The Poetry of Science (Discussion)

2010 ,    »  -   102 Comments
Ratings: 8.94/10 from 89 users.

Two of science's luminaries converse on the beauty of science. They discuss the elegance and beauty that science and the natural world have to offer to mankind, and why it is so important that everyone is exposed to this beauty.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of NOVA and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins will explore the wonders of the Cosmos and of Life, its origins, its inspirations, and why science is not just an option, it is the only reality we possess.

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102 Comments / User Reviews

  1. leewebster

    Dawkins slight lack of knowledge of pop-culture is endearing and reassuring :)

  2. leewebster

    also "life is just an extreme expression of complex chemistry" was my fave' quote from this

  3. KooKookaChoo

    I have a total brain crush on Neil deGrasse Tyson + Richard Dawkins is one of my personal heroes = drooling with anticipation....

  4. dewflirt

    Satisfying, like sunday dinner and a snooze in the sun :)

  5. TheDanishViking

    I think we can conclude that Tyson likes science fiction movies :-)
    Great talk and very funny (it does get a little too chatty sometimes for my taste, but hang in there Tyson has some really cool and novel points)

  6. Matt Kukowski

    Amazing how rationale talk can make people calm. Why? Because thinking + sharing is a rarely, so when it does come it calms us in a decaying economy.

  7. TheDanishViking

    @ very true Kukowski!
    This IS therapeutic to watch.

  8. alans

    Interesting about the limitations of reality, about reality being understood as far as the senses allow us to understand it and how certain tools allow us to expand our senses, but nevertheless the picture is never complete.

  9. Aaylsworth

    Wow what a refreshing breeze of logic and reason! Enjoy!

  10. Mary Shamblin Rotio

    Gah, Tyson has always bugged me in conjunction with other people. He seems to have trouble filtering his desire to chime in. I enjoyed what parts I could stand to watch, but it made me uncomfortable on the whole.

    If you are watching this to see Tyson, it's gold.

  11. docoman

    Could probably be more aptly titled 'A talk by N Tyson, with occasional comment by R Dawkins.'
    Tyson answered many of the biology questions. Although interesting to listen to when he is on topic, I would have preferred he let Dawkins answer more on the biology. Also, if I want movie reviews, I'll look to the movie critics.
    I found it entertaining nonetheless.

  12. biggiginthesky

    Tyson is a Neanderthal compared to Dawkins ... the man has no social skills whatsoever. The American versus the European mind set. Interesting.

  13. AnalogousGumdropDecoder

    I don't know what you guys are smoking, but it doesn't seem like it's much fun. I'm probably a bigger fan of Dawkins, but Tyson was wonderfully informative and entertaining in this discussion. Are we really going to criticize him because he references the Hulk and the Blob? By being a physicist, is he obligated to be totally self-serious and highbrow about everything? I found it funny that Tyson was so enthusiastic about silly sci-fi movies and that Dawkins had virtually no idea what he was talking about. Anyway, I found a lot of interesting points in this discussion. I could have listened to these two chatting for several hours without losing interest.

  14. BlackDog Aura

    when the doctor says i got a week to live i gotta get dog smell the roses for me

  15. Michael Marino

    Opinions from a blogger. Oh my word Mr. Tyson whatever will you do against such hostility from this gentleman. Oh That's right...CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIETY.

  16. TheDanishViking

    Have you ever been to the US?
    You will be surprised to find that Americans are much more polite than Europeans. The difference is that (we) Europeans have been taught to suppress ourselves and we consider that to be polite. Whereas in the US it is okay to be enthusiastic because people are expected NOT to judge each other so hard as we do in Europe. Think about it - it is a balance and Europeans are a little to the one side and Americans to the other. For example, if you read between the lines you will see that Dawkins is also quite pleased with himself and his status as he deservedly should be - as any human should be! What is wrong with liking and enjoying yourself?

  17. gerisboyle

    The black guy is like a teenager who thinks he knows it all talking to Daddy

  18. norlavine

    @Mary Shamblin Rotio
    I felt that Tyson didn't answer Dawkins' question about the 'edge of the universe' in context.' Event horizons' explanation etc was correct in itself - however didn't cut it for me.I didn't feel that was quite what Dawkins was getting at.Perhaps it was his 'trouble filtering his desire to chime in' at work as you said. x

  19. docoman

    I was just pondering the same thing. I would love to hear an answer from someone on this question.

