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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Every now and then one stumbles across a statement so profound it is almost impossible not to see how obvious it is, and yet, how often it is ignored.

I recently came across an article on the Physicist Richard Feynman. It prompted me to take a slightly longer look at his life and work, interesting because, even as a physicist, he maintained a strong adherence to his Christian Faith. Born 1918 he died in 1988 and is still quoted on a wide range of science matters. One of his greatest assets though was his ability to summarise difficult issues and put them into plain words. Another was his ability to nail down "home truths" that seem to have got lost somewhere in recent years as secularists, atheists and general "religion is the root of all evil" pundits comment and sometimes rant about a faith they know little or nothing about.

One of my favourite quotes from Dr Feynman is simple -

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool."


but it has a close second in

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."


However, the profound statement which drew my interest was this -

In this age of specialization men who thoroughly know one field are often incompetent to discuss another. The great problems of the relations between one and another aspect of human activity have for this reason been discussed less and less in public. When we look at the past great debates on these subjects we feel jealous of those times, for we should have liked the excitement of such argument. The old problems, such as the relation of science and religion, are still with us, and I believe present as difficult dilemmas as ever, but they are not often publicly discussed because of the limitations of specialization.


Now it seems to me that he has struck a blow right to the very heart of the current attacks on faith by certain members of the "scientific community" and others in politics and even literature. They may well be "experts" vin their own narrow fields, but many of them patently do not have sufficient knowledge or understanding of the religious beliefs they so freely attack - and it shows every time they open their mouths before those who do. I may not be a physicist, biologist or great "best selling" author but I do know a little about my faith, enough in fact to know that those who attack it know less than nothing at all about it. And that is very sad indeed.

Patently, Dr Feynman did know his faith and had no difficulty reconciling either his science or his faith. Reading some of the papers he delivered I am left with the conclusion that the world needs a lot more scientists like him ...

You really do have to love his simple statement - Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts ...


You can find more of his quotes at WikiQuotes.

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