January 22, 2020
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God, The Universe and Meaning... | #43 Under The Skin with Russell Brand & Brian Cox

commonly referred to as the rock star physicist he has been described as the natural successor for BBC scientific programming by both David Attenborough and Patrick Moore and by some as England's equivalent to Neil deGrasse Tyson that must feel good does it if you're a scientist to be described in that way nothing by me by David Attenborough and you know his I mean I was there when he when he said it actually I was presenting him with an award he was the Radio Times Awards I think and so I presented him with it with the award and he stood up to the microphone and and said if I had a torch I'd pass it to you and then went and sat down again and of course there's nothing you can say and I thought about since and that the real answer is that there can't be a successor in the way they can't be a successor to Neil Armstrong because David Attenborough was the invented the form really Natural History documentary was pioneered by him so he's the first and still the best if you watch Blue Planet 2 that he's still making groundbreaking documentaries so there will ever be another one there's 50 years of natural history possibly what he's referring to in terms of succession is the sort of popularization in humanization if there could be such a word of data and information that can have previously been somewhat esoteric and inaccessible and I suppose that must be one aspect of your work that's difficult to quantify your personal charisma your particular success is that something that you how it has much impact on you psychologically well I mean the first thing is humanization is a good word actually because I think that science is I mean what is it it's the study of nature so in it is it's a humble pursuit it's about just looking at essentially small things and asking very simple questions almost childlike questions and why is the sky blue why is that leaf green and whether those little points of light in the sky and so with the things we find out be met I think demand a response they especially talk about cosmology you know we're talking about the size and scale and origin of the universe these these are eternal and so I think they demand a human response and that's the thing that I've always felt over when I when I was little doing dude astronomy I'm just looking up at the sky the feelings that you get from looking at those points of light and understanding they're of the world understand how far they are away and so on are deep and challenging feelings I think and people miss that a lot people think of science is the thing you do in the lab with with some batteries in school you know that science and a switch not the questions about the origin of the universe itself I think you're precisely correct that actually we don't spend enough time analyzing that feeling and to continue the comparison between yourself and David Attenborough what one senses is that he has a deep love of his subject and it means something to him and he wants people to understand it and that's what you've just described is that when you are for you the study of the cosmos is not about mathematics and relationships between physical phenomena abstract from emotion but very much as somehow the experience of that emotion or the realization of that motion or something relationship between those emotions could you explain that a little bit of advice yeah I think I think the tsiyon the act of doing science is an emotional response to nature and you said you see it with David Attenborough he loves life on Earth you know living things he finds them fascinating has a connection to them understands that the idea that we are a one unbroken chain of life stretching back four billion years is a powerful idea and I always think that you know when you look at a blade of grass and in the pavement always sticking up outside through the concrete that the history of life on Earth is written into that thing so that the more the more you understand and the more you think about the things that you're looking at the more powerful the experience is and the more challenging the thoughts are and in that sentence the the idea that the fact that in order to understand the blade of grass you have to understand the history of life on Earth four billion year timescales the those those those I think a challenging ideas immediately and and they're emotionally challenging ideas so I think science is an emotional response to the universe because you become a scientist when you you latch onto an idea like that and so I want to know I want to know what the origin of life was so I can understand the things I see today so you see in minutiae of life the continuum of nature and that that is a and through that aperture the most profound questions conceivable we have to imagine answers to them I think all the roads of inquiry leads to profound ideas not on an always actually to the statement we don't know so we don't know yet if we ever will and how life began probably began on earth yeah there are theories that it came the panspermia that he began somewhere else and then God was brought here by cometary impacts our asteroid is possible it's unlikely though but if you think about there any source of authority but is there any significance to those theories or just philosophically I suppose the if life was at some point in a stellar or in a galactic that it interrupts the narrative of life beginning of on at this point is there their profound philosophical implications is it relevant and is there any reason to believe it might be true I think it doesn't matter philosophically because it had to begin somewhere because we know the universe was hot and dense 13.8 billion years ago which is a thing we called the Big Bang and we know that there wouldn't have been any life around then reached just of physical conditions with far too extreme so life began somewhere and the way I like to look at it it lets let's say it began on earth doesn't matter that it could have begun on Mars or somewhere else but the arguments the same it means that geochemistry became biochemistry so what happens somewhere and most likely on earth is that a dead planet but an active planet with with you know the hot core and volcanoes and those things yeah chemical reactions happened in the oceans which changed from geology and geo treati biochemistry and that's a profound thing so the planet did almost certainly gave birth to us which is a quite a nice Ange it's an ancient philosophical idea very manic game to us but that's very like like the pre-hire idea I suppose that yeah there be a mother earth in a very literal sense it has to have what about the the distinction between geo and bio life why why is that so significant by what meet her by what metric are we understanding life if there is a meteorological system that can produce life is that not in itself life what is yeah so it's almost a semantic distinction in a way I mean it you're right it's still just chemistry and so when does geochemistry become biochemistry so the standard answer would be when molecules begin to self-replicate so that would be so information can be passed from generation to generation once you've got that then you have evolution Wow and then you have life so you've got to have some physical chemical chemical some molecule that can reproduce itself and the information in the structure of the molecule is passed on to the copy and once you've got that I think you basically got life that's determined as biology we can see that as biochemistry self-replicating molecules prior to that it can't be tracked or understood in that way yeah if you've if you've got a system which can't pass information on then you can't have evolution and if you can't of evolution you can't get the life that we see today never might you can't even get single-celled organisms because they're very complicated bits of chemistry and the key thing is how did chemistry get so complicated