Physicists and religion

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vicente
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Physicists and religion

Postby vicente » Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:12 pm

Is it possible to be a physicist and be really religious?

I'm sure that there are Catholic physicists at Notre Dame, Mormons at Brigham Young, and religiously-Jewish physicists at Yeshiva, but is it possible to be really orthodox and fundamentalist while being a physicist?

Because being a physicist is all about being logical and not treating any explanation as an infallible fact, how is it possible for a physicist to believe that the Torah / Bible / Koran are the infallible, inerrant directly-spoken words of God? Physicists being deists and even weak theists or liberal Christians/Jewish/Muslim I can understand.

I'm talking about whether it's possible to be a physicist and believe that the Earth and the universe is less than 10,000 years old, that God created animals and humans in six literal 24-hour days, that Noah brought all the kinds of animals on the Earth onto an Ark while the whole Earth was flooded for 40 days, and that Jonah survived in the body of a fish for 3 days.

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dlenmn
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby dlenmn » Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:49 pm

There are certainly religious physicists. But to the extent you mentioned? I've never met one, but I wouldn't rule it out. I agree that it goes against some things that scientists believe, but people are amazingly capable of simultaneously holding contradictory ideas.

tmc
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby tmc » Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:11 pm

I've met a few well-known physicists who were strong christians as well. So yes, they exist and they still do good physics.

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Helio
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby Helio » Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:16 pm

dlenmn wrote: I agree that it goes against some things that scientists believe, but people are amazingly capable of simultaneously holding contradictory ideas.


I have to agree with this. I am very logical person, I hate contradictions and religion and science do not mingle too well when you contemplate it a little. In general, I have to say that yes there are physicist who are religious, one might call them hypocrites, but to be religions in this day and age you have to be a hypocrite. Let the slaying of my opinion begin.

vicente
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby vicente » Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:49 pm

tmc wrote:I've met a few well-known physicists who were strong christians as well. So yes, they exist and they still do good physics.


You can believe that a person named Jesus is the Son of God who died for the sins of those who follow him and still be a physicist because such a belief is not a scientifically falsifiable statement. But to believe as fact that the Sun stood still for an entire day (Joshua 10:12)? Somebody has to explain to me how a physicist can believe that.

excel
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby excel » Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:53 pm

1. Unlike religion, science is based on evidence coupled with rigorous arguments, not faith or "believing" without sufficient proof. As long as a scientist accepts that beliefs without evidence and opinions (incl. but not limited t religious beliefs) must yield to the conclusions of scientific method, s/he can probably be as religious as s/he wants to be and still operate as a scientist without internal contradictions.

2. Sciences deal with nature and the material world, whereas I think religion should only deal with the spiritual world. To me, religion and science have clearly defined domains, and should not ideally encroach on each other's domain. Philosophy and religion may mingle, but science and religion should not.

Ultimately, I think that religion is a personal matter. As long as a person does not let religion into the science he or she does, I personally do not care about his or her religious views.

excel
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby excel » Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:57 pm

vicente wrote:
tmc wrote:I've met a few well-known physicists who were strong christians as well. So yes, they exist and they still do good physics.


You can believe that a person named Jesus is the Son of God who died for the sins of those who follow him and still be a physicist because such a belief is not a scientifically falsifiable statement. But to believe as fact that the Sun stood still for an entire day (Joshua 10:12)? Somebody has to explain to me how a physicist can believe that.


I have not read the bible, but I am wondering:

...is a "day" well defined in this context to be what we mean as a day?
...could we consider a frame of reference stuck to the sun and say the sun stood still wrt that frame of reference?

My basic question is: can the writings of religious texts have so much possible variability in its precise meaning that it can always be reinterpreted so that it does not clash with new conclusions from science?

vicente
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby vicente » Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:13 pm

excel wrote:I have not read the bible, but I am wondering:

...is a "day" well defined in this context to be what we mean as a day?


And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. - Genesis 1:5, King James Version.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. - Genesis 1:8, King James Version.

