Religious and Philosophical Grounds of Max Planck’s Physics
Keywords:faith, metaphysics, truth, religion, horizon of science
Until a few months before his death, Planck claimed he was not a believer and, most of all, he did not believe in a personal God, like the Christian one; at the same time, however, he defined himself as deeply religious.
Even if Planck is famous as a great physicist, he is equally well known for the philosophical thinking which animated his scientific research, in particular a few metaphysical principles which seemed to drive his new discoveries within the modern physics framework. There are many extra-scientific issues in Planck vision: the strong belief that science needs metaphysical foundations; his consistent work as a “truth seeker”, following the idea that science can really unveil some aspect of the truth; the confidence that does exist an order of nature, particularly shown by some fundamental constant, like the quantum of action h; finally, the possibility to find a unique explanation of the physical phenomena, in line with the search for a Theory of Everything.
Even if Planck himself was at first reluctant in accepting the quantum theory, as soon as he convinced himself on the reality of h, he was absolutely ready to contribute to dismantle classical physics, because he thought that the final goal of science is to look for truth. In this paper I try to show that his thinking moved more from philosophy and religion to science than vice-versa, nevertheless this direction didn’t affect negatively his fundamental contributions to the advance of scientific knowledge.