Arthur Holly Compton Master Thinker Christ

Augustine Pamplany CST

Arthur Holly Compton (1892 –1962) was an American physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1923 for his discovery of the Compton Effect. Compton effect was a sensation discovery which established the particle nature of electromagnetic radiation. He was also involved in the Manhattan Project that produced the first nuclear weapon. At the University of Cambridge he studied the scattering phnoemenon of gamma rays. It was his further researches along this line that led to the discovery of Compton effect.

He had his own unique views on evolution, consciousness and God. In evolution, he sees the role of God in the beginning and at some definite time. He placed God as the creator of electrons that “combined and evolved, forming first the chemical elements and chemical compounds, then the stellar universe under the action of gravitation, and finally life was evolved in simple forms.” Natural selection “produced all the higher animals and man as we know them.” God’s role in evolution at various stages is to insert a ‘new principle,’ or open a ‘new force’ to operate in the universe.

Compton’s views on mind and consciousness is in complete contrast with the materialistic views. As for the materialists, mind is the result of the complexity of matter. Compton holds that “there is a very essential difference between mind and matter which makes it impossible that the former should be developed from the latter.” Consciousness, being associated with freedom, “is the source of an indefinite amount of spontaneous energy, so that in directing the actions of the body it violates the principle of the conservation of energy on which materialism rests itself.” That is to say, if only consciousness is free it can control our actions in body. And in being free, it violates the law of conservation of energy. Without being free in itself, consciousness has “no conceivable use.” A free consciousness cannot emerge by evolution. Further, since, the universe has a temporal beginning, the matter should have a cause to produce it.

He found the ultimate meaning in the teachings of Christ. “I feel that unless clearly prevented by logic, I should make my theory of the world agree as far as possible with the principles laid down by the Master Thinker, Jesus Christ.” Compton was a strong proponent of altruism. He often cited Mt. 23:11: “He who would be great among you, should be the servant of all.” He considered education was the way to foster altruism. About Christian colleges, he said, “Founded primarily not for technical training, but for the building of character, it exists not to help its students make a living but to help them make a life.”

Leave a Comment