The same chapter also explains that plants were created before the Sun was, impossible due to the need for photosynthesis, and birds before land animals, despite the scientific evidence that birds evolved from reptiles, most likely dinosaurs.

...could we consider a frame of reference stuck to the sun and say the sun stood still wrt that frame of reference?


The Sun had to stand still so that Joshua could complete his conquest in one day, so it was clearly in reference to the Earth. The Bible also talks about another incident where the Sun actually went backward in the sky:

Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down. - Isaiah 38:8, Kings James Version.

So the effects of the movements and lack of movements of the Sun were observed on the Earth.

tmc
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby tmc » Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:27 pm

Anyone who believes that religion and science cannot be combined knows nothing of either science or religion, or both.

Also, don't confuse fundies with normal religious people, as then I would agree. It'd be pretty hard to believe in the Genesis but work on early-universe astrophysics. Thankfully most practicing Christians don't view the Genesis as a true story.

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dlenmn
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby dlenmn » Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:12 am

vicente, I didn't notice you were the poster. Long time no see. Did anything in particular cause you to reappear and post this?

I've met genesis literalist types who are engineers. I've heard of ones who are mathematicians.

vicente
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby vicente » Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:50 am

hey dlenmn,

i was checking out a prof's resume and it turns out that he is from a Fundamentalist Christian background and went to Bob Jones University as an undergrad, and after reading about fundamentalist christian beliefs I started wondering how someone could believe such things and do something such as particle physics research which clearly leads to logical contradictions. I mean I've seen engineers who are really devout Muslims and Christians but never someone in a field with theories that contradict his religious views.

btw how's wisconsin treating you?

mhazelm
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby mhazelm » Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:51 am

Come to Provo, Utah and you will see it.

Believe me, it is not only possible, it is all over the place. Almost everyone I know is part of the same religion, and the religious beliefs form the basis of their daily lives (and every other aspect of their lives). They find ways to rationalize science. The most common argument is something like "we humans can never understand the miracles of God". So the religion comes first, and science takes its place as something secondary.

That being said, it's extremely unpopular to study physics if you're a woman in Utah, and pretty much all the faculty in our department is outside the mainstream religion, so we're the one department where people actually drink beer and coffee. :D

arfken
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby arfken » Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:10 am

Science is just an inductive model that we use to describe the world. Meaning all our predictions, including well established theories and laws, are just based on mere probabilities that they will still hold the moment we test them. Therefore, no scientific theory, no matter how verified, can ever hold to be an absolute truth.

Conclusion: Philosophically speaking, a person praticing science can still engage in religion.

excel
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby excel » Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:03 am

arfken wrote:Therefore, no scientific theory, no matter how verified, can ever hold to be an absolute truth.


Yes, but they believe the writing in some religious text instead to be the absolute truth?

mhazelm wrote:They find ways to rationalize science. The most common argument is something like "we humans can never understand the miracles of God". So the religion comes first, and science takes its place as something secondary.


So, whenever a scientific finding clash with what their religious text says, would they conclude that the finding is wrong/ misleading/ misunderstood ?

arfken
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby arfken » Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:09 am

I guess Physics is one field where you can be in awe of the wonders of the universe and so believe the existence of God and in the theory of intelligent design. Or you can get "arrogant" with what you know and debate with people about the existence of God.

As for me, I stand on the former. I know I can't really use science out of its context and explain the existence of God based on that. But the human in me is so fascinated with how things work that I came into the conclusion that there is really a God who designed all of these. I find it hard to accept that the universe came into existence from "nothing" and then evolved into something so beautiful as we know it right now without influence from a superior being.

Besides, belief in God is by faith and not by sight. Of course, there were times when I had to wrestle with my thoughts on the existence of God. I even did research on the different arguments supporting this claim. I guess the greatest proof I had is the changed life I experienced the moment I accepted God and it is defying my logic up to now.

