Стивен Вайнберг (Steven Weinberg)






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р. 3 мая 1933

Американский физик, лауреат Нобелевской премии по физике (1979 г.); атеист

Стивен Вайнберг (Steven Weinberg) Стивен Вайнберг (Steven Weinberg) "But then, maybe at the very bottom of it... I really don't like God. You know, it's silly to say I don't like God because I don't believe in God, but in the same sense that I don't like Iago, or the Reverend Slope or any of the other villains of literature, the god of traditional Judaism and Christianity and Islam seems to me a terrible character. He's a god who will... who obsessed the degree to which people worship him and anxious to punish with the most awful torments those who don't worship him in the right way. Now I realise that many people don't believe in that any more who call themselves Muslims or Jews or Christians, but that is the traditional God and he's a terrible character. I don't like him."
Из интервью со Стивеном Вайнбергом о религии. Полный текст ниже.

"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."
Dreams of a Final Theory.

"Premature 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."
Dreams of a Final Theory.

"Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things - that takes religion."

"It 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 use?"
A Designer Universe?

"Most scientists I know don't care enough about religion even to call themselves atheists."

"Science should be taught not in order to support religion and not in order to destroy religion. Science should be taught simply ignoring religion."

"Though 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."
The Universe Might Last Forever, Astronomers Say, but Life Might Not January 1, 2002, The New York Times

"Even 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."
September, 2003, State Board of Education hearing.

Интервью со Стивеном Вайнбергом

Jonathan Miller (JM) [To viewer]: Now the Nobel prize-winning American physicist Steven Weinburg has often addressed himself to what he sees as the pernicious effects of religion, and when I met him in Texas I started by asking him how he reacted to the fact that the physicists who were his own intellectual predecessors had seen the physical regularity of the universe and the beauty of the Earth to be incontrovertible evidence of divine design.

Steven Weinburg (SW): Looking at nature, in the past, the impression of design must have been overwhelming. It's such a comfortable, pleasant Earth and things work out so well. Well as we learn more and more about the universe, it seems not such a friendly place, and we appear just to have been winners in a cosmic lottery.

JM: And yet there might be those believers who might say, "Yes, admittedly there might be other celestial bodies which are not good stage sets for life, let alone for the human drama, but here we are on Earth, which is, as they would say, convivially arranged to... accommodate life.

SW: Well what would you expect? With all these billions and billions of planets, some of them are going to be comfortable and it's only on those that life can arise.

JM: But people like Newton, for example, and Samuel Clark, who wrote, as it were, on his behalf later on, at Trinity when he did the Boyle Lectures... was not invoking the comfort and conviviality of the Earth. Newton was impressed by the regularity of nature, whether or not it was a suitable setting for the human drama - he thought that the laws of motion, and the... arrangement of the uh... of the celestial system expressed design, regardless of it's suitability for human existence.

SW: Yes... and well... he was religious. He saw the universe as a great puzzle, just as he saw the Book of Daniel as a great puzzle, and it was God leaving messages for human beings to puzzle out, and he puzzled out the way the solar system worked, and he tried to puzzle out the chronology of the Bible. Urr... Well we don't do that any more.

JM: But might there be any reason - in that you still find people, and indeed some of your own colleagues, who feel that nevertheless, the regularity by definition involves and invokes... a regulator.

SW: Well it doesn't... There is a mystery, I have to admit. You know... we try to understand nature and we ask questions and we get answers and then we ask follow-up questions, "why is THAT true?" and we... ultimately we hope to come to a set of elegant physical principles that describe everything, and when we have it, the mystery will still be there, because we will always have to ask, "well why is it that theory and not some other theory?". And one answer is, well that is the regularity imposed on us by a... spirit, a designer, but that doesn't answer anything - I mean then you have to say, "why is the designer like that?". You know, either by a designer you have something in particular in mind - a god who is... benevolent or jealous, or humorous - whatever! Or you have nothing in mind and then let's not talk about it. If you have something in mind, then the question arises, "why is that true?". So I don't see that having a designer puts us at rest. I think we are permanently in the tragic position of being able... of not being able to understand at the deepest possible level why things are the way they are. And... you just have to live with that, but, well, saying it's a designer doesn't settle it, doesn't help.

JM: But let's say, and I'm being, as it were, the deist's advocate here...

SW: Instead of the devil's?

