The Faith of a Scientist

The Faith of a Scientist

by Henry Eyring

Famed LDS scientist Henry Eyring discusses his convictions that science and religion, properly understood, are not two separate worlds but an interlocking unity.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Religion
  • Rating: 4.20
  • Pages: 196
  • Publish Date: 1967 by Bookcraft, Inc

What People Think about "The Faith of a Scientist"

Favorite quote, "I should like to say that true religion was never a narrow thing. It is therefore limitless, and as boundless as that eternity which it teaches lies ahead of every son of God." I love this book.

This book wasn't necessarily written to refute those who see conflict, but rather to share some thoughts on science and religion from a man who believes strongly in both. On other occasions, he speaks for himself, and one of the wonderful doctrines of this Church is that we don't believe in the infallibility of any mortal....The Gospel is not the people in the Church.

I finally read this book after a respected co-worker had recommended it to me a couple times in our long conversations about the relationship between scientific knowledge and religious belief. It was written by Dr. Henry Eyring in 1967, with the key goal of sharing his own ways of reconciling an esteemed career in the physical sciences with his LDS beliefs (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). He also gives science credit for strengthening religion "by sifting the grain of truth from the chaff of imagined fable." I love this line: "Perhaps the believer never does more disservice to religion than to support the truth with bad arguments." Interestingly, Eyring defines the LDS faith's core tenet as the embracing of truth, whatever its source. Oddly enough, he doesn't cite this as an error, but pats it on the back: "This gives correctly the first term of an endless series, namely Pi = 3." Eyring accepts the truth of the earth's age at 4.5 billion years, and the truth of evolution, but somehow still believes in a literal Adam and Eve - how do they fit in the scientific narrative? Time and again throughout the book, Eyring is willing to disregard the errors of revelation, and simply replace them with new scientific knowledge as it becomes available. While Eyring is willing to admit that many LDS beliefs are not directly supported by science, his feeling is that they will be, eventually. This is an attitude I have seen in many other believers - science is trumpeted to the sky as true and wonderful when it is found to be consistent with a religious principle, but is considered "unresolved" or "tentative" when it presents a conflict. The numbers Eyring cites have flipped just in the 40+ years in which he wrote his book: now some 93% of members of the National Academy of Sciences are atheists. So while one lesson of this book may be that any committed scientist can also be a religious believer, another lesson should be that a committed scientist may believe in any sort of unsupported idea and find ingenious ways to make it live consistently with scientific knowledge, especially when he or she has been born into a community believing said unsupported ideas. His writing is clear, concise, dense with keen observation and insight, and I think makes the best case possible for reconciling religious belief with the provisional truths of science. It is worth reading, and I think might be particularly instructive for religious believers who do not accept the tenets of the Mormon restored gospel, as it might provide something of an external lens to their own beliefs. The book contains a number of fun scientific explanations, and freezes in time an interesting slice of history that immediately precedes the moon landings and the information age we now occupy.


Favorite quote from the book is Eyring quoting the famous Louis Pasteur: "There are two men in each one of us: the scientist, he who starts with a clear field and desires to rise to the knowledge of Nature through observation, experimentation and reasoning, and the man of sentiment, the man of belief, the man who mourns his dead children, and who cannot, alas, prove that he will see them again, but who believes that he will, and lives in the hope--the man who will not die like a vibrio, but who feels that the force that is within him cannot die."

Eyring says we all live in 6 worlds - the subatomic world, the atomic world, the cellular world, the 'real world', the astronomical world, and the physical world.

Great book if you can comprehend all the science. Henry Eyring was a world renown chemist and pulls on his experience in chemistry and physics to demonstrate why he feels science proves there is a God, in his opinion. In simple terms, he explains the profound complexity and beauty of the world, as science currently (as of the 1960's) understands it.