Some famous scientists who believed in a god

by [anonymous]7 min read26th Mar 201576 comments

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Personal Blog
I wrote this article in the hope that it will give you some interesting reading and historic insight, but partly I wrote it because I think that even some scientists and rationalists lack knowledge of these facts. Furthermore, many people overall develop condescending attitudes towards religion nowdays. Therefore it might be useful to remind people that even these great thinkers believed in a god.

I will point out that it is forbidden for a scientist to confuse personal beliefs that can´t be tested with observations and it is wrong to make a religion into a premise. But everyone have the same right to be entitled to a religious belief. 

Below are some famous scientists who believed in a god. They were christian for the most parts. Some of them (at least Galileo) appeared as fundamentalistic supporters of the bible, but many may have been more open-minded about that sort of thing. I bet that most of you you recognize the names. Some of my favorites, like Descartes and Isaac Newton are amongst them. I took the liberty to base this article on the list found at this webadress. Although the site is not one I would normally use as a source, I found this particular list useful. I can confirm from my actual studies in history and physics that it is pretty accurate. But even though I have corrected minor errors, I cannot swear that I haven´t missed some facts that might be false. If you find any, please let me know!  



  1. Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)
    Copernicus was the Polish astronomer who put forward the first mathematically based system of planets going around the sun. He attended various European universities, and became a Canon in the Catholic church in 1497. His new system was actually first presented in the Vatican gardens in 1533 before Pope Clement VII who approved, and urged Copernicus to publish it around this time. Copernicus was never under any threat of religious persecution - and was urged to publish both by Catholic Bishop Guise, Cardinal Schonberg, and the Protestant Professor George Rheticus. Copernicus referred sometimes to God in his works, and did not see his system as in conflict with the Bible.
  2. Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
    Bacon was a philosopher who is known for establishing the scientific method of inquiry based on experimentation and inductive reasoning. In De Interpretatione Naturae Prooemium, Bacon established his goals as being the discovery of truth, service to his country, and service to the church. Although his work was based upon experimentation and reasoning, he rejected atheism as being the result of insufficient depth of philosophy, stating, "It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity." (Of Atheism)
  3. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
    Kepler was a brilliant mathematician and astronomer. He did early work on light, and established the laws of planetary motion about the sun. He also came close to reaching the Newtonian concept of universal gravity - well before Newton was born! His introduction of the idea of force in astronomy changed it radically in a modern direction. Kepler was an extremely sincere and pious Lutheran, whose works on astronomy contain writings about how space and the heavenly bodies represent the Trinity. Kepler suffered no persecution for his open avowal of the sun-centered system, and, indeed, was allowed as a Protestant to stay in Catholic Graz as a Professor (1595-1600) when other Protestants had been expelled!
  4. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
    Galileo is often remembered for his conflict with the Roman Catholic Church. His controversial work on the solar system was published in 1633. It had no proofs of a sun-centered system (Galileo's telescope discoveries did not indicate a moving earth) and his one "proof" based upon the tides was invalid. It ignored the correct elliptical orbits of planets published twenty five years earlier by Kepler. Since his work finished by putting the Pope's favorite argument in the mouth of the simpleton in the dialogue, the Pope (an old friend of Galileo's) was very offended. After the "trial" and being forbidden to teach the sun-centered system, Galileo did his most useful theoretical work, which was on dynamics. Galileo expressly said that the Bible cannot err, and saw his system as an alternate interpretation of the biblical texts.
  5. Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
    Descartes was a French mathematician, scientist and philosopher who has been called the father of modern philosophy. His school studies made him dissatisfied with previous philosophy: He had a deep religious faith as a Roman Catholic, which he retained to his dying day, along with a resolute, passionate desire to discover the truth. At the age of 24 he had a dream, and felt the vocational call to seek to bring knowledge together in one system of thought. His system began by asking what could be known if all else were doubted - suggesting the famous "I think therefore I am". Actually, it is often forgotten that the next step for Descartes was to establish the near certainty of the existence of God - for only if God both exists and would not want us to be deceived by our experiences - can we trust our senses and logical thought processes. God is, therefore, central to his whole philosophy. What he really wanted to see was that his philosophy be adopted as standard Roman Catholic teaching. Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon (1561-1626) are generally regarded as the key figures in the development of scientific methodology. Both had systems in which God was important, and both seem more devout than the average for their era.
  6. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
    Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the SoulPascal was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and theologian. In mathematics, he published a treatise on the subject of projective geometry and established the foundation for probability theory. Pascal invented a mechanical calculator, and established the principles of vacuums and the pressure of air. He was raised a Roman Catholic, but in 1654 had a religious vision of God, which turned the direction of his study from science to theology. Pascal began publishing a theological work, Lettres provinciales, in 1656. His most influential theological work, the Pensées ("Thoughts"), was a defense of Christianity, which was published after his death. The most famous concept from Pensées was Pascal's Wager. Pascal's last words were, "May God never abandon me."
