faculties alone will not help him forward a step, for no order can emerge from that chaos of elements unless there is the constructive quality of mind which builds up the order by a process of elimination and choice. Again and again the imaginary plan on which one attempts to build up that order breaks down and then we must try another. This imaginative vision and faith in the ultimate success are indispensable. The pure rationalist has no place here.
As a matter of fact, Kepler is a magnificent example of what I have been saying. He was always hard up. He had to
suffer disillusion after disillusion and even had to beg for the payment of the arrears of his salary by the Reichstag in Regensburg. He had to undergo the agony of having to defend his own mother against a public indictment of witchcraft. But one can realize, in studying his life, that what rendered him so energetic and tireless and productive was the profound faith he had in his own science, not the belief that he could eventually arrive at an arithmetical synthesis of his astronomical observations, but rather the profound faith in the existence of a definite plan behind
the whole of creation. It was because he believed in that plan that his labor was felt by him to be worthwhile and also in this way, by never allowing his faith to flag, his work enlivened and enlightened his dreary life. Compare him with Tycho de Brahe. Brahe had the same material under his hands as Kepler, and even better opportunities, but he remained only a researcher, because he did not have the same faith in the existence of the eternal laws of creation. Brahe remained only a researcher; but Kepler was the creator of the new astronomy. Another name that occurs to me in this connection is that of Julius Robert Mayer. His discoveries were hardly noticed, because in the
middle of last century there was a great deal of skepticism, even among educated people, about the theories of natural philosophy. Mayer kept on and on, not because of what he had discovered and could prove, but because of what he believed. It was only in 1869 that the Society of German Physicists and Physicians, with Helmholtz at their head, recognized Mayer's work. ...
As Einstein has said, you could not be a scientist if you did not know that the external world existed in reality, but that knowledge is not gained by any process of reasoning. It is a direct perception and, therefore, in its nature akin to what we call Faith. It is a metaphysical belief. Now that is something which the skeptic questions in regard to religion, but it is the same in regard to science. However, there is this to be said in favor of theoretical physics, that it is a very active science and does make an appeal to the lay imagination. In that way it may, to some extent, satisfy the metaphysical hunger which religion does not seem capable of satisfying nowadays. But this would be entirely by stimulating the religious reaction indirectly. Science as such can never really take the place of religion.
An excerpt from the article, "The Mystery of Our Being" by Max Planck