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Michael Faraday … the man who knew science with God!

“The book of nature that we must read is written with the fingers of God.”

(Michael Faraday)

You can not find, perhaps in the whole history of science, a case more inviting to contemplation than “Michael Faraday”, he grew up in a poor family in a London neighborhood, was slow in his learning and did not complete his studies because he was unable to pronounce some letters easily, and even when he was found Humphrey Davy, the famous chemist at the time, was strayed by the discoverer of sodium and potassium, and signs of his genius appeared. He was traveling with him as a servant, and Mr. Davy’s wife worked to remind him of the extent of the decline of that job as possible (1).

Without experience in physics or mathematics, and without wealth or a career in scientific research, you would have expected that no matter how talented Faraday he would inevitably stand at the limits of his hobby, but he did not. We are talking here about one of the greatest scientists of the nineteenth century, the father of electromagnetism. Any student in the various stages of education can only pass the name of this man who was associated with various laws, quantities and innovations that made what we know about physics, and by extension, the entire universe, what it is today. It suffices you to know that without this man’s achievements you would not be able to read these words now.

For this reason, Faraday’s life has attracted the attention of many writers. You will even find his story in nearly every physics book presented to the public. But the most striking in all of this man’s life was, without a doubt, seven years, between the ages of thirteen and twenty, he spent in a bookbinding workshop. After he left school, you usually would not find anyone to dwell on it, there was Faraday self-taught.

Michael Faraday

This type of learning is distinguished from the curricular system in that it allows your passion to lead you, there is no need for you to continue learning things that you do not like just because they are in the school curriculum. Take language classes, for example, literature or geography for a high school student who loves physics, Faraday was free from It all went off to read only what the writers liked in this workshop, but that’s only half the story.

During his workshop, the most influential book on Faraday was “The Improvement of the Mind” (2) by the author, theologian, poet, experimental philosopher, and famous hymn writer in Christian circles, Isaac Watts, in this book Watts provides very important advice on the mechanism of learning and the best ways to benefit From the lectures, reading, conversations, and how to write notes, in fact Watts’s advice was the reason Faraday moved from a bookbinding career to working with Humphrey Davy.

“Improving the Mind” by Isaac Watts

Watts advised his readers to keep a diary for blogging, as well as the importance of attending lectures and exchanging messages with people of common interest. That was the reason why the young Faraday, in his early twenties, accepted an invitation to “Humphrey Davy” lectures, during which he recorded everything the man said organized by He was envied, and when he wanted to work for the man, he sent him these wonderful notes as a gift, and as soon as Davy saw them, he asked him to work as an assistant, and from here began Faraday’s path towards scientific creativity.

But Faraday did not find this book in the binding workshop, it was his book. Faraday was a religious Christian, but he followed a sect called “The Galasians” (3), and it was founded around 1730 by a Christian priest called “John Glas”, who built his ideas on the basis that he says that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, so the Christian church cannot be built or Support them with political weapons or actions on any basis other than the word and spirit of Christ.

From here, Glass was concerned with the literal, committed and devoted application of the words of the Bible, and when he was deposed because of his beliefs from the Church of Scotland, he established his own church, and his ideas spread throughout Europe. , Who was brought up on those teachings.

Robert Sandman

But the followers of this church were relatively few, and they were viewed with a degree of contempt among Christians, perhaps for this reason they did not pay much attention to the matter of preaching their ideas, a point that greatly affected the young Faraday by subordination, as he was not keen on controversy to prove the validity of his religious approach, and thus He would not have used knowledge to confirm the correctness of his way to God, which made him empty for another thing more important to him, which is to use God to confirm to him the correctness of his way in science!

To understand the depth of that idea and its impact on Faraday, let us consider a famous quote in which Faraday says: “The Book of Nature that we must read is written with the fingers of God.” Faraday uses here the metaphor of the two books (4), which says that God revealed himself through the “Book of Nature.” With his organizing laws, and the “Bible” in his historical narration and his consideration of miracles.

But the metaphors of the two books are usually used as an evidence for the existence of God. As for Faraday, he used it to search for truths between the mountains of opinions, intuitions and common sense, so he imagined that scientific facts are the words of God in the Book of Nature. He even once said that “facts never fail us, and their evidence is correct. Always, and his job was to use experimentation to reach those facts, and experimentation in Faraday School was the most important thing in science, and he was interested in theoretical production, but he always distinguished accurately and clearly between experimental facts and theoretical explanations.

Likewise, Faraday set out for the laws of nature. As long as facts are the language of nature, then the laws of nature were the fixed grammatical rules for this language, which link words together in useful sentences. Faraday once wrote: “God deals with his physical creation with his laws.” Faraday believed that God’s creation of the universe included the creation of the laws that They work together in harmony to maintain the balance of its components, and thus they are constant laws.

In his book “Michael Faraday: The Sandman and the World”, George Cantor *, professor of the history of science at the University of Leeds in Britain, says that principles such as “the harmony of nature,” “simplicity as complex as it appears,” and “the unity of nature” were not the end stops on Faraday’s path. That is, he did not reach it through his work in the scope of scientific research, on the contrary, the points from which he started towards scientific research, and therefore Faraday’s efforts to unify electricity, magnetism and light were consistent with his metaphysical convictions.