  7. Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
    In optics, mechanics, and mathematics, Newton was a figure of undisputed genius and innovation. In all his science (including chemistry) he saw mathematics and numbers as central. What is less well known is that he was devoutly religious and saw numbers as involved in understanding God's plan for history from the Bible. He did a considerable work on biblical numerology, and, though aspects of his beliefs were not orthodox, he thought theology was very important. In his system of physics, God was essential to the nature and absoluteness of space. In Principia he stated, "The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.
  8. Robert Boyle (1627-1691)
    One of the founders and key early members of the Royal Society, Boyle gave his name to "Boyle's Law" for gases, and also wrote an important work on chemistry. Encyclopedia Britannicasays says of him: "By his will he endowed a series of Boyle lectures, or sermons, which still continue, 'for proving the Christian religion against notorious infidels...' As a devout Protestant, Boyle took a special interest in promoting the Christian religion abroad, giving money to translate and publish the New Testament into Irish and Turkish. In 1690 he developed his theological views in The Christian Virtuoso, which he wrote to show that the study of nature was a central religious duty." Boyle wrote against atheists in his day (the notion that atheism is a modern invention is a myth), and was clearly much more devoutly Christian than the average in his era.
  9. Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
    Michael Faraday was the son of a blacksmith who became one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century. His work on electricity and magnetism not only revolutionized physics, but led to much of our lifestyles today, which depends on them (including computers and telephone lines and, so, web sites). Faraday was a devoutly Christian member of the Sandemanians, which significantly influenced him and strongly affected the way in which he approached and interpreted nature. Originating from Presbyterians, the Sandemanians rejected the idea of state churches, and tried to go back to a New Testament type of Christianity.
  10. Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)
    Mendel was the first to lay the mathematical foundations of genetics, in what came to be called "Mendelianism". He began his research in 1856 (three years before Darwin published hisOrigin of Species) in the garden of the Monastery in which he was a monk. Mendel was elected Abbot of his Monastery in 1868. His work remained comparatively unknown until the turn of the century, when a new generation of botanists began finding similar results and "rediscovered" him (though their ideas were not identical to his). An interesting point is that the 1860's was notable for formation of the X-Club, which was dedicated to lessening religious influences and propagating an image of "conflict" between science and religion. One sympathizer was Darwin's cousin Francis Galton, whose scientific interest was in genetics (a proponent of eugenics - selective breeding among humans to "improve" the stock). He was writing how the "priestly mind" was not conducive to science while, at around the same time, an Austrian monk was making the breakthrough in genetics. The rediscovery of the work of Mendel came too late to affect Galton's contribution.
  11. William Thomson Kelvin (1824-1907)
    Kelvin was foremost among the small group of British scientists who helped to lay the foundations of modern physics. His work covered many areas of physics, and he was said to have more letters after his name than anyone else in the Commonwealth, since he received numerous honorary degrees from European Universities, which recognized the value of his work. He was a very committed Christian, who was certainly more religious than the average for his era. Interestingly, his fellow physicists George Gabriel Stokes (1819-1903) and James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) were also men of deep Christian commitment, in an era when many were nominal, apathetic, or anti-Christian. The Encyclopedia Britannica says "Maxwell is regarded by most modern physicists as the scientist of the 19th century who had the greatest influence on 20th century physics; he is ranked with Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein for the fundamental nature of his contributions." Lord Kelvin was an Old Earth creationist, who estimated the Earth's age to be somewhere between 20 million and 100 million years, with an upper limit at 500 million years based on cooling rates (a low estimate due to his lack of knowledge about radiogenic heating).
  12. Max Planck (1858-1947)
    Planck made many contributions to physics, but is best known for quantum theory, which revolutionized our understanding of the atomic and sub-atomic worlds. In his 1937 lecture "Religion and Naturwissenschaft," Planck expressed the view that God is everywhere present, and held that "the holiness of the unintelligible Godhead is conveyed by the holiness of symbols." Atheists, he thought, attach too much importance to what are merely symbols. Planck was a churchwarden from 1920 until his death, and believed in an almighty, all-knowing, beneficent God (though not necessarily a personal one). Both science and religion wage a "tireless battle against skepticism and dogmatism, against unbelief and superstition" with the goal "toward God!"
  13. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
    Einstein is probably the best known and most highly revered scientist of the twentieth century, and is associated with major revolutions in our thinking about time, gravity, and the conversion of matter to energy (E=mc2). Although never coming to belief in a personal God, he recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe. The Encyclopedia Britannica says of him: "Firmly denying atheism, Einstein expressed a belief in "Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the harmony of what exists." This actually motivated his interest in science, as he once remarked to a young physicist: "I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details." Einstein's famous epithet on the "uncertainty principle" was "God does not play dice" - and to him this was a real statement about a God in whom he believed. A famous saying of his was "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you want more, check out http://www.famousscientists.org/25-famous-scientists-who-believed-in-god/ 

