DAG HAMMARSKJOELD – NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE
Nobel Prize: Dag Hammarskjoeld (1905–1961), Secretary-General of the United Nations, was posthumously awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize for his work toward peace in the world, especially in the Middle East and the new Republic of the Congo, Africa. He died on September 18, 1961, in a plane accident (under mysterious circumstances), while on a peace mission to the Congo.
Education: Ph.D. in political economy, University of Stockholm, Sweden, 1934
Occupation: Secretary-General of the United Nations (1953-61)
1. “I now recognize and endorse, unreservedly, those very beliefs which were once handed down to me.
From generations of soldiers and government officials on my father’s side I inherited a belief that no life was more satisfactory than one of selfless service to your country – or humanity. This service required a sacrifice of all personal interests, but likewise the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions.
From scholars and clergymen on my mother’s side I inherited a belief that, in the very radical sense of the Gospels, all men were equals as children of God, and should be met and treated by us as our masters in God.
The two ideals which dominated my childhood world met me fully harmonized and adjusted to the demands of our world of today in the ethics of Albert Schweitzer, where the ideal of service is supported by and supports the basic attitude to man set forth in the Gospels. In his work I also found a key for modern man to the world of the Gospels.” (Dag Hammarskjoeld, Servant of Peace, New York, Harper & Row, 1962, 23-24; see also Van Dusen 1967).
2. One of Hammarskjoeld’s prayers, published in Markings (1964):
“Give me a pure heart that I may see Thee,
A humble heart that I may hear Thee,
A heart of love that I may serve Thee,
A heart of faith that I may abide in Thee.”
(Dag Hammarskjoeld, Markings, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, translation – W. H. Auden and Leif Sjoberg, 1964, 100).
Markings is Dag Hammarskjoeld’s diary, which was published posthumously in 1963 in Swedish. In a letter, found with the manuscript of Markings in Hammarskjoeld’s New York apartment (after his 1961 death in an air crash), Hammarskjoeld termed his diary “a sort of white book concerning my negotiations with myself – and with God.”
3. “Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream or a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean. The dream explains why we need to be forgiven, and why we must forgive. In the presence of God, nothing stands between Him and us – we are forgiven.” (Hammarskjoeld, Markings, Knopf, 1964, 124).
4. “The inner experience of God’s love is the deepest sense of joy and fulfilment a human being can have – nothing surpasses it. All other experiences of love, beautiful though they are, are like reflections or reminders of the real thing.” (Hammarskjoeld, Markings, 1964).
5. “Before Thee, Father,
In righteousness and humility,
With Thee, Brother,
In faith and courage,
In Thee, Spirit,
Thine, for Thy will is my destiny,
Dedicated, for my destiny is to be used and used up according to Thy will.”
(Hammarskjoeld, Markings, 1964).
6. Brian Urquhart (Hammarskjoeld’s biographer) wrote: “The springs of Hammarskjoeld’s sense of vocation ran deep. They were traditional, intellectual, and religious. His identification with Christian thought was not messianic, but rather in the old tradition of the imitation of Christ in sacrifice and in service to others. He was a member of that small and lonely band who throughout history have engaged at the same time in trying to deal with the hard world of political and social reality and in searching endlessly for a spiritual meaning which transcends that world. Hammarskjoeld’s religious faith was very personal, and non-ritual. He wished neither to impose it on others nor to have others interpret it to himself. Religion for him was a dialogue of his own with God, and faith was the foundation for duty, dedication, and service, qualities that he considered most essential in himself and most admirable in others.” (Brian Urquhart, Hammarskjoeld, NY, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972, 23-24).
7. “Rejoice if God found a use for your efforts in His work. Rejoice if you feel that what you did was ‘necessary,’ but remember, even so, that you were simply the instrument by means of which He added one tiny grain to the Universe He created for His own purposes.” (Hammarskjoeld, Markings, 1964, 143).
8. “Your cravings as a human animal do not become a prayer just because it is God whom you ask to attend to them.” (Hammarskjoeld, Markings, 1964, 11).
9. “How can you expect to keep your powers of hearing when you never want to listen? That God should have time for you, you seem to take as much for granted as that you cannot have time for Him.” (Hammarskjoeld, Markings, 1964, 12).