and I think the key to that is that you get something that can pass information so you don't lose information you add information from generation to generation professor Cox this distinction between geological life and biological life seems contingent on its relationship with us as the observer and how we narrate that transition as you said it's almost a semantic distinction as in it is in both forms it is chemistry is it not possible that our role as observe and the way that we Narae information is the true determinant as opposed to the observable and obviously extremely significant fact that cells are now self-replicating to us as observers that's extremely significant but only perhaps to us as observers given that you know in this great scope of 13.8 billion years all this happening is some great area of creation it's a really important point I think you're talking about the the value of consciousness in the universe the value of civilizations we know of one place in the universe where there are in Richard Feynman's words atoms that can contemplate atoms that's what we are now and that to me is that we are the most valuable structures that we know of in the universe now when I say that sometimes people get very you know people are liable to say things I Oh humans are damaging the planet and we're better off without them this is nonsense right the the point is the most remarkable thing about our physical universe is that there are places where atoms can contemplate atoms at one place that we know of and that might be we might be quite rare we don't know we've looked a bit and we've seen no sign of anyone else we've it's called the great silence astronomers call it the great silence because we listen with radio telescopes and we look out into space see no sign of any other civilizations and so it could be quite a lonely existence that we have here but therefore very valuable indeed whilst I understand the necessity for science as the study of nature to be based on evidence in fact indeed that is its essence that is its modus operandi that is what defines it does not the requirement that until there is evidence we stay with the assumption that there is and even though we don't know is parenthesized doesn't that lead to a sort of do not think that somehow facilitates the dogmatic aspect of science which is meant that this sort of science has become somewhat doctrinaire and informative of areas beyond the humble study of nature and has become in fact a kind of ideology that leads to materialism rationally and all of the other things are on that particular evolution airy chain I I hope not because it shouldn't really do you think it does talking about great scientists I've just not been able to drink tea properly the esophagus it's gotta go straight into the tummy in this chocolate and lemonade are made at a later point I think science itself it is it's it's humble in the sense that it's about paying attention to small things and that's it so you think about an example would be Einstein's theory of general relativity which is the framework within which we do cosmology which is the study of the universe so these are grandiose aims you know we talk about the origin and evolution of the universe that's a big idea but Einstein's theory of general relativity was conceived as a theory of gravity which is a theory of how things move around in the vicinity of the earth and that's it so it's talking about if you throw a ball in the air what happens to it now it perhaps had the moon goes around the earth or the earth goes around the Sun it became a theory of the structure the large-scale structure of the universe afterwards and I think that's really crucial there are very few scientists who try to begin by saying I am going to answer the great questions I want a theory of everything I want to understand the whole universe that is not the road to wisdom actually in science the road to their oats are wisdom and knowledge well knowledge first and then wisdom is by paying attention to small things and then what we find I think because the universe appears to be simple that it's very basic level that there are laws of nature that seemed to be accessible to us and we seem to be able to understand and there are very few of them then virtually all row roads of inquiry lead you to if you followed them to some depth to some well the fundamental well I I wouldn't call them truths because if we have to say that we don't have the full set of fundamental laws of nature we certainly know that so the laws that we have at the moment are incomplete then they break down in certain situations for example Einstein's theory doesn't work at the center of black hole or at the origin of the universe so we don't have the theoretical tools to talk about what happens right in the middle of a black hole for exempt so it's more the observation of a conditional pattern as opposed to an absolute truth because we don't know what's on the either side of that pattern is it do you think they could just be models that they are in a sense models yeah which of the way that reality works what about masks like with the thing that you said about Oppenheimer earlier I was really interesting Homer you said that he's it was his discoveries that led to well he ran the Manhattan Project so and he became haunted by as many people did you know I think he felt that the first bomb on Hiroshima was so horrific but almost justifiable in the sense that it was an act to end the war the second one on Nagasaki I think he thought was gratuitous and he felt the the power the scientists and engineers had given to politicians was so great that the politicians wouldn't be able to handle it wouldn't be able to control it and he he actually said in the 1950s that he was surprised that we were still here and as did many Richard Feynman well mentioned also worked on the Manhattan Project and he said he was very surprised that we were here in the mid-1950s he thought that we would not control this power and but actually we have remarkably up to so you know what 70 years after we got that power we we're still here so we haven't used it again and but I think that yeah that that often time it felt that there are great lessons for the way that we run society in the approach the scientific approach which was an by by analogy almost so these ideas that I've spoke about already that we don't have absolute truths in science and we don't think we know anything for certain and we are humble with the way that we approach nature and crucially that our opinion counts for nothing in the face of nature if we we can be shown to be and we should be delighted when we're shown to be wrong because it means we've learned something and that's at the heart of the scientific endeavor and he felt those things could be translated from science to politics and the way that we run societies and then if we do that we would have the wisdom to control the power this is a very beautiful ideology isn't it and it's sort of not underwritten by well as you say like the idea of approaching nature with humility with grace with an understanding that of our own limitations seems to me like a spiritual doctrine that should be used in it precisely in politics in domestic familial life this is sovereign for me that is almost a universal idea that we approach nature with love and compassion because obviously what I was very curious about with the one the reasons I wanted me used will respect you enormously I respect what you've done and the depth breadth of knowledge that you have in the way that you've conveyed it is awesome but I know that as a man of science that you are I sort of up famously atheistic is that right no no I don't think so I mean I first of all I reject the label because I think that it's divisive and so I genuinely think that science does not rule out the existence of a creator by by definition because we don't know how the universe began . that's it we don't know right we have a theory of what might have happened before the Big Bang a theory called inflation which