Simon Singh: Religion and Science Shake Hands


Cartoon characters typically only have four
digits on their hand. [CLIP]: “As long as he’s got eight fingers
and eight toes he’s fine by me.” We count in base ten,
because we have ten fingers. The Simpsons also count in base ten, but they
only have eight fingers. There is a character in “The Simpsons”
who has ten digits, and that character is God. And because God created the universe and God
created mathematics, then “The Simpsons” has to be in base ten. There can be a real tension between science
and religion. And there can be people who say, look, you
know, whatever’s in the Bible has to be true, even if it contradicts the science. There are some people who say that the world
was created just four thousand years ago because that’s what the Bible says, and
they will deny the science. I don’t think in has to be that way necessarily. I know there are some people who are scientists
and who are religious. And they manage to marry those two views of
the world. Somebody who did it very well was a guy called
George Lemaître, who should be one of the most famous people
in the world, because he came up with the Big Bang Theory. He was a cosmologist and a priest, and he
was one of the very first people to propose the idea that the universe
was created at a finite time ago, with all the matter compressed into what he
called a primeval atom. He talked about a day without a yesterday,
a very poetic phrase. And people said to him, how can you be religious,
and at the same time be a physicist? And he said, well, there are two ways of arriving
at the truth, and he said that he decided to follow them both. If he wants to explore issues of morality
and ethics and spirituality, he would look at his Bible. But if he wanted to understand the universe,
if he wanted to understand cosmology, he would do experiments. And so the two can live hand-in-hand in some
people’s hearts and in some people’s minds.

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