    We calculate that the universe is around 14 billion years old. So from where we are, we can see 14B lyrs in every direction. And if you wind back the clock, the BB must've happened about 14 B years ago, as at that time everything we can see would be back in the singularity. But, what about someone on the edge of where we can see, about 14B lyrs away. If they have their own horizon, which we assume would be 14B lyrs as that is how old the universe is, we would be at one edge of it, (as they are to us), and there must be someone the opposite side to us, 14B from them, 28B from us.

    If you then wind back the clock 14B years.... there would still be 14B lyrs worth left, not yet back into the singularity. The other half of our neighbors view that we can't see. And if they have a neighbor another 14B lyrs away.....
    Wouldn't that mean the BB maybe took however many horizons radii length of time to occur (an ongoing event at about 14B yr cycles) until someone could see an edge? (Implying the age of the start of the BB was further back, or we are the latest in an ongoing expansion, and therefore what we can see was somehow 'held back' until our 'release time' ) If it's more then we can see, it's older then we can see. Or else if the 14 B years BB time is correct, our horizon that we can see is it, and our neighbor out at our edge can see a horizon (nothing) the other side? Someone eventually can see a coast, using Tyson's analogy.
    Also, doesn't winding the clock back from what we can see, 14B lyrs, to get the age of the BB, imply that we are at the center?
    *lyrs meaning Light years

  20. docoman

    Or else the speed of light constant can/has been broken?

  21. Achems_Razor


    My take there is no edge/horizon to the universe, the universe is still expanding and apparently speeding up, so where can the definition of the edge/horizon be?

    We can see out to 14 billion light years, it took light 14 billion years to reach us from the deep field of space, in that time the deep field of space is much, much, farther away unseen.

    What we see when we look out is time travel to the past, the deep field of space is the dawn of the universe, pictures to the past. NOT REAL. The only reality is "NOW" Time is only relative to the observer.

  22. Guest

    Science is representing universes as a round O, therefore it is appropriate to imagine that there is an edge to a universe. If there was no border to multiverses they would not collide.
    In the doc "The Universe, Multiverse Parallel Universes" (not the same as "Parallel Universes* doc on TDF) they are representing all the universes as bubbles coming out of the collision between universes.
    I have before seen the collision of two universes represented by a rectangular and it always puzzled me as to why they represented it this way. As if it was a patch of something greater....but what? How can two universes collide if they are not contained?
    I am not sure of what to think of this.
    They don't know is my best answer.

  23. Achems_Razor

    Az...String theory extrapolates that multiverses/parallel universes are like infinite undulating strands, some that may only be a Planck length away from ours. The M theory is postulated as the same as in the "parallel universes" doc. on TDF.

    Do not worry about the pictures they use, only analogies.
    And then Prof. Brian Greene postulates that there are 10 multiverses, and new parallel universes forming every Planck sec. to infinity. Prof. Julian Barbour also postulates that every action that we take, taking into account interactions will lead to a new universe being flipped also every Planck sec. Food for thought Eh?

  24. Guest

    but still aren't those undulating strands shaped into circles? like smoke circles...undulating in air

  25. Achems_Razor

    Circles on the brain Eh? Same as saying why is a soap bubble round?

  26. Guest

    you say infinite? so life is infinite? the creation of universe is infinite? if it's finite now but going towards becoming infinite, would that support my idea that God is not, but is in the making? (Keep that god old description out of here).

  27. Guest

    All rounds have an edge...we are coming back to what i wrote 1 hour ago. A rectangular would be a patch of a round sphere. Do you say a universe is a container contained? Contained by what?

  28. Guest

    Sure, why is a soap bubble round, or a smoke ring round? Because it comes out of a round mouth container or plastic aparatus with edge. What about round universes? And don't accuse me of making stuff up, i am asking question not stating facts.


  29. Achems_Razor

    Az, a soap bubble is round because that is the easiest configuration for it to be in. Just the same as water finds its own level, etc: etc: but that is in the realm of physics, without physics, who knows? Probably new paradigms.

    And why would I accuse you of anything? Defensive Eh? lol

  30. Achems_Razor

    Az...Just reiterating what some scientists say.

  31. Guest

    Everything known to man ends up being round.
    defensive or preventive? I have been here long enough to know not to be trapped in the difference.

  32. Guest

    so if not round, square or angled...then it leaves it to not being.
    I can go for that, a new paradigm where we realize that this reality is a dream.
    What we always saw was not there other than in the "mind", therefore not physical. We go from daytime dream to night time dream, and the new paradigm is in the split nanosecond between the two. We dream everything, every concept including the possibility of it not being, the same way that as a non being we create the dreams of day and night.

  33. Achems_Razor

    metaphysically speaking and because I am smart, that makes sense to me. See, you know some science.

  34. Latham McQuarrie

    Were some of those questions at the end a waste of time and meaningless? Or is my lack of sleep prohibiting me from understanding them?