says that the universe was still around but doing something else but we still left with the question how did that start how did the universe have a beginning and if so had they begin the answer is we don't know . so you can't read it from the scientific perspective it is wrong to say that science has anything to say at all about the the nature of a of a creator or the the the the can be the because we don't know yes now all i say is that i don't personally have any faith right i have a personal faith now do you mean faith as in pre-existing ideological that you used as a framework for understanding reality or do you mean faith a sort of an inward belief that there is beauty in great because when you said that humility and all that that sounded like a faith well yes so as far as it depends and you could talk about this more actually how you define the word I mean to me all I mean when I say that is I don't have a religion that I adhere to I don't I do not know what the origin of the laws of nature is and and that's enough for me yeah I don't really I I don't feel compelled I'd love to know but I don't feel compelled to go further than the statement that I don't know and I think that's a certain one of my books that's one of the greatest of mysteries we are part of the greatest of mysteries and for me that's enough yes yes yes there's a very beautiful humility in that that's wonderful because I what I was gonna say is that like that I do have faith and if it were if I have to sort of unpack it and not moved for us to continue our conversation what I'm fascinated by his perennialism and patterns that are found consistently throughout human mythologies they're dislocated geographically they seem to have universal themes and ideas and they're later discovered to have relationships that can to some degree be described by science by the language of science and the spirits aren't particularly as you describe it with such a what would I say so spirit of love eg for example like that it was curious to me that Oppenheimer as I understand and remember I mean dangerous territory and any time I step toward science review or never cited a ring like that I think he quoted the bhagavad-gita at the point that the of those tests those nuclear tests and indeed buddy you know attacks I am become death the destroyer of worlds yeah yeah and for me that there's something what is that that in like you know this is a thing I can't get made around and this is GCSE stuff is that contained within as it was then this you know it's one of the smallest components of our physical reality with the capacity for such enormous destruction that there's inconceivable energy withheld like that I mean like that we'll know the reasons I'm curious about is because they're inferences in religious scripture that see to be trying to describe that that within the infinitesimally small there is great power that there is limitless that all things are endowed with consciousness these are the sort I like when I approach religion I don't sort of pick one particular book I write on with these guys and anyone who's not with it I'd like to see them killed like it's much more like oh my god they seem to be describing stuff without the language without the language or the capacity somewhat try example when dealing with a mind such as yours would be the you know the recent discovery of the benefits of mindfulness now a mindfulness and meditation for millennia have been spoken of as valuable for the human condition to have an access to an aspect of your own consciousness that's precisely not about rationalism and materialism but is about access to perhaps the systems that very kindly run your kidneys for you and all of that and so when that's discovered and demonstrably valuable it becomes popularized or underwritten by dogmatic science at least but there were communities in ideologies that knew that these technologies were powerful without the apparatus we had and I think contained throughout scripture people talking about oneness unity respect for nature the nature the nature of the soul the nature of consciousness and it's only from for me whether it's from a scientific background or religious background it's only when it becomes doctrinal or people go this is definitely answer thank you that it becomes problematic yeah yeah and I think I mean so I would say that I I don't think that I think the way to access and the way to build models about the way that nature works is to observe nature right which is essentially the scientific method yes you observe nature you come up with some model you test it and if it doesn't agree with what you see then it's wrong you throw it away are you yeah but I suppose really if you think about the human condition for many thousands of years from the time when we first had such a thing it's about it's a response to nature so everything about being human is about responding to nature so I would be surprised if if people didn't in that endowed responses that they have didn't didn't so observe things patterns and discover things you know you don't need you don't need modern science to allow you to discover that there's a regularity in the passage of the seasons from example because you see it it's of what it means to be human so I'm not surprised and also as you say in terms of how to exist as a as a human being then the science is not going to tell you that actually it can tell you well it would be better to review eight a little bit less fat but it's not going to tell you about how to be content and happy what it does is I think provides a framework of not truth I don't like the word truth you see buddy but you know I'm trying to get out because we can always we can always discover things that are different but it provides you a framework for example it says well the earth goes round the Sun know and it tells us that there are 300 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy really and that's one of two trillion galaxies in the observable universe getting heavy now but that's challenging isn't it but then what are we to make of that humility limitlessness and I think it's one of the most interesting things that we are we've discovered that we are physically an insignificant speck in the universe so you can't argue otherwise there are two trillion galaxies in the bit we can see but yes at the same time there's the idea that consciousness atoms cons of plane atoms might be very rare and therefore we can be valuable and insignificant at the same time and this is what Oppenheimer meant by well in his lectures I spoke about him not on the podcast actually brought his show earlier that he talks about an idea called complementarity which comes from it came from the early quantum mechanic studies of people I Niels Bohr and others and it is actually it comes from Eastern philosophy I think this idea that you have to hold mutually contradictory apparently mutually contradictory ideas in your head you have to in order to get a full picture of reality and true in interpreting quantum mechanics and what he said is what you've already referred to is that people have known it for a long time that you also have to do it to understand the human condition of the user in a society and it's it's a it's a very good example of how science and deeper philosophical thinking intersect yes yes that's that's fascinating and beautiful because I suppose what's implicit in that are quite fundamental ideas around objectivity and subjectivity the inner and outer world and the way that they relate and it is our our our tendency to regard that the world from see from an individualistic perspective leads potentially to quite a lot of problems one of the things that I'm very curious about and like I know that you're in a rationalism reason and what's demonstrably is hugely significant and important but what fascinates me is that it seems that it certainly in earlier times people were relating to their own consciousness in ways that somewhat defy our rational understanding people were haven't of yogic medical meditative