'God Particle' Theorist Likens Richard Dawkins to Religious Fundamentalists
Peter Higgs, the world famous physicist who introduced the theory of the so-called "God particle," says outspoken atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins needs to realize science and religion aren't necessarily incompatible.
In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, reports Herald Scotland, Higgs said Dawkins is at risk of becoming like those people he usually opposes – fundamentalists.
"What Dawkins does too often is to concentrate his attack on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are just not fundamentalists," said Higgs. "Fundamentalism is another problem. I mean, Dawkins in a way is almost a fundamentalist himself, of another kind."
Dawkins, best-selling author of The God Delusion, recently took to his foundation's website to clarify statements he made in his book, which were just recently brought up in an interview with Al Jazeera and in a Daily Mail article. In his book, the biologist described the damage caused to a child by sexual abuse as "arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic."
In his clarification article, Dawkins further explained his view: "If your whole upbringing, and everything you have ever been told by parents, teachers and priests, has led you to believe, really believe, utterly and completely, that sinners burn in hell, it is entirely plausible that words could have a more long-lasting and damaging effect than deeds."
Higgs, who doesn't subscribe to any religion, says science "weakens" the motivations that cause people to believe in various religions, but that doesn't mean the two are incompatible.
"Anybody who is a convinced but not a dogmatic believer can continue to hold his belief," said Higgs. "It means you have to be rather more careful about the whole debate between science and religion than some people have been in the past."
Higgs also acknowledged that many scientists in the field of physics are religious. He isn't, but ascribes his unbelief to his upbringing and family life rather than to a disparity between science and religion.
This past summer, independent research groups that examined data from the European Organization for Nuclear Research's (CERN) Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland noted that the signature of an unidentified particle resembled the Higgs boson, or "God" particle. This particle, which scientists theorize played an important role in the formation of the universe, is believed to be the key to allowing other particles to form structures such as stars and planets.
Higgs's particle theory was introduced in 1963, and although he has already received numerous awards for his research, some believe the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics is right around the corner.