  35. norlavine

    Yes, no matter how daunting the seemingly endlessness of the horizon is - eventually the boat hits land. An 'I don't know' probably would have been acceptable.
    Also, while I'm griping - how inane were the questions from the audience at the end???

  36. norlavine

    I wouldn't have minded hearing it from Tyson's mouth. In fact 'I don't know' could have replaced his entire response. Either he misunderstood Dawkins' question, or he didn't want to say those ' 3 magic words'.xx

  37. norlavine

    I wouldn't have minded hearing it from Tyson's mouth. In fact 'I don't know' is the best start on the road to discovery. x

  38. norlavine

    @Latham McQuarrie
    No,you aren't crAZY!! - they were so bad - I couldn't believe how inane those questions were. I was waiting for someone to ask Dr Dawkins if he knew what time the next bus was leaving but they ran out of time, obviously. x

  39. docoman

    If we 'exploded' into existence from a single point, wouldn't that imply that there must be an outer edge to the explosion as it expands? And this expansion would be a bubble shape outwards from the point of singularity?
    My main question is how we arrived at a figure of 14B years old for the universe.
    As you said, if we look at something 14B lyrs away, it is actually looking what it was, as it has taken the light that long to reach us. So, that object, has had an additional 14B years to expand further out, since it's light left on it's journey to us.
    Wouldn't that mean that the age of the universe is more then 14B years old.

  40. docoman

    I did like Tyson's answer to the last young 'nutter' that asked that question what would you do if you were condemned to die. I would ask to be buried so the worms and the flora and fauna can dine on my body, the same way I have dined on the flora and fauna while I've been here.
    Made me lol.

  41. Achems_Razor


    Don't know if the BB was an explosion, could of been a big whimper. The first part of your query, all I can say is I do not know.

    The second part, the observable universe is 13.75 + - 0.11 billion years. 4.339x10^17sec. is arrived at by the Hubble's constant. Lot of math formulas, but you can google all that for more info.

    The universe, taking into account the light we are seeing now has been in transit for 13.7 billion years means it is now approx 41 billion LY (light years) to the edge of the deep field of space, and is some 80 billion LY across.

  42. docoman

    Thanks mate. That makes sense.

    One other question, if the rate of expansion is speeding up, will it reach the speed of light, and if so, what is expected to happen then.

  43. docoman

    Ahh, hang on. If the universe is 13.75 B years old, (I thought I heard Tyson say we think it is about 14B years old, I may be wrong), but the 'edge' from where we are out one way is about 41B LY, it must already be traveling faster then light to expand that far in only 14B years?

  44. Achems_Razor

    Yes, inflation means that it was travelling much faster than speed of C, at BB.

    Now that space is speeding up the further away from us, could again be exceeding the speed of C. at the deep field. The planets galaxies are not travelling at speed of C> the space itself is, like blowing up a balloon.

  45. docoman

    Ah yep, inflation. Thanks Razor. First 400 odd thous years I think I heard, is that right? May be Million.

  46. docoman

    Hmm. I just checked wiki. It said,
    'It lasted from 10^ ?36 seconds after the Big Bang to sometime between 10^ ?33 and 10^ ?32 seconds.'

  47. docoman

    Excuse my ignorance, I'm enjoying learning from you.
    I thought that Inflation was an explanation as to why the universe is relatively even in 'temperature' when we look at the 'residue' of the big bang that we detected. IF some other mechanism caused this even 'temperature', not inflation, would it not then be possible that the age of the universe is at least 41B years, maybe more as that is just our horizon of vision (by extension). IF it was a Big Whimper, and things started out slow and have steadily been speeding up since, it would be older then 41 B years, depending on the current speed.
    Also, doesn't our current estimation of the age, 13.75B years, seem to imply we are at the center?

  48. Achems_Razor

    Inflation is hard to determine, in the Hartle-Hawking idea...there is no time near the beginning. So it is impossible to ask how long inflation lasted, because the concept of time breaks down.

    Wiki, is okay but I do not believe all that is on there.

  49. docoman

    I agree with your evaluation of wiki.. it was just the quick easy answer to how long inflation lasted.

  50. docoman

    I suppose the main point of what I'm thinking, is how confident can we be with our estimation that the universe is 13.75 B years old.

  51. docoman

    Again, I may be just ignorant, but it seems to me that because we are looking at our 'field of view', and extrapolating backwards to get the age of the universe, that would imply we are at the center. If that is the case, it feels strangely like a de ja vu. A mistake we've made many times in the last couple thousand years.

