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Who said: “I have no satisfaction in formulas unless I feel their arithmetical magnitude.”
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Thumbnail of Baron William Thomson Kelvin (source)
Baron William Thomson Kelvin
(26 Jun 1824 - 17 Dec 1907)

Irish physicist, mathematician and engineer , born as William Thomson in Ireland, he became an influential physicist, mathematician and engineer who has been described as the Newton of his era.

William Thomson Kelvin
“Science is not antagonistic to religion”

Illustrated Quote - Medium (500 x 250 px)

[[pic2]]“Let nobody be afraid of true freedom of thought. Let us be free in thought and criticism; but, with freedom, we are bound to come to the conclusion that science is not antagonistic to religion, but a help to it.”
— William Thomson Kelvin
As quoted in The Life of Lord Kelvin (1910).

More William Thomson Kelvin quotes on science >>

Lord Kelvin was presiding at a lecture by Professor Henslow on “Present Day Rationalism,” before the University College Christian Association in London. When the speaker was closing his talk, he stated that modern science neither affirms nor denies creative power in the origin of life. According to an account in the magazine The Dolphin (Jul 1903), to this Kelvin

‘replied with some warmth that science does and must positively affirm creative power since biology makes every one feel the miracle of life in himself.

He said that modern biologists are coming once more to complete acceptance of a vital principle as the source of vital phenomena. He asked:

“Is there anything so absurd as to believe that a number of atoms falling together of their own accord can by any chance make a sprig of moss, a microbe or a living animal? Nobody can think that any such process even in millions and millions of years could unaided give us a beautiful world like ours?”

He added,

“Let nobody be afraid of true freedom of thought. Let us be free in thought and criticism, but with freedom we are bound to come to the conclusion that science is not antagonistic, but is a help to religion."

Lord Kelvin closed his brief but weighty confession of faith with this striking passage:

“Forty years ago I asked Liebig walking somewhere in the country, if he believed that the grass and flowers which we saw around us grew by mere chemical force. He answered no, I believe it no more than I could believe that a book of botany describing them could grow by mere chemical force.”

One of Lord Kelvin's expressions is,

“Every action of the human free-will is a miracle to physical, and chemical, and mathematical science.” ’

Webmaster has not been able to identify which newspaper may have been the primary source of the quote, but it is confirmed by a narrative version of Kelvin's statements that appeared in the New York Times (14 May 1903).1  Kelvin’s remarks continued to be quoted in various religious publications2 in the following two decades.

1 'Lord Kelvin on Creative Intelligence', New York Times (14 May 1903), 8.
2 For example, Arthur Holmes, 'The Faith of the Scientist' in The Biblical World (1916), 48, 7.

First and last paragraphs by Webmaster, with all the other paragraphs reproduced as written in 'Recent Science Notes: Lord Kelvin and the Argument from Design', The Dolphin (Jul 1903), 4, 80. (source)

See also:

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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