=)

mhazelm
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby mhazelm » Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:01 pm

I know people here in Utah (not in physics) who refuse to believe that the dinosaurs existed because it "clashes" with their beliefs. Some of these people claim that the fossils collected are all part of a grand hoax (though this is a small group of people, I think).

And I should rephrase about what I meant when religion comes first: it's the notion that when science and religion disagree, it just means that science is incomplete at this point. Which actually is always true anyway, since we don't know everything there is to know.

Also, there is the idea that science happened as it did (e.g., evolution) because God made these things happen, though I don't think that most people here like Darwin's theory. There is still a lot of debate over whether "creationism"/Intelligent design must be taught along with evolution in K-12 schools. Most people here will freak out if they only teach evolution.

*Please note that I cannot generalize the whole population of Utah into any of my statements, religious or not, so take them as you wish (they're just my observations from living here for a long time).*

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twistor
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby twistor » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:17 am

mhazelm wrote:I know people here in Utah (not in physics) who refuse to believe that the dinosaurs existed because it "clashes" with their beliefs. Some of these people claim that the fossils collected are all part of a grand hoax (though this is a small group of people, I think).


Get the *** out of Utah.

excel
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby excel » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:46 am

arfken wrote:...you can get "arrogant" with what you know and debate with people about the existence of God.
=)


I agree. Personally, I think it is futile to debate this point because religious beliefs are not in the domain of reasoning at the level of scientific rigour, but rather :

arfken wrote:belief in God is by faith...


By this very point, I would also say that it is no less arrogant of religious people to debate with atheists, agnostics, and religious people of different beliefs that God does exist and do/ did things as per their religious text. I also find it arrogant of some religious people to assume an air of superiority over non-believers because they have faith and non-believers dont.

If one believes in a certain God, very well, that is his or her personal belief. But, s/he should have humility enough to understand that his or her belief is not supported by reasoning at a level of rigor that it should be necessarily accepted by others.

PoincareSection
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby PoincareSection » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:25 am

mhazelm wrote:I know people here in Utah (not in physics) who refuse to believe that the dinosaurs existed because it "clashes" with their beliefs. Some of these people claim that the fossils collected are all part of a grand hoax (though this is a small group of people, I think).

.*

I hope we go to the same grad school and meet one day so we can swap stories about mormons and uber-fundamentalist catholic school and insane, abusive nuns. :)

My love of physics partially stemmed from my disdain of religion, so I don't see how one can be both religious and scientific.

arfken
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby arfken » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:27 pm

excel wrote:
arfken wrote:...you can get "arrogant" with what you know and debate with people about the existence of God.
=)


I agree. Personally, I think it is futile to debate this point because religious beliefs are not in the domain of reasoning at the level of scientific rigour, but rather :

arfken wrote:belief in God is by faith...


By this very point, I would also say that it is no less arrogant of religious people to debate with atheists, agnostics, and religious people of different beliefs that God does exist and do/ did things as per their religious text. I also find it arrogant of some religious people to assume an air of superiority over non-believers because they have faith and non-believers dont.

If one believes in a certain God, very well, that is his or her personal belief. But, s/he should have humility enough to understand that his or her belief is not supported by reasoning at a level of rigor that it should be necessarily accepted by others.


I agree. We are all entitled to our own beliefs and the only reaction we can give to people of other belief system is tolerance and respect. We shouldn't force others to follow suit with what we want to believe in because all of us have our own choices. We have free will. Besides, the validity of the claims of science in its own context is independent of the person who discovered it. With this in mind, my answer to the foremost question is:
A person practicing religion can still engage in science.

P.S. (things that are off topic)
1. I must apologize for using the term "arrogant" for lack of a more appropriate word from my limited english vocabulary.
2. Let us also distinguish between people who are ultra religious and those who are not. I kinda hate people who FORCE others to accept their beliefs including very religious people and even atheists.

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coreycwgriffin
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby coreycwgriffin » Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:38 pm

If any of you are interested, one of my physics professors here wrote http://www.amazon.com/Sky-Not-Ceiling-A ... 180&sr=8-1

It's not a bad (quick) read, but you might not find it as interesting as I did, since she's actually one of my professors, and it's more autobiography than anything else.

