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Discovery Channel's new show "Curiosity": Is science overstepping it's boundaries in regards to Cosmology?


brandymac27

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I just finished watching the first episode of the new series Curiosity on the Discovery Channel. I thought the show was interesting, as it talked about the origin of the universe. Stephen Hawking made some pretty strong claims saying that there was ultimately no Creator/God involved in "the big bang", and basically by chance and a little bit of luck (to make a long story short) the universe (or multiverse) and everything it (or them), including us, is the reason for our existence.

In the 30 minute conversation that aired after the show was over, some really good questions were raised. One in particular I am very curious about:

Do you think science is over stepping it's boundaries in attempting to answer questions about the beginning of the universe/creation/big bang?

There was a Theologian on the show who, if I understood him correctly, was basically saying that science is over stepping it's boundaries in attempting to answer these questions b/c Theologians have been discussing the issue for thousands of years and it should ultimately be left to them to determine the answers to questions of this nature (he was NOT bashing science, he just made it sound like it isn't scientists place to question these things).

But, the question remains. What do all of you think about this? Is science over stepping it's boundaries? And do you think it's futile to even suggest that science can answer questions of this nature?

My personal opinion is that scientists have every right to question and test hypotheses regardless if the questions are scientifically or religiously based, especially when the answers concern so many people. Now, wether or not it's futile is a totally different issue. I honestly don't know if questions like these can ever be proven by science or anyone for that matter.

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Scientists are not trying to disprove a God. They are trying to prove a reason/formula/example/theory.

I recorded the show and watched to see how the debate went down and I wish these guys would let loose. The guy you are talking about Haught represented himself well, as did the others.

Not overstepping. And I don't believe it will be proven either way.

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Well humans are part of the universe, so the more you attempt to learn about humans as a species the more you are forced to learn about all things in nature as we all come from the same stuff. Having said that, I don't believe science has overstepped any boundary, granted I'm not religious and science is something that I've always had a fondness for (especially anything dealing with cosmology and astronomy). Science is about gaining knowledge, so questions both big and small will always fall under some realm of science—that's what science is here for. I do, however, believe that it's almost impossible to know everything and when exploring something so expansive as our own universe there is way too much info to decipher, so while we may explore for the answer, we shouldn't be disappointed when we find out that it may be a question that we will always search for and ultimately may never be answered until we've reached the end of our run in nature and by then who cares.

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I don;t think science can over step there boundaries.

Peoples interpretations of science over steps. Take the big bang theory. So many people miss the last word Theory.

That all it is a theory which was debunk on the discovery channel. The big bang part not evolution

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I certainly don't think science in general is over stepping its grounds in trying to solve these problems. EVERY issue had been tackled by theologians for thousands of years before science did because religion is thousands of years older than science.

Whether Hawking in particular is over stepping things by stating no God was necessary is less clear to me.

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Hawking is a poor Philosopher, so I would take what he what he says about the metaphysical with a grain of salt.

Science can explain what it can observe. Whether the spiritual world exists or not, it could never explain it. It also can no longer observe the beginning of the universe, so when scientists attempt to extrapolate what they are observing to explain everything, well that is when it gets on pretty shaking ground. It is what they do with micro v macro evolution. Taking the observed changes within species and exploding it to explain the origin of life. They rely on time to do this, add enough time and anything is possible. Although I believe they have needed to add multiverses because of the complexity of life and the conditions needs to sustain it. But I digress.

I did not see the show, but the argument sounds a lot like the Scientism debate. That some prominent scientist/atheists are trying to kill religion by saying that science is our guide to all that we can know. ie... If cannot be observed, it cannot exist.

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Absolutely not and in fact, Thelogians shouldn't be telling scientists what to examine in regards to life and universe. If something hasn't been explained by science yet, it doesn't necessarily mean that God or some supernatural force is guiding it. We have barely scratched the surface for exploring our molecular biology and our cosmic existence and we already have a very basic but good understanding.. I'm never going to see it, but I would love to know what we will come to know in the next 1000-2000 years.

If cannot be observed, it cannot exist.

No. If it has not been observed (or explained) yet, then we must try our best to find a way to observe it, or at least prove it. That is what science tells you. That is why you have research laboratories. There is no absolution in science where it says "something cannot exist". Hawkins believes in a natural Universe where the supernatural as of yet has not been observed. This is the same philosophy Einstein had.

The need for creating absolutes almost always comes from the religious side.

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Hawking is a poor Philosopher, so I would take what he what he says about the metaphysical with a grain of salt.

:rubeyes:

That some prominent scientist/atheists are trying to kill religion by saying that science is our guide to all that we can know. ie... If cannot be observed, it cannot exist.

Science actually says that visual proof is the weakest proof. Gravity being the prime example.