The Book of “Michael Faraday: The Sandman and the World” by George Cantor

But the matter goes deeper than that, as Faraday had developed (5) a model based on – to some extent – the first law of thermodynamics, “the law of survival of energy”, which says that energy is neither destroyed nor created out of nothing. Converted from one image to another. In a group of lectures he gave in 1846, he explicitly said that God had put a certain amount of power into the creation of the universe, so it could not diminish or increase the universe, because human beings are unable to control God’s creation, whether that power or the laws that He created to govern it.

Faraday’s being, then, is a precise system designed according to a divine plan that laws were used to organize, those original laws are still in force today, due to the perfection of God’s plan, and they are also simple laws on the complexity of nature, and are consistent with each other because they serve one purpose, and are suitable for every time and place because they are Cosmic in nature, and scientists can monitor nature and collect facts wisely by understanding the small number of laws that govern cosmic phenomena, this is the universe that Faraday entered into the domain of science and not what came out with it.

Some may see a contradiction in those ideas with the scientific methodology that may require a complete absence of previous ideas before entering the area of ​​finding facts, but this is unrealistic. Usually we are loaded with previous assumptions, whatever their source, and these ideas may confirm or contradict our scientific results. And, as Karl Popper (6), the most famous philosopher of science, explains, the objectivity and rationality of scientific progress are not due to personal objectivity and the rationality of the scientist himself. Rather, mathematical proof or scientific theories may be discovered by unconscious attempts, guided by inspiration of an aesthetic (or religious, for example) nature. Instead of rational thinking, but Popper – like Faraday, although they differed radically in the philosophy of science that each of them espouses – agreed that this disclosure should be subject to a rational microscope.

Karl Popper

In any case, the case of Faraday opens the door for contemplation of one of the most famous models explaining the possible relationship between religion and science, it is the “dialogue model” (7) which assumes the existence of common ground between the two domains in their previous assumptions, methods and concepts. For example, religious doctrine may have encouraged science, assuming that creation – being a designed product – is an orderly and amenable to rational interaction, so one can expect that there will be laws that can be discovered from this idea, which may have happened in Faraday’s case.

Ian Barbour (8), the American physicist who specializes in the relationship between science and religion, believes that religion can be pushed to something deeper than that. Given that God’s creation by nature is limited in power compared to the total abilities of God, the laws of nature cannot be reached automatically. Rather, some effort must be made in interpreting it, which may prompt the necessity of an empirical investigation or work on building theories, especially since obtaining the religious knowledge itself may require some logic or the creation of intellectual models or metaphors, etc.

Despite the support that this model finds that there is some kind of dialogue or complementarity between science and religion, especially from the clergy, it is not the most common in the field of philosophy that studies science and religion (where philosophers are more inclined to the hypothesis of “non-interference”), and that For two main reasons, the first is that at some point this dialogue will cause a critical contradiction between science and religion, which in turn will lead to the second reason, which is for science to turn into an arena that tries to prove or deny the existence of God.

In the case of Faraday, his previous ideas derived from his doctrine led – along with useful results – to major scientific problems (9) in his thought, for example he had opposed the atomic school based on the same ideas, and he also had reservations about the definition and definition of “energy” What prevented him from advancing in her understanding, the source of these reservations had to do with his belief in a “universe full of energy,” and that God alone knew what it was. Faraday proceeded from that point to reject mechanical philosophy in the first place. On the other hand, you will not find many comments by Faraday on the issue of the creation of the universe, and his religiosity literally did not explain the number of days of the creation of the universe in an interpretation.

But the most inviting reason for contemplation in this context was that the scholars who decided to fight the two worlds together, the world of religion and the world of science, and accomplished in them together, were keenly keen to separate the two domains, and did not slip into the focus of placing religion in scientific conflicts, or placing science in religious conflicts. Perhaps for a simple reason, which is that they know that religious convictions if they lead to scientific ideas, they do not do so literally, that is, they reside in the scientist’s background as a guiding model, not scientific facts recorded in his holy book, whatever it is.

Faraday was one of them, as well as George Lumeter, the Belgian Catholic astronomer and priest who concluded that the universe is expanding and led it to the model of the Big Bang. You may not even know that the Hubble constant is now known as the “Lumeter Hubble constant” as modified by the Astronomers In 2018, to fulfill the man’s right to this most famous constant in cosmology.

Lumeter – although he was the work of a cleric – was perhaps more careful than Faraday himself on that point (10) regarding the separation between science and religion. He often pointed out that “The Bible is not a science book. As long as you realize that, you will get rid of the idea of ​​the contradiction between science.” Religion, “and he referred to this harmony between his work on science and religion once, saying,” I was interested in reaching the truth from the point of view of religious salvation just as I was interested in reaching it from the point of view of scientific certainty. It seemed to me that there were two paths to truth, and I decided to follow both of them. ” “.

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* Basically, the author relied for this report on the book “Michael Faraday: The Sandman and the World”, by George Cantor, Professor of History of Science at the University of Leeds.

Sources

  1. “Electric Boy” – the tenth episode of the documentary Cosmos by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, recommended by the author if you want to get to know Faraday’s life in a fun way
  2. Michael Faraday: Scientist and Nonconformist
  3. Sandemanian
  4. The Book of Nature, the Book of Scripture
  5. Geoffrey Cantor, Michael Faraday: Sandemanian and Scientist
  6. Frame Myth, in Defense of Science and Rationality – Karl Popper
  7. Religion and Science – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy / Translator: Shady Abdel Hafez
  8. Previous source
  9. Geoffrey Cantor, Michael Faraday: Sandemanian and Scientist
  10. Georges Lemaître, the Scientist and Priest who “Could Conceive the Beginning of the Universe”




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