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naseermk
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby naseermk » Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:08 pm

A good example of an extremely religious Physicist is Prof. Abdus Salam (Nobel Prize for theory of ew interactions).
He was an extremely devout Muslim(I know this from a person who worked with him).

Note:There is no contradiction between Qur'an and Science. On the contrary, Qur'an has predicted science very well [expansion of the universe, black holes etc].

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naseermk
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby naseermk » Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:11 pm

Helio wrote:
dlenmn wrote: In general, I have to say that yes there are physicist who are religious, one might call them hypocrites, but to be religions in this day and age you have to be a hypocrite. Let the slaying of my opinion begin.


Are you referring to Christianity when you say 'religions'? You mentioned that someone once told you that you will end up in hell. Now you yourself are going to the other extreme - comments based your whims.

excel
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby excel » Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:13 pm

arfken wrote:We are all entitled to our own beliefs and the only reaction we can give to people of other belief system is tolerance and respect. We shouldn't force others to follow suit with what we want to believe in because all of us have our own choices. We have free will. Besides, the validity of the claims of science in its own context is independent of the person who discovered it. With this in mind, my answer to the foremost question is:
A person practicing religion can still engage in science.


arfken, I totally agree with you on this. And, as dlenmn has already pointed out with the example of Prof. Salam, there does exist evidence to support the idea of a succesful religious-minded scientist.

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metric
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby metric » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:00 pm

arfken wrote:Science is just an inductive model that we use to describe the world. Meaning all our predictions, including well established theories and laws, are just based on mere probabilities that they will still hold the moment we test them. Therefore, no scientific theory, no matter how verified, can ever hold to be an absolute truth.

Conclusion: Philosophically speaking, a person praticing science can still engage in religion.


Yep, I totally agree. This discussion belongs to the realm on philosophy. God is a metaphysical being and then any argument applied to God would be meta-physical (beyond the physical experience) and could not be tested or disproved by any scientific theory, so the link between science and religion should be a philosophical one. A person with a clear philosophical stance in life (not me, certainly) would see no conflicts between the notion of a God (philosophically speaking) and the notion of science. Now, if you want people to believe in the dogma (e.g. that God is One and is Three in catholic dogma) then I think that the chances for making peace with your mind get slimmer. There's another chance: that you don't ever question your belief' system to great depth, so you could carry on with your life comfortably (I think this is the default choice to many.)

We can not rule out God or any other ontological argument (like solipsism for instance) based on scientific analysis only.
Vicente is right about the incorrect order of photosynthesis and light creation, but given an allmighty God, he could have created the physical Universe even 5 minutes ago, but with a fake, elaborated past (meaning that the fossils of dinosaurs in the museums are as fresh as the lettuce in your fridge), this idea (from Bertrand Russell) can't be ruled out either by experiment or from notions we have gathered from the observation of the physical world.
As arfken said, this has nothing to do with the fact that we don't still have an ultimate theory for everything, such theory cannot be proved to be "true" either, due to the problems that arise from Gödel incompleteness theorem (check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gödel's_incompleteness_theorem.)

Having said this, I do think there is an astronomical universe outside of my conscience and I don't think there's a God. There could be one but its existence, in my PERSONAL theology, would be irrelevant. Esse est percipi.


Edit: I know... I'm a crackpot... :P

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dlenmn
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby dlenmn » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:33 pm

vicente,

Wisconsin is treating me well. It's even non-trivially above freezing! I just need to get a research group and I'll be good to go... How are you doing?

This thread is addressing a more general physics versus religion debate, but back to your original question.... For those who don't know, Bob Jones University is extraordinarily fundamentalist and conservative. For example, they didn't allow interracial dating among students until the year 2000 (yes, 9 years ago.) because they believe(d) the bible forbids such things (don't know where they got that from, any ideas? The bible does have all matter of silly things in it. How does such a change in belief occur? What does it say about the other beliefs they hold if they can be abandoned?) How could someone attend such a place (and presumably believe such things) and then become a physicists? Who knows. It's amazing. Perhaps he changed his views.

