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Are physicists religious?

  1. May 7, 2005 #1
    Physicists 'on duty' ofcourse investigate science objectively and without religious beliefs, trying to explain 'what is' .
    But could physicists in their deepest personal and private beliefs be more religious than others? This due to the fact they encounter so many complex things and understandings... ? I know Newton was.
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  3. May 7, 2005 #2
    Well...in some sense scientists are building sects....following precise beliefs which were given by a certain education with certain leaders (either it's possible to go faster than light or it's not...choose your party)....How could it be other way ?

    Why should else be several theories or experiment confronting ? This is just the dynamic of anykind of activity....
    Last edited: May 7, 2005
  4. May 7, 2005 #3


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    I don't think this is valid. Having had personal contact with both religious people solving "moral issues" and scientists investigating contentious claims, I am aware of vastly different attitudes and methods. There are scholars who pursue things like the historical Jesus objectively, but I don't think most religious Christians woud call them religious.
  5. May 7, 2005 #4
    Well let see if you agree with one of the scientific doctrine present at our time or not :

    For example do you range yourself on the side

    a) There are things that can go faster than light in vacuum
    b) There is nothing that can go faster than light in vacuum


    In fact why do we care about this ? Think about Newton's time : which scientist cared about that question ?
  6. May 8, 2005 #5
    I vote b. Our current knowledge doesn't permit FTL communication. Even quantum entanglement does not happen FTL.

    PS: In Newton's time (1665) it wasn't possible to make such predictions because the hydrogen atom was discovered only in 1900.
    Last edited: May 8, 2005
  7. May 31, 2005 #6
    hi ..i am new here and i like philosophy section ...
    the Physicists of course working and looking for knowledge without thinking in religion , but he may become more religious and that depend on his background , but in the end if god exist, science will guide us and that gradually will lead to more religious
    so physicists could be more religious than others...
  8. May 31, 2005 #7


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    Good point. If God (or whatever) DOES exist, then it will be the scientists who establish that fact and make contact.
  9. May 31, 2005 #8


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    Ummm...the two points above do not form opposing (mutually exclusive) views on any established scientific theory known to me.

    And your previous post makes even less sense to me than this one (but that could just be me). :confused:
  10. Jun 27, 2005 #9
    Physics and Religion

    From personal experience Physicists can be religeous. I am not a "Physicist" yet, but I am working on it. I have recieved a diploma in Christian theology and an currently working on a Honours Physics degree with a minor in world religions, focusing on death and concepts of the future and evil in world religions along with science and religion. I plan to be a "Physicist" an already have plenty of lab experience. So yes, you can study science and religion, the two do not neccessarily conterdict each other.

    ps, don't mind the spelling, i am not an english major
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2005
  11. Jun 29, 2005 #10
    CQ, congrats on your diploma in Christian Theology :smile:

    I do believe it is possible for scientists to be religious, even deeply religous, as they try to unravel the world to explain it. Einstein, a very religious Jew, developed soem of the most influential theories of physics of our time. Yet when he attempted to disprove one theory, I don't remember whose but it had something to do with everything not existing until you physically see it, I think it was this theory caused him to state: "My God does not play dice."
  12. Jun 30, 2005 #11
    When I took a few theology courses the topic of science and religion came forth quickly. I soon found myself in my attic with my old thermodynamics textbook looking up the second law of thermodynamics and entropy. On one page the authors stated the following:

    "Quite obviously it is impossible to give conclusive answers to these questions (philisophical implications of increase in entropy) on the basis of the second law of thermodynmanics alone. However, the authors see the second law of thermodynamics as man's description of the prior and continuing work of a creator, who also holds the answer to the future destiny of man and the universe"

    This text was a mainstream text (Fundamentals of Classical thermodynamics: Van Wylen and Sonntag)

    I got in touch with one of the authors and inquired about his religious beliefs. My personal view of science and religion has expanded but has become no more defined. Definitiveness can lead to a closed mind ! I do believe that these authors are scientists and that they believe religiously. Yes, the two can exist and perhaps the religious conviction can be even stronger for scientists than for plain folk.

