Townes, Charles - Interview on Inspiration and religion
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
it also contains an explanation on how he viewed religion in the context of science.
"Charles Townes, a physicist who won the Nobel Prize for his part in the invention of the laser died Tuesday at 99.
Townes is best remembered for thinking up the basic principles of the laser while sitting on a park bench. Townes wanted to use laser light as a precision tool for his research on molecules. He spent a long time thinking about similar devices that didn't quite work. Finally, the basic concept for a laser came to him in the spring of 1951, as he sat on a park bench in Washington D.C.
"Suddenly I had the idea. Well that was a revelation," he told NPR's Morning Edition during a 2005 interview.
Later in life he advised the U.S. government and helped uncover the secrets of our Milky Way galaxy.
Through it all, he maintained a deep religious faith. "He really was one of these rare people who could be a deeply thinking research scientist and yet, at the same time, be a deeply devout Christian," says Reinhard Genzel, director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany.
"Consider what religion is," he told NPR in 2005. "Religion is an attempt to understand the purpose and meaning of our universe. What is science? It's an attempt to understand how our universe works. Well, if there's a purpose and meaning, that must have something to do with how it works, so those two must be related."