The Faith of Scientists in Their Own Words

The Faith of Scientists in Their Own Words

The Faith of Scientists in Their Own Words

The Faith of Scientists in Their Own Words

Excerpt

No simple formula suffices for understanding the shifting relationship between science and religion over the last five hundred years in the West. From 1600 to the twenty-first century, in different times and places, science and religion have been constructed as overlapping, complementary, separated, fused, or conflicted. Contemporary discussions about science and religion tend to focus either on mapping different models of how they might relate or on proposing one model of how they should relate. Both tendencies risk reifying the problematic terms “science” and “religion” into abstractions without human or historical grounding. I have found that a good way of engaging the human and historical questions is to ask what scientists themselves have to say about God, religion, or the sacred. We know a remarkable amount these days about the faith of ordinary people; our bookstores and airwaves are clogged with testimonies to the resurgent strength and global reach of traditional forms of religious faith. But what of the faith of scientists? What have the giants and geniuses believed in the past? What kind of religious or antireligious faith do contemporary scientists express in the twenty-first century?

In this book, I try to present and interpret what scientists themselves say about their faith, their view of God, or what today is often called their spirituality. In twenty-one chapters, the volume brings together primary source documents from books, essays, speeches, letters, or interviews by scientists from the beginning of the scientific revolution in the West until the present. Each chapter . . .

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