Here is a loose transcription of a Q and A from the end of the show:Q: "You note that among cosmologists...the polls are [divided between the idea] that it's so unlikely that everything came together to create this hospitable biosphere that there must be some purpose behind it, whether they call it God or not; and then there's another poll that says it's...an incredible, exquisite, random accident."A: "I regard this as a...scientific question, not a metaphysical question... We do want to know how much is there in physical reality beyond the part of Universe we can see with our telescopes...could it be that there are different physical laws [for some areas of existence]...I think when we have the Unified Theory of the very large and the very small and the nature of space it will help to settle that question...whether there is as it were only one form of space or many different forms of space."
Q: "Do you rule out the possibility of purpose or Creative Intelligence...?"A: "If there was a purpose I wouldn't expect human brains to understand it. I just think it's far too anthropomorphic to actually use the word 'purpose'...It seems to me that we are part of this world, many aspects of which are mysterious...I regard the rest as a mystery."
To say that the question of whether or not there is Purpose in Creation is a scientific question is quite unusual for a man with the education and intelligence of Lord Martin Rees. At first I was repulsed, thinking that he was as absolute and rigid in his views as the most die-hard religious fundamentalist. To re-frame one of the key philosophical questions of man as scientific...can he be serious? Karl Popper argued that a hypothesis, proposition, or theory is "scientific" only if it is, among other things, falsifiable. Without going into a discussion of 100 pages and quoting many philosophers, any educated person can immediately see that "Purpose" cannot possibly be proven or disproven. What Martin Rees essentially did is sidestep Krista's question and reframe it as a question he's comfortable with: whether or not the Laws of Physics are constant throughout the Universe or not. Like a good politician.
Lord Rees goes on to say that "if there was a purpose I wouldn't expect human brains to understand it." It is interesting that he thinks the human brain quite capable of thinking about Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, but not about Purpose! Are we that metaphysically-challenged as a species? Why are we brilliant and amazing creatures at the cutting edge of evolution when we tackle scientific questions, but we are complete dunces and nitwits when tackling ethical and philosophical questions?
If you look closer at this last quote of his, it's actually a paraphrase of Darwin who said regarding the question of there being Design in Creation, in a letter to Asa Gray, an American botanist and devout Christian: "I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do... evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us... I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance... I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.— Let each man hope & believe what he can."
Rees, again twisting the facts to fit his view of reality, re-frames Darwin's quote this way in the lecture "The Runaway World":"And when asked about religion, Darwin diffidently responded 'The whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe as he can'. A glaringly different stance from some of his present-day disciples!" (LAUGHTER)- from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00srktg
If you look at the context, Darwin was NOT talking about religion (from what we know, he was actually a very religious man). He was talking about a specific religious viewpoint as it applied to biology. The way Lord Rees ignores the context and turns it into a blanket statement about "religion" makes me feel like I'm watching someone trying to drive a square peg into a round hole.
To sum up, it seems to me that either Lord Rees is a die-hard fundamentalist in believing that all of reality is physical (or physical pretending to be other than physical), or he really thinks any viewpoint other than his narrow scientific one is really a bunch of nonsense, and he is changing the subject to be politically correct and polite. From my point of view, it's either irrationally stubborn narrowness or deception, and I am not impressed by either.
PS: for a fuller discussion of what Darwin actually said,see: http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-2814and: http://yhoo.it/l4zlzp
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