  52. docoman

    Ohh, I recall now where I got 400 thous years. I think I saw in a documentary that we can see back to about 400k years after the BB happened. So far that's as far back as we can see. (I may be wrong, it's only a memory and I am far from an expert) I think the doco. was about how we came up with inflation.

  53. Jean-Guy Trudeau

    Space came into being from a single point, expanding out... (specifically, more space between objects everywhere but there is no "wall" for us to reach really) Essentially there is no "center" of the universe because "everything" exists in the center of the universe.
    It would be accurate to say that the Earth is at the center of OUR observable universe.
    Also, we are extrapolating using mathematics which is the language of the universe in the physical reality that we can measure and observe (if it didn't work like that, we wouldn't be here).

  54. docoman

    But if we 'came into being from a single point, expanding out', assuming the expansion was equal in every direction, wouldn't that mean that where that 'single point' was, would still be the center?
    You're correct, one part I have trouble wrapping my mind around still is how space itself is expanding between galaxies, more so then the galaxies are moving apart. (I think I heard it explained that way in a doco)
    I understand that Earth is the center of OUR observable universe, of course that is the case. But if we use what we can observe, to 'rewind' the clock to the start, wouldn't everything we see in every direction eventually head back towards where we are, thus making us the center of our calculation of the age of the universe? (I'm not saying we ARE the center, I'm asking if our calculations imply that we are.)

    P.S. I do understand that mathematics is the describing language of the universe, and even though I personally don't know all of the equations used, I do take it on good faith that the scientists that talk about it know the math involved.

  55. Achems_Razor

    When I mean whimper I don't mean started out slow, an analogy would be spilling all at once a gallon of red paint from up high on a canvas and observing the results, again on a doc here which cannot remember the name. Yes, we are at the centre, and so is everything else in this universe, everything is speeding away from everything else. Imagine we are on a surface of a balloon that is being blown up.

  56. Achems_Razor

    We are talking about the observable universe, and we can be as confident as saying 2+2=4 it is all in the math.


    Really interesting doc. Neil is very good at making a point without making it sound difficult. Richard is not bad, but good to see him with someone more fun. He can be tedious at times.

  58. AnalogousGumdropDecoder


    "Daddy" admits numerous times to being envious of how much "the black guy" knows about very difficult subjects.

    "The black guy?" Seriously?

  59. Sieben Stern

    I ship this. <3

  60. drinker69

    Oops sorry. I thought this was a discussion between Richard Dawkins and Mike Tyson.

  61. docoman

    When they talk about meeting other intelligent life, and that they may be well ahead of us in technology, I just considered this.
    An extract from something I've just been reading.
    (ZPE is Zero Point Energy, the energy remaining in a vacuum at a temp. of absolute zero, basically.)
    "In order to appreciate the magnitude of the ZPE in each cubic centimetre of space, consider a conservative estimate of 1052 ergs/cc. Most people are familiar with the light bulbs with which we illuminate our houses. The one in my office is labelled as 150 watts. (A watt is defined as 107 ergs per second.) By comparison, our sun radiates energy at the rate of 3.8 x 1020 watts. In our galaxy there are in excess of 100 billion stars. If we assume they all radiate at about the same intensity as our sun, then the amount of energy expended by our entire galaxy of stars shining for one million years is roughly equivalent to the energy locked up in one cubic centimetre of space."

    If we did run into other intelligent life forms that were way more advanced, that had bad intent towards us, the weapon they could conceivably unleash on us, using the energy from less then 1 cc of space, would make our Nukes look like pop-guns that are broken.

    It might be a good idea if ET does land to say hello, that we have a BIG smile and a very welcome greeting... the little bugger may carry a very big stick. :)

    I had no idea there was so much energy in 'empty' space.

  62. BetsMcGee

    even though it is out of context with everything you just said I am going to take "big stick" as a euphemism for a Probe

  63. Abraham Anand

    brilliant discussion. plz add more of these stuff.

  64. BetsMcGee

    Edit: looks like my comment didn't go through. A shame, lots of these great interview/discussion formats on you tube. Not sure what the best way to share them is now. I guess the only way left is to cherry pick a Bunch and submit them to the site over a longer period of time.

  65. docoman

    Thank you Razor. I realized after the ignorance I showed yesterday I needed to do some more reading. I've found some of the answers to the questions I was looking for. Which, has raised some more questions. lol. Thanks mate.

  66. francuccio

    It isn't important that everyone IS exposed to science because not everyone IS. It's important that they BE exposed to science. It's also important for evryone to excel in language arts so as to communicate intelligently and effectively. I request that TDF writers BE aware of this.