JM: Instead of the devil's advocate. Um... let's say that it doesn't exhibit or it doesn't answer the question of design. But if there is this insuperable mystery... might one understand how it is that people feel that in the presence of such a mystery that they, as it were, it's the thin end of some sort of theological wedge into which spirituality or originator can be inserted.

SW: Oh...

JM: I mean I don't feel that.

SW: I don't feel that way either. I suppose many do. I think much more likely is that people are religious because they're... they know they're going to die and they know their loved ones are going to die, and that's the tragedy. It's not that bothers them, it's not the tragedy of not being able to come to the final cause. It's the tragedy of... knowing that your life and all the wonderful things that you can do and living and the people you love, that that's all going to end. It seems to me that provides the driving force for religion much more than these philosophical wonderings about first cause.

These issues of the beginning of time were discussed very intelligently long ago by Augustine, and... who grappled with the question of what there was before time began, and he said God created the world with time. That time was created - there was no "before" - that that's part of the Creation. That's as good an answer as any I guess.

JM: It is interesting that someone like Augustine, without the benefits of quantum physics, without the benefits of Einstein, without the benefits of any of your sort of work, was able to invoke ideas such as time itself having a beginning.

SW: Augustine was a very clever man and it's wonderful, looking back over all the thousands of years of speculation about these things, that time - I think first with Galileo - became part of the ordinary... ambit of science. Galileo was the first person who tried to measure time during a physical process - measured the time it took for various balls to roll down an inclined plane, and he got the rule that the distance travelled is proportional to the square of the time. Nobody before had ever tried to bring time into the laws of nature, quantitatively.

JM: But for Galileo, observing these regularities and observing the relationship between these balls rolling down these slopes, the time it took, and giving a mathematical expression for that, for him, as an unquestioningly religious man they were, in fact, demonstrations of God's mind.

SW: Well, I don't think Galileo came to that conclusion - if he did, I'm not aware of it - but the... if what you're suggesting is that there is no... necessary conflict between being a scientist and being religious, I suppose I have to agree. Even now, there are very fine scientists who are deeply religious. I know a few. Umm, but... the... I think what happened - and it only began to happen with Galileo and Newton, so it took a long time to mature... What happened was that much of the early basis for religious belief was dissolved by science. It wasn't that scientific discoveries made religion impossible... it's that they made irreligion possible. It became possible to understand how things worked without the religious explanation and particularly, I think, more important than anything any physicist did, was what Darwin did, Darwin and Wallis.

JM: Yes, well this is the argument which we've had... I think from Dennett, from Daniel Dennett. He feels that perhaps the most wounding influence upon religion really came with Darwin rather than with Galileo...

SW: Oh, I agree. Even though it hurts my pride as a physicist to say so. You know, because people don't really care that much about the way the planets go round the sun or the way... certainly they don't care about balls rolling down the inclined plane. What they care about is life, and particularly their own life, and their relationship to... the causes for them being the way they are, they care about that. And Darwin's revision of the... understanding of why living things are the way they are, in particular why people are the way they are, was overwhelming and Darwin himself lost his faith.

You know, I was recently re-reading Lytton Strachey's wonderful little biography of Cardinal Manning in Eminent Victorians and Manning said that he was con-, he became convinced... a convinced Christian, because of reading... Paley's...

JM: Natural Theology

SW: Yes... and the wonderful adaptation of living things convinced him that there had to be a creator. A person, a personality that created all this. And suddenly that was God. There wasn't a discovery that there wasn't a creator, but the argument was removed, and I don't think anything in... that science has done for general culture has ever been as important as that.

JM: Yes, it is interesting to find that, on the whole, the percentage of biological disbelievers in the scientific community is higher than the percentage of disbelievers amongst your colleagues in physics and chemistry.

SW: Is that true? I didn't know that. Actually, I've occasionally... not too often, gotten into conversations with my physicist colleagues about religion and I find an overwhelming lack of interest in it. I once said that they don't care enough about it to qualify as practising atheists. They... they just regard it as a sort of question that it's silly to raise, and umm... I, for some obscure reason, I tend to care about it and I'm interested in religion, but most of my physicist friends are not. But you find such a variety of belief.

I have one friend, a very distinguished astrophysicist, who told me that he is an orthodox, observant Jew - which is a lot of trouble, that's not easy - and doesn't believe in God. Because, for him, the religion is a framework for life that he inherited from his parents. He grew up with it. He wants to stay in it. But he doesn't think there's anything behind it. I think probably a fair number of people in the Church of England feel that way.

