Is Intelligent Design Science?

July 24, 2013 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Conversations Beyond Science and Religion, Darwin

On my upcoming radio show, Conversations Beyond Science and Religion, webtalkradio.net, scheduled for posting on July 29, 2013, I interview Professor Michael Behe of Lehigh University and author of the controversial book, Darwin’s Black Box.  This book, which the back cover says helped launch the intelligent design movement, contains a devastating attack on Darwin’s theory of natural selection.  We are conditioned to reject the intelligent design movement as unscientific (if not unAmerican) and to believe that the Darwinian camp, led by Richard Dawkins (of Blind Watchmaker fame), must be right.  While taking this stance, I would guess many people have not really  examined for themselves natural selection or Behe’s version of intelligent design.  And this may be the biggest problem facing opponents of Darwin: it doesn’t matter what the facts show, to be a true scientist one must be a materialist (matter, not mind, is fundamental) and reject any role of intelligence in the make-up of the physical world and of life.  But advocates of this position have never explained why science and mind are mutually exclusive.  Further, the universe seems to be telling us we have no choice: from the mathematical laws of nature, to the fine-tuning of the universe, to the irreducible complexity of living things, mind seems integral to the world.  Perhaps the world is waiting for science to evolve and  finally embrace , rather than ignore, the facts of our most unusual existence.  Is intelligent design science?   It looks it will have to be in one form or another.

Conversations Beyond Science and Religion – The Higgs (God) Particle Made Easy – Almost

July 23, 2012 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Conversations Beyond Science and Religion

In 1993, Noble prize-winning physicist, Leon Lederman, published a book entitled, The God Particle. The book was about a particle, hypothesized most prominently by Peter Higgs, which is associated with a field that permeates the universe and gives mass to the elementary particles in the Standard Model of particle physics. On July 4, 2012, physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe, the world’s largest particle accelerator, announced they had discovered signs of a new particle that looks an “awful lot like the long sought after” Higgs particle. So does this mean that the secret to the universe has now been revealed and that with the God particle in its sights, there is nothing left for particle physics to discover? Or does this discovery simply convert the mystery of particle mass into the mystery of the properties of the Higgs field? Learn what the Higgs particle really is and what the recent discovery really means in this episode, where host Philip Mereton talks with John Gunion, Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of California at Davis, and co-author of the The Higgs Hunter’s Guide.

 

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Tags: God particle, Gunion, Higgs

Conversations Beyond Science and Religion – Is the Multiverse the Final Answer?

June 28, 2012 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Conversations Beyond Science and Religion

An unavoidable fact of science is that the universe is finely-tuned to allow life to exist. Fundamental forces and constants, from the rest mass of the electron to the sun’s distance from the Earth and the strength of “dark energy,” appear to be adjusted to ensure a stable universe and the possibility of life. Scientists, faced with this fine-tuning, confront the age-old dilemma of whether to bring a supreme being into the picture or to seek a “natural” explanation. But science’s natural explanation for the fine-tuning problem is a humdinger: an increasingly number of physicists are jumping on the multiverse bandwagon, supporting the idea that our universe is just one of a near infinite series of other universes, forming a vast landscape of other worlds. On this show, guest Bernard Carr, Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Queen Mary, University of London, and editor of the book, Universe or Multiverse, joins host Philip Mereton in a conversation on the development of the multiverse and whether this amazing idea is science’s final answer to why the cosmos appears so finely-tuned.

 

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Tags: anthropic, Bernard Carr, fine-tuning, mutliverse, universe

The Eternal Question of Life and Death

June 18, 2012 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Conversations Beyond Science and Religion

The classic Hindu text, the Bhagavad-Gita, tells the story of the five sons of the deceased King Pandu, who are exiled to the forest through the treachery of a jealous cousin.  Thirsting for water, the five brothers come upon a crystal lake; as they prepare to take a drink, a voice comes out of the forest and says, “before you drink, first answer my question.”  The first four sons ignore the voice, take a drink and fall dead.  The fifth son, Yudhisthira, stops, and listens to the questions.   The voice asks, “of all the world’s wonders, which is the most wonderful?”  Yudhisthira answers: “That no man, though he sees others dying all around him, believes he himself will not die.”  The voice was of the god Dharma, who proceeded to bring the four brothers back to life.

