Stephen Hawking Says Science Will Beat Religion

“There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works,” Stephen Hawking tells Diane Sawyer in an interview to air tonight on ABC’s World News.

He also tells her that:

What could define God [is thinking of God] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God. They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible.

Marilynne Robinson Wades Into the S&R “Wars”

“I happen to be deeply interested in science and religion, so well disposed toward them both that the idea that they are natural adversaries has always bothered me. And I am fascinated by the idea that civilizations generate a hum of insight, invention, disputation, affirmation, and controversy, each one like a great mind engaged with its own preoccupations,” Marilynne Robinson, who wrote the new science-and-religion book Absence of Mind (as well as the award-winning novels Housekeeping, Gilead, and Home), tells The Globe and Mail.
“So for me, attentiveness to these ‘wars’ is attentiveness to the unfolding of human history. That said, the issues that emerge in any culture can be profound or vacuous, brilliantly articulated or dealt with crudely. Science and religion are both profoundly important to our culture, so the integrity of the conversation around them is important as well.”

Craig Venter on the First Synthetic Bacterial Cell

“For nearly 15 years Ham Smith, Clyde Hutchison, and the rest of our team have been working toward this publication today—the successful completion of our work to construct a bacterial cell that is fully controlled by a synthetic genome,” Craig Venter, president of the J. Craig Venter Institute and one of the paper‘s authors, said in a statement released yesterday.
“We have been consumed by this research, but we have also been equally focused on addressing the societal implications of what we believe will be one of the most powerful technologies and industrial drivers for societal good. We look forward to continued review and dialogue about the important applications of this work to ensure that it is used for the benefit of all.”

Did Religion Help Our Ancestors Survive?

“If a parent says, ‘My child, don’t pick up snakes,’ that would clearly be wise advice, and children don’t have the freedom to experiment with such pieces of wisdom; they better believe their parents when their parents say don’t pick up snakes or don’t pick up spiders. So the rule of thumb that would be built in by natural selection into a child brain, ‘Believe whatever your parents tell you,’ quite clearly could have survival value,” Richard Dawkins told an audience at Adelaide Writers’ Week back in March.
“Now once that rule of thumb has been built into the nervous system, once the brain has been hardwired to be as a child credulous and believe what your parents tell you, then that is automatically open to any sort of statement that the parent might make, which could be a religious statement. … The survival value lies in the psychological predisposition to believe your parents, and the consequence of that psychological predisposition might very well be religion.”

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