Freeman is Emeritus Professor of Physics at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. He is an Innovative theorist who was made important contributions to quantum mechanics, nuclear reactors, solid state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics and biology, space studies, biotechnology and other areas, particularly those where elegant mathematics could be applied. Freeman’s most fundamental contribution to basic science was the unification of the three versions of quantum electrodynamics invented by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga. A technology prophet and an elegant and often iconoclastic author, he has written science books for the general public: Disturbing the Universe portrays the gallery of people he has known during his career as a scientist; Infinite in All Directions is a philosophical meditation based on Dyson's Gifford Lectures on Natural Theology; Origins of Life is a study of a critical unsolved problem of science; The Sun, the Genome and the Internet addresses whether modern technology could be used to narrow the gap between rich and poor. He is famous iconoclast who is not intimated by conventional wisdom, such as proposing how to develop space colonies cheaply, questioning the search for quantum gravity, and allowing for the possibility of extrasensory perception. He famously suggested that a technologically advanced civilization, after a few thousand years of reaching industrial development, would completely surround its native star with an artificial biosphere in order to maximize the capture of the star's available energy (now called Dyson Spheres). Following are excerpts of Freeman’s acceptance speech of the 2000 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. “I am content to be one of the multitude of Christians who do not care much about the doctrine of the Trinity or the historical truth of the gospels. Both as a scientist and as a religious person, I am accustomed to living with uncertainty. Science is exciting because it is full of unsolved mysteries, and religion is exciting for the same reason. The greatest unsolved mysteries are the mysteries of our existence as conscious beings in a small corner of a vast universe. Why are we here? Does the universe have a purpose? Whence comes our knowledge of good and evil? These mysteries, and a hundred others like them, are beyond the reach of science. They lie on the other side of the border, within the jurisdiction of religion. My personal theology is described in the Gifford lectures that I gave at Aberdeen in Scotland in 1985, published under the title, Infinite In All Directions. Here is a brief summary of my thinking. The universe shows evidence of the operations of mind on three levels. The first level is elementary physical processes, as we see them when we study atoms in the laboratory. The second level is our direct human experience of our own consciousness. The third level is the universe as a whole. Atoms in the laboratory are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances. They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics. It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom. The universe as a whole is also weird, with laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension. God may be either a world-soul or a collection of world-souls. So I am thinking that atoms and humans and God may have minds that differ in degree but not in kind. We stand, in a manner of speaking, midway between the unpredictability of atoms and the unpredictability of God. Atoms are small pieces of our mental apparatus, and we are small pieces of God's mental apparatus. Our minds may receive inputs equally from atoms and from God. This view of our place in the cosmos may not be true, but it is compatible with the active nature of atoms as revealed in the experiments of modern physics. I don't say that this personal theology is supported or proved by scientific evidence. I only say that it is consistent with scientific evidence. I do not claim any ability to read God's mind. I am sure of only one thing. When we look at the glory of stars and galaxies in the sky and the glory of forests and flowers in the living world around us, it is evident that God loves diversity. Perhaps the universe is constructed according to a principle of maximum diversity. The principle of maximum diversity says that the laws of nature, and the initial conditions at the beginning of time, are such as to make the universe as interesting as possible. As a result, life is possible but not too easy. Maximum diversity often leads to maximum stress. In the end we survive, but only by the skin of our teeth. This is the confession of faith of a scientific heretic. Perhaps I may claim as evidence for progress in religion the fact that we no longer burn heretics. That is enough about me….Now I have five minutes left to give you a message to take home. The message is simple. "God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world". This was said by Francis Bacon, one of the founding fathers of modern science, almost four hundred years ago. Bacon was the smartest man of his time, with the possible exception of William Shakespeare. Bacon saw clearly what science could do and what science could not do. He is saying to the philosophers and theologians of his time: look for God in the facts of nature, not in the theories of Plato and Aristotle. I am saying to modern scientists and theologians: don't imagine that our latest ideas about the Big Bang or the human genome have solved the mysteries of the universe or the mysteries of life. Here are Bacon's words again: "The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and understanding". In the last four hundred years, science has fulfilled many of Bacon's dreams, but it still does not come close to capturing the full subtlety of nature. To talk about the end of science is just as foolish as to talk about the end of religion. Science and religion are both still close to their beginnings, with no ends in sight. Science and religion are both destined to grow and change in the millennia that lie ahead of us, perhaps solving some old mysteries, certainly discovering new mysteries of which we yet have no inkling. After sketching his program for the scientific revolution that he foresaw, Bacon ends his account with a prayer: "Humbly we pray that this mind may be steadfast in us, and that through these our hands, and the hands of others to whom thou shalt give the same spirit, thou wilt vouchsafe to endow the human family with new mercies". That is still a good prayer for all of us as we begin the twenty-first century.
- What is the Far Future of Intelligence in the Universe? (Freeman Dyson) (Part 2 of 2)
- What is the Far Future of Intelligence in the Universe? (Freeman Dyson) (Part 1 of 2)
- Does a Fine-Tuned Universe Lead to God? (Freeman Dyson)
- How does Beauty Color the Universe? (Freeman Dyson)
- What's Fundamental in the Cosmos? (Freeman Dyson)
- Where Do the Laws of Nature Come From? (Freeman Dyson)
- Arguing God from Design? (Freeman Dyson)
- Can Science Deal With God? (Freeman Dyson)
- Why is the Quantum So Mysterious? (Freeman Dyson)
Can Religion Be Explained Without God?
Most people believe that God exists and religion is God’™s revelation. But some claim that religion needs nothing supernatural; that religion, without God, can flourish because personal psychology and group sociology drive religion.
Current TV Episodes - Summaries.
The 39 episodes in the current TV season: 13 episodes each for Cosmos, Consciousness, God.
Closer To Truth overview. Go behind the scenes and meet the CTT team. View photos from around the globe and more.
Additional material and resources on Closer To Truth topics.
Visit SciTech Daily: the best intelligent, informed science & technology coverage and analysis daily.