Let me start with a little history. I had a letter published in the Times newspaper a few days ago, which was both against creationism, and more generally against religion itself as a way to have verifiable knowledge (and what other sort can there really be?). This led to an invitationt from Tim Chase to be involved with this website, which excited me very much. Perhaps I could get my ideas (stemming from over 50 years dedicated scientific research into the most abstruse physics on elementary particles, superstrings and black holes to the most subtle nature of consciousness, attention and emotion as controlled by the brain) across to a wider public. So here I am trying to put some coherence into these ideas as well as presenting them in a manner which hopefully will not be abstruse. Before I begin let me also thank Tim for giving me this chance to present these ideas before you.
Let me start with the letter itself, which I include below.
So there you are: my message is that science is THE testable way towards verifiable knowledge. AND it is now becoming even more exciting as new techniques, such as brain imaging, are leading to new discoveries about how the brain supports mental activity, including consciousness. Sadly the possiblity of explaining these ideas in schools to interested and properly prepared young people seems to becoming less likely as University funding is squeezed and science begins to disappear from Universities (Reading University Physics just announced its closure). However I think that some of these ideas can still be got across more generally.
The most important and immediate of these ideas, to my mind, is that about consciousness. Our minds possess a subtlety not yet properly explored by science (in spite of it helping unsupervised drug trips on coke or crystal meths or cannabis causing bad experimental results - such as increased incidence of schizophrenia in heavy cannabis users). But the progress in brain research is leading to glimpses of the way consciousness might be created in the brain. Even the possiblity that the soul could thereby be understood is explored in my book THE MIND:A User's Manual (Wiley, 2006) - bringing together religious experience and scientific explanation for the first time.
It is this possiblity that can change the landscape about science and religion. As brain science probes ever deeper and more succesfully into how the mind is created by the brain there are a whole new host of features to consider - a better understanding of ourselves and of how we should fit together in our increasingly global society, a better handle on mental discease, applications to the creation of minimally conscious robots, and so on.
I have tried, in my latest book, 'THE MIND: A User's Manual' to describe both a scenario able to explain the essence of consciousness (especially its sense of 'owning' the experience occurring) but also to explore how this 'owning' model of consciousness can be used as the keystone of our existence to give meaning to life and to give direction to many features of society - bringing up decent children, optimising our own lives' value, orgainsing the structures of society, the nature of free will and criminal responbility, animal consciousness and rights, and many more features.
So please take a look at my arguments - they are too long to recount here - but enter into this first possiblity of looking at ourselves as we truly are (as told by the latest science) and not keeping on the age-old blinkers of the 'good books', which may have been good for the early and middle ages but not for the increasingly scientific age we are moving in.
Best regards and happy hunting!