The Spiritual Lives of Scientists

From the 1900s to today, Americans’ sense of self has often relied on their relationships to religion and science.

Despite widespread belief that religion and science are in conflict, many scientists find meaning in spiritual sources.

Even among professional scientists, religion can be both a source of new ideas and a means for describing discoveries that challenge human understanding. Botanist George Washington Carver called his lab “God’s little workshop”; geneticist Barbara McClintock considered her work to be influenced by Buddhism; and physicist Charles Townes believed that his contributions to the invention of the laser were divinely inspired. 

Engraving of George Washington Carver distributed to churches, 1946