trips and now people like you know through our West go and piyo interests romantic plants that people have always used have different experiences within consciousness that tackle the sort of ideas that you're saying science deals with now empirically and rationally and necessarily but the fact that there may be other avenues to you know again I would be reluctant to use a word as absolute as truth but there are different avenues to understanding different avenues to insight fascinates me with the construction of mythologies as you said man is continually relating to his own environment shaping to envira it shaped by his environment the the basis of what one of the bases I'm sure of evolution is that the way that we relate to external conditions and of course those conditions vary and anthropological cultures that were early adopters of Agriculture have myths that demonstrate that we're gods are sacrificed and put in the ground and Hunter societies has tend to be more individualistic you know the myths evolved to represent natural circumstance demonstrably but what I'm interested in were one of the things I'm interested in professor is how we use as we've just touched upon with that idea that open higher and I said that itself echoed a spiritual idea how can we use what we learn in science to inform our societies in bloody difficult times politically and globally what values can we extract well there are I'll answer that and then I want to go back to something you said which about roots to insights which I thought was really interesting but the answer that question directly is that and Oppenheimer pointed out so if you think about political philosophy the way that we organize our society so you might think that there are mutually contradictory axioms so for example one could be freedom of the individual if you're libertarian extreme libertarian you think that individual freedom is the most important thing and you might be prepared to compromise a bit and build something in order to have a society with ultimately you're talking about freedom as the end of the base the basis whereas if you're on the if you're a communist off further to the to the left you might be think that society is all that matters and you might reluctantly build a bit of individual freedom in now often time we were saying this idea of complementarity is the two ideas of freedom and society are inextricably linked they feed off each other they're both necessary for the other to exist so you can't have freedom without a society and you can't have a society without freedom and it's but so that just the idea that you don't start saying I am a conservative or I am a Marxist or I am or whatever you you have to understand that human society and its interaction with individuality is very complicated yes and you need to you need to understand you need to be comfortable with holding those two ideas we call them orthogonal in physics at right angles the mutually contradictory ideas I'm dry I'm drawing a little that's good orthogonal ninety degrees to each other you have to hold both of them in your head and be comfortable and understand that you need them both to get a full picture thesis antithesis synthesis there's another spirituality it's not contradictory and you have to do it in understanding quantum mechanics and that's the great thing because nature forces you to think like that so it's no longer optional which is also named as key point yes you so you train and you you're forced to think in that way and that's very valuable yes but but also Mayor Sabra and the way that it's the semantics and these systems of taxonomy actually operate is a word like freedom is determined by the powerful so freedom ultimately becomes in what we can say in our society freedom within limits and ultimately freedom to consume freedom to behave in accordance with these ideologies this is what freedom means when political figures talk about they hate our freedoms or they're attacking our freedoms what they mean by freedom is often indicated by the Maxim's they spout when in crises eg go out and drop after 9/11 or there's no such thing as society from Margaret Thatcher these but these are momentary fishes with through which we can glance what they mean what is the state what it what is their truth because you know like you we were discussing earlier in my son intentionally daft radio show the oh god no I forgot my I was saying here sometimes I come I was operating on a level that was challenged I think what you've said is you've given examples of people who are convinced that they are right that is the point yes certainty you should be aware of people that are said yeah and I think that you know really if you think about where free society is then it means that there's a spectrum of viewpoints on every issue and so you can imagine I'd call it a distribution within mathematics we call the tails of the distribution which is that the bits at the end so most people might believe the stuff in the middle but there are people on either side that believe other things and you have to do by definition in a free society find yourself occasionally at odds with the majority that is a signal that you live in a free society and you should celebrate it and I think that the key lesson for me from from just thinking rather more scientifically about things is that is to understand that when you find yourselves in disagreement with other people it is a signal of a healthy Christie in a healthy society and you should celebrate every time you find you're in an outlier you should be waving a flag you should be running down the street cheering going I don't live in North Korea that's what you should be and but that's been lot less you do live in North Korea which case don't run down the street flag don't say oh no Korea day but but I think we've lost that you see on Yemen we both we're both on Twitter and we you see that the polarization of debate means that people are just not thinking they're not stopping and thinking the fact that this person is saying something with which I disagree signals to me that our society is healthy and the moment that nobody's saying things that I disagree with is the moment you should actually then you should leave the country and run don't you think that what we're witnessing now is a time of foreclosure around this course that more and more things are becoming taboo that there's a rien Civ censure and the Internet as you just indicated a very good example of that these are the things that are unsayable furthermore the only think that the idea we have to say that there are ideologies ideals are being set there is such a thing as power we're not living in a society that's constantly fluctuating in accordance to the will of the majority we're living in a democracy where the function of democracy is to limit the capacity of people to impact its objectives and one of the problems of globalization is that it has meant the establishment of elite they're not subject to sort of national any kind of regional law but they'd let seem to live in a kind of what islands a sort of a rarified protected space said that what you've seen with the brexit vote and and I don't think it's the right route at all I mean I think that I'm a great fan of the European Union however what you've seen in the brexit vote is extremely positive in the sense you're talking because what you've seen is a statement by the majority of people in the country that they reject the status quo sure and they have done it they have rejected the status quo Prime Minister resigned there's now absolute flux in politics and and and so I think that we do Ryan I think we have to know too things here one it's a massive anomaly it doesn't happen very often stuff like brexit that's why everyone's wetting themselves and all giggly and excited about who that breaks it in itself was an emotional reaction or rational reaction people won't go more because I want to see these trade laws or it was a motions but it showed you that the status quo can be overturned in a democracy