23 October 2012

Book Savvy Spotlight on Nathan Robertson

Bringing you exclusive interviews with authors featured in the Book Savvy Newsletter.
Our Guest is Nathan Robertson*
Enjoy the interview.

Q1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your book 'The First Six Days?
I am currently a research scientist working in the Biotech sector. I feel very fortunate to be working in science as I have the opportunity to investigate the workings of biology on a molecular level and gain an appreciation of the complexity of nature. My book reconciles the world of science and the biblical words of Genesis from the Torah (Old Testament).
Q2. Why did you write this book?
A famous proverb in Judaism is that one can study the Torah (Old Testament) and understand the world, or one can study the world and understand the Torah. One only has to scratch the surface of the two worlds of science and Genesis and the perceived initial contradictions dissolve. I realised both science and religion are not only compatible but on the same page, both enlightening the other.
Q3. What was the most challenging thing about writing this book?
I was initially concerned about entering the debate of science vs. religion, as this can be a heated arena with strong views from both sides of the fence. However I have attempted to be true to Genesis and to known scientific ideas so that my conclusions are based on knowledge and not just opinion.
Q4. When did you realise that science and Genesis actually parallel each other?
During my undergraduate studies of science I was challenged a number of times on how I could be religious and be a scientist. So I began to study Genesis in more depth using known sources from antiquity and medieval commentators of the original Hebrew texts. It became clear very quickly that the deeper the level of understanding of Genesis the more it began to fit with scientific theories of today.

Q5. How can two historically different philosophies mirror each other?
The Torah has many layers of depth of understanding. The deepest and most secretive level of understanding is the Kabbalah which describes Genesis in very esoteric terms. The study of science has also many levels of understanding from the macro scale world to the vastness of cosmology and the extremely small world of quantum physics. The esoteric themes from these two philosophies bare a resemblance to each other which you wouldn't expect from a 3000 year old text.
Q6. Why do the majority think that religion and science are at conflict and that they both describe completely different realities?
Unfortunately views from both sides of the fence are based on a superficial and basic understanding of Genesis. Religion describes the spiritual and science describes the physical. Religious texts can never replace scientific enquiry and science cannot describe the spiritual or non-physical by definition. However these worlds do overlap and should reinforce each other.
Q7. How does your book unravel this apparent conflict and show that religion and science fit together?
The literal meaning of Genesis hides many facets of understanding. The Rabbis such as Ramban and Rashi, studied the Torah day and night for the majority of their lives. I have outlined their expert opinion and elucidation of Genesis in my book and show how these ideas are paralleled with current scientific theories.
Q8. Where did you derive your sources in understanding the deeper meanings of Genesis and how did these fit into known scientific knowledge?
The very famous kabbalistic commentator Ramban, produced a commentary of Genesis which reads between the lines of the ancient text and draws out a much greater understanding of the vastness of the story of creation. Other sources involve Talmudic commentary and the holy Zohar.
Q9. Has your scientific understanding of nature influenced your religious beliefs?
Every time I learn and understand something in science it only inspires and adds to my awe of creation and its source. We inhabit an absolutely incredible reality which we are fortunate enough to study and understand, so science really enriches my religious beliefs.
Q10. What are your interests when you are not writing?
I enjoy my continuing study of science and kabbalistic texts, however my three toddlers at home take up most of my spare time.
Q11. What is the first thing you did to promote your book immediately after it was published and what are you currently doing to promote your book?
I firstly went to my local book stores to tell them about my book and ask whether they would be interested in stocking this on their shelves. I then asked for an expert review from Hirium musings (a Jewish book reviewer).
Q12. If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you've used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?
Having the book publicised and available for sale on the internet and on online stores such as Amazon has probably been the most effective advertising tool.
Q13. Do you do more promoting online or offline and which do you prefer?
I prefer offline promoting as it gives me opportunities to talk about my work.
Q14. Are you concerned about the effect of e-publishing on traditional books?
Quite the opposite, e-books are the future and many classic works are being formatted as eBooks.
Q15. What kinds of feed-back have you received from your readers, good and bad?
So far I have received mostly good feedback, but I am always interested to hear from anyone who has thoughts on my work.
Thank you for your time. We wish you every success in your writing career.

*Nathan Robertson grew up Grimsby, North East of England. He holds a degree in Science and is currently a research scientist working in the Biotech sector. An adherent to the Jewish traditions, Nathan's learning in both science and religion initially created conflicts within his mind, how could they both be true and what of the perceived contradictions between religion and science. Nathan's published book, "The First Six Days", contains his thoughts on the parallels between the two.
Nathan Robertson is available for interviews and to write feature articles as well as guest blogs.

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