It is generally believed that most of the scientists do not believe in God. Is belief in the existence of God irrational? These days, many famous scientists are also strong proponents of atheism. However, in the past, and even today, many scientists believe that God exists and is responsible for what we see in nature. This is a small sampling of scientists who contributed to the development of modern science while believing in God. Although many people believe in a "God of the gaps", these scientists, and still others alive today, believe because of the evidence. Here are some examples:
Arthur Compton (1892 – 1962) Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), 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."
Max Planck, the world famous scientist of the twentieth century, who did fundamental work in understanding the atom, and who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1920 regarded both religion and science to be mutual helpers in leading us to Almighty God. He says:
‘Religion and Natural Science are fighting a joint battle in an incessant, never-relaxing crusade against scepticism, against dogmatism and against super-stition, and the rallying cry in this crusade has always been, and always will be: On to God.’ (Evidence p.247)
Dr. George Earl Davis, Physicist, University of Minnesota, USA writes:
‘That atheism exists in scientific circles is undeniable. But the popular belief that atheism is more prevalent among scientists than among the unscientific has never been proved and is, in fact, contrary to the expressions gained at first hand by many of the scientists themselves.’ (Evidence p.70)
Dr H. T. Stetson who was the Director of Perkins Observatory, Ohio, USA, wrote:
‘It is not without significance that many of the eminent men of sciences, have been devout followers of religion. Among such may be mentioned Galileo, Newton, Faraday, Kelvin and Pasteur.’ (Man and the Stars – by H.T.Stetson p.214 Mc Grow Hill 1930)
The American scientist, Dr. Harry L. Shipman, of the University of Delaware, concludes his book on Black Holes, Quarks and the Universe with the following words:
‘The Big Bang Theory leaves one unanswered question. Who created the material that exploded as Big Bang? For this the astronomer has no answer. We may be able to look back to the early seconds of the evolution of the universe, but our vision stops there. This book ends by leaving the problem of creation to the philosopher and the theologian.’
(Black Holes, Quasars and the Universe by Harry L. Shipman, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, USA 1976, p.288)
Dr. Edwin Luther Kessel, Professor of Biology, University of San Francisco, has made the following illuminating comment:
‘If only all scientists would consider the evidence of science here described with the same honesty and lack of prejudice with which they evaluate the results of their own research; if only they would let their intellects rule their emotions; they would be compelled to acknowledge that there is a God. This is the only conclusion that will fit the facts. To study science with an open mind will bring one to the necessity of a First Cause, whom we call God.’ (Evidence p.52)
Chemistry also opposes the view that our universe existed from eternity. Dr. John Cleveland Cothram, Professor of Chemistry, writes:
‘Chemistry discloses that matter is ceasing to exist, some varieties exceedingly slowly, others exceedingly swiftly. Therefore, the existence of matter is not eternal. Consequently matter must have a beginning.’ (Evidence p.41)
The presence of radioactive elements in the universe also indicates that the universe is not eternal. Dr. Donald Robert Carr, Geochemist, writes:
‘In a universe which had no beginning but had always existed, no radioactive elements would remain.’ (Evidence p.134)
In short, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and geology are all unanimous in rejecting the view that the universe had no beginning.
Concerning the origin of the universe, what is the view of those scientists who do not believe in God? In his book entitled The Fascinating Astronomy, Dr. V. N. Komorov, gives the following quotation from Academician Pyotr Fedoseyev, a leading Soviet philosopher:
‘A material philosophy does not recognise the idea of the creation of the physical world by consciousness, by a supreme being. If we agree that the universe being studied today originated 20 billion years ago, then it is important, from a philosophical point of view, to acknowledge the objective nature of this process as a cosmic stage in the self-evolution of matter. It is the task of concrete science to understand and describe this process in physical terms. It is possible to conceive of the existence of many universes with a complex topology. It is sensible therefore, to distinguish between the notion of the natural scientist, which defines the knowledge we have amassed by now, and the philosophical notion of the material world, which includes in a concealed form all the future achievements of natural science in their study of the universe.’ (The Fascinating Astronomy, English Translation, Mir Publishers Moscow, 1985, p.137)
It is clear from this quotation that those who deny God as creator of the universe do not have any scientific proof in support of their view. They do not know from where the earliest material came into existence and merely hope, on account of their philosophical outlook, that the science of the future will provide the answer. Even if the science of the future were to discover the source of the initial material, those who believe in God would then question: what is the origin of that source?
It is apparent, therefore, that the views presented by science support the view of a created universe as described by Islam.
Did the Universe Come into Existence by Chance or Design?