because at the moment we don't have the status I would say within certain guidelines I don't think you know when's the vote for now we're gonna tax corporations at this rate now we're gonna or this is how we want to pay mortgages this is how we want our society to run you can argue that it may be that we see for example Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister which would have been absolutely unthinkable two years ago and if he does become Prime Minister it will be as a result of the brexit vote that that will be the route that a more radical politician managed to that's how a radical politician will have gotten to number 10 now I I'm I think Greg's it is a mistake because I think that it that the people that voted to to challenge the status quo are going to suffer the most from this the removal of the freedoms that we have to move around Europe Europe the the removal of access to single market Ellis thinks I think actually it's the wrong solution possibly unless they think it's interesting democratically and it can it can still happen unless it doesn't lead to a left-wing government who use it as an opportunity to create new legislation around the behavior of transnational corporations different taxation law somebody you know there is I was talking to someone in here recently about like a possible left-wing outcome for Europe I don't we dragged down a bloody brexit quagmire whenever man who understands the bleeding we're talking about it you could see it as a healthy attack on the status quo you could see I don't think it'll have that result but no I mean I I but the fact that it's an anomaly he's what concerns me and the fact that we lower the threshold of what's acceptable for a democracy see we've got democracy once in a while we can have a Miss Guardian misguided carnival of disruption instead of LED democracies why don't we control our communities and control our resources so that the most vulnerable P we'll have access to power that's democracy if it's not that it's not democracy it's a piece of theater and like don't settle for that remember like because you and I we talked a little bit about know exactly you were very keen I encourage young people to vote a point where I was saying it's pointless and like it was a soft in integral I sense that you and I have a lot more in common ideologically than we have the in separation even though you are a scientist and I'm a religious maniac and you are sort of pro-democracy and I'm proud mass decentralization and dissolution of power where possible you know but I feel that we're both driven by the idea that we're essentially optimistic is what I would say about you you seem like an optimistic man yeah and you have to be because if we go back to what we're talking about earlier about the the value of this place the earth and I think one of the if I could if there's one message that I would like people to take away from anything that I do is to is to value this place and it's that's not some kind of like so hippie type thing is it's just based on the observation the the the complexity of life the on earth it may well be it may make us quite a unit we could be unique in a galaxy for example I don't think I'm sure there'll be other civilizations out there in the billions of galaxies in the universe but it could be that the average is that there's about roughly one civilization per galaxy at any one time and imagine that I mean uh arthur c clarke once famously said that there are two options either we are alone or we're not and both are terrifying yeah but i think we need to proceed on the basis that we are now an imagined if people thought about that which is just a matter of perspective if people thought actually that if we decided to have a nuclear war tomorrow accidentally perhaps and and and destroyed intelligent life on the planets it may be that we destroy meaning in the galaxy right and meaning I use advisedly could if you think about it meaning obviously exists in the universe because it means something to us so there are collections of atoms that somehow of the this property of meaning does emerge it means something to us if we go then there will be no meaning in this corner of the universe meaning is local and it's temporary and I think in accepting that but by which I mean it's in your head in your head but now say you think it's global in a way though in a way it's irrelevant whether there are other civilizations or this one's unique in empirically I mean it to us it doesn't matter like evil life is beautiful or life isn't beautiful whether or not someone's over there having a beautiful time to me sort of irrelevant and also terms such as local and from Perl are highly subjective terms as we have already established that refer to patterns themselves that exist within a context and our consciousness relates only to that context so the meaning that emerges like whatever this thing is that transition from unlife to life through various gradients geological to biologic or whatever preceded that and whatever follows that meaning is one of its component it's exists as organically as trees yeah yeah well the physicist some scientists refer to is an emergent property which is something that emerges from some more fundamental structure and then this is from the difference between us now is actually a question because because I think that the great challenge of human existence is to come to terms with the fact that the meaning exists but it is as I said it's local in the sense that it's not universal and I think that's the difference if I have to define a difference between a religious person and non-religious I would say that well it's a question too but I would say that religion is searching for global meaning and I think it's local and I think there will come a time in the life of the universe when there is no meaning left because I think that as far as coaching it well I mean I think that's what I think though that's my truck that's precisely the problem is that Matteo materialism and rationalism lead to individualism capitalism and consumerism we can see in real time what it leads to politically and socially I mean more brutally than that though I mean that in the far future of the universe there won't be any sons left shining so there won't be any atoms that can contemplate atoms only of course in a universe I understand that and I said an enormous thing to say Brian and I've got absolutely no bloody kit to argue with actually what is it what do you feel like if I say there will come a time in the future when there is no consciousness in the universe and so all possibility of meaning has gone but the universe will still be there I would say that mhm within my philosophy consciousness and matter have the reverse relationship through in yours I believe the matter ISM emerges from consciousness not vice-versa so even where the Astrophysical context always and evolves as you know brilliant men such as yourself and your predecessors have demonstrated that will happen that to me is essentially irrelevant because it's just part of the cosmic ballet continuing within the framework of consciousness and I underwrite this of course speculatively like all theories that are the bookend creation it's speculative as anybody else's but for me the preceding the Big Bang there is consciousness consciousness that is not individualized consciousness there's not expressed for a matter and this is not something that I would narrative eyes or used to underwrite or support any particular ideology it's not like you know a consciousness for white people or a consciousness for Muslims pure consciousness expressing itself through matter and that these patterns and habits that are so beautifully delineated these rules that discover these rules that Herman Melville describes as part all human sciences but passing fables as we discover what lies beyond them like these are an expression of this consciousness so when eventually whatever is the existence that of human beings are consumed by the Sun that doesn't matter to me because