by Paul J. Dejillas, Ph.D.
Both the ancient and modern views address the issue of what lies behind the cosmos. What forces propel the universe to exhibit such order and harmony? Or, is there an entity responsible for the creation of the universe? While they address the same questions, the ancient and modern views appear to arrive at different views.
The issue of attributing to a transcendent being as the begetter of all things is still very much unacceptable to science. In itself, the Big-Bang theory does not say anything about who causes the fiery explosion. Nor does it say anything about how the eruption happens, except for what happens immediately after the blazing flare-up and thereafter. The question of what existed or what was before the Big-Bang are from the perspective of the physical sciences meaningless, since in its conception there is no “before.” Everything only begins with the “Big-Bang.” Before this burning explosion, there is no time, not even space. So, even the question of where did the Big-Bang happen also becomes pointless, since there is no place to talk of yet. The Big-Bang does not occur at some definite place or location and there is simply nothing and nobody before it. Time and space only begin after the primordial fiery blast. The question of who causes the Big-Bang is from the scientific perspective then meaningless and there is no need to postulate the existence of a Creator either. Even the question of why there is nothing at all before the Big-Bang becomes irrelevant. The Big-Bang is pure and simple a physical event that marks the beginning of everything.
But in their race for discovering the elusive ultimate reality, scientists are finding it difficult to avoid the issue of a Divine Creator, which theologians, philosophers, and ancient sages have been talking all along as the “ultimate cause of everything,” “the begetter of them all,” or “the beginning of all things.” The belief on the existence of God or Divine Being who causes the Big Bang and, consequently, also responsible for the appearance of the Cosmos is a belief that goes back to the olden times. God, gods, goddesses, and spirits always form an essential part and parcel in creation narratives of great antiquity. Ab initio stories narrate of things that transcend the physical world and discuss the creation of the Cosmos that begins in the spiritual realm. And their stories are as equally compelling and engaging as it is still awe-inspiring and captivating to this contemporary day. These prehistoric stories are communicated to us in terms of myths and legends, the most famous version of which is the Sumerian creation story, Enuma Elish, which tells of the primordial APSU, the Begetter MUMMU and TIAMAT (Thorkild Jacobsen, 1957b:8-20):
“When in the heights Heaven had not been named,
And below, Earth had not been called;
Naught, but primordial APSU, their Begetter,
MUMMU, and TIAMAT---she bore them all;”
The ancients give the planets the names of gods and we use the Roman names to this day: Venus, the brightest, is named goddess of beauty; Mars, having red, the color of blood, the god of war; Mercury, the fastest-moving planet, is named after the messenger of the gods; Saturn, the slowest planet known in ancient times, is named for the god of agriculture; and Jupiter, the second brightest planet, is named for the chief god. Other planets are only discovered recently and are similarly given the names of the gods: Uranus is named for the god of the sky, who is Saturn’s father; Neptune, a see green planet is named for the god of the sea; and Pluto is named for the god of the underworld because it is so far from the light of the Sun (Asimov, 1990).
In the Hebrew Book of Genesis, we are told of a monotheist belief that: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1-2), which is similarly reflected in one view of the Hindu story of creation that speaks of a personal creator, known as the Lord of all creatures, from whom the entire Cosmos and all the other Indian gods and goddesses springs forth. Meanwhile, the Chinese cosmogony speaks of P’an Ku, believed to be the actual Creator and Crafter of the Cosmos; though not regarded as the primal entity, he is said to chisel the universe out of nothing. Among the Greeks, Hesoid’s Theogony speaks of deity named Eurynome who is referred to as “the goddess of all creation, (who) arose from Chaos and separated the sea from the sky,” while the Egyptian myth tells us of the Divine Beings, viz., Ra, Shu, Tefnut, Geb and Nut whose actions created the physical Cosmos (Wiegel 1973:20).
Other cultures and traditions do not speak of a Divine Being, naming it instead in terms of such impersonal names as the “beginning of all things,” “begetter of them all,” or the “Mother of all things.” This is in fact how the ancient Chinese sage Lao Tzu (v. 21, in Hua-Ching Ni, 2003:36) describes the ultimate reality:
Before Heaven and Earth are born, there is something formless and complete in itself. Impalpable and everlasting, silent and undisturbed, standing alone and unchanging, it exercises itself gently, and generates itself inexhaustively in all dimensions. It may be regarded as the Mother of all things.
