Dec. 21, 2012 Countdown - Day 47: "GOD Is Waiting at the Bottom of the Glass"

Werner Heisenberg "GOD Is Waiting at the Bottom of the Glass " (compiled by Tihomir Dimitrov)


1. “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.” [“Der erste Trunk aus dem Becher der Naturwissenschaft macht atheistisch, aber auf dem Grund des Bechers wartet Gott.”] (Heisenberg, as cited in Hildebrand 1988, 10).

2. In his autobiographical article in the journal Truth, Henry Margenau (Professor Emeritus of Physics and Natural Philosophy at Yale University) pointed out: “I have said nothing about the years between 1936 and 1950. There were, however, a few experiences I cannot forget. One was my first meeting with Heisenberg, who came to America soon after the end of the Second World War. Our conversation was intimate and he impressed me by his deep religious conviction. He was a true Christian in every sense of that word.” (Margenau 1985, Vol. 1).

3. In his article Scientific and Religious Truth (1973) Heisenberg affirmed:

“In the history of science, ever since the famous trial of Galileo, it has repeatedly been claimed that scientific truth cannot be reconciled with the religious interpretation of the world. Although I am now convinced that scientific truth is unassailable in its own field, I have never found it possible to dismiss the content of religious thinking as simply part of an outmoded phase in the consciousness of mankind, a part we shall have to give up from now on. Thus in the course of my life I have repeatedly been compelled to ponder on the relationship of these two regions of thought, for I have never been able to doubt the reality of that to which they point.” (Heisenberg 1974, 213).

4. “Where no guiding ideals are left to point the way, the scale of values disappears and with it the meaning of our deeds and sufferings, and at the end can lie only negation and despair.

Religion is therefore the foundation of ethics, and ethics the presupposition of life.” (Heisenberg 1974, 219).

5. Einstein believed in strict causality till the end of his life. In his last surviving letter to Einstein, Heisenberg writes that while in the new quantum mechanics Einstein’s beloved causality principle is baseless, “We can console ourselves that the good Lord God would know the position of the particles, and thus He could let the causality principle continue to have validity.” (Heisenberg, as cited in Holton 2000, vol. 53).

See also Heisenberg’s articles:

- Heisenberg, Werner. 1970. “Erste Gespraeche ueber das Verhaeltnis von Naturwissenschaft und Religion (1927).” Werner Trutwin, ed. Religion-Wissenschaft-Weltbild. Duesseldorf: Patmos-Verlag, pp. 23-31. (Theologisches Forum. Texte fuer den Religionsunterricht 4.)

- Heisenberg, Werner. 1973. “Naturwissenschaftliche und religioese Wahrheit.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 24 Maerz, pp. 7-8. (Speech before the Catholic Academy of Bavaria, on acceptance of the Guardini Prize, 23 March 1973).

- Heisenberg, Werner. 1968. “Religion und Naturwissenschaft.” Bayer, Leverkusen. Sofort-Kongress-Dienst 24, 1-2.

- Heisenberg, Werner. 1969. “Kein Chaos, aus dem nicht wieder Ordnung wuerde. Drei Atomphysiker diskutieren ueber Positivismus, Metaphysik und Religion.” Die Zeit 24, No. 34, 29-30.