Atheism Is Inconsistent With Science, Says Ivy League Physicist Marcelo Gleiser of Dartmouth

Dr. Marcelo Gleiser, who is a physics professor at Dartmouth College, recently sat down for an interview in which he argued that atheism is “inconsistent with the scientific method.”

In an interview that will shock many atheists, Dr. Gleiser said, “I think atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method.”

“What I mean by that is, what is atheism? It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief.”

“‘I don’t believe even though I have no evidence for or against, simply I don’t believe.’ Period,” he said.

“It’s a declaration,” Dr. Gleiser continued. “But in science we don’t really do declarations.”

“We say, ‘Okay, you can have a hypothesis, you have to have some evidence against or for that,'” he explained.

“And so an agnostic would say, look, I have no evidence for God or any kind of god.”

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“What god, first of all? The Maori gods, or the Jewish or Christian or Muslim God? Which god is that?” he asked.

“But on the other hand, an agnostic would acknowledge no right to make a final statement about something he or she doesn’t know about,” he said.

Dr. Gleiser told Scientific American that he finds atheism to be a bridge too far for a scientific mind.

“I believe we should take a much humbler approach to knowledge, in the sense that if you look carefully at the way science works, you’ll see that yes, it is wonderful. Magnificent!”

“But it has limits,” he said. “And we have to understand and respect those limits. And by doing that, by understanding how science advances, science really becomes a deeply spiritual conversation with the mysterious, about all the things we don’t know.”

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Dr. Gleiser reminds us that we are on an “island of knowledge” in the middle of an “ocean of the unknown.” As knowledge advances, we become more aware of what we don’t know. As he puts it:

The paradox of knowledge is that as it expands and the boundary between the known and the unknown changes, you inevitably start to ask questions that you couldn’t even ask before.

His notion that we should not be too proud of what we know and open to the idea that we might discover something tomorrow that changes everything isn’t without precedent.

Lord Kelvin, a brilliant British scientist of the 19th century, claimed that flight was impossible and that X-rays were a hoax. Albert Abraham Michelson, an American physicist also working just before the relativistic and quantum revolutions in physics, suggested that the laws of physics had all been worked out and that the only task left was to improve accuracy in measurement.

If we listened to these two who thought we’d already figured everything out, we’d be stuck in the 1890s.

It may well turn out that the claim “there is no God” could end up being similar to saying, “No balloon and no aeroplane will ever be practically successful” in 1902. Similarly, skepticism of the claim “X doesn’t exist” is also important in science since “X” might show up someday.