  67. Achems_Razor


    You could try one link at a time, and only if it pertains to the doc in question, and you telling us what the link is about and how it does pertain to the doc. Then you might be in luck, and I suggest that you read the "comment policy" above.

  68. Belynda Enzor

    This is just awesome! How perfect for a high school science class....shows them that even those professionals are asking the same questions they are!

  69. BetsMcGee

    Thanks Razor, the links were to channel home pages rather then the actual content, I understand why it was blocked . I just thought it more practical then linking videos individually as there is quite a lot of them. Anyways it was more a response to Abraham's comment then anything to do with the video. so no dramas.

  70. ruffkutt

    This doc is interesting as a contrast in personalities - The dry humorless Dawkins vs. the expressive and theatrical style of Tyson. Dawkins seemed annoyed and condescending at times.

    (Dawkins has never seen the movie "The Blob"??? I'm sure he has seen "Day of the Triffids")

  71. sknb

    please read my comment above yours

  72. sknb

    "Ignorance is venomous and murders the soul/ spreading like a virus/ running rampant and out of control/ write it down and remember that we never gave in/" - Immortal Technique

    I played a short clip of Neil DeGrasse Tyson speaking about how the molecules in our body are connected to phenomenon in the universe for my beginning level ESL (English as a Second Language) class that I teach. I was so moved by the intensity of Tyson's words and the implications of what he was saying I felt I had to share it with my students. My students are all adults, ranging in age from 19 to almost 70. They all are native Spanish speakers so I had the short video with Spanish subtitles. I was so excited to share with them something that had so moved me.

    They completely didn't get it. They didn't know what molecules were, or elements, or even that our own sun is a star. One of them actually said that the only thing she knew about creation was God. I have no problem with that, but it was so depressing to realize that their world had not been effected by science. I looked in their files and realized many of them had not gone past third grade in their countries.

    These are interesting people who have much wisdom and much to contribute to the world but this short example made me think about how much my own consciousness has been shaped by scientific knowledge, and the huge sense of separation I sometimes feel from them. I felt very alone, and very afraid of being an elitist. I am not better than someone who doesn't know basic science, but I do see the world differently. Not better, just different.

    They always say at my school to gear lessons around the students life, and things that are relevant to them. I completely understand this approach and its value but I am left wondering... who will push them outside their intimate world like I was pushed? Don't I owe that to them as a teacher? Isn't knowing things like what an atom is, and what a star is important for perceiving the world around you? I guess many would say no.

    I overheard at the student council meeting that some students complained because I showed videos about science and I showed Food Inc (In the context of learning English!) These are students who don't feel like they are learning unless they have grammar and dictation. It is very frustrating. I forget that the knowledge of science is a major divider of people in the United States.

    Guess I should just give up and stick to the textbook. Sigh.

  73. KooKookaChoo

    I know exactly what you are saying when you talk about how science has changed your point of view, yet forgetting others have not had the same opportunities for learning it also (for any multitude of reasons), and being taken aback by it.

    I empathize with wanting to teach material you think will change their lives, only to return to the monotonous textbook. I have often thought about teaching, but it seems your experience is the rule rather than the exception. I am sure I would be quickly disillusioned and broken by the education system before I even tried to make a difference. Nothing changes if nothing changes....

    The approach I have taken in this regard is to make the information available to people that might want it. I will bring topics up and if there is an interest, I will continue; if not, I won't. If people ask me where I got this info, I tell them; if not, I leave it alone. I like to "plant a seed" of different points of view in people's minds, and let them decide what to do with it.


  74. Najib Haddad

    wonderful negotiation

  75. Lary9

    They compliment one another, although as a Yank, I tend to favor the visionary rhetorical style of Dr. Tyson.

  76. Lary9

    I'd love to see that one.

  77. Lary9

    Ironically, it's that very same attribute of being falsifiable that makes science so exciting and trustworthy.

  78. Lary9

    But all these accelerating velocities are relative to other observational POVs.
    Here's a question for you to puzzle on----if light's speed is constant, then how can we read a red shifted or blue shifted Doppler image based upon a star going away as opposed to coming toward us?

  79. Hrvoje Bai?

    that's because of how light waves are bunched together in front of a moving object and "stretched" in the back. the former we see as blue light and latter as red, meaning we can determine whether that object is moving towards or away from us.

  80. Lary9

    I always thought it was because the frequencies within the array (waves per sec) are shifted (thus changing color), not the overall velocity of the wave array itself. Are we just saying the same thing?

  81. Lary9

    Relative to observers at that point, doesn't the expanding matter, upon reaching V=c, disappear from light-based observability? Right?