As for the more general debate, I certainly understand how one could relegate* religion to "spiritual matters", let science handle the rest, and become a good physicist (I know several). However, I can't help but feel that such people are missing one of the great lessons of science -- that we should be comfortable admitting our uncertainty and ignorance and do so** (historically, science appears to have been a series of approximations of an unknown truth). I think it's silly to at one moment admit ignorance as to the internal structure of the electron, and then at the next moment claim absolute knowledge of what will happen after you die (or how you should behave, or any number of other religious claims). People often turn to religion for answers to such questions. I think a scientist should be comfortable not knowing the answers. Just admit ignorance and leave it at that.

* And I do mean relegate. Most religions have made demonstrably false claims, and so being religious and a scientist means abandoning those and falling back to unprovable claims. As an aside, if the region got the testable statements wrong, I don't understand putting so much stock in the untestable statements.

** I'm not perfect about this, but I do so in person more than on a forum...

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dlenmn
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby dlenmn » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:47 pm

naseermk wrote:There is no contradiction between Qur'an and Science. On the contrary, Qur'an has predicted science very well [expansion of the universe, black holes etc].


Do you mean that there are absolutely zero cases where the Qur'an claims something that is demonstrably false, or just that many recent scientific theories fit in well with the Qur'an? What do you mean by "predicted science"? Is this the same way that Nostradamus predicted 9/11? (He wrote so much abstract stuff that a "correct" interpretation can find almost any event in his writing.)

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby quizivex » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:46 am

When the subject came up of Utah came up, it reminded me how different things are at different areas of the country.

For instance, I never paid attention to or cared about politics growing up, but it seemed like the area I live in... middle class suburbs of Philly, was politically moderate... half and half. I went to undergrad in Philly, and the students and neighborhood were so overwhelmingly liberal that it drove me nuts. It seemed everyone was obsessed with Kerry (and later, Obama) that I had a hard time believing that anyone in this country was in favor of Bush or later, McCain... I couldn't comprehend how the popular vote in the elections was so close to 50-50. But supposedly if you head south or west, things shift right wing quickly.

Same goes with religion. The majority of people I knew in HS and college were athiest/agnostic, so it seemed to me like religion will finally die out within a few generations. But then go to a place like Utah, and everyone's a fanatical evangelist.

Most kids are told from a young age about God as if it's fact... they're never told that the Christian god is one of many "opinions". It's hard to give up ingrained "facts" later in life even when a little thought suggests they're nonsense.

When we're young, we naturally believe anything we're told. My parents told me when I was young not to eat the little berries in the tree in our yard cuz I'd DIE if I did... they told me not to play with my dick or it'd fall off etc... Obviously that's not true, but it's easier to get a kid to listen if he's terrified of the consequences. It worked well in my case...

I think it's funny how religious people always hide behind technicalities.
"But you can't prove God doesn't exist."
(yeah... imagine how long marriages would last if the wife accused the husband of cheating on her every time he came back from work... "But can you prove you were at work the whole past 8 hours? NO? ok I'm leaving you...")

I remember one of the routine questions they ask when you give blood is "What was your birth gender?" I said male of course... Imagine if they responded like this:
"Can you prove it?"
Well, um, uh, how... my birth certificate? testimonies from my parents? no surgical scars?
"That's not a proof! Evidence can be faked. Get the *** out of here, you transexual beast...")

"We humans are stupid, dirty sinners who can never understand God or his plans." (Yeah, you create all these ludicrous stories, and then shoot down the rest of us who find inconsistnacies with them by saying we're too stupid to understand... Brilliant. Sure we'll never understand why God let thousands of jewish babies get used as target practice during the Holocaust. It was all part of his divine plan. Oh wait what Holocaust? Your bishop says that never happened?)

