Lee Smolin: As long as people of faith respect the facts and the deductions of science we should be respectful of their faith and their search for a faith.
When public evidence and rational deduction is sufficient to answer a question we must all be swayed by that rationale and must be swayed by the answer. When public evidence is not sufficient to answer a question, we must promote and encourage the widest range of disagreement and competition among people with different views. I think those principles underlie healthy democratic societies as well as science.
Lee Smolin: I used to think that my job as a physicist was this kind of mystical transcendent undertaking to transcend the daily reality and experience of the world and discover this timeless representation of the world where the truth really was.
math is a tool. There are different parts of mathematics that are useful as tools. Mathematical deduction is outside of time. If you deduce a prediction mathematically what you’re doing is representing a set of causal processes and causal relations carried out in time with a set of logical implications which are timeless. But that’s fine to do if you understand what you’re doing.
It was actually "physics envy" that got us in trouble in the first place.
When the theoretical physicist Lee Smolin was asked to join a research group to work on economics his first response was "I don't know anything about economics." That's okay, said Mike Brown, the former CFO of Microsoft, "because nobody does and the whole system is about to collapse."
This is to counterpose the picture which is developed in physics from Galileo and Newton and Descartes down to the present quantum cosmologists.
Lee attended Harvard University for graduate school receiving a Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1979. He held postdoctoral positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, The Institute for Theoretical Physics (now KITP) in Santa Barbara and the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago. This was followed by faculty positions at Yale, Syracuse and Penn State Universities, where he helped to found the Center for Gravitational Physics and Geometry. In September of 2001 he moved to Canada to be a founding member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where he has been ever since.
Lee's main contributions to research are so far to the field of quantum gravity. He was, with Abhay Ashtekar and Carlo Rovelli, a founder of the approach known as loop quantum gravity, but he has contributed to other approaches including string theory and causal dynamical triangulations. He is also known for proposing the notion of the landscape of theories, based on his application of Darwinian methods to Cosmology. He has contributed also to the foundations of quantum mechanics, elementary particle physics and theoretical biology. He also has a strong interest in philosophy and his three books, Life of the Cosmos, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity and The Trouble with Physics are in part philosophical explorations of issues raised by contemporary physics.