Alfred North Whitehead on some scientists…

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On 15 February 1861, Alfred N. Whitehead (1861–1947) was born in Ramsgate, GB.

Educated at University of Cambridge (BA, 1884/ScD, 1898), he was an important 20th century philosopher, physicist and mathematician who co-authored with his former student Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) the monumental text of formal predicate logic “Principia Mathematica” (1910–13), an effort later undermined by Gödel’s incompleteness theorems (1931).

He elaborated process philosophy, which had a particular influence, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, on how the relationship between God and nature was conceived, proposing an image of God as a “principle of concrescence” in a continually developing world.

“Scientists animated by the purpose of proving that they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study.”

Referenced:
“Alfred North Whitehead – The Influence of Western Medieval Culture Upon the Development of Modern Science.” Inters. org: Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Science & Religion.
Whitehead, Alfred North. The Function of Reason, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1929), 9.

 

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Bonhoeffer: God and scientific knowledge

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On 04 February 1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) was born in Breslau. He was a Lutheran pastor and theologian who opposed the Nazi regime and died on April 9, 1945 in the Flossenbürg concentration camp. He sought new ways of theological reflection in a secularized world in which God seems to remain in silence. He maintained that God should not be sought as an answer to the mysteries of man, or as a sort of stopgap that fills our gaps in knowing, or only encountered in terms of our existential needs. God is to be found, not in what we do not know, but in what we do know.

It has again brought home to me quite clearly how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know; God wants us to realize his presence, not in unsolved problems but in those that are solved.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letter to Eberhard Bethge on 29 May 1944

Arthur Stanley Eddington on atheists and scotsmen

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I could no more ram religious conviction into an atheist than I could ram a joke into a Scotchman. The only hope of ‘converting’ the latter is that through contact with merry-minded companions he may begin to realize that he is missing something in life which is worth attaining. Probably in the recesses of his solemn mind there exists inhibited the seed of humour, awaiting an awakening by such am impulse. The same advice would seem to apply to the propagation of religion; it has, I believe, the merit of being entirely orthodox advice.

Arthur S Eddington, (Britsch astrophysists) “The Nature of the Physical World”, 1935

 

Georges Lemaitre on the Christian scientist

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He (the Christian researcher) knows that not one thing in all creation has been done without God, but he knows also that God nowhere takes the place of his creatures.
Omnipresent divine activity is everywhere essentially hidden.
It never had to be a question of reducing the supreme Being to the rank of a scientific hypothesis.

George Lemaître, Astrophysicist and Catholic priest

Wittgenstein on God and the meaning of life

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On 08 July 1916, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s entry in his Notebooks 1914-1916 reads, “To believe in a God means to understand the question about the meaning of life. To believe in a God means to see that the facts of the world are not the end of the matter. To believe in God means to see that life has a meaning.”

An einen Gott glauben heißt, die Frage nach dem Sinn des Lebens verstehen. An einen Gott glauben, heißt sehen, dass es mit den Tatsachen der Welt noch nicht getan ist. An einen Gott glauben, heißt sehen, dass das Leben einen Sinn hat. – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tagebucheintrag 8. Juli 1916