JM: I think that for a number of people, the retreat into religion is, as you say, not a retreat into belief, but a retreat into reassuring domestic ritual, and I suspect that's much greater for Jews than it is for Christians. I mean there is a way in which one could say that belief is less importance for Jews than observance.

SW: I think that's very true. One can argue about the reasons for it, but I don't think that Judaism is the only religion for which that's true. I think it's also true for Hinduism. I don't think the Hindu's have ever looked very closely into what they all believe. They're allowed to believe in all sorts of things, but the important thing is, you know, the Brahmens are not supposed to cross the ocean, and you're not supposed to kill cows - those are... that's what's important. What you really think about... Brahma and Vishnu and Shiva... I don't think there was ever an inquisition... among the Hindus. On the other hand, then you have religions like Christianity, Islam, and I guess to some extent, Buddhism. These are the religions that have missionaries, that go out and try to convert other people, and it's in these religions that have universalised ambitions, that theology becomes important, and it is... it does become important. And in a way, I'm more attracted to that, because as a scientist, I care about searching for truth and making a theory of the world, and Christianity or Buddhism for that matter, provides an alternative theory of the world. And that's something I have... I feel I have something to say about, I can interact with, I can respond to. On the other hand, if people just want to not eat pork, or not kill cows, or whatever it is, wall, you know, more power to them, it has nothing to do with me, and there's no argument there.

JM: So you feel a realistic and vigorous sense of opposition in that they are... that Christianity, and Buddhism, in a rather different way, are in fact, as it were, more intellectually intelligible and complementary to a scientific world view.

SW: Yes... Yes, they have a theory, and it's a theory that I don't agree with, but there is a theory there. And... without a theory, what can I say? Then it's not something that I can engage. I once wrote something rather disparaging about ultra-liberal Christianity and that I found myself more... in some ways more akin to a fundamentalist because at least they haven't forgotten what it in to believe something. And I got a copy of a fundamentalist newspaper from, I think from New Mexico that praised me! Because what they really... I think what their real concern was, was not odd atheist physicists that wasn't what they were worried about, what they were worried about was the liberal Christians.

JM: Ah I see, so that in fact... the fundamentalist Christians see you scientists as worthy opponents...

SW: Well...

JM: In the same way that you scientists...

SM: I wouldn't draw that implication. I think they just found a surprising ally in the battle that they really care about - their battle with the liberal wing of Christianity. But please don't let me give the wrong impression, I think enormous harm is done by religion - not just in the name of religion, but actually by religion - and I think...

JM: How is that? Tell me the harm that is done by religion as opposed to the harm that is done in the name of it.

SW: Oh, I think people who crash air-planes into office buildings in order to destroy them must really believe in paradise and that this is something that their god wants them to do and that they'll be rewarded in paradise. And if they don't believe that then it's a very foolish career move.

JM: Yes.

SW: But... you know, the idea that God has... whether it's Allah or Jehovah or whatever, has dictated certain ways of behaving, certain ways of worshipping, and that it's incumbent on you to force others to behave that way and worship in that way... God, think of all the harm that's been done throughout all the ages by people who believe that and believe it very sincerely. One could just go on and on about the number of very sincerely religious people who were led by their religion to do the most awful things.

JM: Well in fact that was very much an aspect of Judaism before the Diaspora.

SW: Oh, absolutely, yes. I do agree, but just coming back to what we were talking about before, it is the religions that have a theory of the world, it seems to me, at least in recent centuries, that do the harm. So the... the very sincere true believers are the ones are the ones you have to watch out for, even though they may have something more to show for themselves intellectually than the more liberal religious, but they are the dangerous ones.

JM [To the viewer]: Given the fact that the current president of the United States could be described as a "sincere true believer", I wanted to know if Steven himself was alarmed by the apparent growth of fundamental Christianity in his own country.

SW: I don't see the United States in the grip of a... a really disturbing religious awakening. I think that what's much more frightening in the world is Islam, where people, it seems to me, take their religion seriously to the point of madness. I think, you know, there have been times in the history of the world when Islam was a far more tolerant religion than Christianity, but that is not the case now.

JM: But there is undoubtedly for... a certainly for a European, the impression that there's a very strong association between Christianity and patriotism in a way that simply doesn't exist in Europe, certainly not in my own country, the United Kingdom.

