Books - Science & Nature
The origin and evolution of the universe. The origin and evolution of life. The conflict between Science and Religion.
The universe began with the "Big Bang" some 14 billion years ago. The chemical elements have been generated in the "Big Bang" and by thermonuclear reactions in the stars and dispersed in space by supernovae.
The Sun is a third generation star formed with the Solar System and the Earth from condensed space dust some 4.5 billion years ago. Our sun is just another star in just another galaxy in no special position in the universe.
The universe consists of some 73% dark energy, 23% dark matter and 4% baryonic matter ( eg protons and neutrons ).
Complex hydrocarbon molecules, the basic building blocks of life, have been found in space. From RNA, the first self-replicating molecule and the predecessor of DNA, the evolution of complex life on Earth is explained by Darwinism and Genetics.
The origin of life and the formation of RNA are still unexplained as is the origin of the universe ie what happened before the "Big Bang"?
How the fundamental laws of science / parameters of nature are established and why they are so precisely right to enable the evolution of the universe and complex life remains to be determined. Scientists seek a rational explanation while theologists and philosophers invoke the supernatural - ie deities / supreme intelligence / God . The question is: " was our universe designed for life or is it a lucky universe in a generally unlucky multiverse? " ( viz - Anthropic Principle ) .
According to Lee Smolin new universes are generated by black holes and their properties have evolved to match those necessary for the evolution of our universe and complex life within it.
According to Stephen Hawking universes are spontaneously created with many different laws due to quantum fluctuations. From the multiverse of all possible universes ours is one with the right laws to provide the conditions for the evolution of complex life. It is unnecessary to invoke the supernatural.
" Celestial truth lies with science rather than scripture. " Copernicus
" Theologians came to realize that they would look foolish
if they continued to deny what men of learning regarded as reality. " Big Bang
" The boundary of science is where knowledge ends and ignorance begins " William Whewell
" Scientists replace supernatural myths, philosophical blunders and religious dogmas
with accurate, logical, verifiable natural explanations. " Big Bang
" God is what man invented to compensate for his ignorance of science. " John Le Carre
" The only incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible " Albert Einstein
" Science offers a surer road to God than does religion " Paul Davies
" I have always thought it curious that, while many scientists claim to eschew religion,
it actually dominates their thoughts more than the clergy " Fred Hoyle
" If there is a God then He is a mathematician " Mathematical Philosophy
" Some foolish men declare that a Creator made the world.
The doctrine that the world was created is ill-advised and should be rejected.
If God created the world, where was He before creation? ..... " The Mahapurana, Jinasena
" God is in the details " , " The God of the Gaps " ( the default option ) Charles Coulson
" I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil.
My God created laws that take care of that.
His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking but by immutable laws " Albert Einstein
" Many people find that modern science is far removed from God.
I find on the contrary ....
in our knowledge of physical nature we have penetrated so far
that we can obtain a vision of the flawless harmony which is in conformity with sublime reason " Hermann Weyl
" You cannot believe in God and be a true scientist " Craig Venter, Human Genome Project
" I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science.
The laws may have been decreed by God but God does not intervene to break the laws. " Stephen Hawking
" Science is the pursuit of knowledge about God's creation. " Pope Benedict XVI
" Science has turned up no proof of the divine and
there is a lot less room for a creator than before - the space for God is shrinking. " Leon Lederman
Geology, this brand new
science, was the key to unlocking thousands of years of
fettered and blinkered prejudice.
