By Harry Fawcett Buckley
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Extra info for A short history of physics,
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.
A short history of physics, by Harry Fawcett Buckley