You’re a scientist and a person of faith. How do you reconcile the two?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Mind Over Matter, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. Mind Over Matter Registered Senior Member

    Saint Luke (c.72) - Catholic patron saint of physicians and surgeons (himself being a physician, iconographer and evangelist)

    Bede, the Venerable (c.672–735) - Catholic monk who wrote a work On the Nature of Things, and several books on the mathematical / astronomical subject of computus, the most influential entitled On the Reckoning of Time. He made original discoveries concerning the nature of the tides and his works on computus became required elements of the training of clergy, and thus greatly influenced early medieval knowledge of the natural world.

    Pope Silvester II (c.950–1003) - A scientist and book collector, he influenced the teaching of math and astronomy in church-run schools, and raised the cathedral school at Rheims to the height of prosperity.

    Hermannus Contractus (1013–1054) - Wrote on geometry, mathematics, and the astrolabe. He was also a monk who composed Marian antiphons and was essentially beatified.

    Robert Grosseteste (c.1175–1253) - Bishop of Lincoln, he was the central character of the English intellectual movement in the first half of the 13th century and is considered the founder of scientific thought in Oxford. He had a great interest in the natural world and wrote texts on the mathematical sciences of optics, astronomy and geometry. He affirmed that experiments should be used in order to verify a theory, testing its consequences.

    Pope John XXI (1215–1277) - He wrote the widely used medical text Thesaurus pauperum before becoming Pope.

    Albertus Magnus (c.1193–1280) - Patron saint of scientists in Catholicism who may have been the first to isolate arsenic. He wrote that: "Natural science does not consist in ratifying what others have said, but in seeking the causes of phenomena."

    Roger Bacon (c.1214–1294) - He was an English philosopher who emphasized empiricism and has been presented as one of the earliest advocates of the modern scientific method. He joined the Franciscan Order around 1240, where he was influenced by Grosseteste. Bacon was responsible for making the concept of "laws of nature" widespread, and contributed in such areas as mechanics, geography and, most of all, optics.

    Theodoric of Freiberg (c.1250–c.1310) - Dominican who is believed to have given the first correct explanation for the rainbow in De iride et radialibus impressionibus or On the Rainbow.

    Thomas Bradwardine (c.1290–1349) - He was an English archbishop, often called "the Profound Doctor". He developed studies as one of the Oxford Calculators of Merton College, Oxford University. These studies would lead to important developments in mechanics.

    Jean Buridan (1300–1358) - Catholic priest and one of the most influential philosophers of the later Middle Ages. He developed the theory of impetus, which was an important step toward the modern concept of inertia.

    Nicole Oresme (c.1323–1382) - Theologian and Bishop of Lisieux, he was one of the early founders and popularizers of modern sciences. One of his many scientific contributions is the discovery of the curvature of light through atmospheric refraction, he also showed that the reasons proposed by the physics of Aristotle against the movement of the Earth were not valid. Oresme strongly opposed astrology and speculated about the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

    Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464) - Cardinal and theologian who made contributions to the field of mathematics by developing the concepts of the infinitesimal and of relative motion. His philosophical speculations also anticipated Copernicus’ heliocentric world-view.

    Ignazio Danti (1536–1586) - Bishop of Alatri who convoked a diocesan synod to deal with abuses. He was also a mathematician who wrote on Euclid, an astronomer, and a designer of mechanical devices.

    René Descartes (1596–1650) - Descartes was one of the key thinkers of the Scientific Revolution in the Western World. He is also honoured by having the Cartesian coordinate system used in plane geometry and algebra named after him. He did important work on invariants and geometry.

    Giovanni Battista Riccioli (1598-1671) - Italian astronomer. He was a Jesuit who entered the order in 1614. He was also the first person to measure the rate of acceleration of a freely falling body.

    Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) - German Jesuit scholar who published around 40 works, most notably in the fields of oriental studies, geology and medicine. He made an early study of Egyptian hieroglyphs. One of the first people to observe microbes through a microscope, he was thus ahead of his time in proposing that the plague was caused by an infectious microorganism and in suggesting effective measures to prevent the spread of the disease. Kircher has been compared to Leonardo da Vinci for his inventiveness and the breadth and depth of his work.

    Nicolas Steno (1638-1686) - Contributions to paleontology and geology

    Roger Joseph (1711-1787) - Physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, diplomat, poet, and Jesuit. He is famous for his atomic theory, given as a clear, precisely-formulated system utilizing principles of Newtonian mechanics. This work inspired Michael Faraday to develop field theory for electromagnetic interaction, and was even a basis for Albert Einstein's attempts for a unified field theory, according to Einstein's coworker Lancelot Law Whyte. Boscovich also gave many important contributions to astronomy, including the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position.

    Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718–1799) - Linguist, mathematician, and philosopher. Agnesi is credited with writing the first book discussing both differential and integral calculus. She was an honorary member of the faculty at the University of Bologna.

    Augustin Louis Cauchy (1789–1857) - French mathematician. He started the project of formulating and proving the theorems of calculus in a rigorous manner and was thus an early pioneer of analysis. He also gave several important theorems in complex analysis and initiated the study of permutation groups. A profound mathematician, Cauchy exercised by his perspicuous and rigorous methods a great influence over his contemporaries and successors. His writings cover the entire range of mathematics and mathematical physics.

    Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) - Augustinian priest and scientist often called the "father of modern genetics" for his study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants. Mendel showed that the inheritance of traits follows particular laws, which were later named after him. The significance of Mendel's work was not recognised until the turn of the 20th century. Its rediscovery prompted the foundation of genetics.

    Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) - French chemist best known for his remarkable breakthroughs in microbiology. His experiments confirmed the germ theory of disease, and he created the first vaccine for rabies. He is best known to the general public for showing how to stop milk and wine from going sour - this process came to be called pasteurization. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of bacteriology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch. He also made many discoveries in the field of chemistry, most notably the asymmetry of crystals.

    Francesco Faà di Bruno (1825—1888) - Italian mathematician most linked to Turin. He is known for Faà di Bruno's formula and being a spiritual writer beatified in 1988.

    Armand David (1826–1900) - Catholic missionary to China and member of the Lazarists who considered his religious duties to be his principle concern. He was also a botanist with the author abbreviation David and as a zoologist he described several species new to the West.

    Pierre Duhem (1861–1916) - He worked on Thermodynamic potentials and wrote histories advocating that the Roman Catholic Church helped advance science.

    E. T. Whittaker (1873-1956) - Converted to Catholicism in 1930 and member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. His 1946 Donnellan Lecture was entitled on Space and Spirit. Theories of the Universe and the Arguments for the Existence of God. He also received the Copley Medal and had written on Mathematical physics before conversion.

    Georges Lemaître (1894-1966) - Catholic priest, honorary prelate, professor of physics and astronomer. Lemaître proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe, although he called it his 'hypothesis of the primeval atom'. He was a pioneer in applying Einstein's theory of general relativity to cosmology: suggesting a pre-cursor of Hubble's law in 1927, and publishing his primeval atom theory the pages of Nature in 1931.

    Carlos Chagas Filho (1910-2000) - A neuroscientist from Rio de Janeiro who headed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences for 16 years. He studied the Shroud of Turin and his "the Origin of the Universe", "the Origin of Life", and "the Origin of Man" involved an understanding between Catholicism and Science.
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  3. 420Joey SF's Incontestable Pimp Valued Senior Member

    Everyones just going to say it doesent matter because in those types scientests were pressured to be religious.

    Ultimately in the end, there are plenty of scientests who have faith, I would say just as much as those who say god does not exist. There are even alot of faith science intergrated websites. Science and god does not contradict.
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  5. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Just as "much"? Do you mean "just as many"?
    I doubt it. Links please.