10. “Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.” (Hammarskjoeld, Markings, 1964, 72).
11. “To be free, to be able to stand up and leave everything behind – without looking back. To say Yes.
Yes to God, Yes to fate, Yes to yourself. This reality can wound the soul, but has the power to heal her.” (Hammarskjoeld, Markings, 1964).
12. “It is not sufficient to place yourself daily under God. What really matters is to be only under God.” (Hammarskjoeld, Markings, 1964, 110).
13. “It is our conception of death which decides our answers to all the questions that life puts to us.” (Hammarskjoeld, Markings, 1964, 160).
THEODORE ROOSEVELT – NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE
Nobel Prize: The twenty-sixth President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1858–1919) was awarded the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the end of the Russo-Japanese War and for his contribution to various peace treaties.
Education: A.B., Harvard University, 1880
Occupation: U.S. President (1901-09), writer, and explorer
1. “Fear God and take your own part! Fear God, in the true sense of the word, means to love God, respect God, honor God; and all of this can only be done by loving our neighbor, treating him justly and mercifully, and in all ways endeavoring to protect him from injustice and cruelty, thus obeying, as far as our human frailty will permit, the great and immutable law of righteousness.” (Theodore Roosevelt, The Theodore Roosevelt Treasury, New York, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1953, 322).
2. “If there is any place on earth where earthly distinctions vanish it is in the church, in the presence of God. The nearer the people get to the heart of Christ, the nearer they get to each other, irrespective of earthly conditions.” (Theodore Roosevelt, The Free Citizen, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1956, 31).
3. “A churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid down-grade.
On Sunday go to church. Yes – I know all the excuses. I know that one can worship the Creator and dedicate oneself to good living in a grove of trees, or by a running brook, or in one’s own house, just as well as in church. But I also know that as a matter of cold fact the average man does not thus worship or thus dedicate himself.
If he stays away from church he does not spend his time in good works or in lofty meditation. He looks over the colored supplement of the newspaper; he yawns; and he finally seeks relief from the mental vacuity of isolation by going where the combined mental vacuity of many partially relieves the mental vacuity of each particular individual.” (Roosevelt 1956, 26).
4. “I am engaged in one of the greatest moral conflicts of the age – that of colossal lawless corporations against the government. The oppression of lawless wealth, and the purchase of lawmakers by it, have wrecked most of the empires of the past and, if not resisted and defeated, will ruin our Republic. As the executive of this Nation, I am determined that no man or set of men shall defy the law of the land. The rich and powerful must obey the law as well as the poor and feeble – not any better nor any worse, but just the same.
After a week on perplexing problems and in heated contests, it does so rest my soul to come into the House of the Lord and worship, and to sing – and to mean it – the ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,’ and to know that He is my Father, and takes me up into His life and plans; and to commune personally with Christ. I am sure, I get a wisdom not my own, and a superhuman strength, for fighting the moral evils I am called to confront.” (Roosevelt 1956, 31-32).
5. “Fear God and take your own part! We fear God when we do justice to and demand justice for the men within our own borders. We are false to the teachings of righteousness if we do not do such justice and demand such justice. We must do it to the weak, and we must do it to the strong. We do not fear God if we show mean envy and hatred of those who are better off than we are; and still less do we fear God if we show a base arrogance toward and selfish lack of consideration for those who are less well off.” (Roosevelt 1953, 322).
6. “Christianity after all must largely be the attempt to realize that noble verse of Micah, ‘What more doth the Lord require of thee than to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?’.
This verse has always been a favorite of mine, because it embodies the Gospel of Works, with the necessary antidote in the last few words to that hard spiritual arrogance which is brought about by mere reliance on the Gospel of Works.” (Roosevelt 1953, 322).
7. “I appeal for a study of the Bible on many different accounts, even aside from its ethical and moral teachings, even aside from the fact that all serious people, all men who think deeply, even among non-Christians, have come to agree that the life of Christ, as set forth in the four Gospels, represents an infinitely higher and purer morality than is preached in any other book of the world.
I make my appeal not only to professing Christians; I make it to every man who seeks after a high and useful life, to every man who seeks the inspiration of religion, or who endeavors to make his life conform to a high ethical standard.” (Roosevelt 1956, 28).