  82. Hrvoje Bai?

    Yes, we are :) the velocity of the wave is the same, it is the wavelenght that changes thus affecting the frequency. The frequency at which the waves are emitted is always the same, but the observer recieves more waves when the emitting body is moving towards him, and vice-versa. It can be imagined as a pistol firing a bullet at the target every second, but if the pistol is moving, say, towards the target it's still firing one bullet per second but the target gets hit more frequntly.

  83. Hrvoje Bai?

    I don't think matter can reach c, because it has mass.

  84. Lary9

    Then how can galaxies at the outer edges of the universe increase their rate of expansion within the cosmos relative to...let's say Earth and The Milky Way? Isn't that what Hubble's Law states?

  85. Hrvoje Bai?

    The rate of expansion is increased because of dark energy, velocities at which galaxies move are small compared to the speed of light. well, due to E=mc2, particles with mass cannot move at the speed of light because the faster they go their mass increases and eventually they would need infinite energy to attain that speed.

  86. Lary9

    OK...thanks for clarifying. I actually know mass become greater as it approaches time is also altered...etc. I get that. At the speed of light, it would require infinite energy to maintain its momentum..I get that is an impossibility. Where I get "lost" is in thinking intuitively about relative velocities, e.g; when two relative objects are moving away from one another at accelerating speed (as in an expanding cosmic raisin cake), how can that expansion rate not eventually approach the speed of light? Don't our radio telescopes eventually lose the possibility of even gathering light from the far side of the cosmos?

    Does that makes sense? Maybe I should wrangle some of my grandson's weed and smoke a "doobie" before I think about this stuff! LOL...although I doubt it would help me much...except to laugh even more at my ambition to grasp the workings of the cosmos.

  87. Xwendekar

    I like NDT, and I'm looking forward to him hosting the new "Cosmos" series, but the more I see of him in things like this (conferences etc) the more I feel I'm not as sold on him as many are. Speaking strictly to his skills as a communicator, when he speaks I often have the sense I'm being condescended to, and that perhaps he's dumbing things down a bit more than absolutely necessary. Possibly just a matter of taste.

  88. awful_truth

    An excellent discussion between 2 very intellectual people. (a great watch for everyone) I really appreciated the open-mindedness of both individuals, even if I didn't agree with one of their conclusions. (philosophy in science) It should be also noted Neil DeGrasse Tyson is far more competent, and well rounded than Dawkins, thus better equipped to respond to questions in general. Either way, a stimulating conversation that should be checked out by all.

  89. Edward Black

    I totally agree that Dawkins is probably out-matched in this discussion. I do feel that he's being humble and helpful however, and is a good partner to Neil. I don't think Richard is a lot less competent in biology than Neil is in astronomy though, but the discussion was pretty much bound to end up combining the two, where Neil seems far more competent. A lovely watch though, and it made me far more fond of a Dawkings I've sort of forgotten in newer time, as he's usually debating with (pardon my french) useless idiots, which gets dull with time.

  90. awful_truth

    Like yourself, I preferred Dawkins in this discussion far more than other documentaries I have seen him in. This is in part to his 'holier than thou' attitude towards those with religious tendencies. Even if I don't agree with their position, I an intelligent enough to remain respectful, and open minded regarding items that cannot be proven, nor disproven. Ironically, his attempts at converting people are quite similar, and as judgmental as the religious people he argues with. (an exercise in futility either way, and yes, gets dull with time)
    Note: Yes, I pardoned your French, and completely understand your position, but ask that you consider this.
    Science (provable) and faith (non provable) are merely opposite sides of the same coin trying to explain existence, and contrary to popular belief, are not in conflict but are instead complimentary, and to say otherwise is to imply disparity where none exists.

  91. Edward Black

    I have no problem with faith. when it doesn't get in the way of science or hurt people. I do not think religious writing should have any impact of what is taught as fact in schools, how people are going to protect themselves from diseases, which part of the genitals a child should have, or why people should go to war. Theories developed through the scientific method is simply not open to
    counter-arguments that aren't developed through the scientific method.

    I do think that there is room for faith in the world, given that faith accept that science is the closest thing we are to (non-existant) objective truth, and accept that faith is a completely personal affair. Faith on things that isn't of this world, should have no impact on the politics and science of this world. As a personal, philosophical world-view however, people can believe whatever they'd like without causing harm. I just see no likely possibility of this happenening, as there are several holy books that make it a duty to change the world to the books ideals.