This story either speaks to something eternal in us, or shows that most people cannot face death.  But maybe this is the same thing, for the concept of death must be hard for an eternal creature. To approach this question, we first must define what “we” are, with the two leading choices being a machine or a mind.  If we are fundamentally machines, then we will surely pass away into the grave, left with only a hope that something spiritual in us will live on.  But if we are fundamentally mind, then eternity comes a bit closer.

In his book, Is There Life After Death: The Extraordinary Science of What Happens After We Die,  Anthony Peake offers a new perspective on the mysteries of life and death.  I discuss these timeless questions and others with Anthony Peake in a radio show entitled, “A Life After Death,” on Conversations Beyond Science and Religion, which you can download here.

 

Conversations Beyond Science and Religion – Beyond the Inflationary Big Bang

June 18, 2012 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Conversations Beyond Science and Religion

The universe began with the Big Bang, right? But how did this chaotic, random event lead to an ordered, balanced universe? Recognizing this problem, in the 1980′s, cosmologists developed a new theory called the inflationary Big Bang. This new model called for the early universe to inflate at super-warp speed in the blink of an eye; if this occurred, cosmologists said, it would be possible for the Big Bang to have produced the universe we live in without needing finely-tuned initial conditions. So the inflationary Big Bang made its way into college textbooks, television documentaries, and popular science books. Professor Paul Steinhardt, of Princeton University, is one of the leading theorists who refined the inflationary model into the form it appears today. In a recent Scientific American article, however, Professor Steinhardt raises serious doubts over the inflationary model, showing that it actually requires more fine-tuning than the original Big Bang theory. So where does cosmology go from here? On this show, Professor Steinhardt, along with host Philip Mereton, traces the development of the Big Bang theory and discusses what lies ahead for cosmology.

 

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Tags: Big Bang, fine-tuning, inflationary, Paul Steinhardt, Scientific American

Beyond the Inflationary Big Bang

June 11, 2012 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Conversations Beyond Science and Religion

The answer most people would likely give to the question of how the universe began is, the “Big Bang.”  But it’s a fair guess that this same group of people do not know what the Big Bang is, or that it has in fact been replaced by another model known as the inflationary Big Bang.

The interesting part of this story is why cosmologists decided to revise the standard Big Bang model in the first place.

It turns out that the original Big Bang possessed a number of features that deeply perplexed scientific theorists.   Two of these features are the smoothness problem and the flatness problem.   Without getting into unnecessary details, the smoothness problem arises as a result of the near uniformity of the so-called cosmic background radiation — the supposed “afterglow” from the Big Bang.   This background radiation happens to be uniform across the celestial sphere to 1 part in 100,000.  How is it possible for a near-infinite, random explosion to have produced such a uniform distribution of energy across the heavens?

The “flatness” problems presents a similar dilemma.  The term “flatness” describes the geometry of the universe, or the ratio of mass to gravitional strength.  Of all the possible geometries, or lay-outs, of the universe, a flat universe is the most unlikely because it requires a precise equilibrium between the total mass and gravitional power in the universe. If either mass or gravity predominated, the universe would have long ago either collapsed upon itself or rocketed off to nothingness.

Both the smoothness and flatness problems require the Big Bang to have begun with unique conditions; specially tuned setttings that launched the Big Bang with precisely the right strength and mass to have evolved into the balanced universe we see overhead.

But modern science does not take well to special conditions because first, they are highly improbable, and second, they are suggestive of a guiding intelligence.

Enter the inflationary Big Bang.

This model, which is now the textbook account of the early universe, holds that at its inception, the Big Bang expanded in size at an unimaginably rapid rate in a flashing moment.  After this instantaneous period of inflation, the growth spurt ended, and the universe began tracking the original Big Bang model.  How fast was this inflation?  Roughly 50 orders of magnitude in less than one-trillionth of a second. 

The inflationary Big Bang solved the smoothness problem because, theoretically, the thermal equilibrium of the cosmos was locked into a small area that later grew into the universe.  The inflationary model solves the flatness problem by supposing that the universe we experience appears flat because it is actually a small part of a gigantic ballooning mega-universe.

