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This is a discussion by Victor Francis Hess, winner of the 1936 Novel Prize in physics, re-published by the Society of Catholic Scientists (SCS). Hess is one of the scientists featured by SCS in their Important Catholic Scientists of the Past pages. Hess writes:
[I]n all my years of research in physics and geophysics, I have never found one instance in which scientific discovery was in conflict with religious Faith. It is sometimes said that the “necessity” of the “laws” of nature is incompatible with men’s free will and, still more, with miracles. This is not so. When scientists formulate the so-called “laws” of physics, they are fully aware, for example, that they can no more predict the actual life history of an atom of radium than they can predict the moral conduct of this or that person. Many of our physical laws are in fact merely statistical statements. They hold for the average of a great number of cases. They have no meaning for an individual case. Modern scientists are fully aware of these limitations in their descriptions of physical processes. Must a scientist doubt the reality of miracles? As a scientist. I answer emphatically: No. I can see no reason at all why Almighty God, Who created us and all things around us, should not suspend or change — if He finds it wise to do so — the natural, average course of events. We scientists are simple observers of this natural, average course of events. We do our share in trying to find out the “laws” which govern this world of ours.
Hess wrote this article in 1946, just after the development of atomic weapons, and his concern for what science produced is a major theme of his article.
Click here to access this article, courtesy of the Society of Catholic Scientists (SCS).
Click here for the SCS page on Victor Hess.
Click here for the SCS Important Catholic Scientists of the Past pages.