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If, scientists are 'shooting the breeze' on TV for the purpose of entertainment, i.e. making **** up, and that infringes on your theology or threatens it in some way, it doesn't say an awful lot for your theology. :)

There's nothing 'overstepping' about science investigating beginnings, provided it's done within a rigorous scientific framework. Maybe they'll find the fingerprints of a supreme being.

Too much of the stuff that is shown on TV though is speculation, not science.

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I liked the show in the sense that the topic of "why we're here" is one of my favorite topics to discuss.

I don't like it when members of the science and/or religious community are dismissive or insulting to one another. On a few occassions, last nights show step right up to the line of insulting without stepping over it. I winced a few times at some of what Hawkings had to say in regards to the existance of God. It stuns me that some people, whether scientist or priest, stand on a soapbox and proclaim "THIS is exactly what happened. Period." Truth is, no one knows. The Big Bang is a convincing theory with plenty of highly intelligent mathematicians and scienctist behind it, armed with the calculations to justify it. But at the end of the day, it's a theory and since no one can prove it without a doubt, you could just as easily believe the first few lines of Genesis which state "in the beginning there was nothing.." followed by God creating everything. They're both a big bang...

Not saying I'm right... just saying that I wish these two communities could drop their ego's and find an agreeable solution together.

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If, scientists are 'shooting the breeze' on TV for the purpose of entertainment, i.e. making **** up, and that infringes on your theology or threatens it in some way, it doesn't say an awful lot for your theology. :)

There's nothing 'overstepping' about science investigating beginnings, provided it's done within a rigorous scientific framework. Maybe they'll find the fingerprints of a supreme being.

Too much of the stuff that is shown on TV though is speculation, not science.

Agreed, just the usual infotainment for the masses

I do find the occasional actual debates interesting,but it is like a economist debating a engineer on the origin of the wheel

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Cosmonogy is an interesting thing. How did the universe begin? When you study back to the big bang and during the first plank time you can allow physics to guide you. However, once you delve into time before the first plank time, that's where science as we know it ends.

I have no problem with people saying the big bang was God's beginning, the light.

Even if Hawking is correct in his theory, what happened before? You get caught in the chicken or the egg argument.

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Even if Hawking is correct in his theory, what happened before? You get caught in the chicken or the egg argument.

That's the hard part of his theory due to the fact that we're accustomed to a sense of time and a timeline. He argues that there was no time b/c it simply didn't exist and couldn't exist. But at the moment of the big bang, time begins. It's hard to wrap your head around that, again b/c we're accustomed to time and a timeline.

My thing is... if all that matter was just "there"... essentially frozen doing nothing as Hawkings suggested, what was the cause that put things into motion? THAT is what I want science and/or religion to find out. I'm probably way off in suggesting or assuming that "something" had to put things into motion. That something could be anything really, even a bizarre law of the nature or the universe we've yet to crack.

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There was a Theologian on the show who, if I understood him correctly, was basically saying that science is over stepping it's boundaries in attempting to answer these questions b/c Theologians have been discussing the issue for thousands of years and it should ultimately be left to them to determine the answers to questions of this nature (he was NOT bashing science, he just made it sound like it isn't scientists place to question these things).

Dude...seriously? LOL.

Science has given us more hard evidence about the universe in 50 years than religion has in thousands. :)

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That's the hard part of his theory due to the fact that we're accustomed to a sense of time and a timeline. He argues that there was no time b/c it simply didn't exist and couldn't exist. But at the moment of the big bang, time begins. It's hard to wrap your head around that, again b/c we're accustomed to time and a timeline.

My thing is... if all that matter was just "there"... essentially frozen doing nothing as Hawkings suggested, what was the cause that put things into motion? THAT is what I want science and/or religion to find out. I'm probably way off in suggesting or assuming that "something" had to put things into motion. That something could be anything really, even a bizarre law of the nature or the universe we've yet to crack.

This is why scientists don't like bringing God into the question because as of now, it answers absolutely nothing. Astrophysics is way too complex to be given a rather easy answer like "God".

But even the most hardcore atheist scientists like Richard Dawkins don't completely rule God out of the question. Based on the progress of science in the last 200 years, its very likely that we will be able to answer some of our most perplexing qurstions.

ughh I hate using my phone to write on es.

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Theologians have been discussing the issue the same way a bunch of 1st graders might discuss their favorite super hero. There aren't very many of them that sit there and say "but wait a minute, what about the possibility these super heroes don't exist?"

Scientists are supposed to find facts about questions, and answer those questions the best they can. Perhaps some more religious people are concerned that scientists may be trying to form theories about the subject without enough information- "You can't PROVE god didn't create the universe! You don't have complete and total evidence in support of your claim!" Yes, perhaps not. But the way science progresses is through making such hypotheses about something and having yourself or others constantly re-evaluate your idea to see if it holds up with every scrap of new evidence or every new possible experiment you can run to test it.