individuation I believe is temporal that I am just part of a whole consciousness temporarily occupying this individual or I can't put it any better than Bill Hicks we are one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively and I would say that the reason that geology becomes biology is because the POE geology is conscious that consciousness is in all things and the reason that we should love nature and love the and love one another is because we are all one and there are motifs for this throughout our culture why are we moved by heroism because a person sacrifices themselves for another why because they know inadvertent commerce on some deeper level that there is no distinction between self another this is merely the grid of the senses dealing with physical information the experiencer receives this is inside this is outside but ultimately and essentially those distinctions are animalistic attempts to understand limitless phenomena so that's why it doesn't matter to me although I would say like you we have to regard this thing with love because love in a very Christian sense actually like CS Lewis says you feel like you're rewarded when you do a good thing and when you do a bad thing you know that was bad so let's just go with that be kind to one another love one another let people believe what they want to believe so mine comes from an I'm not ashamed of the bits that sound a bit hippy because for me love is an energy love is a force and whilst it's difficult to quantify and measure without it we are nothing see I think my view is it's certainly Bleeker I think that actually the road see I would say that the road to wisdom is is the the most challenging question that I face given that I'm saying that matter and energy and the laws of nature exists and then life emerges from them and then there will come a time when there's no life so that that challenges you to say what is the value then of life given that it is temporary and this emerges and it will go away again and there will be time and the and the universe is dark and there is nothing left and I think that this is how you get some sort of delight from what I do because I think that the in the sense that the the peace right is a human being I think comes from finding your accommodation with your temporary existence and and learning that it's so that the temporary nature of it to me makes it more valuable to define as a tiny amount of time is nothing in the life of the universe a tiny amount of time when we not only individually but as a human race can exist and explore and love the universe it's a finite tiny amount of time and I think that's a much more difficult accommodation to come to it's where I think that's really I think that's what reality is and so it's not to come to accommodation with it but I think in that accommodation is the way you learn to love the planets and the people on it because you learn that they are temporary and valuable and fragile as long as it leads to that conclusion it sort of doesn't really matter but what we'll say is we've already acknowledged in the in this brief interview that our understanding of the temporal framework and the spatial framework are sort of breaking down the more we examine them so why would we continue to use that framework to conjecture billions of years in the future when it's breaking down right now I mean the way we do it by the way is to get mad scientific kada freedom an equation which comes from general relativity from Einstein's theory published in 1915 and and what Einstein theory tells us is that there is a given thing which is the fabric of the universe it's called space-time so there's a thing and it doesn't tell you where it came from it tells you there is such a thing but it does tell you how that thing stretches and warps and deforms and changes in response to the matter and energy that are present in the universe so you can calculate given this amount of matter and this amount of radiation and dark matter and dark energy you know given all that stuff now what will it do in the future what is the response of the fabric of the universe into this stuff and that's what enables us to say with some confidence that unless there's new physics then you know understand and there might be but given what we know now the universe is accelerating in its expansion which we observe and it will come to a point where we think it will just double continually in size every twenty billion years or so forever yes we can make that prediction given what we know now so there is that's the baseline sort of baseline prediction is we are in the universe that will end up in what's called an exponential expansion doubling in size every 20 billion so forever boobs life cannot exist indefinitely in such a universe not but that's that's necessarily a linear equation and reality may be fractal may be spiral right at the basis of that theorem is the acceptance and we don't know where it comes from or where it's going and it infers that it's you know as I know you've talked about a lot in your programs is expanding into apparent nothingness but then you see like that our linguistic and indeed psychological tools and neurological tools I would imagine from your perspective start to break down and so this is again where I sort of invite sort of you know faith one thing it is a theory that is tested so it is the theory that allows us to build for example the satellite navigation system yes I'm not having a go at bloody I instigated this work model but but Brian when you say satellite navigation systems fantastic though they are these are not tools that we're going to use to measure the expanse of a universe doubling in millions of years this is a localized bit of information applies to us as carnal beings I mean just a quick explanation of how we know it's expanding at all it's simple observation that if you look at the light from a distant galaxy then you find that it's stretched so quite literally the colors changed it's called redshift so it's a lie as a wavelength and the long wavelengths are red in the short wavelengths of blue and what you find is light that should have been blue because you see it coming from a particular kind of atom in that galaxy is actually now red and the explanation is that space has been stretching during the time the light has been traveling and what you find is the further the galaxy is away the more the light is stretched which is exactly what you'd expect if you live in an expanding universe and by making those measurements you can measure how fast the universe has been expanding its billions of years and this is a simple observation no one could refute it and it's absolutely beautiful and I only I know that already and the reason I know already is because I've watched you explain it elegantly and in a way that makes sense to me and it's meaningful to me but what I would add to that is we see red we see blue we somehow within our minds experience red we expiry it's blue we have ice we have census we live in this realm where something is experiencing something and like you said Adams experiencing other atoms now what we have to continually acknowledge is that there is a finite ability to understand information there is evidently limitless information at some point we're gonna hit a wall and you know and continue the one what exists beyond that is theories conjecture imagination and it's curious to me that it's steeped in our theological history there were people speculating in similar ways and reaching similar conclusions of course no one can as as accurately say that's because space is stretching so you experience red is different because waves traveled different for the different density of spoken people aren't saying stuff like that but people are speculating and trying to understand the phenomena of limitlessness reminded me yeah and you write about something you said insight which is this which is that so I would say that where I would I would disagree with you in in a sense in that the finding out the way that nature works I think is