Lao Tzu (v. 21, 32, 37-38) calls the “Mother of All Things” as “the subtle origin of the whole creation and non-creation (that) existed prior to the beginning of time as the single deep and subtle reality of the universe… It brings all into being” (Hua-Ching Ni, 2003:32). Another perspective of the Hindu tradition, as narrated in the hymns of Rig Veda, sings of the emergence of an impersonal force manifested as male and female principles. We are told that the beginning is void, unmanifested water, and everything is enveloped in darkness. But in this nothingness lies the hidden “One” that comes into being by the power of heat. In the translation of Rig Veda, one finds this ancient belief expressed as follows (RV, X, 129, verse 3): “Darkness was in the beginning hidden by darkness; indistinguishable, all this was water. That which, coming into being, was covered with the void, the One arose through the power of Heat.” What, therefore, the contemporary science referred to as “the ultimate building block” or “ultimate reality” ancient beliefs call it by other names: the “beginning of all things,” “Mother of all things,” or “begetter of all things.”
The Greek philosophers are quite devout in their belief that the Cosmos is made of material objects that are regulated by the laws of nature as well as in their philosophic and scientific approach to understanding reality. They are then also cautious of talking about a Divine Creator, speaking of it instead impersonally as force, energy, or principle. Anaximander talks of it as an eternal, unchanging, and invisible substance that he calls the “Boundless” or “Unlimited” (Don Nardo, 1999:11). Plato calls it the “Demiurge,” the divine architect or craftsman who created the Cosmos not out of nothing but from some raw materials already available (Gary F. Moring, 2002; Robert E. Krebs, 2003). The tendency to refrain from its scientific discourse the idea of a Divine Creator who created the Cosmos out of nothing continues to this day. Like the Greek philosophers, today’s scientists also prefer to call it by other labels or names, pending the scientific discovery that proves the existence of a Divine Creator who created the Cosmos ex nihilo.
The Neoclassical View
As it gradually developed, the neoclassical paradigm begins to exhibit features marked by a materialist, mechanistic, predictable and deterministic, as well as individualist and pragmatic outlook utilizing a method that necessitates the preferential use of mathematics (algebra and calculus, in particular), the only language and communication that, science believes, can lead to achieving empirical truths about reality and human behavior. With these characteristics, the scientific paradigm marches on in its full force propelled by its distinct worldview and animated by the support it gets from both the social sciences and humanities. The concrete achievements of the effects of the scientific paradigm is very well demonstrated during the period of the Industrial Revolution, with its discoveries and inventions, that continue to rapidly advance towards today’s computer-Internet age.
Sadly, this emerging trend at eclecticism and openness on the part of the other disciplines is not happening in the case of both theology and religion during this period; religion remains not only isolationist, but chooses to engage itself in a combative stance against science struggling very hard, through the use of its traditional philosophical approach of pure syllogistic reasoning and metaphysical rumination, to sustain its weakening, if not crumbling, worldview. Thus, while science and technology are advancing rapidly and radically transforming the nature and direction of progress in their own unique ways, religion chooses to stick to its own traditional metaphysical way of explaining reality. There is no more stopping to the shift from the older, "natural" ways of thinking to a new and "unnatural" way of seeing, thinking, and behaving. And it goes without saying that with this change in thinking perspective also comes a new understanding of time and space.
Thus, the neoclassical view teaches that behind time and space are the forces of gravity and the principles of materialism, determinism, and causality. The net effect is that God no longer enters into the time-space equation. As firm believers in materialism, the proponents of this view find themselves either silent about their personal religious beliefs in public or if conditions require for them to express it, they find themselves expressing their theistic or agnostic beliefs to their trusted friends. Newton himself never abandons his personal belief on the existence of a God; in fact, he claims he sees evidences of a design in the Cosmos. Additionally, he is convinced that his law of gravity cannot explain who set the planets in motion. But true to his scientific belief he already hints the emerging view that it is not the objective of science to know the ultimate causes beyond the realm of the physical Cosmos.
Thus, the question of who created the primal atom or the first matter and energy as well as time and space is not within the jurisdiction of science since outside the physis there is no other reality and, consequently, there are also no other observable phenomena. Deep inside the Newtonian materialist-atomistic view, however, is also the prevailing conviction that God must have caused this primitive atom and that He/She continues to govern and rule the Cosmos in times of planetary irregularities and instabilities. Penrose interprets Newtonian concepts of determinism and causality to mean that “initial data at one particular time completely fix the behavior at all other times” (Penrose, 1991:214). Let me quote Newton verbally (Opticks, 1971):
It seems probable to me that God in the beginning formed matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles, of such sizes and figures, and such other properties, and in such proportion to space, as most conducive to the end for which he formed them; and that these primitive particles being solids, are incomparably harder than any porous bodies compounded of them, even so very hard, as ever to wear and break in pieces; no ordinary power being able to divide what God himself made one in the first creation.
