Physics, Mathematics, and Providence

Physics, Mathematics, and Providence June 11, 2018


At home in the cosmos
The universe is a remarkably orderly place.  Why?  (Wikimedia Commons)


« Physics does not exclude Providence. Nothing happens without its order or permission, even if this gentle action is not miraculous. Evolution, whether of the universe or of the living world, could be made at random by quantum leaps or mutations. Nevertheless, this chance has, from a superior point of view, been directed towards a goal. For us Christians, it was oriented towards the appearance of life. In what was done, there was life, intelligence and life was light in man and finally in humanity by the incarnation of the Man-God: the true light that illuminated our darkness.

Chance does not exclude Providence. Perhaps chance provides the strokes mysteriously actuated by Providence. »

Georges Lemaître, 1966


« La physique n’exclut pas la providence. Rien n’arrive sans son ordre ou sa permission, même si cette action suave n’a rien de miraculeux. L’évolution, que ce soit celle de l’univers ou du monde vivant, a pu se faire au hasard des sauts quantiques ou des mutations. Néanmoins, ce hasard a pu d’un point de vue supérieur être orienté vers un but. Pour nous chrétien, il a été orienté vers l’apparition de la vie. En ce qui a été fait, il y avait de la vie, de l’intelligence et la vie était lumière chez l’homme et enfin dans l’humanité par l’incarnation de l’Homme-Dieu : la vraie lumière qui a illuminé nos ténèbres.

Le hasard n’exclut pas la Providence. Peut-être le hasard fournit-il les touches qu’actionne mystérieusement la Providence. »


Lemaître, « L’expansion de l’Univers: Réponses à des questions posées par Radio Canada le 15 avril 1966 », Revue des Questions Scientifiques, t. CXXXVIII (5e série, t. XXVIII), avril 1967, n°2, pp. 153-162, version revue et adaptée par O. Godart. In: Dominique Lambert, Georges Lemaître : repères biographiques. Revue des Questions Scientifiques, 2012, 183 (4) : 1-59




“Scientific progress is the discovery of a more and more comprehensive simplicity. . . .  The previous successes give us confidence in the future of science: we become more and more conscious of the fact that the universe is cognizable.”  (Father Georges Lemaître [1894-1966], Belgian astronomer, physicist, and priest, and, arguably, originator of the theory of the “Big Bang”)


“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.”  (Albert Einstein, German-American physicist [1879-1955])


“The mathematician does not study pure mathematics because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it and he delights in it because it is beautiful.”  (Henri Poincaré, French mathematician [1854-1912])


And yet, time and again, pure mathematics has proven itself useful.  Which is rather curious.




“Why Georges Lemaître Should Be as Famous as Einstein”


Wider recognition of the contributions made by Father Lemaître would also, I think, give at least 3.2 seconds’ pause to some of the loud voices who like to dogmatize about the supposed complete incompatibility of science and religion and about the alleged war between them.


Posted from Richmond, Virginia



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