the is is is only done through what we might loosely call the scientific method right which is which is making observations and building theories and checking them however it's not surprising to me that someone had a thought a few thousand years ago which turns out to be in accord with what we discover all right well I would disagree is I don't think that they had those thoughts by some royal road to the truth or something I don't think that I think that they it so let's say these you say in in some context a religious context or theological context few thousand years ago we think these just say for the sake of argument in the Koran well yes Larry as I say we say we think that we live in an expanding universe hmm so we think that points of light in the sky or the worlds as as people did say and we think they're all rushing away from each year from us right and then so well certainly for the galaxies this is true so but the fact that someone said that is something you could imagine saying you can imagine looking up at those points of lying and dreaming that there are the worlds I'm Ashley Giordano Bruno who famously did that and got burnt at the stake in Roman and his ashes thrown into the Tiber I think is power the New Year's celebrations they're coming well don't expand across the Tiber limitless particles because he said that he said I think leader of the worlds and and wills without end limitless and now he had no reason to say that it was pure thought but he is something that you could imagine someone saying very poetically now he turned out to be right but I don't think that I think the fact that he was right was coincidental yeah I don't think he had some path route to knowledge through meditation that I don't think there is a route knowledge of nature through meditation there may well be that I'm sure there is a route of inner peace and a better understanding of yourself and your relationship with nature but I would I do not think that you can find out you could build new physical theories by by meditating by meditating by thinking I mean I have to just when someone has a flash of intuition or inspiration all these things and all this information is enter in the world through people's contrary sheket is by doing sign definitely check it through science here that I was just dreaming about something I refused to check it that is wrong that's I think from whatever angle you approach it when you get into dogma and doctrine and telling people what to do and what they can be and what they can't be I think you get into really dicey territory from my perspective where the bias is is has gone towards you know sort of science particularly economics sometimes particularly from political science like well you know I watch your programs i watch you talk about the way that water's behaving and pebbles in lakes and the life of strawberries for me this is awesome and beautiful and glorious and precisely what we need to examine and track but what I feel is is somehow the same way as the you know one could say the philosophy of Christ was used to underwrite a great big powerful economic institution that ends up saying don't put that there visibly people than that to me is you know that people use science to say don't think that live there obey these rules this is this you're right that this is entirely wrong curse science so science is a body of knowledge it doesn't tell you anything really it doesn't tell you anything about how to what what to make of that knowledge and it can tell you there are two trillion galaxies in the observable universe full-stop doesn't tell you what that means right what what are you to make of that doesn't tell you it's the same width and we're going to go back to Oppenheimer you know the idea that so you can build an atomic bomb and science tells you it gives you the knowledge such that you can build an atomic bomb it certainly does not tell you what to do with it right that mean actually we would hug you that your common sense tells you not to use it don't press that button it's it but so I think that's a key point that so for me the the proper interaction between science and religion and philosophy and theology and art and music and literature all this thing is that that they go together yes allow us to build a view of what our place in the universe is and what it is to be human none of them on their own will allow you to build that idea to come to that conclusion what does it mean to be human but but you need them all they're so beautiful isn't it thesis antithesis synthesis that you have to come together and that means that one of the things you've mentioned a lot Brian is humility that there needs to be humility in all these communities and in a sense an idea of an objective like you said about sort of with the libertarianism but ultimate individualism communism saw our version of the subjugation of the individual in favor of the state we have to in order to build systems human systems that make sense to us with it is going to need to be a collaboration between science spirituality our theology and all these taxonomy czar interchangeable because one man spirituality is another man's science now I recognize that what you're saying is on the bandwidth of material energy that can be measured magnified shrunk swayed out double-blind tested there are certain things that we can say on this plane are factual at this time at this moment on this I think the crisis that we're going through at the moment as a civilization is we don't have a point there isn't a meaning to our civilization and I just made it yes a programmer a while ago about a commercial space flight and talked to people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and these entrepreneurs who were trying to go out beyond the earth and they all share a philosophy or certain philosophy which is that humanity if you're looking for meaning what drives us we need frontiers we need frontiers of knowledge there which you might call intellectual or in spiritual frontiers and physical frontiers we need somewhere to go Carl Sagan once said that somewhere out there there's something waiting to be known how beautiful and yet so we don't have that on the earth anymore there are no frontiers they're obviously bought political borders but there are no places that we haven't been there's no Wild West to push into and so they think that the next step to go out upwards to the stars to stepped onto the moon and to Mars and beyond that that's the place where are you where we will find meaning again well I hope purpose possibly there right and it's certainly very intrepid but I would query the idea that we are without frontiers because there are certain ideological and metaphysical spaces that we have not tried to access we have not here on what value is it if we start building new societies on Mars if they're new and bloody earth we're treating each other appalling Lee there are basic principles that you know that I've found their way into common consciousness mostly through spirituality long long long before monotheism pantheistic cultures all find versions of look after one another that's not to say there isn't ena and you would know much more than me kind of brutality in nature with Razoo ology or astronomy there's a brutality and a finality but are these the principles that we want to be governed by as human beings for the frontiers I would be interested in traversing and heading toward our equality love new systems that give us once again a vision so that the exploration of space becomes valid but not once again the pursuit of economic power the pursue of dominions dominions new with conquered and subjugated mother earth they see what other planets we can fuck up well one of the one of the ideas is that how do you develop new political systems so you look at for example the American so the the movement from Europe into America and ended up with the American Constitution and so they're obviously they were pros and cons of their years but you got one of the things you got was this document which i