8. “The teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally – I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally – impossible for us to figure to ourselves what that life would be if these teachings were removed. We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals; all the standards toward which we, with more or less resolution, strive to raise ourselves. Almost every man who has by his life-work added to the sum of human achievement of which the race is proud, of which our people are proud, has based his life-work largely upon the teachings of the Bible.” (Roosevelt 1956, 28).
9. “The church must fit itself for the practical betterment of mankind if it is to attract and retain the fealty of the men best worth holding and using. The church must be a living, breathing, vital force, or it is no real church.” (Roosevelt 1956, 29).
10. “The truths that were true at the foot of Mt. Sinai are true now. The truths that were true when the Golden Rule was promulgated are true now.
No man is a good citizen unless he so acts as to show that he actually uses the Ten Commandments, and translates the Golden Rule into his life conduct.” (Roosevelt 1956, 25).
See also Albert Bushnell Hart and Herbert Ronald Ferleger, Theodore Roosevelt Cyclopedia, New York: Roosevelt Memorial Association, 1941.
CHRISTIAN ANFINSEN – NOBEL LAUREATE IN CHEMISTRY
Nobel Prize: Christian Anfinsen (1916–1995) was awarded the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for his work on ribonuclease, especially concerning the connection between the amino acid sequence and the biologically active conformation.” Anfinsen is a pioneer in the study of enzymes.
Education: Ph.D. in biochemistry, Harvard University, 1943
Occupation: Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania; Researcher at Carlsberg University (Denmark), National Institute of Health (Bethesda) and National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases; Professor of Biology at Johns Hopkins University from 1982 until his death
1. To the question, “Many prominent scientists - including Darwin, Einstein, and Planck - have considered the concept of God very seriously. What are your thoughts on the concept of God and on the existence of God?” Christian Anfinsen replied:
“I think only an idiot can be an atheist. We must admit that there exists an incomprehensible power or force with limitless foresight and knowledge that started the whole universe going in the first place.” (Anfinsen, as cited in Margenau and Varghese, ‘Cosmos, Bios, Theos’, 1997, 139).
2. Prof. Anfinsen wrote to the compilers of the scientific anthology ‘Cosmos, Bios, Theos’ (1997) this:
“I enclose a favorite quotation from Einstein that agrees almost completely with my own point of view.
Einstein himself once said that ‘The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible Universe, forms my idea of God’.” (Anfinsen, as cited in Margenau and Varghese, ‘Cosmos, Bios, Theos’, 1997, 140).
3. In his letter of 28 March 1989 to Prof. Henry Margenau (compiler of the scientific anthology ‘Cosmos, Bios, Theos’), Anfinsen wrote:
“Thank you for your letter of March 13 and your kind words about my small contribution to your anthology. I can think of little more to add to my final point having to do with the nature of God and the existence of God. Clearly, an all-powerful, all-knowing entity must exist to explain our existence.” (Anfinsen 1989).
4. In 1979, Anfinsen converted to Orthodox Judaism, a commitment he retained for the rest of his life; he maintained that he had been deeply impressed by the “the history, practice and intensity of Judaism.”
On 16 November 1995, in her Memorial speech for Christian Anfinsen at Memorial Garden Dedication, Weizmann Institute, Libby Anfinsen (Prof. Anfinsen’s wife) said:
“His religious background is interesting in that his Jewish maternal grandmother’s family disappeared when the Nazis invaded Bergen, Norway. His parents were Bible reading Lutherans, and he himself was an agnostic until the later 70’s when he studied and converted to traditional Judaism. He felt the following quote from Einstein accurately expressed his beliefs. ‘The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible Universe, forms my idea of God.’ He xeroxed and distributed this quote to many.” (Libby Anfinsen, 1995).
DEREK BARTON – NOBEL LAUREATE IN CHEMISTRY
Nobel Prize: Sir Derek Barton (1918–1998) won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contribution to the development of the conformational analysis (the study of the three-dimensional geometric structure of complex molecules) as an essential part of organic chemistry.
Education: Ph.D. in organic chemistry, Imperial College (London), 1942; D.Sc., University of London, 1949
Occupation: Professor of Chemistry at Imperial College (London), Harvard University, University of London, University of Glasgow (Scotland), etc.
