LIFE AS MYTH

Index

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JOURNAL

Index

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JOURNAL 2006

Scheherazade Project

Telling untold stories

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AUTUMN 2006

Moths and moons and metamorphosis

Index 2006

A time to tell stories

Naming the full moon

Writing on the moon

The twin side of the sun

Moths and moons and metamorphosis

The very idea of God

Moonrise

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LIFEWORKS

About

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ARCHIVES

Index

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AUTUMN 2006
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THE VERY IDEA OF GOD

Wolfgang Pauli

Paul Dirac

(clockwise) Carl Jung, Wolfgang Pauli, Paul Dirac.

Austrian theoretical physicist Wolgang Pauli discovered the exclusion principle and also made a significant contribution to the theory of spin. In 1931, following his divorce from his first wife and shortly after his postulation of the neutrino, he had a nervous breakdown. During that period, he recorded close to 1400 dreams, many of which were archetypal in nature. Pauli subsequenlty consulted psychologist Carl Jung who analyzed 400 of those dreams. Numerous books explore the analytic relationship between the two men and Jung's analysis of Pauli's dreams.

Werner Heisenberg [in Science and Religion, 1927] writes of a conversation at the 1927 Solvay Conference about Einstein and Planck's views on religion. Wolfgang Pauli, Paul Dirac and Heisenberg took part in it.

" 'I don't know why we are talking about religion,' he (Dirac) objected. 'If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination. It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes, we have no need for such solutions. I can't for the life of me see how the postulate of an Almighty God helps us in any way.

" '. . . I dislike religious myths on principle . . . if only because the myths of the different religions contradict one another. . . Belief in God merely encourages us to think that God wills us to submit to a higher force, and it is this idea which helps to preserve social structures that may have been perfectly good in their day but no longer fit the modern world. All your talk of a wider context and the like strikes me as quite unacceptable. . . (Y)our wider context is nothing but a mental superstructure added a posteriori.'

"And so the discussion continued, and we were all of us surprised to notice that Wolfgang was keeping so silent. He would pull a long face or smile rather maliciously from time to time, but he said nothing. In the end, we had to ask him to tell us what he thought. He seemed a little surprised and then said:

" 'Well, our friend Dirac, too, has a religion, and its guiding principle is: 'There is no God and Dirac is His prophet.' "

 

 

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