think is widely recognized as one of the the most important statements of how you might say nice poems but if it doesn't relate to the way you run a society then what value is it and this is precisely the problem now which is not put it into practice if you grow it and even then Brian it was except for these people you know except for women except for these people that live here already but the point is that no there's certainly there is a relationship between the physical and the spiritual that if we grow into new territories physically there is a possibility that will somehow help us to discover within ourselves new notions but like we can do that without getting on a spaceship we could just start saying it's not judge people couldn't what they look like or you know like one of the ideas is that our system on this planet now has become quite ossified what does that mean I don't fossilize locked in ossifer where is if you go to if you imagined it in a hundred years time or something we have that the Mars colony is is looking to become independent and there then the the act of going to a new place and beginning again can allow you to access different ways of being in different ways of interacting that might not be possible here because of the historic borders and and and problems that I mean how if I sort of agree that doesn't make me want to get on a spaceship that makes me wandering on a barricade it makes me want to change the world it makes me say like if we've reached a sort of a point of crisis like for me it's not like I'll bloody let's go somewhere else for me is like we've gonna have to change I mean like you like well know that or the one area where science is not being allowed to it'll not the one but I an area where science is not being allowed to inform the way we treat the planet is with climate change people are not going right maybe because for me one of the things I've learned over the course these podcasts and I must say this one the ones that have been like a great big iceberg of information smashing into my consciousness hopefully gives their flow unlikely the other vessel in that analogy is that is that all our ideologies are caveated by and as long as it doesn't affect the interests of the powerful we must attack about climate change as long as it doesn't affect the interests of the powerful we must have fair races as long as it doesn't impact so for me is about finding ways of impact the interests of the powerful until we are prepared to do that and to ever read their address that frontier it's no point in jumping on Elon Musk spacecraft or saying here perhaps it is a virtual reality experiment we have to start saying right what is happening right these people are bathing in this way why well that's gotta be regulated and stopped and stripped you're right I mean interesting though Jeff Bezos with the Amazon CEO whose glass company Blue Origin and he said to me first of all why he's company called Blue Origin because it refers to the earth they're the blue origin of humanity and he said the one thing we've learned in our exploration of the solar system and beyond is that this planet is the best one right we've learned that number one and that means that it is a jewel he calls a jewel of a planet and therefore we must protect it at the same time we have a large population which is making increasing demands on the resources so what is the solution how do you support an expanding population all of whom want a better life for them and their children at the same time is protecting this beautiful blue planet the answer is to get the resources from elsewhere that's the answer final answer another one would be to start prioritizing the health of the planet above economic needs I mean as long as you've got capitalism in the form it's now in which many people would argue is way beyond capitalism then then it's inevitable and what a Marxist critical theory that isn't the first discovery page one is this is a limited resource we are it cannot provide a limited growth in so that's got to go they may well have a you can argue that you have a point in in Europe North America and the West that you might call but if you talk about sub-saharan Africa or India or large parts of China then it is difficult to see how you can lift those people out of poverty at the same time at reducing the demand on the planet because those people are there and they live in poverty and it's right that they aspire to to life for their children but the answer can can be innovation I mean for example I was in China about two weeks ago and that they just cancelled the building of 150 coal-fired power stations and cancelled it and the reason they cancelled it was because solar powers cheaper so it was absolutely it was partly market driven decision partly because they have a problem with pollution in the cities but but the point is that innovation has delivered a solution because solar power makes no impact on the planet at all useful so like you know so once you know that wisdom is acting on knowledge once we've got the facts just in the next few should be a round of phone calls like hey guess what now solar power only as quickly as possible who did whose interests do you challenge when you make that edict you know so well actually I'm going I'm literally going to church Brian Cox earlier today and there's a guy sat next to me on the panel and he was a Hong Kong prophecy developer and and he said that the one of the things about China that that's rather which is good is the the the the interests that those fossil fuel interests that has become this but it doesn't it doesn't exist in China the ruling party make the decision they make a decision based on we don't want pollution we want less pollution cuz it's killing our people and we want cheap accessible power that is solar so immediately I will draw a line through a hundred and feed the contract for 150 coal-fired power stations and I'll change it to solar panels done and and he said he argued that I do obviously counter arguments but he argued that that's why he said to me that's why China will beat you you know beat you because we will make decisions like that now we could debate that but it's interesting and one thing that sort of is is distinct is that China comes from a different philosophical tradition has a completely different veldt and shown so it's able to make decisions like that not just because of Maoism and post mal communism but because of the philosophies that preceded it Branko just because when people listening I know that there are big problems with human rights I'll sing each I am NOT waving the flag for the Chinese sister and there are systems within which those interests matter a lot less yes there are there are and that's that what is interesting to me what I feel Brian Cox is that you have been kind of in my language ace a prophet and an educator and a Swami for such valuable beautiful information and like who knows what the future holds for me you know you get my vote on the next David Attenborough deal like I mean like I I see you is very much the human voice of science but for me like as you have indicated there needs to be many voices in the human conversation for us to have a chance and once again what I feel like is that there is much to learn from the realms that can never be empirically demonstrated and like you know that sounds quite high-minded but simply to mount love and kindness and the ability for Denari people for to have their need to make contact on the powerhouse Sagan said for small creatures such as we the vastness is variable only through love all right Carl Sagan let's give us we're Broncos I want you to on record make a commitment to come back and be interviewed again would you do that yes whatever you want I enjoyed it very much I will be back tomorrow we're on a 40 might get intense because we're coming at things from quite different in positions but I absolutely adore you and I'm very grateful to you for the education thank you I've enjoyed it very much thanks man Cheers you

Jean Kelley