1. “God is Truth. There is no incompatibility between science and religion. Both are seeking the same truth. Science shows that God exists.” (Barton, as cited in Margenau and Varghese 1997, 144).
2. “The observations and experiments of science are so wonderful that the truth that they establish can surely be accepted as another manifestation of God. God shows himself by allowing man to establish truth.” (Barton, as cited in Margenau and Varghese 1997, 145).
3. To the question, “Many prominent scientists - including Darwin, Einstein, and Planck - have considered the concept of God very seriously. What are your thoughts on the concept of God and on the existence of God?” Sir Derek Barton gave the following answer:
“As I have already stated, God is Truth. But does God really have anything to do with man? Certainly I cannot believe that God accepts only one religion, or one sect, as the only group authorized to speak for man. I would believe that God accepts all, even those who pretend not to believe. Morality and religion interact and much beneficial human behavior results from this interaction.” (Barton, as cited in Margenau and Varghese 1997, 147).
4. “Our universe is infinitely large and infinitely small. It is infinite in time past and in future time. We can never understand infinity. It is the ultimate truth, which is God.” (Barton, as cited in Margenau and Varghese 1997, 144).
5. “So religion is finally about the relationship of the individual and God. Can one speak to God? Prayers to God to advance one’s personal welfare, at the expense of the less righteous, are surely not welcome. Prayers to God to let one discover truth might be acceptable. Certainly, it is remarkable how we have been able to understand so much in our environment. God permits man to make observations and experiments which can be interpreted by logical thinking.” (Barton, as cited in Margenau and Varghese 1997, 147).
ALEXIS CARREL – NOBEL LAUREATE IN MEDICINE AND PHYSIOLOGY
Nobel Prize: Alexis Carrel (1873–1944) won the 1912 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology “for his work on vascular suturing and the transplantation of blood-vessels and organs.” Carrel single-handedly created the method for transplanting organs from one human body to the other. He is the founder of modern transplantology.
Nationality: French; later American resident
Education: M.D., University of Lyons, France, 1900
Occupation: Researcher at the University of Chicago and the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, NY; Professor at the University of Lyons, France
1. In his book Reflections on Life (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1952) Alexis Carrel wrote:
“Jesus knows our world. He does not disdain us like the God of Aristotle. We can speak to Him and He answers us. Although He is a person like ourselves, He is God and transcends all things.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 6, Part 7).
2. “Why are we here? Where do we come from? What are we? Is it absurd to believe in the survival of the soul?
Only religion proposes a complete solution to the human problem. Christianity, above all has given a clear-cut answer to the demands of the human soul.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 6, Part 5).
3. “The need of God expresses itself in prayer. Prayer is a cry of distress; a demand for help; a hymn of love.
Prayer gives us strength to bear cares and anxieties, to hope when there is no logical motive for hope, to remain steadfast in the midst of catastrophes.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 6, Part 7).
4. In Reflections on Life, Prof. Carrel expressed his attitude towards Christianity thus:
“We are loved by an immaterial and all-powerful Being. This Being is accessible to our prayers. We must love Him above all creatures. And we ourselves must also love one another.
A new era had begun. The only cement strong enough to bind men together had been found.
Nevertheless, humanity chose to ignore the importance of this new principle in the organization of its collective life. It is far from having understood that only mutual love could save it from division, ruin and chaos. Nor has it realized that no scientific discovery was so fraught with significance as the revelation of the law of love by Jesus the Crucified. For this law is, in fact, that of the survival of human societies.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 3, Part 6).
5. “Christianity offers men the very highest of moralities. It presents to them a God who can be adored because He is within our reach and Whom we ought to love.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 9, Part 4).
6. “I want to be like smoke in the wind at God’s disposal.” (Carrel, as cited in Newton 1989).
7. “It is, of course, a waste of time to talk to children of theology and duty. But we should follow Kant’s advice and present God to them very early indeed as an invisible father who watches over them and to whom they can address prayers. The true mode of honoring God consists in fulfilling His will.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 8, Part 3).
8. “The words of Jesus penetrate deeply into the reality of life. They ignore philosophy; they break all the conventions; they are so astonishing, that, even to this day, we find them hard to understand.
