled after her childhood self), appealed to me. She was unsure of herself and thought she was unattractive. She had low self-esteem. Not the kind of “hero” we imagine our daughters looking up to these days. Yet throughout the book she proved her worth- to herself- over and over again. Yes, there were times when she needed to lean on those around her (don’t we all?), and there were times when she fished for compliments or encouragement (don’t we all?), but there were times when she had to go-it alone, too, and she did so beautifully.

Not only did I own the book (and still have the same copy), but I also owned the audio tape. I listened to it many times growing up. It was narrated by the author herself, Madeleine L’Engle. I listened to it when I was sick in bed, or bored, or on my Walkman while mowing the lawn, or any other number of times. Although the cassette tape (and any means of listening to it) is long gone, I’ve revisited the book many times in adulthood.

So, when I saw the book was next on my list, I admit that I considered skipping it. I know it very well by now, and I’ve read it as recently as a year or two ago.

But there it was on my list, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to read it again. I’m glad I did. This time while reading, I noticed some things I’d never thought of before while reading it. Maybe it’s because my daughter (4.5) is at the age now where I’m reading these things in the light of how she might view them. Or maybe it’s because this book was (and still is, in many ways), controversial. Maybe it’s because of L’Engle’s tenacity in pursuing its publication.

Whatever the reason, here are my new favorite things about A Wrinkle In Time:

The science

The main characters in the book: Meg, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin, LOVE science. All of them are intelligent, smart, thoughtful people who, although they don’t feel like they fit in with their peers, feel like they can always rely on science and numbers. Meg and Charles Wallace are raised by scientists (mainly their scientist mother, since their dad has disappeared) so it’s like a first language to them.

I’ve always been a fact-driven person. I like to know details and numbers. I love to research. Science is all around us and it’s fascinating, and can be especially to little kids. This book was written between 1959 and 1960 and I love that even back then, Madeleine L’Engle knew that she could write scientific concepts into a book and that kids (and girls in particular) were perfectly capable of reading, understanding, and falling in love with it.

The religion

While the characters at any given moment might start shouting out the Periodic Table of Elements (from memory, of course), they’re just as likely to start listing influential leaders of philosophy, science, and religion- of which Jesus makes the list; or to start quoting Bible versus.

The most impressive thing about this is that science and religion are widely regarded as contradictions. We live in a world now where you are often ridiculed, ignored, or dismissed if you say you believe in a higher being who created us while also being a person of fact, learning, and scientific knowledge. It’s a quick way to be discredited.

People are more likely to believe a celebrity television star whose scientific training is mechanical engineering when he debates against religion than as many as half of scientists: a survey of scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the conducted by the Pew research Center in 2009 found that 51% believed in some deity or higher power, while 33% believed in God. (Read more here.)

My husband and I are both casual science-lovers but science can quickly become a religion to those who say “the science is settled” on any controversial topic- including whether or not there is a creator (my husband and I jokingly refer to this “religion” as Science with a capital S).

Scientists, by definition, should never stop questioning, observing, learning, asking, about ANY topic, no matter how much they think they already know about it.

I love that in this book, science and religion go hand-in-hand. While there will likely always be those who dismiss one because of the other, I want my kids to understand that they can believe in God and love science, and that the two can not only coincide but also compliment each other.


One thought on “A Wrinkle in Time: where science and religion are friends

  1. I see it is time for me to read my childhood favorite book again. This time to read it through your eyes. Love what you see in this book. Why did I love it? Because in the end Love saved. It was all about the love of Meg and her brother and parents. Look at the fullness of the book I missed. Time to revisit this one!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s