How this Nobel winner balances physics and faith


In the article, I was particularly interested in the citing of Elaine Ecklund’s research about scientists and religious belief:

Rice University’s Ecklund says Strickland is not alone in her beliefs. Privately, many scientists say they believe in some form of deity or higher power: 51 percent of American scientists, according to a Pew Research Center poll in 2009. (By contrast, 95 percent of Americans as a whole have that belief.) Ecklund and her collaborators’ research found that more than half of scientists in India, Italy, Taiwan and Turkey identify themselves as religious.

“It’s not the case that [science and faith] have to be in conflict,” Ecklund says. “It’s that there are cultural expectations that scientists are not religious people, and then if one is a religious person you can start to feel that you have to fall under­neath the radar — sort of keep it on the down-low.”

I didn’t know that Strickland was religious. She does seem to have a sincere belief in God and a deep attachment to her church, and is a clear example of one of the 51% of scientists who believe in some deity or higher power. That being said, her views would not be considered evangelical:

The universe amazes her. A beach sunset. A crocus opening in the spring. “Call it Mother Earth or God or whatever,” she says. I press her. Is it Mother Earth? Is it God? “I’d probably call it God, ’cause it’s as good a word as any. But do I have my own image of God? I don’t think so. I just think it’s Creation itself or something. We’ve had the same energy since the Big Bang. Where did the energy come from? Don’t know. Want to wonder about that."

However, it’s not the quest for cosmic answers that keeps Strickland coming back to the pew — physics and faith are separate worlds to her. Nor is she here because she thinks God is a magical being who will grant her prayers with the flick of a wand. It’s not the allure of belonging to a church with a social justice mandate, although she’s happy that hers is an inclusive, big-hearted congregation. And she’s definitely not a Bible-thumper who wants to tell others how to conduct their lives. That’s why it’s immaterial to her whether her husband is Jewish or Christian or something else. She is simply not interested in a literal reading of the Bible. “I think the Bible was written by humans for the humans of their era,” she says.


What does it matter what “scientists” think relative to others? whats the point here? If its in a subject that touches on religion/science then, very few, it would only be whether some claimed conclusions contradict God/bible . This is the contention in origin subjects.
Once again the “scientist” is just saying they prove facts or proved conclusins and THEN how does this bump into God/genesis conclusions.
otherwise scientists are as relevant/irrelevant as the rest of the folks or rather they have no more reason to be noted what they think anymore then anyone.

Since our society today highly values science, highly accomplished scientists like Donna Strickland (and other examples like Feynman, Hawking, etc.) are held up as important figures and role models for people, regardless of how much thought they’ve actually put into issues other than science. This is a reality today, like it or not. People listen to what someone like Hawking says about religion (even if they shouldn’t). This is why Francis Collins confessing his faith as a Christian was a very significant event.