To him who obeys the law of the jungle, the command to love his neighbor as himself seems absurd.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 6, Part 7 “The Need of God”).
9. “Nevertheless, Jesus knows our world. Wherever we are at any moment of day or night, Jesus is at our disposition. We can reach Him simply by turning toward Him our desire and our love. It is an easily observable fact that, even in the society created by science and technology, this need of God has persisted.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 6, Part 7 “The Need of God”).
10. “Millikan, Eddington, and Jeans believe, like Newton, that the cosmos is the product of a Creative Intelligence.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 6, Part 6).
11. “For modern man, the only rule of conduct is his own good pleasure. Everyone is enclosed in his own egoism like the crab in its shell and, again like the crab, seeks to devour his neighbor.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 1, Part 1).
12. “It is sheer pride to believe oneself capable of correcting nature, for nature is the work of God. To command nature, we must obey her.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 2, Part 6).
13. “Our civilization has, in truth, forgotten that it is born of the blood of Christ; it has also forgotten God.
But it still understands the beauty of the Gospel narratives and of the Sermon on the Mount. It is still moved by those words of pity and love which bring peace, and sometimes even joy, to the broken, the afflicted, the sick and the dying.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 3, Part 6).
14. “Christian morality is incomparably more powerful than lay morality. Thus man will never enthusiastically obey the laws of rational conduct unless he considers the laws of life as the commands of a personal God.
Unfortunately, most modern men are incapable of acting for the love of their neighbors, of their country or of God, for the only thing they love is themselves.” (Carrel 1952, Chap. 6, Part 2).
See also Alexis Carrel’s books:
- Prayer, New York, Morehouse-Gorham, 1948
- The Voyage to Lourdes, New York, Harper, 1950
- Man, the Unknown, New York, Harper, 1935
ANTONY HEWISH – NOBEL LAUREATE IN PHYSICS
Nobel Prize: Antony Hewish (born 1924) received the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of pulsars.
Education: Ph.D. in physics, Cambridge University, 1952
Occupation: Professor of radio astronomy at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University (1971 – present)
1. To the question, “What do you think about the existence of God?” Prof. Hewish replied:
“I believe in God. It makes no sense to me to assume that the Universe and our existence is just a cosmic accident, that life emerged due to random physical processes in an environment which simply happened to have the right properties.
As a Christian I begin to comprehend what life is all about through belief in a Creator, some of whose nature was revealed by a man born about 2000 years ago.” (Hewish 2002a).
2. To the inquiry, “What do you think should be the relationship between science and religion? Why do you think so?” Prof. Hewish gave the following answer:
“I think both science and religion are necessary to understand our relation to the Universe. In principle, Science tells us how everything works, although there are many unsolved problems and I guess there always will be. But science raises questions that it can never answer. Why did the big bang eventually lead to conscious beings who question the purpose of life and the existence of the Universe? This is where religion is necessary.” (Hewish 2002a).
3. To the question, “What is your opinion on the nature of God? Do you think that God is a rational Creator (Designer)?” Prof. Hewish gave the following answer:
“God certainly seems to be a rational Creator. That the entire terrestrial world is made from electrons, protons and neutrons and that a vacuum is filled with virtual particles demands incredible rationality.” (Hewish 2002b).
4. And to the inquiry, “What should be the place of religion in our modern materialistic world?” Antony Hewish replied:
“Religion has a most important role in pointing out that there is more to life than selfish materialism.” (Hewish 2002b).
5. “God is a concept, which I need to cohere my total experience. Christianity comes nearest to the formal expression of this for me. You’ve got to have something other than just scientific laws. More science is not going to answer all the questions that we ask.” (Hewish, as cited in Candid Science IV: Conversations with Famous Physicists by Istvan Hargittai, London, Imperial College Press, 2004, 637).
* Jocelyn Bell Burnell was an important part of the team of astronomers who discovered pulsars in 1967, for which Antony Hewish and Martin Ryle were awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics. Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a deeply religious Quaker and Professor of Physics.
NEVILL MOTT – NOBEL LAUREATE IN PHYSICS
Nobel Prize: Sir Nevill Mott (1905-1996) received the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physics for his research on the magnetic and electrical properties of noncrystalline semiconductors.
