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Science and Spirituality

Discovering the Creation of the Universe and the Divine: Interview with Dr. Alan Lightman, Part 1 of 3

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Dr. Lightman is a distinguished physicist and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Masachussetts, USA. He is also an international bestselling author whose books include “Three Flames,” “The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew,” and “Einstein’s Dreams.” Dr. Lightman is the Founder and Chairman of the Harpswell Foundation, an organization that helps to empower women in Southeast Asia. Dr. Lightman has conducted extensive research on the correlation between science, philosophy, and spirituality, and his work encompasses the teachings of many religions. On today’s program he explains the difficulty of proving God’s existence through scientific means. “The question of whether science can prove or disprove the existence of God and whether the instruments that we have built are detecting some energy or force that represents God, I think this really depends upon your definition of God. Throughout history, different groups of people, different religions, different cultures have had different views of God. One view of God is called Pantheism. And, this view might be the same as in Taoism in China, that God is all of nature. And if you have this view of God, then God is everywhere around us all the time. So, it really depends upon what your understanding of God is. If you have the view that God is an intelligent being who created the universe, I think that that God cannot be proved or disproved by science, because science can never say exactly what created the universe.” Science seeks to explain the universe and other physical phenomena through various tests and experiments, using fundamental laws or principles. But some phenomena are inexplicable through scientific methods. “There are still many fundamentalist religions that view God as an Intelligent Being that purposely created the universe and even sometimes intervenes to perform supernatural events. I mean, there are supernatural events in Judaism, the parting of the Red Sea, in Islam, the splitting of the moon by [Prophet] Muhammad. There is, in Christianity, the resurrection of Christ. These are all supernatural events, which by definition have a conflict with science.” For many years, scientists have wondered how the stars and the rest of our universe came into being. One theory that many scientists support is the “Big Bang Theory,” which states that everything started from a singular event and expanded from there. “And that's about 14 billion years ago. So, we believe that was when our universe began.”Is our universe the only one in existence? Not according to scientific theory. In fact, our universe may be only one of many, perhaps even an infinite number of universes. This concept is called “Multiverse Theory.” “The ‘Multi Universe’ is a large collection of many, many universes that are out of communication with each other. But each one would have its own laws of physics. Each one would have its own nature. Some of those universes would have life, some of them would not have life. Some of them would have planets and stars. Other ones would just be pure energy.” Many thanks, Dr. Lightman, for sharing your vast knowledge about the science behind the creation of the universe.
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