Choice quote from Steven Weinberg

In summary, the article discusses a conference on Science and Religion attended by top scientists, including Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg. Weinberg, an atheist, made a surprising comparison between religion and a troublesome old lady, which was both poignant and entertaining. Some may be offended by his comment, but it raises the question of who is allowed to judge religion. Ultimately, Weinberg's quote highlights the role of religion in shaping history and how it can be used to justify both good and evil actions.
  • #1

marcus

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Newsweek had an article earlier this month (10 November) about a conference on Science and Religion attended by many top scientists including Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg.

Weinberg said something that was both poignant and apt. I never heard anyone use this figure of speech

"...Much as Weinberg would like to see civilization emerge from the tyranny of religion, when it happens, "I think we will miss it, like a crazy old aunt who tells lies and causes us all kinds of trouble, but was beautiful once and was with us a long time."

Weinberg is an atheist who seems to relish blunt intellectual honesty, but he imagines "missing" religion like a troublesome old lady who was beautiful once. The unexpected simile made me catch my breath.
I hope PF readers will not be offended by this from Weinberg and some will find the figure of speech entertaining as I did.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15653706/site/newsweek/ [Broken]
The quote is at the end of the second paragraph (or third depending on how you count paragraphs). The conference of 30 leading scientists was at La Jolla and was called the "Beyond Belief" conference.
 
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  • #2
Did we inherit anything from her? :confused:
 
  • #3
A Weinberg gem from some years ago: “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
 
  • #4
arildno said:
Did we inherit anything from her? :confused:

Notre Dame cathedral
The Mozart Mass in C minor
and a few baubles like that:smile:
 
  • #5
Ah yes, and the whole of Bach..

(But I've heard she was rather batty, even as a young gal..)
 
  • #6
Gokul43201 said:
But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

What a load of crap.

marlon
 
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  • #7
marcus said:
Weinberg is an atheist who seems to relish blunt intellectual honesty, but he imagines "missing" religion like a troublesome old lady who was beautiful once. The unexpected simile made me catch my breath.
I hope PF readers will not be offended by this from Weinberg and some will find the figure of speech entertaining as I did.
Who cares ? He should just stick to the things he knows and not judge a common human concept like religion. Most people's lifes are more affected by religion than by whatever stuff this guy did. Really, this is another case of your typical "intellectual" self overestimation.

marlon
 
  • #8
marlon said:
Who cares ? He should just stick to the things he knows and not judge a common human concept like religion.
And perhaps he shouldn't hold judgement about other common human concepts like overeating, drunken driving and taking a holiday? So it's not okay for him to judge something, but it's okay for you to judge his judgement?

Most people's lifes are more affected by religion than by whatever stuff this guy did.
This is something he is more than aware of and never contradicted it. He even goes so far as to describe history as being carved largely by religious strife.

Really, this is another case of your typical "intellectual" self overestimation.
Strawman.
 
  • #9
Gokul43201 said:
A Weinberg gem from some years ago: “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
Very true. That's indeed my signature!
 
  • #10
marlon said:
He should just stick to the things he knows and not judge a common human concept like religion.
So who are then "allowed" to judge religion? Just the priests?
 
  • #11
EL said:
So who are then "allowed" to judge religion? Just the priests?

As far as I can tell only the religious, it's neat like that, it doesn't lend itself well to criticism from ungodly sinners,just the Godly ones; at least we don't burn or hang people for judging a religion any more though:smile:
 
  • #12
Schrodinger's Dog said:
at least we don't burn or hang people for judging a religion any more though:smile:
In fact we still do in some places...

As far as I can tell only the religious
And that's like not being allowed to criticize healing without being a healer yourself.

I guess this topic is on the edge of being "allowed" here, but as long as we don't discuss the validity of religious thoughts it may perhaps survive.
 
  • #13
EL said:
And that's like not being allowed to criticize healing without being a healer yourself.

Indeed I happen to be agnostic and generally a bit of cynic particular about religious history and how faiths developed; I do actually know a fair amount about many religions, probably more than some of those who claim to be from that faith in some cases. I consider the contrary to be true, whilst I may not be able to preach or to judge what is correct as far as dogma goes, I am quite able to offer opinion, a moral critique or camparrisons, having a broad knowledge of religion in general should give you a better perspective to judge it IMO.

