PHYS125 lt6 ScienceEthicsBeliefs andReligion

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Information about PHYS125 lt6 ScienceEthicsBeliefs andReligion
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Published on October 15, 2007

Author: Natalia

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PHYS 125:  PHYS 125 The Big Issues Lecture 6 Science, Ethics, Beliefs and Religion Dr Chris Bowdery The Big Issues :  The Big Issues Science, Ethics, Beliefs and Religion Science and Ethics:  Science and Ethics What do scientists do? Learn about the world? Meddle with it? Control what is around us? Observe the universe? Probably all of these in different circumstances Physics Research:  Physics Research Most university physics research is observing under controlled conditions. Controlling the world is not usually on the agenda. Physics Research and Ethics:  Physics Research and Ethics Some physics research does have ethical considerations. Physics Research and Ethics:  Physics Research and Ethics Nuclear weapons Wartime work – not supervised by society Now UN and other groups monitor work Physics Research and Ethics:  Physics Research and Ethics Nanotechnology Nano-scale  billionth of a metre 10-100 atoms (one day individual atoms) Nano-particles (already used in some products) Encompasses precision engineering as well as electronics; electromechanical systems (eg 'lab-on-a-chip' devices) , mainstream biomedical applications in areas as diverse as gene therapy, drug delivery and novel drug discovery techniques. Physics Research and Ethics:  Physics Research and Ethics Nanotechnology Physics Research and Ethics:  Physics Research and Ethics Nanotechnology Ethical concerns General: health hazards Specific: self-replicating nano-robots These could run amok and transform the materials (biomass) around us into who-knows-what.  the ‘grey goo’ scenario (Eric Drexler 1986) Physics Research and Ethics:  Physics Research and Ethics Nanotechnology No-one is planning to build self-replicating robots No-one knows how. More a hypothetical scare than a real issue Physics Research and Ethics:  Physics Research and Ethics Communicating with ET If ET is hostile, we might be giving away our existence  conquest from space Today SETI scientists are only listening not talking But our radio, TV and radars are giving us away… Physics Research and Ethics:  Physics Research and Ethics High Energy Physics Could a future particle accelerator create a mini black hole  devour the Earth? Physics Research and Ethics:  Physics Research and Ethics High Energy Physics Theory suggests production of mini-black holes is very unlikely Cosmic rays hit Earth with much higher energies and nothing bad has happened 2) Subatomic black holes could not devour anything anyway. Physics Research and Ethics:  Physics Research and Ethics Conclusion All these areas need monitoring This is already happening (COSHH) Education to allay fears and scares Balance between stopping everything and allowing everything. Science and Beliefs:  Science and Beliefs Astrology the belief that the positions of the planets amongst the stars, as viewed from the Earth, at the time of a person’s birth, have an affect on that person’s future. Astrology:  Astrology Before planets and stars were understood, easy to see how their appearance and movements in the sky should seem to be mysterious and important. Astrology:  Astrology Now hard to reconcile astrology with science. Influence of the planets (if any) cannot be due to gravity (well understood). It would have to be some other effect, unknown to science. Not hard to conceive of a time when a baby is born on another planet. Would the position of Earth affect that baby’s future? If so, Earth should affect our future and more so than the other planets. Astrology:  Astrology Experts in astrology claim that we should not attack a subject we know little about. This sounds like good advice but it is also good advice to consider alternative explanations grounded in psychology and chance coincidences. Astrology:  Astrology Should we make a distinction between ‘tabloid’ astrology and the serious practitioners? “Astrology is a bit of fun. Astronomy is lots of fun.” Nigel Marshall (GCSE Astronomy examiner) Superstition:  Superstition Superstitions rules of behaviour based upon bad experiences and fears in the past. This course does not presume to pronounce on what is right or wrong. Science and Religion:  Science and Religion Always been controversial Sometimes disagreement, sometimes persecution (verbal, violent) Opposed or in harmony? Science and Religion:  Science and Religion Science probably cannot say anything about a possible spiritual aspect to life. By definition outside of the scope of normal physical experimentation. Science and Religion:  Science and Religion Cannot contribute to the existence of God and life-after-death Science and Religion:  Science and Religion This doesn’t stop scientists expressing an opinion (like everyone else) We will examine a range of views Science and Religion:  Science and Religion Richard Dawkins Zoologist, author, atheist Considers religion to be ‘foolish nonsense’ ‘a virus of the mind’ Photo by Lalla Ward Science and Religion:  Science and Religion Steven Weinberg Physicist, Nobel prize winner, atheist Presented a physics view against existence of God in ‘Dreams of a Final Theory’ 1992 Science and Religion:  Science and Religion John Polkinghorne Physicist, author, became anglican priest Switched from academic career in particle physics theory. Sees no conflict between science and Christianity Science and Religion:  Science and Religion Abdus Salam (1926-1996) Physicist, Nobel prize winner devout Muslim Saw no contradiction between Islam and science Science and Religion:  Science and Religion Brian Josephson Physicist, Nobel prize winner believes in the paranormal Directs the Mind-matter unification project Science and Religion:  Science and Religion The Soul and the Spirit Soul 1 nonphysical aspect of person: the complex of human attributes that manifests as consciousness, thought, feeling, and will, regarded as distinct from the physical body 2 religion spirit surviving death: in some systems of religious belief, the spiritual part of a human being that is believed to continue to exist after the body dies. [Old English sāwol . Ultimately from a prehistoric Germanic word that is also the ancestor of German Seele “soul.”] (MSN Encarta dictionary definition, incomplete list) Science and Religion:  Science and Religion The Soul and the Spirit Spirit 1 life force of individual: a vital force that characterizes a living being as being alive 2 will: somebody’s will, sense of self, or enthusiasm for living 3 paranormal supernatural entity: a supernatural being that does not have a physical body, for example, a ghost, fairy, angel, or demon 4 soul: somebody’s soul, especially that of a dead person [13th century. Via Anglo-Norman from Latin spiritus , literally “breath,” from spirare  “to breathe,” of unknown origin. The underlying idea is of the “breath” of life.] (MSN Encarta dictionary definition, incomplete list) Science and Religion:  Science and Religion The Soul and the Spirit Some religions believe in separate body and spirit and/or mind and/or soul Some believe in a unity of these. Science and Religion:  Science and Religion The Soul and the Spirit Science  some things commonly associated with the soul/spirit are strongly connected with physics & biology e.g. the brain: consciousness, artistic ability, aesthetic sense, etc. Whether this argues against the existence of the soul/spirit is unclear. Science and Religion:  Science and Religion Was the Universe created? This is a topic we can discuss here. There are four distinct scenarios. Universe:  Universe 1 Infinite creator God created by some means Conventional science Other science Universe:  Universe 2 No creator Always existed or Spontaneously came into existence Universe:  Universe 3 Created by an advanced civilisation for research purposes? Physicists believe that given time we could eventually do this Universe:  Universe 4 Just a simulation on someone’s powerful computer for research purposes? Physicists believe that given time we will eventually do this Universe:  Universe 1 is the oldest scenario 2 was thought to be impossible but now popular, especially with atheists 3 & 4 require an explanation of their origin Maybe 1 requires an explanation of God’s origin (?) 4 seems unpleasant but …. Universe:  Universe Maybe an advance civilisation can achieve time travel and make a universe which it can live in. Closed loop which allows a designed universe without an external creator. Bizarre? Science and Religion:  Science and Religion Much to discuss Little to conclude for now

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