Steven Weinberg is an American physicist. He was awarded the 1979
Nobel Prize in Physics (with colleagues Abdus Salam and Sheldon
Glashow) for combining electromagnetism and the weak force into
the electroweak force.
graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1950, and received
his Bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1954, living
at the Cornell branch of Telluride Association, and his Ph.D.
in Physics from Princeton University in 1957, studying under Sam
Treiman. He is currently a professor of physics and astronomy
at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2002 Weinberg received
an honorary D.Sc. from Bates College.
his scientific research, Steven Weinberg has been a prominent
public spokesman for science, testifying before Congress in support
of the Superconducting Super Collider, writing articles for the
New York Review of Books, and giving various lectures on the larger
meaning of science. His books on science written for the public
combine the typical scientific popularization with what is traditionally
considered history, philosophy of science and atheism.
is also known for his support of Israel. While this is not extraordinary
in itself, he does support Israel from a liberal point of view.
He wrote an essay titled "Zionism and Its Cultural Adversaries"
which explains his views on the issue.
though their arguments did not invoke religion, I think we all
know what's behind these arguments. They're trying to protect
religious beliefs from contradiction by science. They used to
do it by prohibiting teachers from teaching evolution at all;
then they wanted to teach intelligent design as an alternative
theory; now they want the supposed "weaknesses" in evolution
pointed out. But it's all the same program -- it's all an attempt
to let religious ideas determine what is taught in science courses."
[the proponents of Christian "intelligent design"] discussion
of the supposed weakness of evolution rests on a fallacy about
the way science works. Scientific theory is never regarded as
certain; it's continually confronted with testing, asking if it
can explain what we can see in nature. That work is never finished.
There are always some things left that haven't yet been explained.
That's true of physics as well as biology.... This work goes on
and on -- it's not a weakness of the theory. I don't regard it
as a weakness of my own work that it hasn't explained everything
in elementary particle physics."
there is a God that has special plans for humans, then He has
taken very great pains to hide His concern for us. To me it would
seem impolite if not impious to bother such a God with our prayers."
people have grappled for millennia with the theodicy, the problem
posed by the existence of suffering in a world that is supposed
to be ruled by a good God. They have found ingenious solutions
in terms of various supposed divine plans. I will not try to argue
with these solutions, much less to add one of my own. Remembrance
of the Holocaust leaves me unsympathetic to attempts to justify
the ways of God to man. If there is a God that has special plans
for humans, then He has taken very great pains to hide His concern
for us. To me it would seem impolite if not impious to bother
such a God with our prayers."
as the question may be, it is hardly possible not to wonder whether
we will find any answer to our deepest questions, any signs of
the workings of an interested God, in a final theory. I think
that we will not."
people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things.
But for good people to do bad things -- that takes religion."
a consequence of the experience of science. As you learn more
and more about the universe, you find you can understand more
and more without any reference to supernatural intervention, so
you lose interest in that possibility. Most scientists I know
don't care enough about religion even to call themselves atheists.
And that, I think, is one of the great things about science --
that it has made it possible for people not to be religious."
can hope that this long sad story, this progression of priests
and ministers and rabbis and ulamas and imams and bonzes and bodhisattvas,
will come to an end. I hope this is something to which science
can contribute ... it may be the most important contribution that
we can make."
is one of the great social functions of science -- to free people
should be taught not in order to support religion and not in order
to destroy religion. Science should be taught simply ignoring
is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have
good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things.
But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."
enjoy being at a meeting that doesn't start with an invocation!"
more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems
whole history of the last thousands of years has been a history
of religious persecutions and wars, pogroms, jihads, crusades.
I find it all very regrettable, to say the least."
aware that there is nothing in the universe that suggests any
purpose for humanity, one way that we can find a purpose is to
study the universe by the methods of science, without consoling
ourselves with fairy tales about its future, or about our own."
seems a bit unfair to my relatives to be murdered in order to
provide an opportunity for free will for Germans, but even putting
that aside, how does free will account for cancer? Is it an opportunity
of free will for tumors?...I don't need to argue here that the
evil in the world proves that the universe is not designed, but
only that there are no signs of benevolence that might have shown
the hand of a designer. But in fact the perception that God cannot
be benevolent is very old. Plays by Aeschylus and Euripides make
a quite explicit statement that the gods are selfish and cruel,
though they expect better behavior from humans. God in the Old
Testament tells us to bash the heads of infidels and demands of
us that we be willing to sacrifice our children's lives at His
orders, and the God of traditional Christianity and Islam damns
us for eternity if we do not worship him in the right manner.
Is this a nice way to behave? I know, I know, we are not supposed
to judge God according to human standards, but you see the problem
here: If we are not yet convinced of His existence, and are looking
for signs of His benevolence, then what other standards can we