Tern Television has prepared a multimedia project called “Why are We Here?” filming physicists, chemists, biologists, neurologists, primatologists in Oxford, Cambridge, London and across the United States. It has three parts:
A 1hr 45 min feature-length single film, “Searching for a New Science”, had its first screening as a James Gregory lectures on April 19, 2017, in which atheist film-maker David Malone and christian physicist Ard Louis meet world-famous scientists, philosophers and writers to discuss (in an open-minded, non-confrontational way) deep questions about meaning and the nature of the universe. It was a memorable occasion.
The film is being entered for a series of international film festivals.
The four parts are entitled:
1. Meaning Seeking Beings
Is it possible to reconcile meaning, purpose and perhaps even God with the workings of a purely material universe? A physics professor and a documentary filmmaker set out to do just that. Can one defend meaning and purpose in life from reductionist science if God is not part of the argument?
2. The Reality of Ideas
In a material world true knowledge can come from the things we can see, hear and touch. But are there other truths we can discover which come from pure thought or imagination?
3. The Animal Within
Is it possible that science can tell us what is and isn’t moral or do moral truths lie outside of science? In every culture in every age we have always felt we were moral, but do our animal instincts and desires make that an illusion?
4. The Moral Compass
Light and dark. Life and death. Opposites imposed by the universe itself. But what of good and evil? Are these ideas humans have created for themselves? Or are they, perhaps, a fundamental part of the universe, like north and south?
listed as topics and also as interviewees (with clips, full interviews, transcripts, profiles).
The interviewees are:
- Peter Atkins (chemist)
- Greg Chaitin (mathematician)
- Simon Conway Morris (paleobiologist)
- John Cottingham (philosopher)
- Molly Crockett (neuroscientist)
- George Ellis (cosmologist)
- Jane Goodall (primatologist)
- Marcelo Gleiser (physicist)
- Sunetra Gupta (epidemiologist & novelist)
- Denis Noble (physiologist)
- Martin Nowak (mathematical biologist)
- Ben Okri (writer), Gwen Patton (civil rights activist)
- Roger Penrose (mathematician)
- Alex Rosenberg (philosopher)
- Frans de Waal (primatologist)
- Frank Wilczek (physicist)
- Semir Zeki (neuroscientist).
The topics are:
What does science tell us about the world we live in?
Does the scientific method invalidate all other knowledge?
Does it place limits on what we can know?
- SCIENTISM – will science eventually have all the answers?
- REDUCTIONISM – can everything about science be reduced to atoms & particles?
- EMERGENCE – is emergence just modern mysticism?
- NARRATIVE & METAPHOR – do they have any place in science?
How improbable is the universe we live in? How do we account for the existence of life? Is it all just purely random, or is there a deeper structure at work?
- Fine-Tuning – how improbable is a Universe that contains life?
- Convergence – what is convergent evolution? How many ways can life evolve?
- Cooperation – is cooperation a natural law of the Universe?
The Non-material World
What is real? Are there aspects of reality we can’t access through the senses alone? Is mathematics such a reality? If it is, what else might there be?
- Mathematics – why does it explain the workings of the Universe so well?
- Non-material realities – could there be aspects of the Universe that exist outside physical reality?
- God – if there might be other realities outside the purely physical world, then is a belief in God so irrational?
Knowledge and truth
Can we ever know ultimate reality? How do we decide what is true? Why do so many scientists find beauty a guide to truth?
- The limits of knowledge – what if any are the limits?
- Beauty and Truth – why do so many scientists find beauty a guide to truth?
- Different Beauties – if beauty is a guide to truth, what happens if our idea of beauty changes?
- The sublime – what does the experience of the sublime reveal about humanity?
Is moral truth something we discover or something we create? Is it a fundamental part of the universe, or an accident of evolution? Can science help us decide?
- Moral truths – do they exist independently of us? Could they be part of our Universe?
- Moral Instincts – do our evolved emotions and instincts provide the real basis for our morality?
- Moral decisions – how do we make them? How do we decide right from wrong?
- Science and Morality – can science help us answer moral questions?
What defines humanity? Why do we seem to yearn for something beyond us? Are we meaning-seeking beings?
- The human species – what makes us unique?
- Meaning – what is it that makes us seek a deeper purpose to our lives? Are we mistaken to do so?