Georges Lemaître and Fred Hoyle: Contrasting Characters in Science and Religion

  • Rodney D. Holder
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 395)


Georges Lemaître was a jocular Roman Catholic priest and Fred Hoyle a bluff Yorkshireman who despised organized religion. Both were giants of twentieth century cosmology but espoused diametrically opposed cosmological models. This paper explores the extent to which ideology, and particularly religion, played a part in the controversies over the big bang and steady-state theories. A particular problem for many cosmologists, including Hoyle, was posed by the idea that the universe had a temporal beginning: an eternal, unchanging universe seemed metaphysically preferable. And Hoyle was highly polemical about religion in his popular writings. In contrast, Lemaître saw no theological import from the big bang, and never entered a debate about its theological implications until, perhaps unexpectedly, he took issue with an address given by the Pope. Hoyle's seminal work on stellar nucleosynthesis led him to speak of a ‘superintellect monkeying with physics’ though this was never identified with the God of classical theism. The work of both Lemaître and Hoyle resonates with more recent debates concerning cosmology.


Nonsense Word Radio Broadcast Metaphysical Principle Matter Creation Stellar Nucleosynthesis 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Faraday Institute for Science and ReligionSt Edmund’s CollegeCambridgeUK

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