A Matter of Faith – Notable Scientists throughout History and Their Belief in God      
Benevolent viewers, welcome to today’s Science and Spirituality on Supreme Master Television, where we’ll explore the link between science and belief in God. Indeed, many of the world’s greatest philosophers and scientists have professed faith in the Divine, with some stating that their belief inspired them to pursue their work so that they could better understand creation.

This connection is examined by sociologist Dr. Elaine Ecklund of Rice University, USA in her newly published book “Science vs. Religion,” which documents her survey of 1,700 US research scientists on their religious beliefs, including her interviews with 275 of them.

The results revealed that half the respondents are religious and many of the others describe themselves as “spiritual,” including one who said that his spirituality came from a “wonder about the complexity and majesty of existence.” Let us now examine some famous scientists of past and present and their contributions to society in the context of faith.

A scientist who completely transformed the world of physics was Sir Isaac Newton of England who was born in 1642. In 1661 Newton went to Cambridge University, England to study law, and in his first two years concentrated on the philosophy of Aristotle. However, in his final year Newton began studying Galileo Galilei’s astronomy and Johannes Kepler’s optics.

In 1665, during a visit home, it is believed that Sir Isaac saw an apple fall from a tree and thus gained an understanding of the law of gravity, realizing that the force that pulls apples to the ground must also keep the moon orbiting the Earth. Furthermore, Newton postulated that the greater an object’s mass, the greater the gravitational force it exerts, and that this force diminishes as the distance between two objects increases.

On his return to Cambridge University in 1667, Newton was elected a fellow of Trinity College, and two years later he became the University’s Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. During this time Sir Isaac invented the reflecting telescope and conducted experiments on the composition of light, showing that white light consists of the same colors seen in the rainbow, thus paving the way for modern optics.

In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published his greatest work, the “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” which shows how gravity applies to all objects and reveals great understanding and a reverence for God. In his Principles Newton states:

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all, and on account of His dominion He is to be called Lord God.”

Newton goes on to beautifully describe the Divine as follows:

“From His true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent and powerful Being, and from His other perfections that He is supreme or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, His duration reaches from eternity to eternity; His presence from infinity to infinity; He governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done.”

Born approximately 300 years later in Kiel, Germany was Max Planck, the father of modern physics and originator of quantum theory. Planck came from a family of esteemed academics, including his father, Julius Wilhelm, who taught constitutional law at the University of Kiel and his grandfather and great-grandfather who were professors of theology.

In 1867 his family moved to Munich, which provided a rich cultural and musical environment for the young Max. Indeed at one point he considered becoming a pianist instead of a physicist. As Planck said, while a university student he decided to study physics because, “The outside world is something independent from man, something absolute, and the quest for the laws which apply to this absolute appeared to me as the most sublime scientific pursuit in life.”

In 1879 Max Planck received his doctorate after writing a thesis on the second law of thermodynamics, and in 1888 was appointed professor of theoretical physics at the University of Berlin, where he excelled. In 1900 he published research showing the relationship between energy and the frequency of radiation using the universal constant “h,” which is now known as Planck’s constant.

This discovery ushered in the era of modern physics. In 1918 Planck received the Nobel Prize for Physics, and nineteen years later delivered his lecture “Religion and Science,” in which he stated: “Both religion and science need for their activities the belief in God, and moreover God stands for the former in the beginning, and for the latter at the end of the whole thinking. For the former, God represents the basis, for the latter – the crown of any reasoning concerning the world-view.”

He concluded the talk by saying: “It is the steady, ongoing, never-slackening fight against skepticism and dogmatism, against unbelief and superstition, which religion and science wage together. The directing watchword in this struggle runs from the remotest past to the distant future: ‘On to God!’”

Thus Max Planck showed his unwavering faith in God, which is also revealed in these words to a friend: “If there is consolation anywhere it is in the Eternal, and I consider it a grace of Heaven that belief in the Eternal has been rooted deeply in me since childhood.”

