Max Planck, the Constant Believer

 

“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

Max Planck was the originator of Quantum Mechanics, and gives his name to the Planck Constant, relating energy to frequency and to the Planck Length – the smallest measure of length, below which nothing is knowable. He was a committed Lutheran; like many great scientists, one who questioned the nature of God’s knowability – but not God’s existence. “I am a deeply religious man, but that does not necessarily mean that I believe in a Christian God or even a personal God”.

He took issue with Pauli, Heisenberg and Bohr on their “Copenhagen Interpretation” of the results of quantum mechanical experiments – holding that eventually all matter would be found simply to be wave form. Odd, of course – given that it was his work that showed that photons behave as packets or quanta (it had much earlier been shown that light behaves as a wave). He eventually was proved wrong and the duality of existence at the fundamental level – both material and immaterial has now been proved.

He held that science was capable of answering only so much:

“Religion belongs to that realm that is inviolable before the law of causation and, therefore closed to science”.

And again:

“We might naturally assume that one of the achievements of science would have been to restrict belief in miracle. But it does not seem to do so.”

He most certainly would not have tolerated the current lazy assumption that in some way science and religion are incompatible or opposed to each other:

“There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for one is the complement of the other. Every serious and reflective person realizes, I think, that the religious element in his nature must be recognized and cultivated if all the powers of the human soul are to act together in perfect balance and harmony. And indeed it was not by accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls”.

And:

“the movement of atheists, which declares religion to be just a deliberate illusion, … eagerly makes use of progressive scientific knowledge. It is the steady, ongoing, never-slackening fight against scepticism and dogmatism, which religion and science wage together . The directing watchword in this struggle runs from the remotest past to the distant future: ‘On to God’”.

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