Derek H. R. Barton: Establishing God as Truth


barton 2.pngOn 16 March 1998, Derek Harold Richard Barton (1918–1998) passed away in College Station, TX. Educated at Imperial College London (PhD, 1942), he was co-awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Odd Hassel (1897–1981) “for their contributions to the development of the concept of conformation and its application in chemistry.” He was also known for the reactions named the Barton reaction, Barton decarboxylation, Barton–McCombie deoxygenation and Barton–Zard synthesis.

The book Cosmos, Bios, Theos (Open Court, 1992) provides some of Prof Barton’s thoughts on theology.

When scientists make numerous repeatable experiments or observations, they establish truth. Religion seldom wishes to make experiments and the truth that is accepted is often divine intervention of God in the affairs of man. However, what is written is written by man, with the liability of human frailty. The observations and experiments of science are so wonderful that the truth that they establish can surely be accepted as another manifestation of God. God shows himself by allowing man to establish truth …

“There is evidence that at one point in time the universe that we observe today was compressed into a point which exploded. Why not? But the matter of the universe had an infinite existence before this happened and will have an infinite future. God may well choose to redistribute matter and energy from time to time.”

“As I have already stated, God is Truth. But does God really have anything to do with man? Certainly I cannot believe that God accepts only one religion, or one sect, as the only group authorized to speak for man. I would believe that God accepts all, even those who pretend not to believe. Morality and religion interact and much beneficial human behavior results from this interaction.”

Margenau, Henry, and Roy Abraham Varghese. Cosmos, Bios, Theos: Scientists Reflect on Science, God, and the Origins of the Universe, Life, and Homo Sapiens. (Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing, 1992), 145, 147.
Image modified from: ©


Arthur Holly Compton: We Need Faith & We Need Science


arthur holly compton1

On 15 March 1962, Arthur Holly Compton (1892–1962) passed away in Berkeley, CA. He was an American physicist who researched and taught at Wooster College, OH, University of Chicago, IL, Oak Ridge Laboratory, TN, the Hanford Engineering Center, WA, and Washington University in St. Louis, MO. He shared the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his discovery of the effect named after him” with Charles Thomson Rees Wilson (1869–1959) “for his method of making the paths of electrically charged particles visible by condensation of vapour.”

A devoted Christian from his youth, he wrote a number of articles about the shared ideas of science and religion:

—Compton, Arthur H. “Man’s Place in God’s World.” Mark Twain Quarterly (1937): 1-15.
—Compton, Arthur H. “We Need Faith.” The Phi Delta Kappan 28.4 (1946): 155-157.
—Compton, Arthur H. “God and the Atom.” American Magazine (1950).
—Compton, Arthur Holly. “Man’s Destiny in Eternity.” (1970).

His National Academy of Sciences biography made note that his family “believed deeply in the old saying ‘scientia et religio ex uno fonte,’” and a colleague at the University of Chicago said of him “Arthur Compton and God were daily companions.”

From the Chicago Daily News, April 12, 1936:


Alison, Samuel K. “Biographical Memoir: Arthur Holly Compton (1892-1962).” (Washington, DC: NAS Press, 1965), 81.
Rhodes, Richard. Making of the Atomic Bomb. (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2012), 363.
—Quoted in: White, Joe, and Nicholas Comninellis. Darwin’s Demise. (Green Forest, AZ: New Leaf Publishing, 2001), 174.
Images online: Commemorative stamp issued by the Republic of Guyana; RareNewspapers(dot)com

Stephen Hawking (1942–2018)



In memoriam of Stephen Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018).

At a conference at the Vatican in October 2008, Pope Benedict XVI and Stephen Hawking met, where the pope described science as the pursuit of knowledge about God’s creation.

The Pope stated: “There is no opposition between faith’s understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences.” The church accepts evolution as scientific theory. Defending proponents of theistic evolution, who see no reason why God could not have used an evolutionary process in forming the human species, the pope stated: “To ‘evolve’ literally means ‘to unroll a scroll’, that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists.”

At the conference, Hawking stated he was “not religious in the normal sense.” “I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science,” he said. “The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws.”

In an interview with the Guardian in 2011, Hawking was asked by the interviewer: “Is our existence all down to luck?… So here we are. What should we do?” The physicist responded: “We should seek the greatest value of our action.” When asked: “…What, if anything, do you fear about death?” Hawking responded: “I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”

On Wednesday morning (14 March), the Pontifical Academy of Sciences tweeted:hawking tweet 1.jpg

Following up with several remembrances:

hawking tweet 2

“Address of his Holiness Benedict XVI to Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the Occasion of their Plenary Assembly.” Clementine Hall Friday. 31 October 2008. © Copyright 2008 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Persio, Sophia Lotto. “Did Stephen Hawking Believe in God? What the Physicist Said about About the Creation of the Universe.” Newsweek. 14 March 2018.


