Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think

By Elaine Howard Ecklund | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
The Voice of Science

Physics is Arik’s1 lifework. He knew at age 13 that he wanted to be a physicist; even then, he found himself drawn to scientists and their stories, particularly the life of Einstein. Arik’s tone was easygoing and friendly, but when the discussion turned to religion, he became passionate. Arik truly believes that religion should not exist. He was raised Jewish and has abandoned Judaism in any formal sense over what he views as its meaningless rituals and anti-intellectualism. He describes religion as a form of “intellectual terrorism.” The only time Arik turned to Judaism was when his children were young; he joined a liberal temple for a little while to give them cultural education about their heritage. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, however, Arik left Judaism for good, even more convinced that religion in any form has the potential to lead to violence. He did not want to associate with any group based on “supernaturalism.” Arik has not raised his children religiously since he left the temple, and he remarked proudly that his “children have been thoroughly and successfully indoctrinated to believe as [he does] that belief in God is a form of mental weakness.”

To Arik, religion opposes science; it’s a tool to wield power over those who are not intelligent enough to know better. As we talked, Arik often applied the metaphor of a virus to describe religion or faith. As a child, he was “infected” by religion, but now he is “immune.” He believes that this view is shared by other scientists who are all “just astonished at this sort of viral nature of faith-based thinking [which] only exists because parents infect their children and then there’s a new generation and they go on to infect more.”

In contrast, science holds almost a magical quality for Arik. He and his colleagues view science as a “dear product of human minds and marvel frequently at how astonishing it is that this collection of atoms and molecules that constitute the human body has managed to figure out such a vast level of understanding of the natural world.” He is “furious” that others do not understand

-13-

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