Monday, October 10, 2011

The faith of the founders of quantum theory

A common claim is that there is a dichotomy of faith vs. reason when it comes to the relationship between Christian belief and science. However, I would claim that both involve faith, evidence, and reason. The nature of that faith, evidence, and reason is different in the two cases, but it is there.

With regard to the successful development of quantum theory Paul Dirac wrote that for Erwin Schrodinger and himself

It was a sort of act of faith with us that any questions which describe fundamental laws of nature must have great mathematical beauty in them. It was a very profitable religion to hold and can be considered as the basis of much of our success.
Dirac, P. (1977): In: History of Twentieth Century Physics. Proceedings of the International School of Physics "Enrico Fermi", Course 57, New York: Academic Press, p. 136.

I thank Denis Alexander for bringing this quotation to my attention.

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