Charles Herbert Best: Collaborative Effort


charles herbert best.jpg

On 27 February 1899, Charles Herbert Best (1899–1978) was born in West Pembroke, ME. He was an American-Canadian biologist who is considered one of the co-discoverers of insulin.

Prof. Best was made a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1955, the first Canadian to receive this honor.

“Charles Herbert Best had a sense of humour. He was awarded membership in the Papal Academy of Sciences. The parchment accompanying the gold medallion stated that henceforth Charles Herbert Best should be addressed ‘Your Excellency’ and he often quipped at home that he should be addressed by his full title. When giving lectures and talks to audiences which included a number of Roman Catholics he would say that the Holy Father, the Pope, was getting good advice on matters such as birth control from the nephew of an Anglican Bishop and the son-in-law of a Presbyterian Minister.

As a graduate student of Frederick Banting (1891–1941) at the University of Toronto, Best had read several papers by Oskar Minkowski (1858–1931), which inspired their own research isolating and characterizing insulin. Another historian also notes the importance of seeing this discovery as having been “done by members of a team”, which “depended on the conjoint efforts of several investigators” and which was a “collaborative investigation among diverse groups.”

Persson, Sheryl. Smallpox, Syphilis and Salvation: Medical Breakthroughs that Changed the World. (Wollombi, AU: Exisle Publishing, 2010), 210.
Ben-Menahem, Ari. Historical Encyclopedia of Natural and Mathematical Sciences. Vol. 1. (New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media, 2009), 2973.
Bliss, Michael. The Discovery of Insulin. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 198. Image: Frederick Banting (1891–1941) and Charles Herbert Best (1899–1978) in the Lab. (Posted at Pinterest(dot)com).


Glenn T. Seaborg: Unified Force of Scientific and Religious Teaching


On 25 February 1999, Glenn Theodore Seaborg (1912–1999) passed away in Lafayette, CA.

With Edwin M. McMillan (1907–1991), he was co-awarded the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for their discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements.” These elements discovered included plutonium (94), americium (95), curium (96), berkelium (97), californium (98), einsteinium (99), fermium (100), mendelevium (101), nobelium (102) and seaborgium (106). Prof. Seaborg is also credited with having discovered over 100 isotopes of different atoms.

A prolific researcher, he was the author of over 500 journal articles and numerous books. As Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission in Germantown, Maryland, he made a habit of making daily hikes through the nearby trails, of which one was later re-named in his honor the “Glenn Seaborg Trail” by the American Hiking Association.

The following is an excerpt of a speech, “Science, Technology, and the Citizen” (1969):

We would like to conclude on the broader note of the relationship of science and technology to man. Over the next few decades — before the end of this century — the human race will have to face and resolve challenges that may well determine the shape of its life for centuries to come, if not its very survival. There is no doubt that many of these challenges are a result of the rapid growth and cumulative effect of science and technology. There is also no doubt that they are bringing into direct confrontation what many men have tried to separate — fact and value. One aspect of this is that science and morality have been brought face to face. But what we believe will result from this confrontation, albeit after the period of anxiety and agony we seem to have entered, will ultimately be a united force to raise men to a new level of rationality and humanity.

“In short, all moral laws, all the religious teachings, all the poetic and philosophical writings that have exhorted us to recognize the brotherhood of man, that have urged us to understand and respect nature, to act justly and humanely toward our fellowman — all these are being made physical imperatives by the power of ‘neutral’, ‘amoral’ science. What I have been asked to speak on today— Science, Technology and the Citizen— is a subject that goes to the heart of this matter of human survival and progress because in a sense it is now the rate at which men can increase, assimilate and wisely apply knowledge that will determine our success or failure. If it seemed true before, today it is almost an absolute truth that ‘Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe’.”

“Glenn T. Seaborg.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation.
Seaborg, Glenn T. “Science, Technology, and the Citizen.” Vital Speeches of the Day (5 Oct 1969): 5.
Image: Time Magazine Cover (19 Nov 1961), artwork by Boris Chaliapin (1904–1979), © Time Warner.


Billy Graham on Faith and Science


Billy Graham, known as “America’s pastor”, passed away on 21 February 2018. Here at Science meets Faith, we share two of his testimonies on the interaction between faith and science.

The first comes from his book Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man (1997):

“I don’t think that there’s any conflict at all between science today and the Scriptures. I think that we have misinterpreted the Scriptures many times and we’ve tried to make the Scriptures say things they weren’t meant to say, I think that we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man. … whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship to God.

