Dr. Steven Weinberg is one of the true, authentic, Renaissance men of our time. He has been called the “Einstein” of our day. He won the Nobel Prize for uniting the electromagnetic and the weak nuclear forces into a single force. He is a founding director of the Jerusalem Winter School of Theoretical Physics, is on the Council of Scholars, the Library of Congress, and he holds honorary doctoral degrees from major universities all over the world. He taught at MIT and Harvard. Nobody since Loren Eiseley and Lewis Thomas has written so beautifully turning science into poetry.
He recently was awarded the Lewis Thomas prize, given to the scholar who “best embodies the scientist as poet.”
He prefaced his acceptance speech by saying, “What a joy to be at a meeting that doesn’t start with an invocation.” He went on to say that the great passion of his life, with science, is to free human beings from the superstition of religion, and he continued:
Religion is an insult to human dignity. Science should be taught ignoring religion. One of the social functions of science is to free humans from superstition.
The whole history of the last thousands of years has been a history of religious persecutions, wars and crusades.
I hope this long sad story, fueled by the progression of priests, ministers and rabbis will come to an end. If science can contribute to this end, it will be the most important contribution we can make, that we see no more of priests, ministers and rabbis. Religion is complete nonsense and terribly damaging to human civilization.
“Religion began when the first knave met the first fool,” said Voltaire. Knaves who empower themselves by perpetuating ignorance and glorifying stupidity, like Billy Graham, who says, “Science is the trouble,” or the Pope who says, “Technology will be the ruin of mankind.” At the same time both benefit to the maximum from science and technology.
The New York Times ran a beautiful profile on Weinberg, making note of the fact that he lost all of his mother’s family in the holocaust, has a brilliant wife who is a professor of Law at the University of Texas, and is so sensitive he “cannot hear La Boheme without dissolving.”
His final thought on the religions of the Bible: “Who could believe in, or worship, such a perverse creator who determines whether you spend an eternity in joy or torment, based on whether or not you believe in him.”
He said that the driving passion of his life has been to free people from religious superstition. Even as it has my own life.