Erwin Schroedinger – Nobel Laureate In Physics
Education: Ph.D. in physics, University of Vienna, Austria, 1910
Occupation: Professor of Physics at the Universities of Stuttgart, Jena, Berlin, Zurich, Oxford, and Vienna
1. Schroedinger claims that science is a creative game with rules, which are designed by God himself:
“Science is a game – but a game with reality, a game with sharpened knives.
If a man cuts a picture carefully into 1000 pieces, you solve the puzzle when you reassemble the pieces into a picture; in the success or failure, both your intelligences compete.
In the presentation of a scientific problem, the other player is the good Lord. He has not only set the problem but also has devised the rules of the game – but they are not completely known, half of them are left for you to discover or to deduce.
The uncertainty is how many of the rules God himself has permanently ordained, and how many apparently are caused by your own mental inertia, while the solution generally becomes possible only through freedom from its limitations. This is perhaps the most exciting thing in the game.” (Schroedinger, as cited in Moore 1990, 348).
2. “I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity.
Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously.” (Schroedinger 1954, 93).
3. Schroedinger emphatically denies the claim of some theists that the essence of science is atheistic:
“I shall quite briefly mention here the notorious atheism of science. The theists reproach it for this again and again. Unjustly. A personal God can not be encountered in a world picture that becomes accessible only at the price that everything personal is excluded from it.
We know that whenever God is experienced, it is an experience exactly as real as a direct sense impression, as real as one’s own personality. As such He must be missing from the space-time picture. ‘I do not meet with God in space and time’, so says the honest scientific thinker, and for that reason he is reproached by those in whose catechism it is nevertheless stated: ‘God is Spirit’.” (Schroedinger, as cited in Moore 1990, 379; see also Schroedinger’s Mind and Matter, Cambridge University Press, 1958, p. 68).
4. Schroedinger maintains that the human technical inventions have caused a deterioration in Nature:
“The grave error in a technically directed cultural drive is that it sees its highest goal in the possibility of achieving an alteration of Nature. It hopes to set itself in the place of God, so that it may force upon the divine will some petty conventions of its dust-born mind.” (Schroedinger, as cited in Moore 1990, 349).
5. In his book Nature and the Greeks Schroedinger states:
“Whence came I, whither go I? Science cannot tell us a word about why music delights us, of why and how an old song can move us to tears.
Science is reticent too when it is a question of the great Unity – the One of Parmenides – of which we all somehow form part, to which we belong. The most popular name for it in our time is God – with a capital ‘G’.
Whence come I and whither go I? That is the great unfathomable question, the same for every one of us. Science has no answer to it.” (Schroedinger 1954, 95-96).
6. Walter Moore (Professor Emeritus of Physical Chemistry at the University of Sydney, Australia) writes that Schroedinger’s best loved quotation from the Vedas is this:
“Who sees the Lord dwelling alike in all beings
Perishing not as they perish
He sees indeed. For, when he sees the Lord
Dwelling in everything, he harms not self by self.
This is the highest way.”
(Walter Moore, Schroedinger: Life and Thought, Cambridge University Press, 1990, 349).
Regarding this verse Schroedinger says: “These beautiful words need no commentary. Here mercy and goodness towards all living things (not merely fellow human beings) are glorified as the highest attainable goal – almost in the sense of Albert Schweitzer’s reverence for life.” (Schroedinger, as cited in Moore 1990, 349 and 477).
7. Schroedinger denies Materialism (i.e. the theory that matter is the only reality). Schroedinger affirms that human consciousness is absolutely different from the material bodily processes: “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.” (Schroedinger 1984, 334).
8. “Now I shall not keep free of metaphysics, nor even of mysticism; they play a role in all that follows.
We living beings all belong to one another, we are all actually members or aspects of a single Being, which we may in western terminology call God, while in the Upanishads it is called Brahman.” (Schroedinger, as cited in Moore 1990, 477).
In his book Mind and Matter Schroedinger writes: “One thing can be claimed in favour of the mystical teaching of the ‘identity’ of all minds with each other and with the Supreme Mind – as against the fearful monadology of Leibniz. The doctrine of identity can claim that it is clinched by the empirical fact that consciousness is never experienced in the plural, only in the singular. Not only has none of us experienced more than one consciousness, but there is also no trace of circumstantial evidence of this ever happening anywhere in the world. If I say that there cannot be more than one consciousness in the same mind, this seems to be blunt tautology – we are quite unable to imagine the contrary.” (Schroedinger 1958).
9. The science writer Ken Wilber states: “My book Quantum Questions centered on the remarkable fact that virtually every one of the great pioneers of modern physics – men like Einstein, Schroedinger and Heisenberg – were spiritual mystics of one sort or another, an altogether extraordinary situation. The hardest of the sciences, physics, had run smack into the tenderest of religions, mysticism. Why? And what exactly was mysticism, anyway?
So I collected the writings of Einstein, Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Louis de Broglie, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli, Sir Arthur Eddington, and Sir James Jeans. The scientific genius of these men is beyond dispute (all but two were Nobel laureates); what is so amazing, as I said, is that they all shared a profoundly spiritual or mystical worldview, which is perhaps the last thing one would expect from pioneering scientists.” (Wilber 1998, 16).
See Schroedinger’s books:
– My View of the World. Cambridge University Press, 1964.
– Mind and Matter. Cambridge University Press, 1958.
– What Is Life? New York: Doubleday, 1956.