Religious interferences at the origin of cosmology? The case of Georges Lemaître


  • Dominique Lambert Université de Namur. Académie Royale de Belgique



Lemaître, Primeaval Atom, Einstein, Steady State, Creation, Cosmology


In this contribution we are aiming to study the influences Georges Lemaître’s work underwent due to some religious and anti-religious ideas. It is well-known that during his career Lemaître faced criticisms coming from non believing scientists who reproached him wrongly to have developed his primeval atom cosmology for apologetic reasons. The essence of this (wrong, in the case of Lemaître) reproach is the fact that “good” scientific contents cannot be influenced or parasitized by metaphysical or religious ideas. Nevertheless, we will see that it happens to be that religious and theological ideas can play an important role inside the science discovery processes, not at the level of epistemic contents but as an extrinsic stimulation of the scientist’s action or as an epistemological tool helping to clarify the use of some fundamental concepts or notions.

It is perfectly justified to avoid the confusion between science and religion. This can be motivated by the right aim to respect the specific autonomy of each level of knowledge and by the need to avoid any form of concordism. But eschewing all influences of religious or theological ideas in the understanding of scientific discovery contexts, can lead to loose some important historical and epistemological aspects of the real scientific practices.

The paper tries to extract, from examples coming out of the biography of Msgr Lemaître, some typical ways theological ideas are able to interact or to interfere with scientific practice and contents.






The Threshold of Scientific Rationality