Education: Master’s degree in physics, University of Cambridge, 1930
Occupation: Professor of Physics at the University of Bristol (1933-1954) and the University of Cambridge (1954-1971); President of the International Union of Physics (1951-1957)
1. “I believe in God, who can respond to prayers, to whom we can give trust and without whom life on this earth would be without meaning (a tale told by an idiot). I believe that God has revealed Himself to us in many ways and through many men and women, and that for us here in the West the clearest revelation is through Jesus and those that have followed him.” (Mott, as cited in Nevill Mott: Reminiscences and Appreciations, E.A. Davis – editor, London, Taylor & Francis Ltd, 1998, 329).
2. “The miracles of human history are those in which God has spoken to men. The supreme miracle for Christians is the Resurrection. Something happened to those few men who know Jesus, which led them to believe that Jesus yet lived, with such intensity and conviction that this belief remains the basis of the Christian Church two thousand years later.” (Mott, as cited in Margenau and Varghese, 1997, 68).
3. “God can speak to us and show us how we have to live.
… We can and must ask God which way we ought to go, what we ought to do, how we ought to behave.” (Mott, as cited in Margenau and Varghese, 1997, 66 & 68; and in Templeton 1994).
4. “Science can have a purifying effect on religion, freeing it from beliefs from a pre-scientific age and helping us to a truer conception of God. At the same time, I am far from believing that science will ever give us the answers to all our questions.” (Mott, as cited in Margenau and Varghese, 1997, 65).
5. “In my understanding of God I start with certain firm beliefs. One is that the laws of nature are not broken.
God works, I believe, within natural laws, and, according to natural laws.” (Mott, as cited in Margenau and Varghese, 1997, 66).
6. In 1991 Nevill Mott edited a volume of articles by famous scientists on the significance of religious belief and religion-science interface, entitled Can Scientists Believe? (London, James & James). In his article in this scientific anthology Professor Mott writes that God is absolutely necessary to explain the origin and the essence of human consciousness. Mott claims that the mystery of consciousness can never be explained by science.
“I believe, too, that neither physical science nor psychology can ever ‘explain’ human consciousness.
To me, then, human consciousness lies outside science, and it is here that I seek the relationship between God and man.” (Nevill Mott, Can Scientists Believe?, London, James & James Science Publishers Ltd, 1991, 8).
ARTHUR COMPTON – NOBEL LAUREATE IN PHYSICS
Nobel Prize: Arthur Holly Compton (1892–1962) was granted the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the Compton effect, i.e. the change in the wavelength of X-rays when they collide with electrons. This effect is caused by the transfer of energy from the photon to the electron. Its discovery in 1922 confirmed the dual nature of electromagnetic radiation as both a wave and a particle.
Education: Ph.D. in physics, Princeton University, NJ, 1916
Occupation: Professor of Physics at the Universities of Minnesota, Washington, and Chicago; researcher at Cambridge University
1. In his article “Science and the Supernatural” (1946) Compton said:
“From earliest childhood I have learned to see in Jesus the supreme example of one who loves his neighbors and expresses that love in actions that count, who knows that people can find their souls by losing themselves in something of great value, who will die rather than deny the truth in favor of the popular view held by his most respected contemporaries. That Jesus’ spirit lives so vitally in men today makes me hope that by following in his footsteps in my small way I also may live forever.” (Compton, as cited in Johnston 1967, 372).
2. “The Christian’s God is the God of love. ‘God is love; and he who ever continues in love keeps in union with God, and God with him.’ Perhaps one should explain that by Christian love is meant not a physical passion nor a sentiment of adoration and admiration, but a friendliness that expresses itself in doing good to one’s neighbors. Prayer to the God of love means a thoughtful consideration of how such good can best be done. The action resulting from such a prayer is the highest worship of the God of love.” (Compton, as cited in Johnston 1967, 373).
3. “When we pray to our fatherly God it is common experience that we receive courage and strength to do deeds of friendliness toward his children.” (Compton, as cited in Johnston 1967, 370).
4. Commenting on the first verse of the Bible in Chicago Daily News (12 April 1936), Arthur Compton stated his religious views: “For myself, faith begins with the realization that a supreme intelligence brought the universe into being and created man. It is not difficult for me to have this faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence. An orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered: ‘In the beginning God…’ [Genesis 1, 1].” (Compton 1936).
