Lord Martin ReesProfessor Rees gives The Reith Lectures 2010 (photo: The Reith Lectures/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

Early Monday morning, Krista interviewed eminent astronomer Lord Martin Rees, who TED describes as one of the “key thinkers on the future of humanity in the cosmos.”

Rees’ calls for peaceful coexistence between believers and non-believers has made waves among atheists. He raised more hackles recently by accepting this year’s Templeton Prize (joining the ranks of past winners Mother Teresa, John Polkinghorne, and Billy Graham). He has one foot in each world as an atheist who is devoted to the cultural, “tribal” experience of attending church.

As a highly credentialed scientist, Lord Rees has studied and pondered the mysteries of black holes and separate universes, but what placed him on our radar is his concern for science’s impacts on human beings. He is a rare individual in that his sense of mystery and wonder for distant worlds and other forms of life doesn’t eclipse his awe of humankind.

He argues that even science is not unassailable, and its truths can be quite difficult to grasp. In fact, the mere questions that scientists ask today could not have even been imagined 30 years ago.

We live-tweeted highlights of this 90-minute conversation, which we’re aggregating and reposting for those who weren’t able to follow along. Follow us next time at @BeingTweets:

  1. We’re live-tweeting Krista’s interview w/ Lord Martin Rees, a cosmologist seeking coexistence b/w atheists + believers: http://bit.ly/it73DU 9 May

  2. Lord Martin Rees, the latest Templeton Prize winner, calls himself a “tribal Christian” who attends church but doesn’t believe in God. 9 May

  3. “The experience of the old guys was at a discount.” -Lord Rees on how he came into astronomy/cosmology as a discipline. 9 May

  4. “There’s evidence that even empty space exerts a kind of force, a kind of tension… Empty space has a kind of structure.” -Lord Rees 9 May

  5. “Everyday experience may need to be transcended…” -Lord Martin Rees, on the extra dimensions that appear on a very small scale. 9 May

  6. “Human beings are the most complicated things we [scientists] know about in the universe.” -Lord Martin Rees, cosmologist 9 May

  7. “The smallest living thing is, indeed, more complicated than a star.” -Lord Martin Rees, cosmologist + astronomer 9 May

  8. “The timeline ahead is at least as long as what has elapsed up until now.” -Lord Martin Rees. Just hearing this I find helpful context. 9 May

  9. Finding Lord Martin Rees’ use of the phrase “the post-human era” quite provocative and fascinating to imagine (and rather daunting). 9 May

  10. “Humans are not the culmination of evolution.” -Lord Martin Rees on what he says is the most important point of understanding the universe. 9 May

  11. “It shouldn’t be just scientist who decide how science is applied.” -Lord Martin Rees, astronomer + cosmologist 9 May

  12. “It could be that we realize that the vaster our universe is, our Earth may be a very special place.” -Lord Martin Rees, cosmologist 9 May

  13. “I think the world is becoming less governable b/c individuals are now becoming more empowered with technology.” -Lord Martin Rees 9 May

  14. “H.G. Wells said that this century would be a race between education and catastrophe.” -Lord Martin Rees 9 May

  15. “I think there’s no doubt that, for most people, there has never been a better time to be alive.” -Lord Martin Rees, on the benefits of tech 9 May

  16. “Any decision a politician makes involves some technical or scientific component but it also involves economics + ethics.” -Lord Martin Rees 9 May

  17. RT @NARNfan: @Beingtweets The big problem is that central bankers have been guessing the wrong interest rate for 20 years. #socialjustice 9 May

  18. “In politics, the urgent always trumps the important.” -Lord Martin Rees 9 May

  19. “If science teaches me anything, simple things like an atom are hard to understand. That makes me very skeptical…” -Lord Rees 9 May

  20. “The perspective that science provides can be theologically and spiritually evocative.” -Lord Martin Rees 9 May

  21. Lord Martin Rees emphasizes that scientists have an obligation to see + think about how their discoveries are applied. 9 May

  22. “The aim of science is to unify disparate ideas, so we don’t need to remember them all.” -Lord Rees on amount of information available today 9 May

  23. Lord Rees says that the field of studying planets around stars is only 15 years old, + is one of the most rapidly developing. Who knew? 9 May

  24. Two good role models Lord Rees says influenced him: Hans Bader (nuclear physicist, Los Alamos) + Jozef Rotblat (studies on nuclear fallout). 9 May

  25. “The fundamental laws of nature are a mystery.” -Lord Martin Rees, cosmologist + most recent Templeton Prize winner 9 May

  26. “If there was a ‘purpose,’ I wouldn’t expect humans to understand it. It’s too anthropomorphic to use the word ‘purpose’.” -Lord Martin Rees 9 May

  27. “I think it’s a pity that Einstein used the word ‘relativity’. It led to irreverent cultural spinoffs.” -Lord Martin Rees 9 May

  28. “Even many of us who don’t have religious beliefs favor the idea of peaceful coexistence — a non-overlapping magisteria.” -Lord Martin Rees 9 May

  29. “It’s better to read good science fiction rather than second-rate science.” -Martin Rees from yesterday’s interview. Too good not to share! 10 May


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