After this brief pause we’ll learn about renowned scientists of the present who also have a deep relationship with the Divine. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

Welcome back to Science and Spirituality where we’ll now explore present day scientific pioneers with firm faith in God who have greatly enhanced our knowledge of the world around us. Let’s first discuss Dr. Walter Kohn who won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Dr. Kohn was born in 1923 to a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria. His father owned a business selling high-quality, contemporary art postcards, and his talented mother could speak seven languages. His mother’s family had strong Jewish roots. While growing up Dr. Kohn spent time in England and Canada, and in the latter country his interest in physics and math began.

In 1946 he completed his master’s degree after writing a thesis on atomic wave functions. Then, with the aid of a fellowship Dr. Kohn went to Harvard University, USA, where he studied under Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Julian Schwinger. It was under Professor Schwinger’s guidance that Dr. Kohn developed a formulation known as “Kohn’s Variational Principle for Scattering,” and later he was drawn to the growing area of solid state physics.

Eventually Dr. Kohn received the Nobel Prize for developing density functional theory, which fundamentally changed how scientists approach the electronic structure of atoms, molecules and solid materials in physics, chemistry and materials science. His work has been especially significant in the areas of semiconductors, superconductivity, and surface physics.

When asked if he was religious during an interview Dr. Kohn gave the following reply: “I would say I see myself as religious simultaneously in two ways. One is that I have found that religion, specifically the Jewish religion, has very much enriched my own life and is something that I have conveyed to my children and feel their lives also have been enriched by.

Secondly, I am very much of a scientist, and so I naturally have thought about religion also through the eyes of a scientist. When I do that, I see religion not denominationally, but in a more, let us say deistic sense.

I have been influenced in my thinking by the writings of Einstein who has made remarks to the effect that when he contemplated the world he sensed an underlying Force much greater than any human force. I feel very much the same. There is a sense of awe, a sense of reverence, and a sense of great mystery.”

Another inspiring contemporary scientist who integrates science with belief in God is Dr. Anthony Hewish, who was born on May 11, 1924 in Cornwall, England. Growing up on the Atlantic coast he developed a love of the sea, and after high school attended Cambridge University, where he obtained a Ph.D. in 1952.

After discovering two radio stars, or stars that emit radio waves, Dr. Hewish observed that their random fluctuation in signal was akin to scintillation or twinkling in stars that are visible at night. He concluded the fluctuation was caused by the ionosphere, or the uppermost portion of the Earth’s atmosphere as well as solar wind or the stream of charged particles that are emitted by the Sun.

The phenomenon is called Interplanetary Scintillation. To measure Interplanetary Scintillation he designed the Interplanetary Scintillation Array, a large radio telescope used to conduct highly sensitive, multi-beam surveys of the sky which came into service in 1967.

Using this telescope, Dr. Hewish discovered what has come to be called a pulsar, or a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star that emits electromagnetic radiation. For this contribution to the world, he was given the 1974 Nobel Prize in physics. When asked about the existence of God by an interviewer, Dr. Hewish replied:

“I believe in God. It makes no sense to me to assume that the Universe and our existence is just a cosmic accident, that life emerged due to random physical processes in an environment which simply happened to have the right properties. As a Christian I begin to comprehend what life is all about through belief in a Creator, some of whose nature was revealed by a man born about 2000 years ago.”

When further questioned about the relationship between science and religion, he said:

“I think both science and religion are necessary to understand our relation to the universe. In principle, science tells us how everything works, although there are many unsolved problems and I guess there always will be. But science raises questions that it can never answer. Why did the Big Bang eventually lead to conscious beings who question the purpose of life and the existence of the universe? This is where religion is necessary.”

And on the nature of the divine, Dr. Hewish states: “God certainly seems to be a rational Creator. That the entire terrestrial world is made from electrons, protons and neutrons and that a vacuum is filled with virtual particles demands incredible rationality.”

To close our program, it can be seen through the lives and work of the esteemed scientists briefly profiled here today that belief in God and scientific enquiry go together hand in hand. With a wider spread recognition that science and spirituality are connected rather than separate, our knowledge of the Universe and of ourselves will surely expand in even greater magnitude in the future.

Thank you for your joyful presence today on Science and Spirituality. Coming up next is Words of Wisdom, after Noteworthy News. May the Providence always guide us in our daily lives.

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The 2-part musical, “White Heart Baekgu,” airs Tuesday and Wednesday, July 6-7, on Enlightening Entertainment.

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