"God put dinosaur fossils in the Earth when he made it in 6 days..."
(Um... yeah he did it just to throw off us lost scientists who try to make sense of the universe. He must laugh so hard when we spend hours in 100 degree heat digging up a T-rex jaw bone.)

I also was confused that several of my favorite profs were openly religious. One was a devout muslim, and he'd actually teach his physics class (intro physics for non-majors) that science and religion are separate domains and people should not attempt to consolidate them. He even put that opinion as a question on his midterm too!!

Another of my profs would often make references to "God" in class. He'd say things like, "F=ma is not something you derive. It's just an experimental fact. God made it this way, and we simply accept it as a fact after many experimental tests. We then derive further consequences of F=ma and apply it to practical matters." It kindof made me shake my head. I didn't understand how someone at that level of intellect and that type of commitment to science could believe in God.

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby nathan12343 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:27 am

quizivex wrote:Another of my profs would often make references to "God" in class. He'd say things like, "F=ma is not something you derive. It's just an experimental fact. God made it this way, and we simply accept it as a fact after many experimental tests. We then derive further consequences of F=ma and apply it to practical matters." It kindof made me shake my head. I didn't understand how someone at that level of intellect and that type of commitment to science could believe in God.



Do you think he might have been talking about God as Einstein did? Not as the judeo-christian deity, but as a representation of order in the physical world.

Albert Einstein wrote:Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby xudis149 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:29 am

quizivex wrote:I also was confused that several of my favorite profs were openly religious. One was a devout muslim, and he'd actually teach his physics class (intro physics for non-majors) that science and religion are separate domains and people should not attempt to consolidate them. He even put that opinion as a question on his midterm too!!


Tao of Physics is a very interesting book trying to draw links between theoretical physics and the Mysticism in religions [in particular the eastern religions of Tao, Buddhism, Hinduism].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tao_of_Physics

It is easy for physicists to be wary of religion, for it seems to them that religion defies logic. And similar sentiments are held by religious people about physicists. It is not necessary to try to consolidate these different aspects of understanding this creation. Religion is the approach of heart [surrendering to a divine power] and physics is the approach of intellect [not believing without rigorous proofs and evidences]. It is hard for them to meet, but both of them are complementary and many a times I feel both of them are talking essentially the same. Though I have no evidence for that :?

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twistor
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby twistor » Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:49 am

There's no *** god. Can we move on now?

excel
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby excel » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:03 am

quizivex wrote:I remember one of the routine questions they ask when you give blood is "What was your birth gender?" I said male of course... Imagine if they responded like this:
"Can you prove it?"
Well, um, uh, how... my birth certificate? testimonies from my parents? no surgical scars?
"That's not a proof! Evidence can be faked. Get the *** out of here, you transexual beast...")



Funny. This is how several fundamentalist religious people defend their notions. To them, their faith is axiomatic

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby grae313 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:58 pm

twistor wrote:There's no *** god. Can we move on now?


amen!

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naseermk
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby naseermk » Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:27 pm

dlenmn wrote:
Do you mean that there are absolutely zero cases where the Qur'an claims something that is demonstrably false, or just that many recent scientific theories fit in well with the Qur'an? What do you mean by "predicted science"? Is this the same way that Nostradamus predicted 9/11? (He wrote so much abstract stuff that a "correct" interpretation can find almost any event in his writing.)


I mean that there are absolutely no cases in which Qur'an claims anything that has been proved to be wrong. Qur'an claims that Christianity is a true religion but just that Bible was not preserved in its original form and many 'human' ideas were introduced into the Bible as it was passed down by word of mouth for nearly a century after the death of Jesus.

I am not speaking just in terms of 'Nostradamus' type predictions. For instance:

And the heaven We built with Our own powers (aydin) and indeed We go on expanding it (Ch51 vs. 48)

Then We fashioned the sperm into a clot; then We fashioned the clot into a shapeless lump; then We fashioned bones out of this shapeless lump; then We clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed it into another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators. [Ch 23 Vs 14].