  92. awful_truth

    I completely agree with your position and comments Edward. There has to be a separation of church and state. I don't even have a problem with 'bible studies' in school as long as it isn't taught as fact, or impedes with scientific education. For those of faith, I would can only suggest that when we know something with scientific certainty, that issue of faith needs to be re-evaluated.
    With that said, my open mindedness prevents me from discerning any difference between science denying theists, or faith denying atheists. To close oneself off from the potentiality of possibility, is a threat to self determination. (science will never be able to answer everything - be all knowing)
    Even as a Canadian, the charter of rights is quite explicit about this issue, yet sometimes seems to be ignored where religious doctrine trumps the very laws that make us a multicultural society. (wearing turbins as police officers, or carry ceremonial knives in school)
    In any case, it was great to hear your thoughts, and it is always a breath of fresh air to see others who allow reason to rule the day!. Take care, and best wishes Edward.

  93. Edward Black

    I also try to be open minded, while keeping it closed enough to keep my brain from falling out. Personally, I see a great difference in science denying theists and faith denying atheists. This is for me similar to the difference between a psychiatrist reality orienting a schizophrenic, and a schizophrenic reality orienting a psychiatrist. With the "proven" theories we have today in the fields of physics, biology, geology, etc, combined with proven facts about the history of the writing and editing of the "holy books", I just can't respect a point of view in which that is irrelevant. Science can never be all knowing, but that's the beauty of it. It never claims to be all knowing. It humbly acknowledges human being's limitiations and relative insignificance. I just consider ignorance the largest threat to human society, and currently the largest providers of ignorance in the world are the religious communities.

    I don't close myself off from the potentiality of possibilty, but I do rate things on probability. If someone came to me and told me that he'd bought a lottery ticket for each of the next 50 weeks, and if he didn't win first prize on all of them, he'd cut of parts of his son's genitals, then I would have him commited immidiatly - no matter how incredibly certain he was that he would make it.

    But I do understand your point of view, and if all people could keep such a "neutral" view on the subject, the world would be a better place. It's however beyond my capability to be that diplomatic. Take care!

  94. awful_truth

    I agree that ignorance is the greatest threat to humanity as a whole. Speaking of which, I am unaware of any doctrine that mutilates children if they don't win lotteries. (???) It should be noted that the inability to question dogma, whether it be faith, or science based is dangerous. Since greed rules the world, and influences every facet of our lives, one must remain intellectually skeptical regarding everything we are being told, even when the purveyors insist it is undeniable.
    This is the moral equivalent I was referring to regarding theists/atheists alike. Scientists who create weapons of mass destruction are indiscernible from religious leaders who insight violence due to their intolerance of others who choose to think differently.
    (Albert Einstein understood this, affirming his moral intelligence as a goal for all to strive for)
    In essence, Ignorance comes in many forms, some just appear more obvious than others. Best wishes Edward.

  95. Edward Black

    The example with the lottery was just to illustrate that just because a point of view or a belief could be somehow possible, through a long series of extremely unlikely, completely undiscovered scientific principles, doesn't mean that it should be considered sane to be certain that it's not just possible, but actually certain fact. What's considered sane doesn't matter much though, before innocent people are being hurt by these beliefs. Then I'm beyond disagreement, and have moved on to complete condemnation and disgust.

    On a completely theoretical level, I could see a way religion can exist peacefully, but the world keeps throwing out examples of the horrible things done in the name of religion which makes that dream nothing more than yet another crazy, impossible belief.

    Yes, remaining critical is important. Greed no doubt rules the world, but when aiming the criticism, it's good to start with people such as "experts" on economy (which I do not consider a science), owners of large corporations, and politicians (and obviously the transactions between them). When being critical, it's good to start where there's clear motives. If I see scientific conclusions I can't understand, that has major political and economic impact, I tend to stay alert.

    I do disagree with the scientist/religious leader comparison. The equivalent of the scientist in that comparison would for instance be an archaeologist digging for an ancient text, containing something which he knows a religious leader could decide to interpret as a sign of god to do horrific things. Maybe he should stop digging?

    Very few scientists has ever worked directly towards a known goal of creating a weapon of mass destruction, and none of them gave the order to drop one (as far as we know). None of them financed it themselfs either. Scientists do science, and personally I can see a great distinction between those who create a weapon, and those who order and use it (although I approve of neither). It is however a fact that scientific discovery has a potential for destruction, which is no doubt a moral question to think about. The rate of discoveries in science has unfortunatly been speeding away from development in politics, reason and moral, and that is a concern. Human beings simply can't stop thinking though, so the main point would be to focus towards increasing the amount of constructive thinking. If we can't stop having ideas, we need to change the way we apply them to the world.