Please do aslo pay respect to theists even if you don´t believe in a divinity yourself and vice versa. The point is not to argue for or against a god, but to discuss the fact that these famous thinkers did.

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I see you mention Rene Descartes. He believed in the existence of souls, and, taking that hypothesis seriously, he concluded there has to be a way for the soul to send signals to the body. He went looking for an organ that might fulfil this purpose, and concluded that it is the pineal gland.

This conclusion is false, the true function of the pineal gland is known today, but it illustrates a point : the old theistic scientists tended to take religion seriously, they viewed it as a valid scientific hypothesis whose implications in the real world could be stud... (read more)

0[anonymous]6yYou are right :) I was amused when I first heard about his theories regarding the soul. We have to remember though, that he was philosopher and not a real doctor or a scientist in the modern meaning. Besides, not all old theistic scientists based their science on religious premises.
0Plasmon6yVery true. They would hardly have made much progress if they did! Many tried to do it though. Another example is Isaac Newton, who tried to extract scientific information from the bible [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton%27s_occult_studies#Biblical_studies]. My point here is not that their conclusions were wrong, but that their attitude towards religion was a scientific one, an attitude rarely seen in today's theists.
-1[anonymous]6yI don´t fully agree though. There many scientists today whom are also theists. What do you base that last sentence on? As for Newton trying to extract information from the bible, as far as I remember this was in his senior years when he started with numerology. He kept this obscure hobby quite secret and separated from his scientific work as far as I know.
0Plasmon6yTo someone who truly takes a certain religion seriously as a scientific hypothesis, attempting to extract non-obvious information from that religion's holy book is scientific work! The book was supposedly written by, or inspired by, an omnipotent being. How could they not expect to find important clues in there? The complete and utter lack of modern theistic scientists looking for a soul-body communication organ, to name just one example. People such as Francis Collins [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Collins], who claimed to have converted to christianity after seeing a three-part frozen waterfall, which he interpreted as a sign of the holy trinity? Even though 3 is a significant number in more religions than I can be bothered to count [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3_%28number%29#In_religion] ? No, such people are not worth mentioning in a serious discussion of this subject.
0[anonymous]6yWhy did you mention him then? Why not mention Erwin Schrödinger or Heisenberg for example?
3Plasmon6yHe is the only well-known example of a modern theistic scientist that I can think of. Both are dead, and I am not familiar with their thoughts on religion. I looked up Schrödinger on wikipedia, and there it is : "Despite being raised in a religious household, he called himself an atheist.". [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erwin_Schr%C3%B6dinger#Early_years]
0[anonymous]6yHe was agnostic most part of his life. But you are right that at one point in his life he openly declared himself an atheist. I remembered wrong. Heisenberg at the other hand was openly a theist. If you can only think of Francis Collins, maybe you shouldn´t base all your beliefs on just one person? Wikipedia on Schrödinger:
1Plasmon6yI did say the only relatively well-known one, not the only one. Would you prefer if I used as an example Frank Tipler [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_J._Tipler] or Immanuel Velikovsky [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Velikovsky], both of whom make up exceedingly implausible hypotheses to fit their religious worldview, and are widely considered pseudoscientist because of that? Or Marcus Ross [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_R._Ross], who misrepresented his views on the age of the earth in order to get a paleontology phd? No, today's good theistic scientists, to the extent that they still exist, are precisely those who have stopped to take religion seriously as a scientific hypothesis. Being interested in religion does not a theist make. Nor does merely acknowledging the possibility of an unspecified creator entity, the simulation hypothesis [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation_hypothesis] is not theism.
-2[anonymous]6yThat is extremely obvious and something of the first thing I said in this article is that you mustn´t make a religious belief into a premise for science. Of course you can´t mix up scientific work with religion.
2Plasmon6yI strongly disagree. If religion were true, that would be exactely what you should do. Why? That statement is widely accepted today, but it is only widely accepted because virtually all attempts to do so have failed. What happened is the following: people did try to base science on religion, they did make interesting predictions based on religious hypotheses. By elementary Bayesian reasoning, if an observation would be evidence for a religion, not observing it is evidence (though possibly weak evidence) against that religion. That is hard to accept for religious people, thus they took the only remaining option : they started pretending that religion and science are somehow independent things. Imagine - just imagine! - that Decartes did find a soul receiver in the pineal gland. Imagine that Newton did manage to find great alchemical secrets in the bible. Imagine! If that would have happened, do you think anyone would claim that "of course you can´t mix up scientific work with religion" ?
-1[anonymous]6yThat kind of religion is quite alien to me so I can´t say. I think we would have speratae systems today if such discoveries had been made. A couple of centuries ago people explained different phenomena with different systems. Some phenomena used Aristotle´s teachings, some used mechanichs (as taught by Archimedes) and some used magic as a model. I view religion as dealing with what is currently, at least partly, beyond the realms of experimental science. For example, concepts like love, goodness and evil are concepts that religions offer to explain. Science don´t have many theories concerning these concepts that are widely spread and accepted. We could use religious beliefs as premises, but since we can´t prove these premises yet, we can´t use them.
