Friday, 11 November 2011

The End of God?: A Horizon Guide to Science and Religion

video source - play until 8:59PM Thu, 17 Nov 2011
First Broadcast September 2010: historian Dr Thomas Dixon explores the troubled relationship between religion and science. From the creationists of America to the physicists of the Large Hadron Collider, he traces the expansion of scientific knowledge and asks whether there is still room for god in the modern world.

Sources of Knowledge: The Scientific Method v Revelation
@ 5:00 Galileo saw moons circling Jupiter - the earth rotates the sun - Heliocentricity of Nicolaus Copernicus Johannes Kepler is right. Heliocentrism is opposed to geocentrism (Earth at centre). Church thought that bible supported geocentrism - convicted Galileo of heresy. 
@ 5:34 Who owns knowledge. What makes one source of knowledge more reliable than another? The scientific method uses observations and logic to produce hypotheses and predictions which are tested over and over again comparing it the evidence then refining hypothesis.
@ 7: 29 Repeatability, accuracy, rigour and relevance is at the heart of the scientific method - not foolproof but in last 400 years has uncovered fundamentals of our world.
@ 8:30 The religious claim to get knowledge through revelation - direct communication from God.

Creationism v Evolution
@ 15: 40 Creationism was taught in American schools and Evolution teaching was banned from 1925 (Scopes trial) until 1987 when the highest court in America ruled that creationism was unconstitutional violating separation of church and state - Creationism was banned from the science curriculum.
@ 16:02 for scientists ancient religious texts are not sources of knowledge about the natural world and to treat them as if they are is absurd. There is no room for biblical creationism in modern science.
@ Creationist & Biochemist Michael Behe claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex, could not have evolved and must have designed in its complete form, by an intelligent designer. This idea was refuted by Kenneth Miller - found examples of simpler flagellum which worked.
@ 20:00 in 2006 Dover court trial ruled that teaching Intelligent Design was unconstitutional, unscientific, was a religious theory; banned from biology classes in public schools
@25: 20. The proposition that an intelligent designer could have created life was not scientific.

God of the Gaps
@26:12 Placing god in the gaps of scientific theory is not a good strategy because the history of science shows that these gaps have a tendency to be filled.
@28:00 Colin Blakemore (Distinguished Supporter of British Humanist Association) visited Lourdes and concluded that the placebo effect could explain 'miracles'. God of the Gaps - healing people has been explained by the science of the mind.

The Sensed Presence - why our brains are god receptors
@35:00 Using the controversial 'god helmet' Michael Persinger suggests that the 'sensed presence' (ie feeling the presence of something bigger than oneself) could be stimulated by activating the right hemisphere temporal lobe. However the helmet could not give a religious experience to Richard Dawkins!
@39:00 in meditation blood flow (red) in the parietal lobes reduces - our sense of time and place is reduced with a loss of sense of self. People who meditate and pray have same brain chemistry effects.

During meditation... 
blood flowing to parietal lobes is reduced
How did our Universe start?
@44:00 god is being pushed into smaller and smaller crevices.
@49:00 the Higgs Particle if found at LHC may explain the 75% of the universe is Dark Energy
@51:00 gravity strength is just right. Paul Davies (Goldilocks Enigma) says the universe is a 'put up job'. Some have seen the sheer improbability of our existence as evidence of a higher being but Stephen Hawking disagrees. Their may be an infinite number of (multiple) universes or multiverses. But if multiverses cannot be tested for, is science and religion so different after all? Why does anything exist at all? Why do humans finds ourselves on this Earth? And whats it all for?

Will the idea of God ever go away?
@56:00 Thomas Dixon asks: When scientists have a total understanding of our universe (scientism) will the idea of gods go away? TD says probably not because science can not give something that religions offer - meaning and purpose to our lives. Religion has extreme tenacity (a digression: Richard Dawkins interviewed by Jeremy Paxman about The God Delusion). Whether or not God exists it seems we find it very easy to believe in him, because the brain has evolved to believe in the god hypothesis.

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