New findings in cosmology and neuroscience are changing the debate on an age-old question: Does God exist? In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, the clash between science and religion. Also, using brain imaging to study mystical experience. It's the start of our four-part series "Religion at the Crossroads."
How can you prove that God exists? It's not easy - as you might imagine. But science is knocking on the door of theology. Cosmologists think they've dated the moment of creation. And neuroscientists are trying to pinpoint the origins of mystical experience. Christian theologian William Lane Craig tells Steve Paulson that science helps prove that God exists. Craig teaches at the Talbot School of Theology in California. Physicist Chet Raymo, on the other hand, says the laws of physics mean he simply can't accept the literal truth of miracles. He talks to Judith Strasser about his new book Skeptics and True Believers. Raymo is at Stonehill College in Massachusetts.SEGMENT 2:
Mystics talk about Nirvana. Practitioners of meditation talk about a feeling of emptiness. But what is a scientist to make of all this, and what's really going on in the brain when someone feels that moment when God seems to touch you? University of Pennsylvania neuroscientist Andrew Newberg wants to find out, and so he's launched a series of experiments, scanning the brains of people while they meditate. He tells Jim Fleming that the part of the brain that governs our sense of space and time actually slows down during an intense spiritual encounter. Doris Grumbach could probably tell him a lot. Sixty years ago she felt the presence of God. She tells Jim Fleming about the experience described in her memoir The Presence of Absence: on Prayers and Epiphany.SEGMENT 3:
People have a lot of different ideas about who, or what, God is. For some God isn't any kind of personal being, but an omnipresent force. Sylvia Boorstein comes at the question from two perspectives. She's a respected teacher of Buddhism, and a practicing Jew. She tells Steve Paulson both religions express the same fundamental truth - even though most Jews believe in God, and most Buddhists don't. Her book is That's Funny, You Don't Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist.Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 98-09-27-A.
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