TV: Do you have more faith in God or Stephen Hawking?

 A friend notes that this review of Stephen Hawking’s about-to-be aired Discovery special "Did God Create the Universe?" “shows more insight into the science faith problem than many professional critics in the science and faith disciplines.”

LA Times ’ TV critic Mary McNamara writes (August 6, 2011),

… a better title perhaps would be "Stephen Hawking Explains Why He is Quite Certain God Did Not Create the Universe." Hawking, like many scientists, believes in "a simpler alternative" to a participatory God — that the fixed laws of nature not only rule the universe but explain its creation.

How, I cannot tell you. Although Discovery is liberal in its CG usage and Hawking comes up with all manner of easily understood metaphors, his attempts to explain how, exactly, the big bang emerged from a state of nothingness required an understanding of physics that was beyond me.

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Hype springs eternal: The multiverse is on the way to becoming reality TV

In“This Week’s Hype” (Not Even Wrong, August 5, 2011), Peter Woit assesses recent “evidence” for the multiverse, addressed here by Rob Sheldon as well:

I noticed today that BBC News has a story headlined ‘Multiverse’ theory suggested by microwave background that assures us that:

The idea that other universes – as well as our own – lie within “bubbles” of space and time has received a boost.

After taking a look at the PRL and PRD papers that are behind this, it’s clear that a more accurate title for the story would have been “‘Multiverse’ theory suggested by microwave background – NOT”.

As usual, the source of the problem here is a misleading university press release,

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Take American Scientific Affiliation’s survey: Who knows, you could be a Christian atheist!

American Scientific Affiliation, more and more leaning to Christian Darwinism, is running a survey which you do not need to be a member to take part in, here.

Some interesting questions and responses:

“Consciousness and self-awareness emerged in hominids through evolutionary processes.” 33% agree. (So it wasn’t a gift of God; it just sort of happened.)

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Only the British would do this: A troll spotting guide

 Here. The first seven species classified by James Delingpole (Telegraph Online, 31 July 2011) One species he describes:

3. Stalker troll. It takes a fairly sick mentality to want to be a troll. If you were in any way healthy, you would prefer to hang out the blogs of people you agree with, rather than maliciously setting out to disrupt those of people you hate.

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Monkeys: Doesn’t anyone get tired of this?

 From Victoria Gill (BBC, 22 July 2011), we learn: “Mandrill monkey makes ‘pedicuring’ tool”:

Scientists from Durham University, UK, filmed the mandrill stripping a twig and using the resulting tool to clean under its toenails.

“A crude “pedicure” carried out by a mandrill at Chester Zoo suggests the monkeys are capable of more advanced tool use than previously thought.”


Good to know.

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Neuroscience: Having your own ideas shrinks your brain. Pass it on. Or not …

In "Does religion shrink your brain?" (MercatorNet, August 1, 2011), we learn:

Over the past couple of weeks we have looked at studies suggesting that religion rots your intelligence and that religion rots teens’ intelligence, and, not surprisingly, both theses fell apart.

Now here is a different, more solid proposition: In "Religious factors and hippocampal atrophy in late life," Amy Owen and colleagues at Duke University found that in late life there was greater atrophy in the hippocampus (associated with memory) among individuals who have been "born again," as well as those with no religious affiliation.

Which attracted the attention of a Scientific American neuroscientist columnist.


Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.