This I Believe

Sabine, Paul Earls


  • Paul Sabine describes how his early beliefs were fractured into those about physical realities and those about spiritual realities, but now he believes modern physics has given him the framework to harmonize his beliefs into a coherant whole.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dr. Paul E. Sabine is one of the world’s leading experts on the control of sound. For twenty-eight years he was director of the Acoustical Research for the Riverbank Laboratories at Geneva, Illinois. He has helped to solve a variety of problems of sound, from the development of hearing aids to the perfection of acoustics in Radio City Music Hall. The author of “Atoms, Men and God” he has also done some thinking along philosophical lines. Here is Doctor Paul E. Sabine.
Being a physicist, I believe that atoms and their constituent electrons, neutrons, and protons are realities in the scientific world of physics. As one reared in the Christian tradition, I also believe that God and the human soul are realities in the world of spiritual values. In my earlier years, that covered my religious and scientific beliefs. Further, I believed that the two worlds of science and religion were separate and distinct regions of thought. My personal philosophy then could be fairly described as a god-tinctured humanism.
Intellectually, it was something uncomfortable to live with. Neither work nor worship was fully satisfied.
Both my scientific conscience and my religious conscience troubled me. In this situation, modern theories of the nature of physical reality came to my rescue. Modern science sees the physical universe as an open world, a continuous process of cosmic evolution. With this concept, we can believe that physical laws and non-physical influences can both operate to control the sequence of events in nature.
The rigorous mechanical laws of the older physics have been supplemented by statistical laws that allow for chance and purpose as possible factors that operate in the natural world.
In such a world, belief in human freedom and divine purpose are scientifically tenable. All this I steadfastly believe. In this belief, God becomes for me an effective reality in the world of men and things. Man is not a helpless puppet in the hands of a blind fate, but an active and effective participant in his own physical and spiritual evolution.
I no longer think of God as a celestial mechanic who observed the union rule of a six-day week in creating the world. A simple change of tense in the Biblical record brings the religious and the scientific accounts of human and cosmic origin into the same field of vision. If I read that first verse in Genesis,
‘From the beginning, God is creating the heavens and the Earth,’ I enhance my conception of both God and nature.
In the same manner, I can bridge, in thought, the chasm between God and man. From the beginning, God is creating man in his own image. With this binocular vision, the whole scheme of salvation, hitherto a major stumbling block for me, appears as the extension of biological evolution into human history, rather than a redemptive plan of an offended deity for a fallen subject. With this new outlook, the religious quest and the scientific quest have a common source and a common goal.
Religion becomes the response of man’s soul to the spiritual elements of his total environment. Science is the response of man’s mind to the ever-present mystery of the world of nature. Both are necessary elements in the process of adapting the dual nature of man to the dual nature of man’s world.
That was Doctor Paul E. Sabine a leading authority on acoustics.