Theologians do the same thing anyway, they devote complete and utter belief to something they don't have any more facts to support than scientists do right now. The only difference is that scientists are always having their ideas put to the test and challenged, and theologians are not exactly willing to be proven incorrect- or trying to prove themselves wrong.

Personally I think it is premature to make definite claims about the origins of the universe, and I wouldn't be comfortable doing so, but then again somebody has to get this scientific ball rolling. If we never question certain things then we never seek answers to them. What if we never questioned beliefs that sicknesses were caused by any number of bizarre things- god, bathing too much, being bad or immoral, the jews, etc? What would our life expectancy be today?

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multi million dollar production and it sounds like Speak 'n Spell is narrating. Srsly, could they pony up the dough for a human interpreter? Good Lord.

..

They did have a human interpreter.

And the speak-n-spell voice is more or less Hawkings shtick. The hip and edgy radiohead crowd just love it.

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And the speak-n-spell voice is more or less Hawkings shtick.

Oh, it's entirely his schtick. He's refused for years to get a voice upgrade.

Ebert has a much better version, although it's a little different in that it was developed from recordings of his own voice.

---------- Post added August-8th-2011 at 12:09 PM ----------

The whole argument on science vs religion seems kinda silly to me. As science explains more and more of physical origins and nature, the less and less that mainstream religious followers will claim their god was directly and personally involved in that particular 'wonder'.

It's possible that new experiments being undertaken will find evidence for the multiverse, and that will show that our world and universe is indeed one of many spontaneous 'creations'. Will that cause fundamental changes in theology if we have both theories and data to show that the Big Bang was just one of a multitude of 'local' recent events and not something 'unique' and 'eternal'? I don't think so, because a Christian, for example, could still think of what happened in our universe 13.5 billion years ago, and two thousand years ago, being special and significant events.

Any religious person holding their faith because there's something that science doesn't explain, seems to be missing the point of their religion.

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I liked the show in the sense that the topic of "why we're here" is one of my favorite topics to discuss.

I don't like it when members of the science and/or religious community are dismissive or insulting to one another. On a few occassions, last nights show step right up to the line of insulting without stepping over it. I winced a few times at some of what Hawkings had to say in regards to the existance of God. It stuns me that some people, whether scientist or priest, stand on a soapbox and proclaim "THIS is exactly what happened. Period." Truth is, no one knows. The Big Bang is a convincing theory with plenty of highly intelligent mathematicians and scienctist behind it, armed with the calculations to justify it. But at the end of the day, it's a theory and since no one can prove it without a doubt, you could just as easily believe the first few lines of Genesis which state "in the beginning there was nothing.." followed by God creating everything. They're both a big bang...

Not saying I'm right... just saying that I wish these two communities could drop their ego's and find an agreeable solution together.

I agree. I also felt that Hawking was a little too dismissive, (or maybe apathetic is a better word?), regarding the theological debate for "the beginning". But then again, I don't think I can remember when watching him on TV or reading books that he's ever given religion any credit to these types of questions/answers.

That's the hard part of his theory due to the fact that we're accustomed to a sense of time and a timeline. He argues that there was no time b/c it simply didn't exist and couldn't exist. But at the moment of the big bang, time begins. It's hard to wrap your head around that, again b/c we're accustomed to time and a timeline.

My thing is... if all that matter was just "there"... essentially frozen doing nothing as Hawkings suggested, what was the cause that put things into motion? THAT is what I want science and/or religion to find out. I'm probably way off in suggesting or assuming that "something" had to put things into motion. That something could be anything really, even a bizarre law of the nature or the universe we've yet to crack.

Not only what was the cause that put things into motion, but what was the cause of the motionless things to begin with? What caused the motionless space/void where time didn't exist?

Also, is "time" really a factor? Does it make any difference if time really existed or not? Hell, time may not exist as we know it, so if time is only an illusion, and the universe is infinite, doesn't that contradict the first and second laws of thermodynamics?

OTOH, if the universe is finite, the answers aren't so difficult to agree with regardless of wether you're coming from a scientific or theological perspective.

Dude...seriously? LOL.

Science has given us more hard evidence about the universe in 50 years than religion has in thousands. :)

I'm not a dude :). But, you make me think of something. A lot of people seem to think that science may be overstepping it's boundaries in regards to the beginning, but could we change the question around and ask if theologians are possibly overstepping their boundaries when it comes to all this?

Do they have any way of testing any hypothesis that they come up with? Religion is based on faith, so it's hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that we should exclude science and believe what the Bible tells us (and have faith), and if we do that all will be "ok". I'm more of a "prove it" kind of person, and if theology/religion has no way of proving anything other than offering theories based off of human feelings, then the question remains: Is this even a question for theologians considering they'll never have any way to test theories and will seemingly only be able to base any evidence regarding the "beginning" off of feelings?

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