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10 March 2010



I missed this - thanks for the link.

"I'd love his job!"

Then you'd be an atheist :-)


Come on Dave, the universe ain't all that. Isn't it, like the earth, just 6000 (or is it 600?) years old ;-)


Not going there, Ryan.....don't need to!


Well, I hope you'll at least agree that , space-wise, Star Wars has MUCH better planets than Star Trek!


You are welcome.

I don't think you need to be an atheist to travel the world, visit all those amazing places and present TV programmes, do you? I couldn't do, and wouldn't want his day job, and I know a few theistic particle physicists and rock stars (he was in D:Ream - "Things Can Only Get Better");-)


Man,your interest in life on other planets is interesting tho. Are evangelicals allowed to believe in aliens? If so, is it greys, cute ET style aliens or more exciting ones like Predators?
You mean you know Tom Harris AND the guy who did the New Labour 1997 election song?! Get her! ;-)


Don't know Prof Cox (but I know Nick Cox, who is nearly as famous).

"And if there's life on other planets, them I'm sure that he must know. And he's been there once already, and has died to save their souls." from UFO by Larry Norman, from 1973 (http://direct.crossrhythms.co.uk/product/In-Another-Land/Larry-Norman/51302). Raises all sorts of questions. Personally, I suspect we might well be unique in this big ol' universe, and there is as yet little evidence to the contrary. Doesn't stop me enjoying Sci-Fi.

Have you read Mary Doria Russell's "The Sparrow" and its sequel, "Children of God"?.


The vatican has been putting some "thought" into this http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0802629.htm


Ah, thought you meant his day job.
Depending on your definition of god, I dont think particle physics has much to say on the issue. Many physicists seem to see it as a lack of evidence for than evidence against.

Carl Sagan's pale blue dot should be thought provoking. The picture at the start was taken by Voyager I near the edge of the solar system http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupToqz1e2g

On a general note, check out the astronomy picture of the day site http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html there is a great video of the sun oozing here http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap090405.html

I'm now off to see what else they have done on spotify - I fear the worst :-)


Just to throw in my tuppenceworth, although it's maybe not "evidence for, or against God," nearly all of my particle physics colleagues that I've had conversations with about God have commented on how they can see that (especially) particle physics and astronomy resonates with the idea of a creator. Although I often get, "you're a physicist, how can you be a Christian?" from non-physicists, never do actual colleagues say this.

And Brian Cox is a legend! He's had my dream career: professor by 40, science communicator with the BBC & a number one hit!! All he's missing from my job to do list is win a nobel prize :P


And he was the second best Hannibal Lector! ;-)


Strange, most of the ones I know dont - including several professors of Astronomy.
Carl Sagan (linked to above) was no theist. Neither are/were Vitaly Ginsberg,Richard Feynman, Albert Einstein, Steven Weinberg, Linus Pauling, Frederick Curie,Patrick Blacklett and Paul Dirac to name but a few. With the exception of Sagan, you may recognise them as Nobel Laureates (Pauling even got two - one for peace (thought athiests were supposed to be evil :-) )). Please note, I am not using this list as an argument from authority fallacy.

I also believe The common theme seems to be that room for god is forced into ever decreasing gaps.

This link elaborates more http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/sci_relig.htm A brief summary concerning top scientists and belief in god for those who will not click the link:
Personal belief 7.0%; Personal disbelief 72.2%; Doubt or agnosticism 20.8%

Do your colleagues see it is not incompatible or promoting the idea of a god? There is a big difference. What is the size of your sample? Are you more likely to discuss this with colleagues that you consider sympathetic to your ideas? How many were brought up christian? The tale of Kurt Wise is very telling in that respect. He said: " I am a young-age creationist because that is my understanding of the Scripture. As I shared with my professors years ago when I was in college, if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. Here I must stand." This earned him the title of "an honest creationist"

Off the top of my head, I can only think of 5 overtly christian biologists I know and well, I gave up counting atheists after I hit 20 and several more sprung to mind after that and more are popping to mind as I type :-) I was probably increasing my chances of meeting christian biologists, as I was one for a while - I did find an implied insistence that you had to be a creationist (which means adopting pseudoscience and not science). I also experienced a subtle pressure from certain members of St Silas that you could not believe in evolution and be a christian.

I can see that SOME christian ideas may be logically compatible with evolution, but that is not the same as saying I see evidence for these ideas.

Couldn't find any songs by D-ream on spotify


Sorry for the delay in replying! So, much to comment on :)

Indeed, am not saying that I have found that many of my colleagues are theists or that they think science promotes the idea of God. I was just saying that I have found the vast majority of my colleagues have not found it unreasonable that I am a physicist and a theist. And most of those that I have really talked to about it don't think its "incompatable" with God. In particular, I was thinking of when I've been talking about some particularly beautiful piece of physics, or when I used to do more astrophysics, when I was out observing with people, then I've had people say they can see this stuff "sits well," with belief in God. I agree this is very different from saying they think it promotes the idea of God. I think that physics sort of operates in a different phase space and so (though I know many Christians disagree with me here), I don't know how useful it is to use science as evidence for or against God, but I certainly don't think (ok, obviously as a theist I don't) physics is causing the "room for God to be forced into ever decreasing gaps."

But I am surprised that the survey you linked had such a high level of personal unbelief. Certainly, most particle physicists I talk to, even if they have no beliefs prefer, if they were to be labelled, to say they are agnostic. As for my sample size, eh...ok, off the top of my head counting there, I guess I've only really had proper conversations about this stuff with ~25 physicists, and out of those, only 1 has thought belief in God ridiculous, 4 are Christians, (though I know of another 5 Christians from my institute, and 1 other guy who thinks being a theist is stupid, but I don't really know them personally. But ok, 9 Christians out of the probably ~100 I know is not so many. This wasn't my point.)

Am I more likely to more likely to discuss this with colleagues that you consider sympathetic to my ideas? A little difficult to quantify really, but I don't think so. I think people with strong views either way, or who have thought much about it, are more likely to end up discussing this with me. My point was, that, as a subset of people I know, I have found my colleagues not to find physics as a stumbling block to faith and to be more agnostic, than my other friends.


Hi Michelle,

It depends on your definition of god really. If you are a young earth creationist, then, science does refute the exixtence of that god. You have a whole spectrum of definitions of god and I would imagine (from experience and philosphically) that any natural explanation could be compatible with a deistic idea of god. This is one weakness of theology - you cant do experiments to see which version is correct.

There is also the question of the definition of agnosticism. Imagine a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being absolute belief in god and 10 being absolute unbelief in god. Everyone inbetween is technically agnostic. I'd place myself about 9 (still technically agnostic, but functionally atheistic). If god suddenly appeared, I would believe. I know christians have all sorts of excuses as to why that wont happen - but I dont consider them strong or valid, so that's the evidence I would require for the existence of a relational god. Personally, I dont see any need for god in explaning anything - I see the unexplained as a limitation on human knowledge. That would hold to be true whether the was a god or not, as I can see no way of identifying that which would be out with of a natural explanation one day. All ignorance means is that you dont know. I'm sure that whatever theory you are working on just now has evidence backing it up - you wouldn't invent an explanation without good reasons to back it up - in the same way, I see no need for god.

There are a few religious scientists whose work I respect - particularly Ken Miller, but his reasons for believing in god are not scientific ones.

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