Terry Gross channels Gregg Easterbrook

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Caught Terry Gross's interview with Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos. Unfortunately, this good opportunity was mostly wasted by Terry's insistence on asking silly questions about the intersection of science and religion instead of like, physics, which is what his book was actually about.
Gross: You know, if the world is filled with dimensions that our senses don't allow us to perceive. You could argue that, you know, some, or all of those dimensions are the world of microparticles, but I guess you could also argue just as easily that the world is a more spiritual one in which we see, you know, spiritual forces that--in which there exist spiritual forces that we are incapable of perceiving

Greene: Yeah, I would dissuade people from heading in that direction and let me tell you why. Indeed, string theory is—the theory that I work on, one of the cutting edge developments, an attempt to build what Einstein called a "unified theory", a theory that might explain everything in the world in one basic master equation, and this approach, called string theory, does entail that the universe has more than the three dimensions that we know about. So we all know about left-right, back-forth, up-down, this theory does say that there are other dimensions beyond those. Since we don't see them, many people might say "well perhaps they are on par with some of the mystical ideas, or theological ideas, and the main difference, and the key distinction to keep in mind is: when we talk about these extra dimensions we ultimately—we haven't been able to do it yet—but we imagine that we'll make predictions for how these dimensions behave and the implications for observable phenomena. And that's the key difference between the scientific incarnation of these strange ideas and the mystical incarnation. We only will believe these ideas when we can test them experimentally. There's no act of faith that's going to be involved in us taking on the theory that we're studying. And I don't think that's true of either the mystical or theological approaches. It's always--as far as I have encountered so far--involves some element of faith and a key inability to make predictions that will be testable and that will allow us to determine whether those ideas are right or wrong.

Look, people, religion is full of vague metaphors and symbology and it's not exactly surprising that some of that stuff happen to pattern match on some scientific concepts. Just because Matthew 8:12 talks about people being cast into the "outer darkness" doesn't mean that they knew about black holes and Ecclesiastes 9:11 isn't about the Uncertainty Principle.

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1 Comments

To be fair, many non-scientific, and even "spiritual" people agree that Terry Gross is one of the most annoying interviewers on the face of the earth. It's not just science--she's perfectly happy to turn any subject into vapid, faux-spiritual, touchy-feely mush.

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