• Steven Weinberg on the Conflict Between Religion and Science 

    …Weinberg writes that his understanding of the origins of the universe leaves little room for miracles or for a designing intelligence—at least any one that “has some special concern with life, in particular human life.” The human mind, so central to most religious persons’ belief in God, is to Weinberg much like next week’s weather—a difficult-to-predict product “of impersonal laws acting over billions of years.” He sides with fellow physicist Richard Feynman who once said of the universe, “The theory that it is all arranged as a stage for God to watch man’s struggle for good and evil seems inadequate.”

    Weinberg has a ready explanation for those to point to what seems to be evidence of conscious design, such as the just-right radioactive state of carbon or the very low energy density of empty space (the small “cosmological constant”). Without these and other unlikely conditions, the design proponents observe, life would be impossible. Weinberg asks why should we be surprised to find perfect conditions for life: “In all other parts of the universe” where perfect conditions do not exist, “there is no one to raise the question.” To Weinberg, these sorts of arguments about design are like someone exclaiming, “Isn’t it wonderful that God put us here on earth, where there’s water and air and surface gravity and the temperature is so comfortable, rather than some horrid place, like Mercury or Pluto?” The only thing that would convince Weinstein of the reality of intelligent design is “a miracle or two”—but he hasn’t seen any yet and doesn’t expect to. [read the full article…]

  • Science in the Dock, Discussion with Noam Chomsky, Lawrence Krauss & Sean M. Carroll— This is Lawrence Krauss speaking and quoting Weinberg:

    …And I believe that the ethos of science — full disclosure, honesty, anti-authoritarianism — would, if more generally applied, help produce a more ethical world. Now, this does not mean that there is no tension between religion and science. As Steve Weinberg, a Nobel Laureate in Physics, again put it, “Science does not make it impossible to believe in God, but it does make it possible to not believe in God.”

    Without science, everything is miraculous. Science alone allows for the rational possibility that there is no divine intelligence. But it does not require it, and that is the important point. Arguing that evolution must be incorrect because it appears to conflict with one’s a priori ideas about design in nature is not just bad science, it is bad theology. [read the full article…]

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