More details can be seen here: http://www.alislam.org/library/books/re ... index.html

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metric
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby metric » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:35 pm

naseermk wrote:
dlenmn wrote:
Do you mean that there are absolutely zero cases where the Qur'an claims something that is demonstrably false, or just that many recent scientific theories fit in well with the Qur'an? What do you mean by "predicted science"? Is this the same way that Nostradamus predicted 9/11? (He wrote so much abstract stuff that a "correct" interpretation can find almost any event in his writing.)


I mean that there are absolutely no cases in which Qur'an claims anything that has been proved to be wrong. Qur'an claims that Christianity is a true religion but just that Bible was not preserved in its original form and many 'human' ideas were introduced into the Bible as it was passed down by word of mouth for nearly a century after the death of Jesus.

I am not speaking just in terms of 'Nostradamus' type predictions. For instance:

And the heaven We built with Our own powers (aydin) and indeed We go on expanding it (Ch51 vs. 48)

Then We fashioned the sperm into a clot; then We fashioned the clot into a shapeless lump; then We fashioned bones out of this shapeless lump; then We clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed it into another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators. [Ch 23 Vs 14].

More details can be seen here: http://www.alislam.org/library/books/re ... index.html


Hey there, I don't mean to offend you naseermk, but this is a perfect example of taking religion too far into physics. I can't support the idea that some dude in the IX century already knew about Newtonian mechanics just because he happened to use the letters "F", "m" and "a" in his writings. I know that for Muslims there's a big difference between the Bible and the Quran as the Quran is considered to be untouched by human writers, and it's one of Allah's attributes, but I can't believe (and actually, I can't believe that some other person could believe) that the Big Bang theory is implied in its content, sorry. It reminded me of this post

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naseermk
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby naseermk » Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:21 pm

Metric,

It's not about 'taking religion too far into Physics.' In my case, religion is the reason why I am hoping to be a Physicist. In the Qur'an, God instructs Muslims to ponder over His creation and that is what I hope to achieve by following a career in Physics besides of course the honor Islam bestows upon the those who seek knowledge and seek to disseminate it.

Having said this, if you look at the Islamic world today we're in a state of disarray. However, if you look upon the middle ages, Islamic civilizations were at the forefront of scientific research/knowledge. See this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7810846.stm
Nowadays, Westerns civilizations tend to ignore the contributions that Islam has made to humankind which is not in anyway made better by extremists who distort Islam while claiming to follow it.

Talking about Big Bang there is a direct reference in the Qur'an where it is stated that the 'Universe was a closed up mass and that God cleaved it open.' To come to the point, I take the Qur'an as a source of worldly as well as spiritual wisdom and I hope that I'll always look upon it as a source of guidance/light :D

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby twistor » Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:30 pm

It's obvious to anyone who has spent even 5 minutes pondering the question of religion that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the one and only true god.

All hail his noodly appendage.

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby PoincareSection » Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:31 pm

I wish this thread would go away...

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Helio
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby Helio » Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:39 pm

i wish we could all just be like the Ancient Greeks

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twistor
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby twistor » Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:40 pm

Maybe if we pray to god it will vanish...

Praying...

Praying...

***.

Maybe I didn't pray to the right god? I'll just loop through them all....

Still nothing.

Am I doing something wrong?

Quick hierarchy of gods:

Flying Spaghetti Monster > Beatles > Jesus = Allah = Buddha = Kali = David Koresh = L. Ron Hubbard = Great Pumpkin = ...

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby dlenmn » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:47 pm

I'll make this my last post on this thread. naseermk, enjoy the last word.

It's my understanding that the Quran is only valid in Arabic, but I don't know Arabic, so I'm stuck with translations. That said, people with more knowledge than me have already addressed your points, so I'll link to and quote them.

naseermk wrote:I mean that there are absolutely no cases in which Qur'an claims anything that has been proved to be wrong.