1polymathwannabe6yOn the contrary, the neuroscience of ethics is a big thing nowadays. And "widely spread and accepted" is not the criterion; it should rather be "consistent with observations, repeatable, and useful to make testable predictions."
-1[anonymous]6yWell I meant accepted by scientists :) I am familiar with the scientific method. Which is not odd since natural science is my all-time favorite subject. As a side note, as far as I know, neuroscience has not produced any answer to why there is evil yet.
1polymathwannabe6y"Evil" doesn't seem like a workable category in a reductionistic framework.
0[anonymous]6yVery true! Because it isn´t. Let me underline this so I don´t diminish the efforts of reductionists who have worked hard on these kinds of problems. Let us split up the concept "evil" into something more concrete. Serial killing. Murder. To enjoy killing. To enjoy torture. Pyromancy. Assault. These are some typically "evil" phenomena that the neuroscience of ethics has to work with. It is no small task. And still this "evil" is easier to understand than "goodness" and altruism. Why risk you life for a stranger? Why sacriface your life for the one you love, even though that person is sterile and you have no common responsibilities? And this is just asking why, not what to do with the information. We can say that our chosen "utility function" is what drives us but just what is that? How should we live and why? How can we avoid serial killing, how can we wipe out homicidal behaviour, is it even possible? We have to explain words like "choice" and "free will" and maybe "randomness" if we approach this scientifically. Some scientists do indeed work on these questions, for which I am very thankful. But for many people their results and slow progress just isn´t enough. And for some it isn´t even necessary, since their religions offers guidelines and answers that are relatively easy to understand. Many theists don´t se any conflict between science and theism, their evidence for a god could be the love they hold for others or some holy scripture, confirmed by people long since dead. People have claimed to witness miracles. If someone didn´t experience that particular miracle themselves though, there is no evidence except the weak evidence of the witness. It all comes down to what your basic premises are. We update our beliefs of course, we have to in order to survive, but someone convinced he has witnessed a miracle won´t easily change his mind. (Escpecially if it can´t be explained rationally in his lifetime. Indeed.) You can believe that the scientific method can prov
0polymathwannabe6yI guess you meant pyromania, unless mutant powers are evil in some religion I haven't heard of. "Easy to understand" is irrelevant. Once again, it should be "consistent with observations, repeatable, and useful to make testable predictions." That's not what people commonly mean when they talk about their religion. But it's a common argument [http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/03/all-in-all-another-brick-in-the-motte/] to evade the actual issue. Your priors can and should change in response to new evidence. So far, the assumption that the scientific method can deal with anything is undefeated. YES, exactly that. It's a shameful idea to consider when you're human, but at least we are equipped to know better now.
0[anonymous]6yMe: Does that then imply that for thousands of years, people had to invent lies just to get by? You: With second thought this deserves a special note. I mean I see what you mean, that people found COMFORT in lies. Superstition. But I mean that we have to think about what they based their laws on, and how they organized their societies aswell. If lies and lies only for thousands of years could uphold working societies that actually led to what we have today, why don´t we embrace these lies? Seems much easier to live by them than some advanced science.
0polymathwannabe6yRejecting the old structures is what led to what we have today. If you look at the mortality rate of superstitious civilizations (in particular from preventable diseases), you can hardly describe them as "working."
0[anonymous]6yThank you for telling me what the scientific method is once more, since I clearly asked you that question over and over. (That was irony btw.) I did not mean that I perosnally find it relevant, but let me just say that I can understand why some believers do find this relevant. Is it now really? Perhaps. Let us say it is. Well, so far I haven´t died yet, I guess that means I should believe that I am immortal. It´s not like that the thought that I will live on is just a useful (basic) premise in my everyday life. I gave an example of what some theists consider evidence. Not how they describe their religion. The "actual issue" sounds cool. Wonder what THAT is ;) Thank you for that answer, I learned something from that response. Please give more comments like that, you don´t need to repeat stuff over and over, I heard you first time.
0polymathwannabe6yNo, you have seen other humans die. What I meant by "the actual issue" is that faith is terrible epistemology, and excuses to hold on to faith have become more and more lamentable with the passing of time and the growth of human knowledge. That is why, for example, people are less willing to describe their god as a bearded all-seeing man in the sky (which is easy to disprove), and more as a shapeless, impersonal cloud of goodness (which is so vague that nobody bothers to argue against).
0[anonymous]6yThat is true. For the sake of it, I will give you a definition you can criticize! I believe that a god, a sometimes shapeless, (sometimes, in lack of better description), personal "force" of goodness exists and can alter space-time and create consciousnesses, resurrect dead humans, wipe out all of humanity instantly and create worlds where the concept of linear time seems stupid. This god can do alot more cool stuff too!
1polymathwannabe6yDo you feel comfortable discussing the evidence for and against that definition of a deity?
1[anonymous]6yI am not sure I want to DISCUSS all of it, but I do feel comfortable reading your comments regarding evidence for and against! Feel free to give me the very best criticism you can come up with! I guess that you are against my crude definition. However, discussing the existense of any deity wasn´t my intention, but since the original post is deleted, I will allow it. I often meet religious people who don´t feel comfortable discussing their definitions, and even though I try to be very gentle on them, sometimes I hurt them since they don´t want to let go of their mysterious answers. If you asked this out of sincere politeness, my image of you just improved slightly.