For the first time the earth had a provable history,
a written record that paid no heed or obeisance to religious teaching and dogma.", The Map that changed the World
Nucleo Synthesis - How the chemical elements of the Universe were generated:-
" To suppose universal laws of nature capable of being apprehended by the mind and yet having no reason for their special forms but standing inexplicable and irrational is hardly a justifiable position. Uniformities are precisely the sort of facts that need to be accounted for. Law is par excellence the thing that that wants a reason. Now the only possible way of accounting for the laws of nature and for uniformity in general is to suppose them the results of evolution "
Charles Sanders Pierce, The Architect of Theories, 1891
all of our scientific understanding of the world really come down to a
mythological story in which nothing exists before 20 billion years ago
save some disembodied intelligence who, desiring to start a world,
chooses the initial conditions and then wills matter into being? I
suspect that the attraction for such a story is at least partly fuelled
by the nostalgia for the religious conception of the world and by a
desire to see ourselves in the place of the creator of the world.
" So there never was a God, no pilot who made the world by imposing order on chaos and who remains outside, watching and proscribing." Life of the Cosmos , Lee Smolin
" The universe is not only queerer than we suppose but queerer than we can suppose " JBS Haldane
" We don't need a supernatural explanation for the existence of life
- it is probably an inevitable consequence of the laws of nature. " Brian Cox, Wonders of Life
" Richard Dawkins is an implacable opponent of those who water the dark roots of superstition. " Philip Pullman
" In the USA there is no better example of the misunderstanding of science than creationism.
Creationism is nothing more than religion masquerading as science.
The universe has precisely the expected properties of no design and no purpose
- nothing but blind indifference." Michael Shermer
" Just as evolutionary biology made it possible for intellectually fulfilled people to do without creationism, computational cognitive science makes it possible to dispense with the concept of the soul. " Steven Pinker
" Humans are just one of the branches of the tree of life shaped by the same evolutionary forces.
Any other differing account of human origin ( ie religious dogma / creationism ) are pure myth. " Before the Dawn
" Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. " Theodosius Dobzhansky
" The idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law " Daniel Dennett
" the body and soul are inseparable " Physics of the Future
" Does life have some magical, mystical essence, or is it, like any chemical reaction carried out in a science class, the product of normal physical and chemical processes? Is there something devine at the heart of a cell that brings it to life? The double helix answered that question with a definitive NO " James D.Watson
Nature vs Nurture:
"Does the way I am owe more to a sequence of As, Ts, Gs and Cs ( the four bases of DNA ) inherited from my parents, or to the experiences I've had ever since my father's sperm and mother's egg fused together? " James D.Watson
" if we could make better human beings by adding genes then why shouldn't we? " James D.Watson
" There is nothing in biology yet found that indicates the inevitability of death " Physics of the Future
" Most of the secrets of the development of life are contained in early embryos, and we are extremely likely to be able to use what we learn from such embryos to save many lives and ameliorate many conditions which make life miserable, we would not only be crazy but wicked to cut ourselves off from these benefits. " Robert Edwards
Catholic leaders, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and Cardinal Keith O'Brien, criticised the legislation but senior Labour MPs and peers accused the Catholic Church of trying to "dictate Government policy" and of "scaremongering". Lord Winston, a Labour peer and one of the foremost authorities on reproductive health, said the Catholic Church risked "destroying its probity" with "overblown" statements about the legislation accusing Cardinal O'Brien of deliberately misleading the public - " His statements are lying, they are misleading and when the Catholic Church tells untruths it brings discredit upon itself ". Telegraph
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, described its implications as "grotesque"
to "Nazi-style experiments".
In an open letter, Cardinal O'Brien said he was "appalled" that Gordon Brown was promoting the bill. Cardinal O'Brien wrote: "The grotesque implications of these procedures are utterly horrifying and fly in the face of all medical guidance on consent to research." He said this behaviour was last seen under the Nazis, and urged the prime minister to urgently amend the legislation.
Catholic Labour MP Jim Sheridan said the comments were outrageous. Mr Sheridan accused the Catholic Church of "scaremongering", and said a more measured approach was needed. The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North said the remarks were "very far from reality", adding: "Winding people up is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church."
The final episode of the Frozen Planet documentary series by the BBC which considers the threat posed by man to the natural world through climate change will not be shown to audiences in the USA.