Friday, August 2, 2013

A Battery Recharger

Still trying to get my psychic energy back, I thought I would take this opportunity to post an interview of Neil Turok conducted a few months ago by Alan Gregg. Turok, the currrent head of the Perimiter Institute, delivered this year's Massey Lectures on The Universe Within. While some of what he discussed is beyond me (the world of quantum physics) the first and last part present a man who is deeply humane, the antithesis of the kind of arrogance embodied by people like Richard Dawkins.

I especially appreciated two things about Turok: his surprising optimism ("The problems we face were created by humans, and they can be solved by humans.") and the respect he has for various pursuits of knowledge, including religion which, along with science, he acknowledges as seeking utimate answers. If you want to skip the heavy topic of quantyum physics, I would recommend you watch the first several minutes of the interview, and then skip ahead to about the 16:00 minute mark for more comprehenisble and relatatble fare as he talks about Africa's potential and his respect for a variety of disciplines, including religion.

Please note there is a slight glitch at the start of the video, with several seconds of silence.


  1. I totally agree. The problems we face were created by humans and they can be solved by humans. They could be solved by humans by, as the Mayans and Easter Islanders as well as others have shown, we don't always do what we could even when we know we must. And, as for "solved", one man's solution isn't necessarily welcome by others.

    Years ago I wrote, Lorne, that in the context of climate change and associated challenges, we have had an array of solutions, the best of which slipped through our fingers in the late 60's before we truly knew any better.

    Other, sequentially "best" solutions have likewise lapsed. We are still not acting on today's "next best" solutions nor is there any indication that, once today's best remaining solutions are forfeit, that we will finally grasp tomorrow's.

    Yes we can but will we take the opportunity?

    Your take on Dawkins, Hitchens et al is spot on. I can't claim there is no God because I can't imagine what a god really is. I'm pretty sure that those guys who knew nothing of flush toilets four+ thousand years ago were taking a stab in the dark when they defined it for us according to their circumstances at that time.

    I tend to agree with Chris Hedges, who has a masters in divinity from Harvard, when he says divinity is a mystery that we really can't fathom. The beauty of it is the mystery. That's why fundamentalists, with their insane belief in Biblical inerrancy despite that work's authorship, contradictions and inconsistencies, are so worrisome whether they represent Islamist fundamentalism, Hebrew fundamentalism or Christian fundamentalism. They're all very dangerous and capable of really bad things.

    1. Your reference to the Mayans and the Easter Islanders, Mound, helps demonstrate that our short-sightedness has a long history, but of course now, with that flaw having global impact, we can't afford to be that way any longer.

      I take absolutely no comfort in Harper's announcement today that the proposed west-to-east Trans Canada pipeline will be subject to rigorous environmental assessment, this from a man whose very ideology is predicated on quick profits à la resource exploitation and whose omnibus bills have truncated these very same environmental assessments.

      I couldn't agree with you more regarding Chris Hedges' definition of divinity. The reading I have been doing over the past few years suggests that transcendance is far more subtle and enigmatic than the caricatures of religion presented by the fundamentalists would have us believe.