But, nonetheless, while not dismissing the idea of a God, he opines that God is no longer necessary in the equation for explaining and understanding reality since, according to him, God, through mathematics, makes everything intelligible for human comprehension. Newton is given the credit for the development of integral and differential calculus, the reason why he heavily communicates his ideas and theories to his readers in terms of mathematics and its accompanying discursive and syllogistic reasoning, instead of symbols and myths. Thus, by this conviction and strict adherence to the use of mathematics in arriving at the truth, the liberation, so to say, of humanity from superstition and magic begins to be embedded into this new paradigm that would eventually dislodge religion and its metaphysical approach from its pedestal of power and influence. Commenting on Newton’s implied theistic worldview of cosmology, theoretical physicist Fritjof Capra advances the following interpretation (2000:45):
In the Newtonian view, God had created, in the beginning, the material particles, the forces between them, and the fundamental laws of motion. In this way, the whole universe was set in motion and it has continued to run ever since, like a machine, governed by immutable laws.
Indeed, the whole cosmic system, in the view of science, is likened to a giant machine wherein the operation of its constitutive parts runs in a clock-work precision according to the Newtonian physical laws of motion. This mechanistic outlook describes a philosophy that tries to explain all natural phenomena and events in terms of the God-caused primal matter and motion, a theory that became influential that it was even believed to also operate in non-physical realities like human thoughts and emotions, thus, in effect regarding both physical and nonphysical as mechanical, subject to the physical laws of motion. As physicist Fred Alan Wolf (b. 1934) comments on these Newtonian laws of motion and causation (1981:42):
Even our thoughts were to be explained somehow by Newton’s machine. The “hand of God” had set the machine in motion eons ago, and no one could stop it. All consequences, all ideas, all human thoughts occurred because of this initial cause a long time ago. In other words, nothing was left to chance. Everything had already been determined by God. This view was known as determinism.
Astronomers Paul Davies and John Gribbin (1992) echo the same interpretation of the Newtonian view of mechanism: “In its simplest terms, mechanism is the belief that the physical Universe is nothing but a collection of material particles in interaction, a gigantic purposeless machine. . . .” And since everything can be explained in mechanical terms, everything now becomes predictable and determinable. In the view of science, therefore, its materialistic-mechanistic view of the Cosmos are essentially associated with determinism. The future as well as the past, given the available physical conditions, e.g., mass, velocity, speed, can be completely comprehended and determined with great accuracy.
There is no such thing as uncertainty, unpredictability, and probabilities. For everything has been fixed by the physical laws of the Cosmos. The role of God becomes no longer prominent, although, in the Newtonian view, God must have caused and determined everything from the very beginning. Thus, the Cosmos becomes viewed as being completely not only determinate but also causal. According to this law, the present and the future are effects and consequences of the past; to all intents and purposes, they are caused by past actions and events. As Wolf (1981:42), speaking of Newton’s determinist and causal view, remarks:
The “hand of God” had set the machine in motion eons ago, and no one could stop it. All consequences, all ideas, all human thoughts occurred because of this initial cause a long time ago. In other words, nothing was left to chance. Everything had already been determined by God. This view was known as determinism.
K.G. Denbigh (1975:111) puts this view in another manner saying that the principles of causality and determinism affirm that “everything that happens, even our own thoughts and actions, occurs of necessity, as if it were fixed in advance.
The principle of causality or the principle of determinism refers to something which is very much more far-reaching. For indeed what these so-called principles seem to assert is that everything that happens, even our own thoughts and actions, occurs of necessity, as if it were fixed in advance. 117 (Denbigh, K.G. 1975:111)
Put in another way, an event or experience is at once a record of past experiences and a prediction of what we are to expect and what is to come. Capra (2000:45) presents his view on the Newtonian view of cause and effect as follows:
The giant cosmic machine was seen as being completely causal and determinate. All that happened had a definite cause and gave rise to a definite effect, and the future of any part of the system could—in principle—be predicted with absolute certainty if its state at any time was known in all details.