Sir Isaac Newton is regarded as the greatest of all the scientists that the world has produced. According to him the universe could not be explained without belief in God. He says:
‘This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.’ (Our Solar system and the Stellar Universe, by Charles Whyte, p.131 Charles Griffin & Co. Ltd. London 1923)
At the time of Newton, the study of the laws of nature was called ‘Natural Philosophy.’ According to Newton, the inference of the existence of God from the study of the universe, was within the realm of ‘Natural Philosophy.’ But later on, when knowledge was divided into various disciplines, the domain of the scientist was limited to the study of the material things and the problem whether God exists or not, was considered outside the real precincts of science. Nevertheless in the twentieth century, scientists have expressed their views about God.
Dr. Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century. Dr. Infeld, who had the opportunity of working with him, wrote about Einstein as follows:
‘When he had a new idea he asked himself: Could God have created the world in this way? Or is this mathematical structure worthy of God?’ (Quest, by Leopold Infeld, p.212)
Enraptured by the beauty and grandeur of the universe and the profound wisdom which underlies it, Dr. Einstein says:
‘The most beautiful and the most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emo-tion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms of this knowledge, this feeling is at the centre of true religiousness.’
He further says:
‘My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.’ (The Universe and Dr. Einstein, by Lincoln Barnett, p.118, Mentor 1950)
Professor Edwin Conklin, famous biologist of the Princeton University says:
‘The probability of life originating from accident is comparable to the probability of the unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in a printing shop. (Evidence p.174)
Supporting this view, Dr. Edmund Carl Kornfeld, a research chemist, says:
I subscribe to that statement unreservedly. It is my firm conviction that there is a God, and that He planned, created and sustains the universe. (Evidence p.174)
In the light of his knowledge of chemistry, he expresses his views as follows:
‘We will admit that we must believe in a supreme creative intelligence in Nature, or as the only alternative to this we must believe that the universe as we find it has come about as the result of chance, and chance alone. To one who has seen marvellous complexity and yet the pervading order in organic chemistry – especially that in living systems – the idea of chance is repugnant to the extreme. The more one studies the science of molecular structure and interrelation, the more one is convinced of the necessity of a planner and designer of it all. The simplest man-made mechanism requires a planner and a maker. How a mechanism ten thousand times more involved and intricate can be conceived of as self-constructed and self-developed is completely beyond me.’ (Evidence p.176)
Scientists strive to discover the laws of nature. The very fact that laws exist shows that there is a Maker of laws.
Dr. John Cleveland Corthren, professor of Chemistry, University of Minnesota, writes:
‘The study of matter and energy consistently has shown in the past and still continues to show that the behaviour of even insensible matter is not at all haphazard but on the contrary ‘obeys’ definite natural laws.’ (Evidence p.38)
He further says:
‘Can any informed and reasoning intellect possibly believe that insensible matter just chanced to originate itself and all this system, then chanced to impose this system upon itself, where-after this system just chances to remain imposed? Surely, the answer is “No”.’ (Evidence p.41)
Dr. Frank Allen, Professor of Biophysics, University of Manitoba, Canada, has drawn attention to the same point in his essay entitled; ‘The Origin of the World – by Chance or Design?’ He has drawn attention to the properties of water in support of the view that God exists. He says:
‘Four remarkable properties of water: its power of absorbing vast quantities of oxygen at low temperatures, its maximum density at 4 degrees C above freezing whereby lakes and rivers remain in liquid, the lesser density of ice than water so that it remains on the surface, and the power of releasing great quantities of heat as it freezes, preserve life in oceans, lakes and rivers throughout the long winters.’ (Evidence p.21)
Likewise another scientist, Dr. Thomas Davis Parks, an expert in chemistry, says:
‘Water is the only known substance which becomes lighter as it freezes. This is tremendously important to life.’ (Evidence p.75)
Dr. Irving William Knobloch, professor of Natural Sciences, Michigan State University, USA says:
‘I believe in God…because I do not think that the mere chance could account for the emergence of the first electrons or protons, or for the first atoms, or for the first amino acids, or for the first protoplasm, or for the first seed, or for the first brain. I believe in God, because to me His Divine Existence is the only logical explanation for the things as they are.’ (Evidence p.89)
If we do not accept that this universe has been created by a Supreme Being Who possesses knowledge and wisdom, we will have to believe that lifeless particles are considerably more intelligent than us since through their mutual interaction and co-operation, the sun and the moon, the mountains and the oceans, could be formed but we human beings even by collaborating with one another in this age of advanced science are yet incapable of making even a leg of an insect.
