Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet KH (March 7, 1792 – May 11, 1871) was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor, and the son of astronomer William Herschel. He published several star catalogs based on his own observations, and contributed to the development of photography when it first emerged in 1839. Herschel believed that the study of nature was an avenue to the understanding of God's creation, and was supportive of the design theories of Charles Babbage.
From a Unification perspective, several points can be made:
- Herschel's brilliant mental capabilities were linked to his God-given spiritual dimension, and also reflected the Creator's intelligence and capabilities. Such capabilities set the human species apart from all other species on Earth. The human desire to engage in scientific and other intellectual pursuits, regardless of their practical benefits, demonstrates that our lives can transcend the day-to-day, survival mode. Moreover, our long-term happiness is linked to going beyond that survival mode.
- God's desire is that all people cultivate and express brilliance of mind far beyond what we think is normally possible. Our deliberate separation from God has dulled our spirits and minds, and we have been trapped into lowering our expectations, in the belief that where we are at (internally) is where we are supposed to be and will always be.
- In Herschel's view, religion and science form a complementary pair, and both are needed in our pursuit of the truth. This is precisely the view taken by the Unification principle. Even as science informs us about the properties of the natural world, religion teaches the principles that enable us to cultivate wholesome character traits.
- God works through prepared human beings to raise our thoughts and our standards of life. Thus, leading scientists (such as Herschel), as well as major religious leaders, have received inspirations that elevated our understanding of the world around us.
- Ultimately, Herschel's work was a service to humanity. As the Unification principle points out, when we live for the sake of others, we substantiate the divine nature God has given us. Based on that, we can establish a world of peace that all humanity can benefit from.