today. I think I'll spare giving his name, as I talked to him on facebook. But I looked him up on the schools website he claimed to be a PhD student at (Australian National University) and it did indeed have him listed as a PhD student. He's a PhD theoretical physics student, but what I'm about to post may shock and horror you. After a lengthy conversation which involved many other areas where he seemed strangely uneducated for his position in school, I asked him how he thought the Earth formed. Keep in mind that he told me that he accepts that supernovas, planetary nebulas, and helium and carbon burning inside stars occur (sounds like a silly thing to ask someone if they believe or not, but you'd be surprised how necessary it was to ask). Now then, for his answer to how he believes the Earth formed;
"I think God used heavy elements and made it by his hands. heavy elements could be from supernova of some other star. Our sun is too young and not hot enough can only make carbon. So the universe is older than the earth. But the earth is only 10000 years old."
I was at a loss of words. This guy is seriously a PhD theoretical physics student.
I definitely don't think English was his first language either. Looking on his profile I saw he spoke English and Korean, so I assume Korean was his first language. However, regardless of how well he speaks english, his feelings on the subject were quite clear. Considering he's a PhD theoretical physics student and said something like that just boggles my mind.
I do want to mention something that may be in a bit of bad taste though, and I apologize if it is. He was Asian, and from my experience Asians can be some of the most hardline fundamentalist christians you'll ever meet. You may never meet one because they're so rare, but when you do...whoa buddy. I don't want to delve to deep into this but; from my understanding gained in my Japanese history classes, Asian from the East who immigrate West or stay home and come in contact with were and still can be extremely susceptible to anything "westerners" feed them. This includes religion, and I vividly remember talking in class about how the Japanese absolutely ate up what the Portuguese missionaries were selling when they came over without thinking twice, because they felt as though the "westerners" were better than they and had superior beliefs. Just an observation.
"Any institution can call itself a university and pass out degrees"
What? Not anywhere in Europe, and I sincerely hope not in the US, either.
Yeah, we have something called diploma mills.
Sorry about juming into this discussion this late, but I have just resently "found" the Nexus and joined this group today and am looking through the discussions. And being a physicist myself...
Physics is a very wide field and no one can have detailed knowledge of all of it. Theroretical physics is just a short step away from philosopy, and the border between philosophy and religion is faint at places. I can easilly see that a physicist who dwell in the theoretical area can have some knowledge on the origin of the Universe (which is an evolving theory) and only rudimetary knowledge on the formations of galaxies and stars (also an evolving theory), and thus focuses on the sentence "we are not certain how galaxies and stars formed in the early Universe" (as the early Universe seems to be too smooth for galaxies to form) and concluding that as some things are uncertain, a god could have helped creating the Earth. The physicist in question might have forgotten or might not even have known that Geology exists.
If you did a head count on the number of religious people amongst sciencetists, I suspect you'd find few biologists and geologists, some more chemists, and even more physicists, and the highest number amongst mathematicians (if that is how it is spelled).
The only response I could fathom in this case is:
"Hahaha! That's a good one! No but seriously..."
Jeremiah, this is the issue that forced me to get off the knife edge and declare that god does not exist. I sat on that sharp edge for several years, thinking a scientific stance of never say never was appropriate. Learning the religious faction in town try to get Intelligent Design into our public schools convinced me I want science taught based on evidence and critical thinking. I don't want chemistry taught one hour and alchemy the next, or astronomy in the morning and astrology in the afternoon. There is no reason to think there might be someone/thing that acts as puppet master, or as judge, jury and executioner, and if there is to be a Jubilee, I won't go.
Lawrence Krauss convinced me. He has a way with words and concepts that builds a strong foundation and scaffolding upon which to build a life of moral strength, ethical perspective that has nothing to do with dogma or sacraments or scripture, or stories. It is more like finding one's internal compass.