0polymathwannabe6yYour deity is a shapeless, personal force of goodness that can do a lot of cool stuff. I'm going to need a clearer definition. How does your concept of a deity address these problems? * The Epicurean riddle [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil#Epicurus] . * The Euthyphro dilemma [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma#In_philosophical_theism]. * The omnipotence paradox [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnipotence_paradox].
0[anonymous]6yThe omnipotence paradox:If a being can perform any action, then it should be able to create a task which this being is unable to perform; hence, this being cannot perform all actions. Yet, on the other hand, if this being cannot create a task that it is unable to perform, then there exists something it cannot do. ~Wikipedia, see your own link. Since God is the highest power, he is omnipotent in the meaning that nothing else could be more powerful. God can limit his actions by choice just like a human can. He can also revoke this limitation, just like a human can. Note: God is not the only part of the universe. Since he has allowed fee will to other beings, things that he did not plan can happen and then he might "update".
0[anonymous]6yThe Euthyphro dilemma is interesting. ~Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz version, according to Wikipedia Intro: I admit I don´t know where to start here. Hm... Compare it to an old dark art that works as follows: You ask a legit question but you only present two possible answers and make them seem like they are the only possibilities. But both are false, since there is in reality a third (or more) option aswell. Hence, if you try to answer the question using only the first two options, you see a paradox. (And this is only if you think that the question is legit. In our case, note for instance that "justice", "goodness" and so on are vague concepts.) The answer section: I will not write an essay about this, but perhaps if you feel that it is necessary, we can discuss my answer more later on. My answer is that God´s actions in this world is what is good and just. Notes: 1) Good AND just. Think about it in terms of modal logic. And I adress God´s "actions", not his "will" (see note 3). 2) Now if we discard terms like "good" and "just" or replace them (try reducing the concept of justice to begin with), do we still have this problem? 3) Note again that we also talk about God´s will. Since God is a god, his "will" is a somewhat problematic concept, probably alot more problematic than will in general! I haven´t made a serious effort to analyze this though.
2polymathwannabe6yAs Peter Singer said, if God defines goodness, then when you say God is good you're just saying God approves of God. That leaves goodness (and God) undefined.
0[anonymous]6yDefining god wasn´t what you asked for here. You wanted to adress The Euthyphro dilemma.
0[anonymous]6yLet me start by saying that the following comversation may very well be considered non-rational in some respects, and this conversation is about BELIEFS, not facts that can be proven or disproven. I discuss this because you wanted it. So I will make you a favor and expose my current beliefs. To all who came across this, see more comments above for more info. I will start with the Epicurean riddle: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" — 'the Epicurean paradox God allows evil so that we can grow. In order to grow we need to be able to face evil and make choices on our own. We can´t come up with own conclusions if we already know all the right answers. (This was the statement. There are no easy answers to all questions and part of the growing process is to form your own belief. So note that the following are my own ideas.) Yes, God wants humans to grow, in many ways. We humans have many flaws if compared to, for instance, angels, if we believe in such creatures. Perhaps God wants us to become angels. My personal hypotheses is that God was omnipotent but gave up that power in the meaning that he gave up his freedom to prevent all evil, so that we can grow. There are many worlds, or dimensions, and God is paying attention to everyone. Our world is a world with an unusual amount of evil, perhaps the only world to even contain evil, but it is necessary for God´s plans. We have to have remember that God loves us, and that whatever happens is tolerable. We would know this if we had God´s perspective. Note that we are not bound to this world forever. There is a heaven aswell. EDIT: The premise here is that we have souls.
1polymathwannabe6yWhy do you disconnect beliefs from facts? Shouldn't beliefs be caused by observable facts?
0[anonymous]6yYes, a legit question. Here is my answer: Yes, but since my beliefs may differ from yours since we may observe different things and also interpret them differently, I try to separate personal beliefs from science. My observations are my own. If I have dreamt, I can´t prove this to anyone except by telling them that I dreamt. If I have met God, will you believe me if I say so? I can`t figure out an experiment that will prove to you what I dreamt a year ago.
0polymathwannabe6yHuman minds being what they are, not even you can be sure what you dreamt a year ago. If we are located in the same place and have healthy and similar sense organs, we must observe the same environment and the same events. The only possible difference is what we call them and what they mean to each of us. I will believe that you had a subjective experience, but without real-time brain imaging (plus someone who knows how to interpret it) I won't know what to call it.
0[anonymous]6yThen you see my point I take it.
0Nornagest6yI think you mean "pyromania", or just "arson". Pyromancy is divination by looking into flames or hot coals; compare chiromancy, an old word for palm-reading.
0[anonymous]6yThank you, my swedish vocabulary took over again.
0tut6yIn swedish it is pyromani.
1imuli6yProbably because they have been dead for forty for fifty years. The best example still living might be Robert Aumann [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Aumann], though his science is less central (economics) than anyone on your list. Find a well known modern scientist who is doing impressive work and believes in any reasonably traditional sense of God! It's not interesting to show a bunch of people who believed in God when >99% of the rest of their society did.

