Giorgio Parisi, Nobel Prize in Physics: a “ma non troppo” secularist who sees no conflict between science and faith

No doubts: Giorgio Parisi, Nobel Prize in Physics 2021 with Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann, is a man militantly leftist and secular, and his award has been celebrated almost as his own by the Italian groups of those tendencies.

But there is much more to say about the intellectual positions of Parisi, not as anti-religious as it seems, according to reports Francesco Agnoli in an article published in Libertà e Person after knowing the award:

What does Giorgio Parisi really think?

After several sporting successes, Italy has also won the Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to Giorgio Parisi.

The decision of the Swedish Academy has excited many and has also caused some other avoidable controversy. In fact, Giorgio Parisi is one of the signatories of a letter from several years ago in which opposed the presence of Benedict XVI at the Sapienza University of Rome, that is to say, in the university of the capital founded by a Pope in the distant 1303.

The Cabibbo case

The memory of this fact has awakened the joy of the militant atheists of the Union of Atheists and Rationalist Agnostics, convinced that they can use this Nobel Prize for their ideological battles, but also the resentment of many Catholics who have asked themselves: “Why that to the catholic Nicola Cabibbo, in 2010, he was not awarded the Nobel And has Giorgio Parisi been granted? “.

Let’s try to understand how things really are, first of all remembering that Nicola Cabibbo (1935-2010) was the teacher of Parisi and of many other great Italian physicists.

Cabibbo, Catholic and President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, did not receive the Nobel due, perhaps, to his proclaimed Catholic faith. Il Corriere della SeraFor example, he published the following headline when he died: “Physicist Cabibbo has died. He was denied the Nobel Prize. He was the ‘father’ of the ideas developed by the two Nobel Prize-winning Japanese physicists, but the award committee did so. excluded “.

Nicola Cabibbo (1935-2010), a great Catholic physicist who died the year of a great scandal: the Nobel Prize was given to the Japanese Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskaw for generalizing an idea of ​​theirs about the mixing of quarks, and whose matrix was known in literature by the name of the three.

Effectively, it was a real scandal, which shows that even the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics can be subject to prejudice and ideology (although much less frequently than the award of the Nobel Prize in Literature or the Nobel Peace Prize, which is not usually linked to actual merit, but to the ideology most appreciated by the Swedish academics of the moment).

It was Parisi himself who, with great gallantry and honesty, declared as soon as he received the coveted award: “The Nobel Prize should have also gone to Nicola Cabibbo; I regret that the decisions of the Nobel Foundation did not go in this direction. “

Science and faith, compatible

That said, does it really make sense to use Parisi to draw, from his religious convictions (he is not a believer), philosophical conclusions about a supposed incompatibility between science and faith?

Absolutely not. Not only because, as we have seen, his teacher Cabibbo was a Catholic, just like the other living Italian Nobel laureate, Carlo Rubbia, but above all because it is Parisi himself who is very clear that certain ideological positions are incompatible with correct philosophical reasoning.

A few sentences from your articles or reports are enough: “I am not religious, but I have never thought of fighting against religion, and less using my authority as a scientist to express myself on these issues. It seems crazy to me, without wanting to judge people who do it: … “;”Science has answers to the world in the world, but it does not explain the why of the world“.

In other words, Parisi knows very well that science does not exclude faith and does not pretend to explain the why of the world, but, and partially, the how.

Smart design?

And he also knows that science itself confronts us today with a universe so extraordinarily well thought out that in the end, when the ‘parameters, the numbers that regulate it, are observed, the impression is that they have been’chosen‘in such a way that they allow the existence of life: so, to the question of why it happens in this way, answers that go beyond science can be given: a possible answer is because there is a project… “.

Parisi does not accidentally use the two words, “chosen” and “project”, because he knows very well that both refer, philosophically speaking, to a transcendent Intelligence and Will (“project”, for example, was the term used by Isaac Newton to speak of the work of God the Creator).

For this reason, Parisi affirms that science does not explain the why of the world and opens up to questions that “They go beyond“He adds that among the” possible “answers, in the sense of logic, is that of the Creator.

Another thing is that this is not the answer that Parisi gives himself, which does not justify the Catholics who criticize the award of the Nobel Prize (it is not understood why an injustice towards Cabibbo should be paid with another equal and opposite towards Parisi ) and not to militant atheists trying to get hold of a scientist who can be defined as “agnostic” and who does not see any incompatibility of principle between science and faith (In fact, their reasoning suggests the opposite).

Parisi and Pascal

The reasoning could be concluded with a phrase from Cabibbo himself: “Science tries to offer an image of the world without shadows. This is true, but by dispersing the shadows one by one, new ones are revealedSo that the scientist finds himself perennially – and in this he is not different from the writer or the artist – living in the middle, in the border zone between light and shadow “.

This phrase is incredibly similar to what the physicist and mystic wrote Blaise pascal centuries ago: “God has put enough light in the world for those who want to believe, but he has also left enough shadows for those who do not want to.”

Translation of Elena Faccia Serrano.

We want to thank the author of this short article for this amazing material

Giorgio Parisi, Nobel Prize in Physics: a “ma non troppo” secularist who sees no conflict between science and faith

Hank Gilbert