Do you think people who become eminent scientists become atheists in the process, or do you think atheists tend to gravitate toward science and then excel?
So why does a scientist who does not believe in a personal God (by personal I am thinking of the father figure on high) have to be called an atheist. This is something I have thought about and what follows are a few examples of eminent scientists who do not believe in a personal God, but are certainly not atheists:
To sum up my worldview, in as few words as possible: My worldview is, very close to Wolfgang Pauli’s. [The three physicists I quote (paraphrase) here are described in Ken Wilber’s book: Quantum Questions, Mystical Writings of the World’s Greatest Physicists]. A Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Wolfgang Pauli, earned a reputation for being a ruthless critic of sloppy scientific ideas during the time when physics was birthing the principles governing sub atomic particles. His contributions were numerous, including the famous “exclusion principle” and the prediction of the existence of the neutrino. At the center of Pauli’s philosophical outlook was his—“wish for a unitary understanding of the world, a unity incorporating the tension of opposites,”—and he hailed the interpretation of quantum theory as a major development toward this end. (p. 173)
My worldview is also in tune with the profound reverence Einstein held for rationality. Einstein believed that scientific knowledge ennobles true religion—not the religion that inspires fear in God, but rather a religion “capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself.” For Einstein, “the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence” was the highest religious attitude. (p.113)
But, even more than with Pauli and Einstein, my worldview resonates with Arthur Eddington’s. He was possibly the first person to fully comprehend Einstein’s relativity theory. He also headed up the famous expedition that photographed the solar eclipse which offered proof of relativity theory. Eddington believed that if you want to fill a vessel you must first make it hollow. He also said, “our present conception of the physical world is hollow enough to hold almost anything,” hollow enough to hold “that which asks the question,” hollow enough to hold “the scheme of symbols connected by mathematical equations that describes the basis of all phenomena.” He also said, however, “If ever the physicist solves the problem of the living body, he should no longer be tempted to point to his result and say ‘That’s you.’ He should say rather ‘That is the aggregation of symbols which stands for you in my description and explanation of those of your properties which I can observe and measure. If you claim a deeper insight into your own nature by which you can interpret these symbols—a more intimate knowledge of the reality which I can only deal with by symbolism—you can rest assured that I have no rival interpretation to propose. The skeleton is the contribution of physics to the solution of the Problem of Experience; from the clothing of the skeleton it (physics) stands aloof.” (p. 194)
So, what personal insight into our own nature can we claim? Last night I took another look at Stigmata, one of my favorite movies. Just before the end credits ran, these words appeared on the screen: “The kingdom of God is within you and all around you and not in buildings of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift a stone and I am there.” These words, words taken from the gospel of Thomas, were recorded in the Aramaic language—the language of Jesus–some nineteen hundred years ago. The next words that appeared on the screen were these: “Whoever discovers the meaning of these sayings will not taste death.”