When the Professor Abdus Salam, who won the Nobel prize in physics in 1979, visited India in 1981, the Illustrated Weekly of India, in its issue of February 1-7,1981), described him as a ‘Nobel Laureate with profound faith in God. Referring to the verses of the Holy Qur’an just quoted, he says:
‘This in effect is the faith of all physicists, the faith which fires and sustains us, the deeper we seek, the more is our wonder excited the more is the dazzlement for gaze.’ (Review of Religions Vol.76, p.139 June 1981)
The Nobel Laureate Professor S. Chandrashekhar, one of the topmost astrophysicists, has expressed his views on nature as follows:
‘Nature has shown over and over again that the kinds of truths which underlie nature transcend the most powerful minds. I think that one could say that a certain modesty toward understanding nature is a precondition to the continued pursuit of science.’ (Span, February 1953)
Through science to the Almighty
Dr. Albert McCombs Winchester, an expert in biology, has expressed his views as follows:
‘…after many years of study and work in the fields of science, my faith in God, rather than being shaken, has become much stronger and acquired a firmer foundation than heretofore. Science brings about an insight into majesty and omnipotence of the Supreme Being which grows stronger with each discovery.’ (Evidence p.165)
When the great scientist Galileo looked through the telescope and discovered multitudes of new stars in the Milky Way, the four moons of the planet Jupiter, the phases of the planet Venus, the details of the moon and other celestial phenomena, he wrote as follows:
‘I am quite beside myself with wonder and infinitely grateful to God that it has pleased Him to permit me to discover such great marvels. (The Growth of Physical Science by Sir James Jeans p.173, Cambridge 1951)
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan of the Islamic Centre, Delhi, has written a book entitled God Arises in which he has collected the evidence of science and the sayings of the scientists on the existence of the Almighty God. He has narrated an inspiring incident in this book, which I shall relate. Allama Inayatullah Mashriqi had visited England in the year 1909. On a Sunday when it was raining hard, he met Sir James Jeans, the famous astronomer of the Cambridge University, going to a church with a Bible clutched under his arm. Mr Inayatullah Khan expressed his astonishment that a person of such a universal fame like him was going to pray in a church. Sir James Jeans asked Mr Inayatullah Khan to come to his house and have tea with him in the evening. Accordingly, Mr Inayatullah Khan went to his house in the evening.
Sir James Jeans was lost in his thoughts; he asked: What was your question? But without waiting for an answer, he gave an inspiring description of the creation of the celestial bodies, their motions and the astonishing order to which they adhere. His voice and his movements clearly showed that he was deeply impressed by the Power and Majesty of God. He said: You know, Inayatullah Khan, when I behold God’s marvellous feats of creation, my whole being trembles in awe at His majesty. When I go to church I bow my head and say, ‘Lord, how great you are,’ and not only my lips, but every particle of my body joins in uttering these words. I obtain incredible peace and joy from my prayer. Compared to others, I receive a thousand times more fulfilment from my prayers. So tell me, Inayatullah Khan, now do you understand why I go to Church?
Hearing this Mr Inayatullah Khan told Sir James Jeans that his words reminded him of a verse of the Holy Qur’an which he would like to quote if permitted. Sir James Jeans replied: Of course. Mr Inayatullah Khan then quoted the following verse:
…and among the mountains are streaks, white and red, of diverse hues and others raven black; and of men and beasts and cattle in a like manner there are of various colours. Only those of His servants who possess knowledge fear Allah… (Ch.35:Vs.28-29)
Sir James Jeans was deeply impressed by these words of the Holy Qur’an. He exclaimed:
What was that? It is those alone who have knowledge who fear God. Wonderful! How extraordinary! It has taken me fifty years of continual study and observation to realise this fact. Who taught it to (Hadhrat) Muhammad(saw)?Is this really in the Qur’an? If so, you can record my testimony that the Qur’an is an inspired Book. (Hadhrat) Muhammad(saw) was illiterate. He could not have learnt this immensely important fact on his own. God must have taught it to him. Incredible! How extraordinary!’
(‘God Arises’ by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, p.215, The Islamic Centre 1987, Published by: Maktaba Al Risala. C-29 Nizamuddin west, New Delhi – with reference to Nuqoosh Shakhsiyat, i.e. Impressions of Personalities – p.1208-1209)
The American mathematician and astronomer, Dr. Merlin Grant Smith, writes:
‘God could talk with man. Man could even talk with God. And the first great thing that God told man was that it was He Who had made him and the marvellous, limitless universe around him.’ (Evidence p. 150)
- Extracted form article by Malik Saifur Rahman, www.reviewofreligions.org
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