A short history of physics, - download pdf or read online

By Harry Fawcett Buckley

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These scientists do not only come from fields like biology—fields currently embroiled in public debates about religion and science. Scientists across all disciplines have adopted a “conflict paradigm,” although this group makes up only a small percentage (15 percent) of the 275 scientists I interviewed. A few scientists, some of whom alluded to Galileo’s conflict with the Catholic Church, flatly declared that there is no hope for achieving a common ground of dialogue between scientists and religious believers.

About 28 percent of scientists who are part of a religious tradition do not know whether or not they believe in God (the agnostic position). But agnosticism may mean something different to scientists than it does to members of the general public. By definition, their lifework of science requires insurmountable evidence, so for a scientist to say that he is not absolutely convinced that God exists may still be consistent with his religious tradition. A scientist is rarely absolutely convinced about anything!

The beauty she sees and the meaning she gets through her work as a scientist lead her to feel somewhat at peace without having a religion, even though much of the world outside her scientific haven is religious. Scientists who do practice religion can face intense pressure to give it up as they are sometimes harshly judged by their secular peers. They might be viewed as not fully engaging the scientific part of their brains, simply putting their reason on hold to find comfort in religion. A chemist30 who has been in the field for years remarked that if you are a scientist, you “cannot believe in things that are supernatural, because that’s a total cop-out.

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A short history of physics, by Harry Fawcett Buckley


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