The second is a TEDtalk from 1998 titled “Technology, faith and human shortcomings” (February 1998):

“…How do we change man, so that he doesn’t lie and cheat and our newspapers are not filled with stories of fraud in business, or labor, or athletics, or wherever? The Bible says the problem is within us, within our hearts and our soul. Our problem is that we are separated from our Creator, which we call God… we need to have our souls restored…

“The British philosopher Bertrand Russell was not a religious man, but he said: ‘It’s in our hearts that the evil lies, and it’s from our hearts that it must be plucked out.’ Albert Einsteinmade this statement: ‘It’s easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.’ ….

“You’ve seen people take beneficial technological advances, such as the internet we’ve heard about tonight, and twist them into something corrupting. You’ve seen brilliant people devise computer viruses that bring down whole systems. The Oklahoma City bombing was simple technology, horribly used. The problem is not technology, the problem is the person or persons using it. King David said he ‘knew the depths of his own soul.’ … Yet King David sought God’s forgiveness and he said: ‘You can restore my soul.’ You see the Bible teaches that we’re more than a body and a mind, we are a soul. And there’s something inside of us that is beyond our understanding. That’s the part of us that yearns for God, or something more than we find in technology.”

Video source and transcript online.


G. H. Hardy: The Landscape of Mathematics


Godfrey Harold Hardy (7 February 1877 – 1 December 1947) was a mathematician who contributed to number theory and mathematical analysis. He was also instrumental in bringing attention to the work of Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887–1920), an Indian mathematician who compiled nearly 3,900 results in mathematical identities and equations, many original and others new derivations of previously known results. Their collaboration and friendship was recently the subject of  a film: “The Man Who Knew Infinity” (Warner Bros., IFC Films, 2015).

While Hardy had rejected his parents’ religion while an undergrad at Cambridge, he was recorded as having found some common ground with Ramanujan’s pantheistic beliefs:

“In 1914 Ramanujan arrived in England. So far as Hardy could detect (though in this respect I should not trust his insight far) Ramanujan, despite the difficulties of breaking the caste proscriptions, did not believe much in theological doctrine, except for a vague pantheistic benevolence, any more than Hardy did himself.

Later in life, he would also admit some of the strengths of the Christian religion.

“That lunch time, he had no leisure for eating: he was writing postcards (postcards and telegrams were his favourite means of communication) to each of his clerical friends. But in his war against God and God’s surrogates, victory was not all on one side. On a quiet and lovely May evening at Fenner’s, round about the same period, the chimes of six o’clock fell across the ground. ‘It’s rather unfortunate,’ said Hardy simply, ‘that some of the happiest hours of my life should have been spent within sound of a Roman Catholic church’.”

Some philosophical and theological reflections from his 1922 address to the British Association:

“A chair may be a collection of whirling atoms, or an idea in the mind of God. It is not my business to suggest that one account of it is obviously more plausible than the other. Whatever the merits of either of them may be, neither draws its inspiration from the suggestions of common-sense. Neither the philosophers, nor the physicists themselves, have ever put forward any very convincing account of what physical reality is, or of how the physicist passes, from the confused mass of fact or sensation with which he starts, to the construction of the objects which he classifies as real. We cannot be said, therefore, to know what the subject-matter of physics is; but this need not prevent us from understanding the task which a physicist is trying to perform. That, clearly, is to correlate the incoherent body of facts confronting him with some definite and orderly scheme of abstract relations, the kind of scheme, in short, which he can only borrow from mathematics.

“The function of a mathematician, then, is simply to observe the facts about his own hard and intricate system of reality, that astonishingly beautiful complex of logical relations which forms the subject-matter of his science, as if he were an explorer looking at a distant range of mountains, and to record the results of his observations in a series of maps, each of which is a branch of pure mathematics. Many of these maps have been completed, while in others, and these, naturally, the most interesting, there are vast uncharted regions. Some, it seems, have some relevance to the structure of the physical world, while others have no such tangible application. Among them there is perhaps none quite so fascinating, with quite the same astonishing contrasts of sharp outline and mysterious shade, as that which constitutes the theory of numbers.g.h. hardy 3

“The positive integers do not lie, like the logical foundations of mathematics, in the hardly visible distance, nor in the uncomfortably tangled foreground, like the immediate data of the physical world, but at a decent middle distance, where the outlines are clear and yet some element of mystery remains. There is no one so blind that he does not see them, and no one so sharp-sighted that his vision does not fail; they stand there a continual and inevitable challenge to the curiosity of every healthy mind. I have merely directed your attention for a moment to a few of the less immediately conspicuous features of the landscape, in the hope that I might sharpen your curiosity a little, and that some of you perhaps might feel tempted to walk a little nearer and take a rather closer view.”

—Hardy, Godfrey Harold. A Mathematician’s Apology. (Cambridge, GB: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 35, 21.
Hardy, Godfrey H. “The Theory of Numbers.” Nature 2759.110(1922): 381-385.
Image from the film: The Man Who Knew Infinity (Warner Bros., IFC Films, 2015).