But now the inflationary Big Bang is under fire.  And the critic is one of the original theorists who developed and refined the inflationary Big Bang, Professor Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University.  In an April 2011 article in Scientific American, entitled, “The Inflation Debate: Is the Theory at the Heart of Modern Cosmology Deeply Flawed?” Professor Steinhardt concludes that if inflation occurred it is much more likely to have been “bad inflation;”  in other words, a period of accelerated growth that would have produced a universe other than what we observe.   When all is said and done, Professor Steinhardt says, the original Big Bang without inflation is more likely to have produced our universe than one with inflation.  So where does this leave modern cosmology?

I address these questions and others with Professor Steinhardt in a radio show entitled, Beyond the Inflationary Big Bang,  on Conversations Beyond Science and Religion available for downloading at www.webtalkradio.net.

 

 

Tags: Big Bang, flatness, inflationary big bang, Scientific American, smoothness, Steinhardt

Conversations Beyond Science and Religion: The Invisible Bridge Between Science and Mysticism

June 7, 2012 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Conversations Beyond Science and Religion

Science deals with the real world; mysticism, with the spiritual world. Science is based upon testable facts and logical deductions; mysticism, upon wispy thoughts, dreams, and hopes. But is there a deeper connection that we are missing? Notably, science too is filled with mysteries – the origin of matter, the laws of nature, the fine-tuning of the fundamental constants, the origin of life, to name a few. Is mysticism an integral part of the world? This week’s guest, Jude Currivan, of the UK, is a cosmologist, author (HOPE: Healing our People and Earth), and mystic. She joins host Philip Mereton in a wide-open conversation about reconciling the worlds of science and mysticism.

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Tags: Jude Currivan, mysticism, science

Conversations Beyond Science and Religion: Consciousness Raising in the Land Down Under

May 31, 2012 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Conversations Beyond Science and Religion, Uncategorized

On this show we go to the land down under to talk with Brian Creigh, publisher of the Austrialian magazine, Veritas. Calling itself the “world’s most complete consciousness magazine,” Veritas features regular interviews with leaders in the “new consciousness” movement, such as Neale Donald Walsch, Amit Goswami, and Gregg Braden. It offers a unique mix of mind-expanding and health-focused content, while at the same time fulflling one of Brian’s objectives, which is to remain grounded in the real world. Brian joins host Philip Mereton to talk about why Veritas seems to have struck a cord in our rising consciousness.

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Tags: amit goswami, brian creigh, consciousness, gregg braden, neale donald walsch, veritas magazine

Conversations Beyond Science and Religion: How to Find the Genius Within

May 22, 2012 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Conversations Beyond Science and Religion, Uncategorized

In ancient Rome, the genius was the guiding spirit of a person. In some people, this spirit shown more brightly and they came to be known as “geniuses.” Today, we recognize special people with highly developed skills in music, art, science and other fields as “geniuses.” Most people have heard of geniuses: Mozart, Rembrandt, and Einstein, to name a few. One field of thought suggests that geniuses are born, not made, as if genius is written in the genetic code. But perhaps the Romans were right and each of us has a guiding spirit that we only need to tap to find our own genius. In this show, Manjir Samanta-Laughton, author of Punk Science and The Genius Groove, joins host Philip Mereton in a discussion of what the new developing scientific paradigm is saying about the hidden genius buried in all of us, and what we can do to find it.

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Tags: genius, manjir samanta-laughton, punk science

Conversations Beyond Science and Religion: Punk Science

May 17, 2012 | None Yet - Post a Comment

Categories: Conversations Beyond Science and Religion, Uncategorized

Punk is a term more often associated with fierce rock music and harsh lyrics than as a form of science. The legacy of punk rock is one of rebellion, attacking conventional society and mainstream culture. “Punk Science” is also the name of a book by this week’s guest, Manjir Samanta-Laughton, of the UK, who has gained international fame for interpreting the findings of physics and cosmology in a new and creative way, and one that challenges mainstream science’s fundamental paradigm. She joins host Philip Mereton in a conversation about what a new scientific paradigm might look like and her own Black Hole Principle.

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Tags: black hole principle, cosmology, manjir samanta-laughton, new scientific paradigm, physics, punk science