I guess this topic is on the edge of being "allowed" here, but as long as we don't discuss the validity of religious thoughts it may perhaps survive.

I don't think anyone has been specific enough yet? As you say as long as we're talking about religion generally we can't be accused of promoting or degrading anyone belief.

Anyway I think a better comment would be not that it takes religion to make good people commit evil, but it does sometimes take religion for evil people to justify actions as good.
 
  • #14
Schrodinger's Dog said:
Anyway I think a better comment would be not that it takes religion to make good people commit evil, but it does sometimes take religion for evil people to justify actions as good.
Yes, sometimes it's like that. But often the bad things comming out of religion cannot be explained that simple. For example take agitation against homosexuals, opression of women, intelligent design, etc...
 
  • #15
marcus said:
The Mozart Mass in C minor
and a few baubles like that:smile:
...or palestrina's pope marcellus mass. mozart is awfully overrated imho

arildno said:
Ah yes, and the whole of Bach..
nah all my favourite bach stuff was secular (brandenburg concertos, cello suites, etc)

Gokul43201 said:
A Weinberg gem from some years ago: “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
that's awesome! but one could also say that about corporations, slavery & probably other stuff as well. there might be good people running corporations but the things they do in their occupational role may be evil. same with slavery of course.
 
  • #16
It is easy to speak in terms of absolutes regarding religion, and it is almost always wrong to do so. Personal faith is one thing. Organized religion is another entirely. Organized religion results in concentrations of power and influence, and that is an asset that will be used for good or evil depending on the motivations of those in control. When people join in a common bond - especially if that bond has strong societal support and a shared sense of allegiance to some authority (like a deity) they can be manipulated en masse, sometimes subtly, sometimes quite overtly. If you will re-read Weinberg's quote in light of this, you may come away with a different view of him.
 
  • #17
marlon said:
Most people's lifes are more affected by religion than by whatever stuff this guy did.

marlon

Yeah, most people don't use medicine and medical facilities. :rolleyes:

Science affects people more than religion does. Everyone is just blindly ignorant and naive.
 
  • #18
fourier jr said:
...or palestrina's pope marcellus mass. mozart is awfully overrated imho


nah all my favourite bach stuff was secular (brandenburg concertos, cello suites, etc)


that's awesome! but one could also say that about corporations, slavery & probably other stuff as well. there might be good people running corporations but the things they do in their occupational role may be evil. same with slavery of course.

Yeah, but those corporate people are normally involved in religion. Going to church is considered a networking tool for businesses. Be a fake religious guy.

Anyways, Steven was probably more comparing to the science world and not the corporate world, which the two are completely different. One has power, while the other does not.
 
  • #19
Any concentration of power will be abused by the people gaining positions of power. That includes large religious organizations, coporations, and government. Physicists and engineers have been tools of the governments for a long time now, creating weapons of mass destruction and other harmful technologies.
 
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What is the meaning of the quote by Steven Weinberg?

The quote by Steven Weinberg is a reflection of his views on the nature of the universe and the role of science in understanding it. It suggests that science, through its pursuit of understanding and knowledge, can reveal the underlying simplicity and beauty of the universe.

Who is Steven Weinberg?

Steven Weinberg is a renowned American physicist and Nobel laureate who made significant contributions to the field of particle physics and cosmology. He is known for his work on the electroweak theory and the unification of the fundamental forces of nature.

What inspired Steven Weinberg to make this quote?

The quote is a reflection of Weinberg's own scientific beliefs and philosophy. He was deeply influenced by the works of Albert Einstein and the idea that the laws of nature can be explained by simple and elegant mathematical equations.

Is this quote accepted by the scientific community?

The quote by Steven Weinberg is widely accepted and appreciated by the scientific community. Many scientists and philosophers of science have praised it for its insight into the nature of scientific inquiry and the universe.

How does this quote relate to the current state of science?

The quote by Steven Weinberg is still relevant today as it highlights the ongoing pursuit of scientific understanding and the belief that the universe can be explained by simple and elegant laws. It also emphasizes the importance of scientific progress in shaping our understanding of the world around us.

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