    My thermo book is no longer in tha attic !
  13. Jun 30, 2005 #12

    Les Sleeth

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    Maybe, but not if God (or whatever) is unavailable to sense perception.

    I'd say those successful with consciousness development methods, such as the deepest meditators, have a shot at it too. :cool:
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2005
  14. Jun 30, 2005 #13


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    He wasn't really a "very religious Jew"--he was Jewish by birth and culture, but he didn't believe in the Jewish religion. He had his own philosophical ideas about a non-personal version of "God" which was quite unlike the God of Judeo-Christian beliefs.
  15. Jun 30, 2005 #14
    Are you assuming we, humans, have the ability and responsibility to contact God? What makes you think he won't contact us? Not only that, what makes you think if contact is to be made that it won't have to be initiated by God?
  16. Jul 1, 2005 #15
    Personally, I share the ideas of Steven Weinberg concerning the relevance of religion to science (as I understand them at least..). Historically, religion has never aided science much, quite to the contrary! As he (Weinberg) states it, there is a remarkable evolution in different scientific areas in that they tend to converge to one set of fundamental laws of nature. In contrast, religion throughout the world seems to diverge on their basic principles (there are for example an enormous amount of different churches in christianism, as well as for the other 'big' religions). As he states it: if God exists, he has done a remarkable effort in hiding his existence. Our search for spiritualism and religion is in my opinion the consequence of our conscious nature: we would very much like not to be mortal, we would also very much like to have some sort of Father looking over our shoulder, aiding us during difficult times and forgiving our frequent mistakes. As a physicisthowever, we try not to concern ourselves with who we are and how we cope with existence, but with how the universe is build and evolves. In doing this, we frequently realize how small and insignificant humankind is. Maybe this encourages some physicists to be more religious, but in general (and I think I also read this somewhere; I'll try to find the source) physicists are statistically less religious than an average population.

    This are of course just my personal opinions (some of which I share with Weinberg), so I'd be glad to hear about other points of view!
  17. Jul 7, 2005 #16
    I agree that science is more or less useless in any search for God. But strangely a fairly recent survey of working scientists in the USA established that a majority of them believed in some sort of personal God. Presumably this is only at the weekend.

    As for contacting God, whose to say that we are not in contact with 'God' all the time, did we but know it? Scrodinger argued that he was God, and many people would agree, me included. Clearly though we do not all mean the same thing by 'God'.
  18. Jul 7, 2005 #17

    How about this?

    If God DOES exist, then it's HIS prerogative who can MAKE CONTACT with him.
  19. Jul 8, 2005 #18


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    The only poll I've heard about showed that over 60% of scientists surveyed expressed disbelief or doubt in the idea of a personal God, and among the more "eminent" scientists that were members of the National Academy of Scientists, this was up to 93% (with 72.2% expressing complete disbelief, and 20.8% expressing doubt or agnosticism). See this article for more info.
  20. Jul 17, 2005 #19


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    For sure an interesting combination :-)

    I think that religion and science can coexist because of the flexible fuzzyness of the former, and the rational doubt of the latter.
    Religion hides in non-falsifiable statements. Many religions made the error of having stated falsifiable statements which were falsified, which usually resulted in some bad treatment (like burning in public) of the poor soul who did the falsifying.
  21. Jul 17, 2005 #20


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    This is one of the poorest characterizations I've seen recently, of Einstein's religiosity. Einstein's spirituality has been discussed more than once in these forums, quoting his own attempts at explaining his philosophy and his disappointment that his words can be used to terribly out of context. Please do an internal search for this.

    And isn't it ironic that most people choose to quote the one remark by Einstein that we know he was most wrong about. Experiments that agree with theory to several decimal places prove that if "God" exists, he sure as hell plays dice. :wink:
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