5. “If religion is to be acceptable to science it is important to examine the hypothesis of an Intelligence working in nature. The discussion of the evidences for an intelligent God is as old as philosophy itself.
The argument on the basis of design, though trite, has never been adequately refuted. On the contrary, as we learn more about our world, the probability of its having resulted by chance processes becomes more and more remote, so that few indeed are the scientific men of today who will defend an atheistic attitude.” (Compton 1935, 73).
6. “To me God appears in three aspects, all of which are closely related. The first aspect of God is universally recognized. It is simply the best one knows, to which he devotes his life. This best includes the love of one’s fellow men, particularly those for whom one has some special responsibility. It includes truth of whatever kind may serve as a guide to life.
The second aspect of God that I recognize is the basis of existence and of life and of motivation, which I think of as a conscious Power. This Power appears to me as having a special concern for its conscious creatures who share the responsibility for shaping their part of the world.
More particularly, I follow Jesus’ teaching that this Power that is the basis of existence holds toward me and all other persons the attitude of a wise and loving father. This recognition of a kind of kinship with the Creator-God is for me a matter of vital importance.
As God’s children, all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. This Christian basis for the dignity of man is shared by all who recognize the fatherhood of God, whether or not they are called by the name of ‘Christian.’ It is a basis for a brotherhood that includes all men, since all are objects of God’s concern.
The third aspect of God that I recognize is that which shows itself in the lives of noble men. It is in their lives that I see exemplified the virtues to which I would commit my own life.
For me the outstanding example of these noble men is Jesus. His teaching and the example of his life form the most reliable guide that I have found for shaping my own actions. It is because I accept his leadership that I call myself a Christian.
I see him as the Everest among the world’s many high mountains. As I know Jesus he shows in his life those qualities that seem to me of highest value: love of neighbor as expressed in helpful service, hope for the future that inspires his followers, faith in God and fellowmen. Born of this love and hope and faith is his noble self-sacrifice that others may live.” (Compton 1956, 344-347).
7. “What nobler ambition can one have than to cooperate with his Maker in bringing about a better world in which we live?
When we view men’s actions in the light of science we are thus presented with a new hope. Loyalty to our Maker, who has given us the ability, opportunity, and responsibility to mold our lives and our world according to a more perfect pattern cannot but inspire us to work with him heart and soul toward this great end.” (Compton 1935, 119).
8. “In their essence there can be no conflict between science and religion. Science is a reliable method of finding truth. Religion is the search for a satisfying basis for life.” (Compton, as cited in Johnston 1967, 374).
9. “There is an immense difference between a good religion and a bad religion in the satisfactions and disappointments to which they lead. The main difference is the nature of the values or the kind of spirit that the religion inspires. The true God is the spirit that is found to be of lasting value, so that when the test comes one can feel that whatever may happen he has spent his life for the best that he knows.” (Compton, as cited in Johnston 1967, 374).
10. “Science has created a world in which Christianity is a necessity.” (Compton, as cited in Fosdick 1961, ch. 16).
11. “I believe that in its insistence on the inherent value of individual men and women Christianity has the key to survival and the good life in the modern world.” (Compton 1956, 344).
See also Compton’s articles:
- “The Need for God in an Age of Science,” in Morris, Audrey Stone, One Thousand Inspirational Things, (Chicago: 1948), pp. 146-147.
- “The Religion of a Scientist,” Sermons in Brief, 1: 1, (January 1940), pp. 88-98.
- “Why I Believe in Immortality,” This Week, (Sunday supplement to the New Orleans’ The Sunday Item-Tribune; April 12, 1936), 5 ff. Reprinted in Christian Science Sentinel, 62: 32, (August 6, 1960), 1411.
- Science and Christian Education, Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1938. Publication of an address delivered before the 150th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, May 30, 1938.
- Compton, A. H. et al., 1949. Man’s Destiny in Eternity. A Book from a Symposium (The Garvin lectures). Boston: Beacon Press.
- “Life After Death: from the Point of View of a Scientist,” The Presbyterian Banner, 117-39, (March 26, 1931), 10 ff.
- “The Need for Building a Christian World Community,” Hyde Park Baptist News, 2: 24, (February 25, 1938), p. 1.