Subject Math & Physical Sciences

One Big Bang or Billions? Discussing the Philosophy of Cosmology

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“Our big bang could be just one island of space-time in a vast cosmic archipelago,” observed Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and 2011 Templeton Prize laureate, in a public talk earlier this month titled “Our Universe and Others.” He was speaking at Cosmology and the Constants of Nature, a conference at the University of Cambridge designed to introduce philosophers of physics to fundamental problems in cosmology and associated areas of high-energy physics.

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The Vastness of Cosmic Reality is Good News, Says Max Tegmark

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Max Tegmark
Max Tegmark

Are we insignificant? Does living on a small planet around an average star leave us lost in the unfathomable vastness of space? Or do our self-conscious minds and complex brains, able to contemplate the vastness from whence we came, actually make us the most noteworthy feature of the cosmos that we know of to date? It’s a set of questions often answered negatively and pessimistically, notes Max Tegmark, professor of physics at MIT and scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi), funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

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Celebrating the Ideas of Templeton Prize Winner Ian Barbour, 1923-2013

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Ian Barbour
Ian Barbour

Ian G. Barbour, one of the founding figures in the academic discipline that studies the relationship between science and religion and winner of the Templeton Prize in 1999, died December 24, 2013, at the age of 90. “[He] probably did more for the creation of the field than anyone else,” remarked 2010 Templeton Prize winner Francisco J. Ayala in an obituary published in the New York Times. Peter Hess, Director of Outreach to Religious Communities at the National Center for Science Education, called him “a towering figure, one of the truly great interdisciplinary thinkers of the 20th century.”

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Where Science and Religion Can Overlap

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Keynote speaker Owen Gingerich
Credit: Keynote speaker Owen GingerichKeynote speaker Owen Gingerich

It is a common thought that the worldviews of science and religion are very different and are best not mixed. This is one way to summarize the “non-overlapping magisteria” view of the relationship between these two great quests for understanding, associated with the late American paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. But is this assessment accurate?

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