    I kinda lost control of this post, so it's pretty messy, and probably at times incoherent (English is my second language, and I felt like I lost some control writing this). Hopefully it makes some sense though. :)

  96. awful_truth

    If English is your second language, you are doing a great job. (making complete sense) It appears that our thinking is quite similar, and any minor discrepancies between us are merely variety of flavor, and only adds to great discussions, and exchanging of ideas. Either way, we can only hope that 'sensibility' rules the day. Although I am not holding my breath for everyone to understand the importance of this, it does motivate me given some of the intelligent people I have encountered on this website. Keep up the great thoughts Edward!

  97. Edward Black

    Yeah, it's been good talking to you. Wouldn't keep my hopes up for a sensible world, but who knows. Probably not in my lifetime, but maybe some time in the future.

    Counting on you to do your bit too, and I'll try to do mine. Take care!

  98. awful_truth

    Sounds like a plan to me.

  99. Edward Black

    Cheers. I'm sure I will.

    He's among the people that I recently haven't offered nearly as much attention as I should, so will probably watch it tonight. Been watching so much from the young up-and-comers, that I've slightly forgotten about the legends. :)

  100. gwhosubex

    if there's anything to be contemptuous, and disrespectful of, it's religion.

    So incredibly anti-rational.

  101. gwhosubex

    @ 1:12:10 Poorly thought out, overdramatic, pretentious guy asking the last question.

    His question, "You're about to be executed, and you're using reason to be at peace with death, only that subsequent reasoning is hinged upon a premise of a belief in god."

    So he's probably trying to point out what he perceives as some kind of paradox, mixing, or muddy line between reason and faith.

    First, they don't believe in god, so how are they supposed to answer?

    Second, they yield to rationality, philosophy, reason, epistemology, evidence, and reason. So a belief in a deity doesn't conform to those standards. So when you have a faulty premise, your subsequent logic is also invalid. So if you're concerned about how rational their supposed actions would be, then it really isn't very rational, but they they're operating under their knowledge. Apart from whether it's rational or not, what a person does can be ethical or unethical, but none of that applies here, unless they go kill the captors or something. (See the signs of a political trap in questions like these? Jesus faced a lot of that too, didn't he? He didn't want to get in trouble with the authorities, so he said, screw the people, you're slaves of both God, and the state. Anyway, I digress). What a person chooses to do or he lives life is just a personal choice, not an ethical one. We can say it's rational or not, but if you think about it, this is the real question being asked. What are the ethics and rationality of being rational under an irrational premise. The answer is, it dpeends on your reason. seriously, what's the point of the question again?

    It's also pretty important to point out WHY they believe in a deity. Is it due to spurring rationality, like the creationist professor Richard Dawkins mentioned? Obviously not. They claim to adhere to rationality, which is why you're even asking them this question to begin with. Do they have insufficient knowledge? Then no foul, no harm. They're being as rational as possible with what they have, like we're doing today, There is as frontier of knowledge, and rationality is the way to explore it, and know truth. Are they holding some kind of contradiction in their minds, double-thinking, as Orwell would say? Clearly holding uncontroversial, solidly established contradictions steadfastly is irrational. You know they wouldn't do that. So there's no point in asking the question. Seriously, what the f--k is the point of this question? Such important notions go examined and glossed over when communicating in a poorly thought out, bs, hypothetical, emotionally charged manner.

    He's obfuscated the question, instead of being direct about it, so it's no surprise the answer you got from Neil was utilitarian, poetic, and in line with his non-belief in a god (He said he'd have his body buried not cremated so the energy content would be used for other life).

    When you talk in obscurities, instead of being actually direct, you get an obscure, indirect answer that doesn't end up addressing the real question. You start guessing, inferring, and people are SO prone to doing this incorrect, as most people suck with philosophy and communication.

    Based on the ridiculousness of the question alone, asking them to say what they would do if they believed in a god, yet knowing their answer will be based on their non-belief in a god, you already see the first signs on poor thinking, and it's no surprise you get obfuscated communication too. Such kind of questions opens the door for platitudes, and crowd-pleasing sentiments that politicians are oh so good at using to manipulate masses of poor thinkers.

    Stop basing things on emotion. While you're busy dramaticizing your point, you've completely blinded yourself to the possibility that what you're so certain, so emotional about may be completely idiotic, unfounded, illogical, invalid... in which case there is no point in being so emotional about it... and often times quite dangerous to society.

    So when poorly thought out, emotionally charged rhetoric (i.e. highly correlated with faulty logic. emotion per se is not the culprit here) tends to require a whole lot of words to address, and most people won't/can't dissect one like here. It's often much more expedient, and probably wise to just tell people like that, "gtfo of here. Come back when you learn to think and/or communicate."

  102. awful_truth

    I think the word you were looking for was irrational.

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