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The Religious Affiliation of physicist
Joseph J. Thomson
Nobel Laureate in Physics, Discoverer of the Electron, Founder of Atomic Physics

Joseph J. Thomson is regarded as the discoverer of the electron and the founder of the field of atomic physics. He was a devout Anglican.

For further information about the religious beliefs of Joseph J. Thomson, read about his belief in God in Part IV: Chapter 18 of Tihomir Dimitrov's book 50 Nobel Laureates and Other Great Scientists Who Believe in God (2007), (http://nobelists.net/; viewed 19 April 2007):

1. J.J. Thomson's inaugural presidential address to the British Association is published in the prominent scientific journal Nature (26 August 1909). Sir Joseph concludes his address with the words:

"As we conquer peak after peak we see in front of us regions full of interest and beauty, but we do not see our goal, we do not see the horizon; in the distance tower still higher peaks, which will yield to those who ascend them still wider prospects, and deepen the feeling, the truth of which is emphasized by every advance in science, that 'Great are the Works of the Lord'." (Thomson 1909, Nature, vol. 81, p. 257).

2. Sir Owen Richardson (Nobelist in Physics, 1928) described his teacher and friend J.J. Thomson thus: "He was sincerely religious, a churchman with a dislike for Anglo-Catholicism, a regular communicant, who every day knelt in private prayer, a habit known only to Lady Thomson until near the end of his life." (Richardson 1970, "Sir Joseph J. Thomson", in The Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, p. 862).

3. In his biographical article "J.J. Thomson, Anglican," in the journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Raymond Seeger (NSF) points out:

"As a Professor, J.J. Thomson did attend the Sunday evening college chapel service, and as Master, the morning service. He was a regular communicant in the Anglican Church. In addition, he showed an active interest in the Trinity Mission at Camberwell. With respect to his private devotional life, J.J. Thomson would invariably practice kneeling for daily prayer, and read his Bible before retiring each night. He truly was a practicing Christian!" (Seeger 1986, 132).

[Sources in Bibliography:]

Richardson, Owen. 1970. "Joseph J. Thomson," in The Dictionary of National Biography, 1931-1940. L. G. Wickham Legg - editor. Oxford University Press.

Seeger, Raymond. 1986. "J. J. Thomson, Anglican," in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 38 (June 1986): 131-132. The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation.

Thomson, Joseph J. 1909. "The British Association at Winnipeg" [Inaugural Address]. Nature 81: 248-257. August 26.

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Webpage created 19 April 2007. Last modified 19 April 2007.
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