    Links please. (By a "lot" I assume you mean anywhere near approaching the number of atheist science sites). The ones I've seen that do fit your category tend to be crank sites or ones that just pick and choose the "science".

    God itself is an unscientific concept.
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  7. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    A scientist can see the facts and study things to unsedstand ghow they work using the scientific methold or whatever methold that can be useful that finds the truth.

    That same person can also BELIVE in anything that they want, like the tooth fairy, Zeus, dragons and on and on and even god as well. As long as the seperate the real from the myth they can do both as many of them do today. That's their right just as those who do not believe in Santa Clause or ghosts can choose not to just as well.
  8. Rhaedas Valued Senior Member

    I wouldn't even say they were pressured. That implies they were closet atheists or something. They believed what they believed, and obviously the sciences they discovered and nurtured did not conflict with their personal beliefs.
    I agree. One cannot use the other, they are two different things.
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Just posting a list of Catholic scientists (and saints and evangelists and whatever) doesn't answer the question in the subject line.

    Taking the scientists in the list, did any of them actually achieve that reconciliation? Many people just kind of compartmentalize their thinking into inconsistent categories. Did all of the scientists on the list who believed that they had reached a reconciliation achieve it the same way?
  10. birch Valued Senior Member

    you are confused. this is an easy one.

    how to be a successful scientist while having a faith, is just that, knowing that it's a faith or that there isn't proof. one can have "faith" that there are multiverses and still know there is no concrete proof.

    even newton was trying to find proof but he couldn't. that means he was aware there really wasn't.
  11. Cifo Day destroys the night, Registered Senior Member

    The urban myth of the mutual exclusivity of science and religion lives on.
  12. Thoreau Valued Senior Member


    First of all, if you're going to claim that science and God do not contradict, you first need specify which account of God you are basing this claim on? Possibly the Christian God?

    The Genesis 1 creation account conflicts with the order of events that are known to science. In Genesis, the earth is created before light and stars, birds and whales before reptiles and insects, and flowering plants before any animals. The order of events known from science is just the opposite. God also creates light and separates light from darkness, and day from night, on the first day. Yet he didn't make the light producing objects (the sun and the stars) until the fourth day (1:14-19). And how could there be "the evening and the morning" on the first day if there was no sun to mark them?

    Secondly, the Christian God not only contradicts science, but himself as well! See Genesis 1:25-27 and Genesis 2:18-22.

    Or maybe we're going off of the Muslim account of creation in the Koran?

    O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a watcher over you. 4:1

    He it is Who did create you from a single soul, and therefrom did make his mate that he might take rest in her. And when he covered her she bore a light burden, and she passed (unnoticed) with it, but when it became heavy they cried unto Allah, their Lord, saying: If thou givest unto us aright we shall be of the thankful. 7:189

    And He it is Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. They float, each in an orbit. 21:33
    (We all know that the sun relatively is stationary within our solar system).

    All of these accounts contradict science. Furthermore, we have absolutely no evidence to support either the Christian or Muslim view of creation.

    Find any religion anywhere in the world that provides a creationist story and you will find that every single one of them completely contradict our natural universe.
  13. Socratic Spelunker Registered Senior Member

    Luckily, you are incorrect. Theists only make up 40% of the scientific community. That stat is the result of a survey a few years ago. I'll try to find it.
  14. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Did you ever read 1984? The principle that allows scientists to believe in a diety is called Double Think, & was described in that novel.

    BTW: I suspect that many scientists profess religious beliefs due to peer pressure, not wanting to upset paresnt/relatives, & reasons other than true belief.

    You can break up worthwhile friendships by admitting to being an atheist. You can be eliminated from some social groups if known to be an atheist. You can also have some problems getting or holding a job if you are known to be an athiest.