Science is very much interested in the search for the ultimate reality, which, it believes, primarily contains the primal matter (together with its laws of motion, and even time and space) that is responsible for the appearance of all the phenomena we see around us. The idea of a God as the ultimate nature of reality still lurks in the minds of physicists and such an idea cannot be ignored in their quest for truth through science and mathematics. The issue of proving or disproving God’s existence will thus continue to pester science. But scientists will obstinately cling to the rigor of their newly discovered method; and as Albert Einstein puts it (1954:221): “The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws.” Physicist Frank Tipler (1994:3) daringly ventures to say: “If God is real, physicists will eventually find Him/Her.” The search for the ultimate reality is arduous and elusive.
Capra notes that as of 1935 the number of subatomic particles discovered was six, which increased to 18 in 1955. At the time he was writing his famous book Tao of Physics (2000:75), the number increased to more than 200 particles in view of the discovery of more sophisticated particle detection devices and more refined experimental techniques. And the search still goes on today since what is discovered and thought of as the ultimate particle simply gives rise to the appearance still another tinier particle. Others, perhaps getting tired of running after the ultimate reality, have long abandoned the search but the effort of the few who continue the race to be the first to discover the primal reality is giving a glimmer of hope among non-physicists that the ultimate reality could lead to what physicist Leon Lederman may have perhaps hinted in his book The God Particle (2006) when he said that “We are on the threshold of the private driveway that leads to the God particle.”
In the meantime, this interest for knowing the ultimate reality occasions the birth to another very important method in science, now popularly known as reductionism. In physics, the reductionist method necessitates that atoms are broken down and reduced into their fundamental constituent parts for the purpose of explaining their behaviors. It is ‘smashing off’ particles or ‘chopping up’ individuals into still smaller elements (American biologist Wilson, 1998:105). Reductionism becomes highly popular especially because of the invention of telescopes and microscopes. The underlying philosophy behind the use of this method is the belief that reality can be understood by breaking it down into its primitive or simple elements. As many scientists maintain:
(The) reductionist view (maintains) that a system can be understood by breaking it down and studying each piece. This view has been prevalent in science in part because there are so many systems for which the behavior of the whole is indeed the sum of its parts.
The reductionist method is also applied to other fields of disciplines since it is believed that even the social sciences as well as the humanities can be reduced to their physical constituents. Thus, according to this view, religion as well as economics, sociology, political science, psychology, and anthropology can ultimately be reduced to physics, even as physicist Stephen Hawking believes that biology can be reduced to chemistry, and chemistry to physics. The sciences then become ordered according to their natural origins or beginnings, just as everything around us is understandable and traceable to their primal reality. In Hawking’s own words (1997:169):
I’m an unashamed reductionist. I believe that the laws of biology can be reduced to those of chemistry. We have already seen this happening with the discovery of the structure of DNA. And I further believe that the laws of chemistry can be reduced to those of physics.
In all this, science primarily relies upon empirical data and experiences as a basis for the acquisition and advancement of knowledge. This approach in effect proposes a shift of humanity’s concern towards the observation as well as investigation of facts, a radical departure from the metaphysical-transcendent-based approach of the ancient. In the context of science, progress is physical, mechanical, and deterministic.
At its early stage of development, science could not do anything about its radical stance against religion for two main reasons: (1) its outlook orients itself to directly observe empirical phenomena or scientifically observable facts, which is the only reality it considers; a metaphysical belief of a nonmaterial or transcendent Being is beyond anybody’s actual sense-based experience; and (2) its method necessitates the preferential use of mathematics (algebra and calculus, in particular), the only language and communication that, science believes, can lead to achieving empirical truths about reality. By shifting away from the metaphysical realm and abandoning the use of symbols and mythical stories, scientists are forced by necessity to adopt an agnostic attitude or stance, if by agnosticism we mean the impossibility, from the viewpoint of science, of proving either the existence or nonexistence of a Divine Being. To adopt an agnostic stance is thus a necessary ensuing scientific attitude, or a methodic doubt (to use the phraseology of philosopher and mathematician René Descartes) and because of this, it is no wonder why the scientific advance during this period was likewise accompanied by a growth of agnosticism.
The Quantum View
With this new worldview, we ask: What happens to religion in quantum physics?