Is the point of this post anything besides an appeal to authority?

0[anonymous]6yI wanted to share the information on these guys being thesits and discuss it. Maybe why men of their caliber was convinced to believe in a god. I really don´t give a damn if you are atheist or theist for the sake of it. I have never in my life tried to convince people to believe in a deity and I am not openly a theist IRL.
4polymathwannabe6yMost likely because their parents raised them that way. Note that none of them was a Hindu or Shintoist or Muslim. If it isn't surprising that people who happen to be born in the same continent tend to revere the same deity, then it shouldn't be surprising that some of them persist in that belief [http://lesswrong.com/lw/gv/outside_the_laboratory/] even after they study some branch of science. Let's directly address the unstated point: Do you find it admirable that those scientists were theists? Why? Also, let's address a point that is even more important: Today's scientists are, as a group, less religious [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_religion_and_science#Studies_on_scientists.27_beliefs] than used to be the norm. How do you interpret that? And let's address the question that has not been answered: The appeal to authority is not a valid argument, so how is the topic of theistic scientists relevant to the rationalist community?
-2[anonymous]6yMaybe they were raised that way. But take Einstein for example, he was surrounded by many atheists. We have to assume he was man enough to make a decision of his own. Do I admire them? Not for their outspoken christian belief. I don´t. I might admire their moral if it follows christian values that I agree with. I don´t know if they did follow such values though. I don´t appeal to authority since there is no thesis I argue for. How is this topic relevant to the rationalist community? Well, how is AI research directly connected to rationality? I didn´t know there were taboos here. Since I don´t think many people even know these guys believed in a god whatsoever, I find it useful to let people know it. It might be noteable that even though they had to be very rational in some aspects in order to achieve what they did, they were still raised/otherwise convinced to believe in a god.
4polymathwannabe6yLet's write down two columns. One will be titled, "Newton's great ideas," and the other will be titled, "Newton's inexcusable folly." Gravitation, color theory, cubic equations, and calculus belong in the first column. The philosopher's stone, sacred geometry, end-of-the-world predictions, and the color indigo belong in the second column. If you have any good argument why his belief in God doesn't belong in the second column with the rest of the nonsense, please show it.
3ChristianKl6yWhy do you think so? Especially if "many people" is about the well educated LW community.

