Saturday, September 03, 2011

Saturday Video: Panel Discussion on The Creation Question

by Salman Hameed

This is actually an interesting group of people talking about God and the beginnings of the universe. Here they have astronomers/physicists espousing various shades of beliefs, and an intelligent and nuanced theologian. Unfortunately, the whole debate is framed around Stephen Hawking's recent pronouncement that there is no God and an example of argument from authority. This would be fine. Many scientists (and non-scientists) have made similar pronouncements before, but somehow his statement has created a media stir (I think he has a really good PR guy) - and it doesn't help that the moderator keeps on asking if the debate is finally settled. If you ignore this part, I think the discussion is actually interesting and we've had similar discussion on this blog as well. For example, can science explain the origins of the universe, and if so, what does that explanation mean for the existence or non-existence of God (I think - it pushes the question back to some other unknown - and we go ad infinitum)? What aspects of life can be explained by science and are there religious questions that science cannot and/or should not broach? Then there is a separate question of miracles and I think Paul Davies is quite forthright about it calling it bad science and bad theology.

Best of all, it is good to see a respectful and reasonable discussion on the topic (sans the sensational framing of Hawking's claims by host, David Gregory - but then he is used to sensationalism on his weekly Meet the Press). Instead of disparaging debates between creationists and biologists, or atheists and believers, a dialogue such as this helps illustrate the complexities of both science and religion. Even if you disagree, you have something to learn about.


P.S. After viewing the video, also check out this related and thoughtful post by Sean Carroll: What can we know about the world without looking at it?

and the remaining part below:


Akbar said...

My two cents:
It entirely depends upon what is your definition and understanding of this concept of a 'creator'.
If you ever believed in a god that breathed air and yet controlled the stars and planets at the same time, such a concepts disintegrated as soon as it was realized that the universe is mostly vacuum. But if you believe a creator that is over and above everything that was created, it be matter, energy, time, or space, or even laws of nature, then this concept holds meaning in all conceivable scenarios.
Our understanding is highly dependent upon the contemporary knowledge of nature, dictated by our limited list of senses and level of human intellect. I possess a book about telescopes and accessories by George Z. Dimitroff, printed in 1945. In the last chapter the author discusses about how a telescope in distant future may look like. One of his speculations was a 200" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope among others in a list which did not even hinted about the possibility of a space telescope in Earth's orbit. Why? Because the space age hadn't begun in 1945 :-)
I absolutely like the commentary in the first video. Especially the part from 10:40 to 11:10. (Haven't watched the second video yet).
I always believed that Bible advocates a personal anthropomorphic god, but after watching this video, I now realize that I was not correct. But I also have realized how much one's presupposed ideas about anything can affect one's outlook. And many many many thanks for this post and videos. >>>...BOWS...<<<

Akbar said...

@Salman: How COULD you delete my completely benign comment? I alone comprise more than 30% of the viewers and commentators on your blog. Please be nice to me ;-)

Salman Hameed said...

I think I have said multiple times, I don't delete any comments (even yours). Sometimes, the spam filter collects them and I have to release the comments from there.

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