Some time ago, the militant atheist Richard Dawkins began promoting the idea that while he had to admit that there were some scientists who were Christians, the better scientists, (such as members of the National Academy) tend to be atheists or agnostics. This pronouncement, based on one survey, was not seen as very strong evidence of anything, especially since it was news to no one that most scientists are not very religious. What is much more striking is the large number of modern and past scientists who are or have been religious. This fact goes against the concept that Dawkins was trying to promote, namely that being religious was counter to the basic principles of doing good science.
There are lists of famous or high-quality scientists who were or are Christians, including an extensive one on Wikipedia. I often like to cite some of these people when arguing with atheists who trot out the “no true scientist” argument against faith. I took the Wiki list, and edited it down to only those scientists I have heard of, and/or actually know. These names, each with links to a Wiki article about them, are given below. Following that I have added some of the Nobel Laureate scientists who are professing Christians. I post these lists as a resource for myself, and anyone else who might find them useful. The original Wiki list is far more extensive and detailed, so I recommend that one for purposes that require a more comprehensive treatment. The people in bold, are those I know personally.
Historical and Contemporary Christian scientists:
Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle, Gottfried Leibniz, Leonhard Euler, Antoine Lavoisier, Joseph Priestley, Alessandro Volta, Andre Marie Ampere, Michael Faraday, Charles Babbage, James Clerk Maxwell, Gregor Mendel, Asa Gray, Lord Kelvin, George Washington Carver, Arthur Eddington, Ronald Fisher, Georges Lemaître, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Michael Polanyi, Wernher von Braun, Ian Barbour, Francis Collins, Darrel R. Falk, Denis Lamoureux, Alister McGrath, Kenneth R. Miller, Simon C. Morris, Stephen Barr, John D. Barrow, Owen Gingerich, Ard Louis, John Polkinghorne, Jennifer Wiseman, Freeman Dyson, Justin L. Barrett, Denis Alexander
Christian Nobel Laureates in the Sciences:
Alexis Carrel Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Charles Glover Barkla Nobel Prize in Physics
Philipp Lenard Nobel Prize in Physics
Reverend Silas Franklin Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics
Arthur Compton Nobel Prize in Physics.
Ernest Walton Nobel Prize in Physics
Nevill Francis Mott Nobel Prize in Physics
John Eccles Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Arthur Leonard Schawlow Nobel Prize in Physics.
Richard Smalley Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Joseph Murray Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Charles H. Townes Nobel Prize in Physics
Werner Arber Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
John Gurdon Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Peter Agre Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Gerhard Ertl Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Brian Kobilka Nobel Prize Chemistry
Antony Hewish Nobel Prize in Physics
William Daniel Phillips Nobel Prize in Physics
Carlo Rubbia Nobel Prize in Physics
Again, I am publishing this post as a resource for anyone who can use it. It shows the utter bankruptcy of the idea that science and Christian faith are not compatible.
Interesting that you include Isaac Newton as a Christian, seeing as he rejected the trinity and the divinity of Jesus. Is this list more generally of theists?
Newton’s theology was certainly complicated. But I don’t think its that far off to call him a Christian of some kind. He was clearly a theist, and I suppose could be considered a “heretical” Christian (like Bruno, and others). Point being, he believed in God.
Great list, Sy! (Hope you’re doing well–it’s been a while since we last spoke). I notice Justin Barrett’s name was bolded–I wasn’t aware that you knew each other! His work on why humans believe in God is fascinating, but more interesting is his ability to turn evolutionary psychology on its head to demonstrate how often the values of EPs slip into how they report their science. I’m not sure how well you know him, but have you had any conversations with him about this?
P.S. — a great name to add to this is Malcolm Jeeves, a neuropsychologist out of the University of St. Andrews (his book “Minds, Brains, Souls and Gods” is a great resource!).
Noah, thanks. I dont actually know Justin, but we served on an advisory board (for the John Templeton Foundation) together, and interacted a few times. I doubt he would know me. Thanks for the added name. I could have added quite a few more, but I took this list from the Wiki article, and that is who was included.