    I consider myself lucky to have had minimal problems due to being an atheist since my teens.
  15. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    Cifo dude you are one smart Man my brother, Living the urban myth
  16. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Mind Over Matter: Almost all of your examples lived in eras in which you could die for being an atheist. It was an era in almost all lived in a town where almost all belonged to the same religion. The Pressure form parensts/relatives & peer pressure on young children & teenagers would be formidable: Almost like brain washing.

    The few examples of scientists still alive in the 20th century were raised in an era in which there were hardly any atheists. Once again pressure from relatives & peers would be strong.
  17. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member

    I see it this way:
    Time, and the universe are infinate..or as good as - for all practicable purposes.
    For anything to exist it has always had to have a potential to exist.
    This potential is demonstratable, ie by anything existing.
    God has a potential to exist, in fact, being a deity, needs less to exist than we do. Doesn't need food/air/warmth or, well anything except for one person to keep His potential "alive".
    Given one chance (at least) to exist, and given eternity, He will sooner or later exist.
    Then when He comes into existence, being omnipotent, he will always have existed (assuming he exists outside of normal space-time)
    But, His existence is metaphysical. The question is, can a metaphysical being influence the physical world? That, to me, is the conundurum..:shrug:
  18. birch Valued Senior Member

    good point. even in my life, the pressure was heavy, expected and intimidating to be a christian. if you weren't you were going to be harassed or oppressed in some way. i don't think i ever met an atheist until i got older. it was just rare.

    so if that is the case even in this century, you can imagine how much worse it was then. they could burn you at the stake and they did that to people.
  19. Mind Over Matter Registered Senior Member

    If you polled high iq people outside of the field of hard science where there is no pressure to be religious or atheist and think the way others do in order to advance in your career you will see different numbers.

    Most polls on doctors show that a a very high number of doctors believe in God and an afterlife.

    "A recent survey found a high percentage of spirituality in medicine, researchers say.

    CHICAGO -- A survey examining religion in medicine found that most U.S. doctors believe in God and an afterlife -- a surprising degree of spirituality in a science-based field, researchers say.

    In the survey of 1,044 doctors nationwide, 76 percent said they believe in God, 59 percent said they believe in some sort of afterlife and 55 percent said their religious beliefs influence how they practice medicine.

    "We were surprised to find that physicians were as religious as they apparently are," said Dr. Farr Curlin, a researcher at the University of Chicago's MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. "

    Also doctors have also been privy to witnessing patients go through experiences where they have been pronounced dead and then are brought back to life. I remember reading about one such lady who was pronounced dead for a period of time and then was brought back,and she talked about her spirit floating outside her body. The doctors didnt know what to make of her experience until she asked them if they knew that there was a doll on top of the hospital roof. When security went up there, sure enough they found the doll exactly how she described it would be.

    You see most hard scientist (and im not saying all) dont know how to think outside of their small box and believe that if something isnt testable in a lab then it probably doesnt exist or they dont know if it exists.

    How can an atheist explain this ladies experience/
    The answer is they cant and it would probably make them very uncomfortable to do so.
  20. Mind Over Matter Registered Senior Member

    Q:Why are many scientists atheists?
    A: I think most of them never learned what Catholicism or other religions really taught was true, or why it was taught as true. They have no knowledge or experience of what the spiritual life is really about. They have an idea of what religion is based on the common Christian, who is a poor example, but have never read what the saints have to say about it.

    A person who is interested in science seeks the truth, and when confronted with the hypocrisy and triviality of religion in its common practice, may find it unsatisfying and not worth exploring deeper.

    Q: Why are many scientists not atheists?
    A: Because they recognize the proper scope of their profession and how humans and their endeavors are never as good in practice as they are in theory.

    Here are some relevant web-comics:
  21. YoYoPapaya Trump/Norris - 2012 Registered Senior Member

  22. YoYoPapaya Trump/Norris - 2012 Registered Senior Member

    The copy paste messed it up a bit, but it seems to show that only 7% of scientists have some sort of personal belief/faith.
  23. Mind Over Matter Registered Senior Member


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