today. I think I'll spare giving his name, as I talked to him on facebook. But I looked him up on the schools website he claimed to be a PhD student at (Australian National University) and it did indeed have him listed as a PhD student. He's a PhD theoretical physics student, but what I'm about to post may shock and horror you. After a lengthy conversation which involved many other areas where he seemed strangely uneducated for his position in school, I asked him how he thought the Earth formed. Keep in mind that he told me that he accepts that supernovas, planetary nebulas, and helium and carbon burning inside stars occur (sounds like a silly thing to ask someone if they believe or not, but you'd be surprised how necessary it was to ask). Now then, for his answer to how he believes the Earth formed;
"I think God used heavy elements and made it by his hands. heavy elements could be from supernova of some other star. Our sun is too young and not hot enough can only make carbon. So the universe is older than the earth. But the earth is only 10000 years old."
I was at a loss of words. This guy is seriously a PhD theoretical physics student.
People tend to cling to teachings that they absorbed in childhood, even they go on to lead intellectually simulating lives that challenge those teachings.
Many serious and accomplished scientists are persuaded that the natural universe is not "complete", in the mathematical sense of the term. That is, consider some natural phenomenon. Then try to elucidate its cause. And then the cause's cause, and so forth. Eventually, in some people's view, we run out of natural causes, or at least natural causes that we deem to be knowable. The catch-all disclaimer then becomes "Oh, it must be the unmoved mover" - that is, God. This sort of thinking occurs even amongst competent professionals who are quick to dismiss organized religion, with its rituals, "morality" and precepts. And it's pretty common. It is however fairly rare to find young-earth creationists amongst serious scholars of the physical sciences.
Some scientists approach religion from a stance of hedging their bets. They find no proof for God in their research, but neither do they find contravening evidence. In the absence of actionable knowledge, they defer to the tradition in which they were raised - which is more likely to be theistic than not.
Interestingly, engineering is rife with outright fundamentalists, far more so than in the natural sciences. There is something about engineers that allows them to compartmentalize their minds: rabidly skeptical and analytical within the confines of their vocations, yet docile and accepting of unproven diktats in life outside of work. I say this as an engineer, whose workplace is maybe 10-15% atheist/agnostic, 60% lukewarm Christian, and the remainder fundamentalist.
If not goddy whim, then made to look older by satany whim.
Have some fun: satire.
Applied mathematicians sometimes satirize pure (theoretical) mathematicians with this toast: "Here's to pure mathematics; may it never be of use to anyone."
Does that, or either of the following, suggest humor?
Fundamentalist theoretical physicists don't do any laboratory work and therefore don't use inductive reasoning. They believe inductive reasoning is "the apple" and was introduced by Satan.
Or, they spend so much time seated (doing math) that their legs are evolving to vestigial limbs.