Note the lack of recent names.

Also, Spinoza's God is identical with everything that exists-- it isn't much like the God in most (any?) religions.

This year's receiver of the Carl Sagan Award was a Jesuit Brother. I find it very funny, although I don't know if I should.

From what I understand .there are a lot of established and respectable scientists who are theists. Anyone could go on a treasure hunt for more, but it doesn't prove anything. It's just a numbers game.

Choosing people who lived more than 70 years ago is a bad choice for the argument that you want to make. People in the past being wrong is no good reason for taking people who believe in religion today seriously.

This means that the article is pretty low quality and has no place on LW.

In addition to being low quality it's a violation of copyright and as such should be deleted.

0[anonymous]6yHow is it a violation of copyright if I claim no ownership, cite the source and don´t allow it to be spread in my or any other´s name? I am just curious. If you are right I will delete it. Might be good for my karma too, since the majority seems to be against this for unknown reason SINCE I DON`T ARGUE FOR A DEITY.
5ChristianKl6yYou are 19 and live in a country that doesn't even have a concept of fair use that the US law has. Copyright doesn't work the way you think it does. Citing sources and not claiming ownership is not enough to make something fair use. You can't simply takes the text of another person and use it. You don't get voted down on LW because you argue for a deity. That's no reason to vote you down. Trying to make an appeal to the authority of famous dead scientists on the other hand is.

I'd like to see some scientists from other religions. And see what I found:

Wikipedia on Science and Religion and especially the part on Buddhism and Science but apparently buddhist scientsis are hard to come by.

Of interest: Don Page: a prominent cosmologist and an Evangelical Christian.

(I posted this link as a separate Discussion post earlier, but then changed my mind.)

[-][anonymous]6y 0

I would rather wish to read in an article named like this (or something like this - 'famous' might not be the most useful trait to select for, even though it helps cross-check ring) is 'what do scientists believe in that can be stuffed into 'religion' that has guided their actions/ (moral) arguments in definable ways'. As in, did vaccine developers believe in God and if yes, how did they reconcile the ability to prevent illness with God's will? If they themselves had never seen a problem with prevention, surely they were pointed it out? Was there ever any non-trivial discource of such questions that referred to faith?

[+][anonymous]6y -10