Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why are scientists atheists?

Why are scientists so dead-set against the concept of God?

They say, "we can't test the theory." But you can't test the string theory either, and you don't see mass revolts against that. There's absolutely no proof for the existence of Dark Matter except that we have a hole in our gravitational calculations and it just so happens that Dark Matter is a convenient way of filling that hole. Occam's Razor would suggest that when 99% of the universe has to be made up of Dark Matter for the our equations to return a result close to what we see around us, it's the equations that are wrong. Dark Matter is fairy dust.

Interestingly, if you adopt the fractal universe and the influence of electromagnetic radiation on large scale structures of the universe, the "need" for Dark Matter to make the equations work disappears... To my mind, the observational evidence for a fractal universe and the elimination of fairy dust are the two strongest reasons to consider fractals. But... that strays from the point.

Science has always been at the cutting edge of suggesting things it cannot prove or substantiate. It took almost a decade before anyone was able to find any conclusive proof about relativity and, even then, some of Einstein's predictions weren't properly tested until the late 1990s, almost a century after they were made. So I don't buy this, "I don't believe in God because I can't test Him" argument.

I love the image associated with this post. It shows the distribution of galaxies through space. The solid green curve you can see is the Great Sloan Wall. A hundred years ago, an image like this was unimaginable. Erwin Hubble would be astounded at how far we have come in such a short period of time.

So why do scientists feel threatened by the existence of God?


Onyx Stone said...

Many scientists are not athiests. Starting with the greatest... Sir Isaac Newton.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

I don't think most scientists are atheists. I KNOW that more than half of physics professors are loose theists. Certainly my study of Quanutm mechanics, string theory and evolution has strengthened rather than weakened my faith.
When you say this, I'm guessing you think Dawkins. Think Hawking and read the text he meant as his statement of who he was (brief history). It's a very theistic piece. So is David Deutsch. You can't read his work and not think 'free will'.
Dark Matter is a descendent of Einstein's 'Cosmological constant'. It fulfills the same purpose. Like you, I think it's bollocks, I think it is the luminiferous ether of thev 21 st century, but I think the answer is different to the one you think it. At some point I will post on my theory concerning thermodynamic equilibrium and multi-dimensional routes to heat death, but not till I've dealt with the final points. You've sen part of it already.
Think the second law of thermodynamics, mate. Put it as your first principle, and all else makes sense. Seriously.

Of course people want to believe there is no God. No God, no judgement.

Not about science, about conscience!

The Tin Drummer said...

Actually on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago I _did_ hear two scientists having a crack at string theory for exactly the problem you mention. some guy has a book out about it - "Not Even Wrong" I think it's called.

Anonymous said...

So why are so many religious people
so anti-scientific? Because science
has been closing the gaps that they
need their God(s) for and that they
need for their God(s).

Anonymous said...

Sadly, science and religion have become incompatible. We can explain everything without god, which leaves no place for the god. It's the god of the gaps, and the gaps have quickly went from enormous to small. And scientists generally say that there is no evidence for a god. About 45 percent of scientists in general are atheists, and 60 percent of biologists are atheists.

christina knight said...

the reason atheism is more common among scientists than can be found in the general public is because they are more inclined to apply critical reasoning to metaphysical questions. those scientists who hold on to their religious beliefs are much more likely to comparmentalize and be intellectually inconsistent. the actual number of scientists who are atheists or agnostic is probably significantly higher than the 45% commonly mentioned. the reason is that a significant number of scientists do not respond to the surveys and is more likely that the vast majority of the scientists that do not respond are atheists or agnostics (religious scientists would be more likely to respond). the actual number of physicists and astronomers who are atheists or agnostics is probably closer to 70%.