The Newtonian philosophy that matter consists of solid particles governed by the natural laws of motion is in fact applied in the quantum world. However, the results so far, as demonstrated in the above findings, only open the possibility of entertaining (though without yet fully accepting) the existence of a metaphysical world. This is because of the presence and important role of the conscious observer who is moved by the action of the mind and free will. These innate human faculties exhibit capabilities for knowing transcendental concepts, including such metaphysical notions as soul, spirit, and God, which use to be the domain of religion and theology. The quantum physicist’s view about religion, however, is still quite ambivalent and at times ambiguous at this stage. This view is reflected in a conversation of four prominent quantum physicists: Pauli, Heisenberg, Dirac, and Neils Bohr. Although they are only four they also express their interpretations of the views of Max Planck and Albert Einstein. We can even include the views of contemporary physicists like Stephen Hawking, Frank Tipler, and Leon Lederman who also expressed their views clearly on the subject. Nonetheless, in the end, I find all their views differing, if not at all conflicting.
Before presenting their views, however, let me present the background underlying the conflict between religion and science. One area of conflict between the two disciplines is methodological in nature, says Colin A. Russel (2002:3-12). Modern science derives its knowledge about the origin of the Cosmos based on the assumption that reality is physical. For verification, this assumption is then subjected through rigorous empirical investigation, experimental testing, and replications of laboratory experiments in various settings utilizing the consistency of logic and the precision of mathematics. Physicists are open to peer reviews and critical attacks and are even willing to abandon their theories if these do not conform to what is happening in the observable world; they are willing to discard their theories in the light of new empirical discoveries. This is a lesson we all witnessed in the past and will certainly still experience in the future; theories found to be true are discarded in view of new understandings about the natural phenomena. Theories, or truths for that matter, are, in the view of science, relative depending on whether they fit the observable world or not. Even then, only those found to be most useful and adequate in explaining reality is cherished. But in the end what ultimately stands out as the most definitive and valid explanation becomes universally accepted by the whole scientific community, without discounting the eventuality, of course, that this could still be challenged and replaced once objective conditions change.
This is not the same in the case of religion. Religion relies heavily on the acceptance of faith on those truths known through its sacred scriptures, through revelations, and through the interpretations by the institutional Churches or their respective priests, ministers, prophets, gurus, sages, rabbis, imams, or masters. Those who do not subscribe to the proclaimed truths are ‘in error’ (Kurtz 2003). ‘Gospel,’ ‘revealed,’ and ‘interpreted’ truths are considered great dogmas that are to be accepted blindly and never to be doubted, much less questioned or attacked. Religious people, then, tend to hang on to their truths tenaciously. They are considered timeless and immutable. In the centuries past, as it is today, the authority of the institutional Churches reign supreme. What happens, then, when a scientific discovery contradicts the authority of the Church? Which should prevail? Answers to this kind of problems have always been elusive, made more severe by the presence of several religious persuasions—Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, esoteric beliefs, local religious faiths—whose teachings are, in many ways, also in conflict with each other. Because of these differences, science and religion remain implacably opposed to each other. These religious traditions have other methods for knowing and explaining our nature and origin.
Ancient Mesopotamian cultures, for example, believe in the power of myths, legends, divination, magic, witchcraft, and other occult practices, a belief that is still shared by many today (Sitchin, 1976; Eliade 1977). Ancient mythology relies upon the wisdom of storytellers to expound on their understanding of the Cosmos and humanity. Ancient astrologers believe that the alignment and behavior of stars, moon, and planets affect the individual’s birth, moods, fortunes, and destiny—a belief that has persisted to this day as evidenced in the many newspapers that still carry a ‘horoscope’ and ‘fortune-telling’ section for those who seek advice from the stars. Then, there are the other disciplines that also have their stakes. Several critics insist that many scientific, religious, or mythical findings could not be applied to one or another aspect of human behavior, e.g., in politics, economics, arts, or human psychology. As a consequence, tensions and debates continually mount, oftentimes expressed, every now and then, in the form of slogans: ‘separation between the State and the Church,’ ‘yes to abortion,’ ‘yes to same sex marriage,’ ‘allow divorce,’ ‘individual freedom,’ ‘press freedom,’ ‘academic freedom,’ ‘cultural diversity,’ ‘no to foreign intervention,’ ‘capitalism,’ communism, democracy, and many other ethical issues that have their impact not only on the lives and behavior of the individual, but also of the family, society, culture, economy, politics, and governance.
