Hey Bill Nye! Do the Laws of Nature Allow for God?

Physics finds no trace of God so far—but does it matter?

EMEERA: Hi Bill Nye. My name is E, I’m 16 years old and this is my question: is the mainstream concept or definition of God self-defeating? And if it isn’t, is it possible for a god to exist within space and time without disregarding the laws of nature?

BILL NYE: Emeera. If I understood your question, is the idea of God self-defeating? I don’t think so. A lot of people around the world believe in God and they seem to conduct affairs pretty okay. Can a god exist in space time? Well according to all my friends who are deeply religious, yes. And that would be—the trouble with it is, if I understand your question, it’s hard to provide evidence for that.

It’s hard to provide evidence for a god that you can’t see or detect and then to draw conclusions about what that god, he or she, did based on phenomena that people on my side of it can explain without this supernatural influence. That’s where I think your question arises. You’re asking a deep philosophical question. I don’t know the answer. Is there a god or not that exists in space-time? But what I always ask myself and others is: what would you do differently? How would it change the way you live your life if you knew that there was no God or if you knew that there was—what would you do differently?

Would you start committing crimes? Would you stop committing crimes? Would you quit your regular job and help people everywhere as hard as you could, living a very modest life? Or would you try to accumulate as much wealth as possible without regard to others?

Like, what would you do differently if you knew the answer to your question?

For me, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I just try to lead a good life, be responsible for my own actions, and leave the world better than I found it. Those are my goals. You can decide whether or not I’ve been successful. Great question, Emeera. That’s cool.

Can God exist out there in space-time? Do the laws of nature support the idea of a divine creator, or do they rule it out? At the moment, the existence of a god is a deep question for theologists and philosophers: it won't become a scientific question until there is evidence of God. With so much uncertainty, the question Bill Nye likes to focus on instead is: how would that knowledge change your life? Is who you are, with and without religion, two different versions of your self? The reality is that you don't need evidence of any god to live a good life. For Nye personally, he goes by the moral framework of "be responsible for my own actions, and leave the world better than I found it." That's probably the surest way to protect the life of the people and the earth that we have, whether or not it was made by higher power.


Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.

Does science tell the truth?

It is impossible for science to arrive at ultimate truths, but functional truths are good enough.

Credit: Sergey Nivens / 202871840
13-8
  • What is truth? This is a very tricky question, trickier than many would like to admit.
  • Science does arrive at what we can call functional truth, that is, when it focuses on what something does as opposed to what something is. We know how gravity operates, but not what gravity is, a notion that has changed over time and will probably change again.
  • The conclusion is that there are not absolute final truths, only functional truths that are agreed upon by consensus. The essential difference is that scientific truths are agreed upon by factual evidence, while most other truths are based on belief.
Keep reading Show less

A canvas of nonsense: how Dada reflects a world gone mad through art

Using urinals, psychological collages, and animated furniture to shock us into reality.

Credit: MICHELE LIMINA via Getty Images
Culture & Religion
  • Dada is a provocative and surreal art movement born out of the madness of World War I.
  • Tzara, a key Dada theorist, says Dada seeks "to confuse and upset, to shake and jolt" people from their comfort zones.
  • Dada, as all avant-garde art, faces a key problem in how to stay true to its philosophy.
Keep reading Show less

Physicists Accidentally Discover a Self-Destruct Button for the Entire Universe

Unfortunately, humanity will never see it coming. 

 

A computer image of a Higgs interaction. By Lucas Taylor / CERN, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia Commons.
Technology & Innovation

It sounds like a plot from a comic book or a sci-fi film, a theory that got a boost when one of the greatest discoveries in physics in the modern era, the discovery of the “God particle,”or the Higgs boson, the missing piece in the Standard Model of particle physics. In the preface to his book Starmus, Stephen Hawking warns that the Higgs Boson field could collapse, resulting in a chain reaction that would take in the whole universe with it.  

Keep reading Show less

Study: Tripping might not be required for psychedelic therapy

Two different studies provide further evidence of the efficacy of psychedelics in treating depression.

Photo: agsandrew / Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • A phase 2 clinical trial by Imperial College London found psilocybin to be as effective at treating depression as escitalopram, a commonly prescribed antidepressant.
  • A different study by the University of Maryland showed that blocking the hallucinogenic effects of magic mushrooms in mice did not reduce the antidepressant effect.
  • Combined, these studies could lead to new ways of applying psychedelics to patient populations that don't want to trip.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast