The Faith of Scienctists

For the purposes of our conversation, start listening at 16:39.

 

The first half of the podcast is a poem about everything, which is great. The second part, that's what we're talking about today.

 

The second part features Brain Greene, the celebrated theoretical physicist. In this interview Brian grapples with the possibility of multiple universes, and ultimately comes around to one of my favorite ideas: the underlying faith required by the practice of science.

 

I love this stuff.

 

And it's so hard to talk about, because the language has to be suuuuuper precise.

 

Luckily, Brian spends a lot of time thinking about this stuff, so he's pretty good at it.

 

So here it is, ladies and gentlemen. Brian is going to explain his faith to us.

 

(To be clear, many people practice science and also practice in a traditional faith tradition. You, know, like a practicing Christian who's also a practicing scientist. That's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about the underlying faith embedded in science itself, the belief inherent to scientific practice.)

 

OK, here we go.

 

I recommend listening to the whole conversation, but I'll give you the punchline. Near the end of the interview, Brian says this:

 

"I hate to use the word faith, but the one point where I'll give you faith is this: I do have a deep faith that the universe is coherent, and by universe, call it multi-verse, whatever word you want to use, the whole thing. I do believe that it's coherent."

 

There.

 

There it is.

 

The underlying faith of science and rationalism and experimentation. That whole beautiful technology, the technology we've used to cure malaria, build sky scrapers, and go to the moon.  It's all based on the assumption of order, the assumption of coherence.

 

We believe that the universe behaves coherently. We believe that it follows rules.

 

One alternative is that we live in chaotic world that follows no rules. That's just one alternative, I'm sure there are many many more.

 

Which is why I think this question is so important:

 

What do you believe?