Until now, the controversy remains unresolved; issues hurled against each opposing camp remain inconclusive and indefinite; and, science and religion remain as ever divided on the methodological issue as they were more than three centuries ago. But the controversy between science and religion is also reflected in the views of prominent quantum physicists themselves. In an informal discussion one evening during the Slvay Conference sometime in 1927, Wolfgang Pauli asks Werner Heisenberg about Max Planck’s views on science and religion. Unhesitatingly, Heisenberg puts forward his views on the conflict between the two disciplines and noting in the end that he uses his “freedom and come down squarely on the side of the Christian tradition:” Science is concerned with the objective, material world for the purpose of discovering what is true or not, while religion, according to him deals with the nonphysical facet of reality to know what is good or evil. In brief, in his view, science is about the objective side of reality, while religion is about the subjective aspect. In view of this, Heisenberg assumes that Planck also considers religion and science compatible because they refer to distinct facets of reality (1958:83).
Wolfgang Pauli interrupts saying that his views on God is closer to that of Einstein’s conception whom he believes is not tied to any religious tradition and finds the idea of a personal God strangely foreign to him. But like Planck, Pauli says that Einstein does not divide science and religion since “the central order is part of the subjective as well as the objective realm, and this strikes me as being a far better starting point” (in Heisenberg, 1958:87-88). Paul Dirac, on his part, advances a more radical view saying that: “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.” Neils Bohr, after being told of Paul Dirac’s view of religion and God, tends to defend religion expressing that: “The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality.”
The time of the discussion is in the late 1920s when physicists are just about beginning to discover several startling ideas about reality in the quantum world. But even today physicists remain steadfast in their methods at arriving at truth and, as Stephen Hawking states, if God exists, then, science will discover this because only science works. Frank Tipler (1994) shares the same:
The universe is defined to be the totality of all that exists, the totality of reality. Thus, by definition, if God exists, He/She is either the universe or part of it. The goal of physics is understanding the ultimate nature of reality. If God is real, physicists will eventually find Him/Her.
And the expectation is enkindled by Leon Lederman in his work The God Particle (2006) when he advances the idea that humanity is in the threshold of finding the God particle.
 As quoted in Macdonell’s translation [A.A. Macdonell, A Vedic Reader for Students (reprinted Madras, 1951)]. The above quotation appears in R. F. Gombrich, 1975:114-115).
See M. P. Crossland (ed.). 1971. The Science of Matter: History of Science. Readings, Baltimore, Md.: Penguin Books. Quoted in Fritjof Capra, 2000, p. 45.
The application of mathematics in physical science can be traced back to Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) who thought of it “as opening to us the very heart of Nature, as enabling us to read the book of Nature” … and suggesting that “the world is intelligible or ‘rational’” (Frederick Copleston, 1960:187, vol. 6, Part II).
Margaret J. Osler (2002:145) lists the following philosophers as the “early advocates of the mechanical philosophy included David van Goorle (d. 1612), Sebastian Bass (fl. 1550-1600), and various members of the Northumberland Circle, of which Walter Warner (c. 1570-c.1642), Thomas Hariot (1560-1621), and Nicholas Hill (c. 1570-1610) were members. Isaac Beeckman (1588-1637), a Dutch schoolmaster, also advocated a mechanical view of nature and was instrumental in encouraging both Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) and Rene Descartes (1596-1650) to adopt the mechanical philosophy.”
The determinist view is expressed mathematically in Newtonian mechanics as follows: “If the positions, velocities, and masses of the various particles are specified at one time, then their positions and velocities (and their masses)—these being taken to be constant) are mathematically determined for all later times” (Penrose, 1991:167).
In 1946, George Gamow, a Russian-born scientist, proposed that the primeval fireball, the "big bang," was an intense concentration of pure energy. It was the source of all the matter that now exists in the universe.
Allan Guth surmises that the recipe for the standard big bang universe at an age of one second would include the following lists: 1089 photons; 1089 electrons; 1089 positrons; 1089 neutrinos; 1089 antineutrinos 1079 protons; 1079 neutrons.
 James P., J. Crutchfield, Doyne Farmer, Norman H Packard, and Robert Shaw. 1986. “Chaos,” In Scientific American. December 1986, p. 38. Quoted in Paul Davies, 1988:102.
See his “The Objections of an Unashamed Reductionist.” In Roger Penrose. 1997. The Large, the Smart and the Human Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. With Abner Shimony, Nancy Cartwright, and Stephen Hawking. Edited by Malcolm Longair. Pp. 169-172.
Several cases have been noted where an individual thinker undergoes a shift from theism to agnosticism. For example, George John Romanes (1848-1894) initially was a religious believer but later turned agnostic, then, becoming a pantheist, and back in the direction of Christian theism.
For the complete account, see Werner Heisenberg, 1958.