imageAlan Lightman in Salon:

Ten years ago, I began attending monthly meetings of a small group of scientists, actors and playwrights in a carpeted seminar room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Our raison d’être, broadly speaking, has been an exploration of how science and art affect one another. As we drink merlot and munch on goat cheese and crackers, with the late afternoon sun draining from the room, we discuss topics ranging from the history of scientific discovery to the nature of the creative process to the way that an actor connects to an audience to the latest theater in New York and Boston. . . .

. . . But if science is the religion of the 21st century, why do we still seriously discuss heaven and hell, life after death, and the manifestations of God? Physicist Alan Guth, another member of our salon, pioneered the Inflation version of the Big Bang theory and has helped extend the scientific understanding of the infant universe back to a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after t = 0. Another member, biologist Nancy Hopkins, manipulates the DNA of organisms to study how genes control the development and growth of living creatures. Hasn’t modern science now pushed God into such a tiny corner that He or She or It no longer has any room to operate — or perhaps has been rendered irrelevant altogether? Not according to surveys showing that more than three-quarters of Americans believe in miracles, eternal souls and God. Despite the recent spate of books and pronouncements by prominent atheists, religion remains, along with science, one of the dominant forces that shape our civilization. And our little group of scientists and artists finds itself fascinated with these contrasting beliefs, fascinated with different ways of understanding the world. And fascinated by how science and religion can coexist in our minds.

imageIf you go to the comments – there are pages and pages of them – it seems clear that Lightman, best selling author of the wonderfully entertaining novel, “Einstein’s Dreams,” hit a nerve with some of his fellow Atheists. This comment, is an exception:

Nice to read an article by an atheist who is not a fundamentalist (as are many of those who have posted comments). Fundamentalist atheists deeply believe that all religion is silly and evil; they cannot fit Gandhi or Martin Luther King into their worldview any better than Christian fundamentalists can fit evolution into theirs.

That Dawkins quote, "If there is a God, it’s going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed," shows his ignorance of non-fundamentalist religion. Many people of faith view God as being infinitely big and way beyond human comprehension. . . .

Merlot helps with the reading of Does God exist? – Both the wine and the time are worth it.