Let's examine:

Surah 16:79 Yusuf Ali wrote:Do they not look at the birds, held poised in the midst of (the air and) the sky?
Nothing holds them up but (the power of) God.
Verily in this are signs for those who believe.
source

Now, you could argue that physics is the power of god, that's holding up the bird, etc. But that would not be in line with your other fairly literal interpretations. I'm sure a little google action would turn up more examples (such as the biology your mention later).

naseermk wrote:And the heaven We built with Our own powers (aydin) and indeed We go on expanding it (Ch51 vs. 48)


I'll take responses 1 and 3 (you've got 2 covered).

naseermk wrote:Then We fashioned the sperm into a clot; then We fashioned the clot into a shapeless lump; then We fashioned bones out of this shapeless lump; then We clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed it into another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators. [Ch 23 Vs 14].


Yes, the description of biology in the Quran has some things right. This is isn't too surprsing since they were going off preexisting Greek knowledge (and the Greeks had some things right).

The embryology expressed by the Qur'an follows the Greek knowledge of embryology prevalent at the time. The Qur'an refers to nutfah, which translates as "semen" and does not refer to both sperm and eggs as Moore proposes. Sura 86:6 says that the fluid issues from between the loins and ribs, not, as we know today, from the testicles. This reflects a mistaken view of Hippocrates, common in the 5th century, that semen comes from all the fluid of the body and passes through the kidneys on the way to the penis. Sura 23:12-14 says God created man from "wet earth, then placed him as (a drop of) sperm (nutfah) in a safe lodging; then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood (alaqa); then out of that clot We made a (foetus) lump (mudghah), then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature." This account directly follows the four stages described by the Greek physician Galen, writing around 150 AD. The accuracies and inaccuracies both reflect Greek ideas of the time.
source

Is the Quran really without any scientific errors?

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby xudis149 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:22 pm

twistor wrote:Maybe if we pray to god it will vanish...

Am I doing something wrong?

Quick hierarchy of gods:

Flying Spaghetti Monster > Beatles > Jesus = Allah = Buddha = Kali = David Koresh = L. Ron Hubbard = Great Pumpkin = ...


Did you close your eyes?

If it still doesn't works, maybe pray to garden..

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby vicente » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:38 pm

This thread has strayed from what I originally intended.
The original intent was to see if you thought it was possible for physicists to believe religions that make falsifiable claims.

There is no contradiction in believing that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammed was his prophet.

There is no contradiction in believing that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

There is no contradiction with being really devout and praying five times a day and keeping halal or kosher.

However if a holy book makes a statement that could conceivably be proven wrong with science, even if not presently practical, for example, a teapot between the Earth and Mars, is it still logical to believe it?

Is it possible to be a physicist and believe that the Earth was created less than 10000 years ago?

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twistor
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby twistor » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:08 pm

It's not possible for anyone to believe that and claim to be a scientist. It's not even possible for anyone to believe that and claim to be sensible.

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Helio
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby Helio » Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:28 am

vicente wrote:There is no contradiction in believing that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammed was his prophet.


God is Allah and Allah is God if you go by the judeo-christian definition

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby PoincareSection » Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:47 am

Well, I do believe in one thing:

Image


:twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

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twistor
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby twistor » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:23 am

Helio wrote:
vicente wrote:There is no contradiction in believing that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammed was his prophet.


God is Allah and Allah is God if you go by the judeo-christian definition


You misunderstand. He is saying "no god except Allah...", not "no god, but Allah..."

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twistor
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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby twistor » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:32 am

[quote="PoincareSection"]Well, I do believe in one thing:

Image


I can't get into heavy metal. The shitty singing, pathetic lyrics, immature fans wearing skulls and dog collars, and lack of melody somehow don't appeal to me.

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby grae313 » Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:27 am

twistor wrote:It's obvious to anyone who has spent even 5 minutes pondering the question of religion that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the one and only true god.

All hail his noodly appendage.


enough said

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Re: Physicists and religion

Postby grae313 » Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:29 am

grae313 wrote:enough said


Oops, I made a mistake. Now, enough said




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