SW: Yes, well, it's... I know that impression exists and I think that Americans think more highly of religion that Europeans do. I sometimes think that Americans believe in religion much more than Europeans do. They don't believe in God much more than Europeans do, but they believe that religion is good for you, and without being particularly religious in any meaningful way. You know, I know many people who say they're religious and go to church every Sunday and belong to church organisations, and then when you talk to them and you ask them, "Do you really think that after death this is going to happen?" they say, "I've no idea, I don't know, it's all a mystery, but I think it's good to be religious. This is the faith I grew up with.". As a physicist, you have to decide what you think is true and you get in the habit of that kind of intellectual activity because if you work on the wrong theory and it isn't true you have wasted your professional time, and you keep having to make judgements of truth or falsity, and or truth becomes very important to you. For most people truth is not as important as good behaviour, or loyalty to your ethnic group, or loyalty to your family traditions, and truth is something that you don't worry about very much.

JM: Although, of course, in the Middle Ages and indeed when people were opposing atheism in the 17th century, it was insisted that the truthfulness of religion was what guaranteed good behaviour.

SW: Yes, and many people believe that, but an awful lot of people also believe it doesn't matter whether it's true, you just have to be religious because that will guarantee good behaviour. You know the wonderful line of Gibbon's about the pagan religions, he said "The multitude of gods... ", Gibbon said, "The common people found them all equally true, and the philosophers found them all equally false, and the magistrates found them all equally useful.". And I think many people in America and undoubtedly in Europe are in the position of the magistrates Gibbon was talking about - they find them useful. Although I really don't think that... I don't see religion as actually inspiring moral behaviour. In fact you very often hear people say, "Well, these people who blow themselves up for some religious reason in the Middle East or Hindu mobs who destroy a mosque or Muslim mobs who kill Hindus, that they're not really religious, that real religion doesn't involve that kind of behaviour.". I think what they're saying is that they have a moral sense which allows them to distinguish what is religious from what is not religious.

I think, for example, George Bush said that these terrorists have hijacked a great religion because their actions, their terrorist actions don't fit his idea of religion. You see what's really happening there is that instead of using religion to decide what is moral, they're using their moral sense, which fortunately is a perfectly, good, reasonable, enlightened moral sense, to decide what is religious... and... if that's the case, then what's the point of the religion?

JM: Finally, I wanted to know whether there were any particular reasons, apart from being constantly asked be people like myself, why Steven felt it necessary to address himself to the topic of religion more than many of his colleagues did.

SW: Oh, I try not to do it too much. I don't want to become the village atheist... and I do get involved in a lot of other issues like missile defence and neo... well, post-constructionism, neo-modernism, but I do spend probably a little bit more time than I should on religion and I have a certain amount of hostility to... to it. I think the most rational reason for it is because of the harm that I see it does, we were talking about that earlier. Many people do simply awful things out of sincere religious belief, not using religion as a cover the way that Saddam Hussein may have done, but really because they believe that this is what God wants them to do, going all the way back to Abraham being willing to sacrifice Issac because God told him to do that. Putting God ahead of humanity is a terrible thing.

Another reason is because I'm offended by the kind of smarmy religiosity that's all around us, perhaps more in America than in Europe, and not really that harmful because it's not really that intense or even that serious, but just... you know after a while you get tired of hearing clergymen giving the invocation at various public celebrations and you feel, haven't we outgrown all this? Do we have to listen to this?

But then, maybe at the very bottom of it... I really don't like God. You know, it's silly to say I don't like God because I don't believe in God, but in the same sense that I don't like Iago, or the Reverend Slope or any of the other villains of literature, the god of traditional Judaism and Christianity and Islam seems to me a terrible character. He's a god who will... who obsessed the degree to which people worship him and anxious to punish with the most awful torments those who don't worship him in the right way. Now I realise that many people don't believe in that any more who call themselves Muslims or Jews or Christians, but that is the traditional God and he's a terrible character. I don't like him.

I have a friend - or had a friend, now dead - Abdul Salam, a very devout Muslim, who was trying to bring science into the universities in the Gulf states and he told me that he had a terrible time because, although they were very receptive to technology, they felt that science would be a corrosive to religious belief, and they were worried about it... and damn it, I think they were right. It is corrosive of religious belief, and it's a good thing too.

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