Sunday, May 18, 2008
This article encapsulates the debate at an American Enterprise Institute-sponsored forum that focused around publication of a new collection of essays collecting all points of view. Much of the discussion consists of long-argued points, but a couple of things struck me as worth mentioning. Arch-skeptic Michael Shermer made the interesting argument (a variation on Arthur C. Clarke) that we might not recognize God - that the universe may hold civilizations so advanced that, if we met them, we could not distinguish between the natural and supernatural. Philosopher Mary Midgely drew a distinction between science - a widely accepted way of understanding the physical universe - and scientism, which she describes as the view that science has a universal claim on truth and nothing outside it can exist. Nobel laureate William D. Phillips, a physicist, commented, "From what I know about physics, it's not impossible to imagine a world in which God acts but we never can prove it." Now that's kind of a frustrating thought.... For a copy of the published results, go to www.templeton.org.