The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is perfectly simple. If you agree to watch the series of video clips below, instead of going to Church this Sunday, I will attend my local Baptist church, and report back on the overall experience:
I will listen to what the Pastor has to say and you will report back (in the comments) on what you learned from the below videos and links.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from either cheating and not watching all the clips from start to finish, or indeed just watching them now and still go to church as well. But that defeats the object. You have to watch the clips on Sunday, instead of going to church as usual.
Let me know if you plan on going ahead with this, so I can make arrangements with the church ahead of time, to film parts of the service. You’ve got the easy job. All you have to do is sit on your arse and learn something interesting about how we think the universe really works. I have to get my suit dry cleaned and bite my tongue when the collection plate gets passed around.
Here are the videos I would like you to watch. If you want to take part in the experiment, please don’t watch them yet. Instead leave a comment below stating the date of the next Sunday service you won’t be attending and I’ll arrange to go to church on that date in your stead.
This first one explains the smallest unit of measurement currently available to physicists, the Planck length. It’s important to pay attention to some of the stuff they refer to in passing towards the end of this clip, because it comes up again in the following video.
This next clip is rather long and some of you are going to instantly dislike it, because it was given at an atheist convention and it’s introduced by Richard Dawkins. Pay no heed to that and listen, instead, to what the nice man is saying about ‘A Universe from Nothing’. The often repeated phrase, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” finds it origins in certain aspects of the Big Bang theory, which propose that fluctuations in the Quantum Field probably caused our universe to come into existence. Lawrence Krauss explains what cosmologists mean by ‘nothing’ in this context.
If atoms are mostly made up of empty space, why don’t we fall through the floor? Sounds like a ridiculous question, does’t it? Things interact with other things because they are solid. But what do we mean by solid? The Pauli exclusion principle explains that no two electrons in the universe can occupy the same energy levels. But since we put energy into something every time we interact with it, every electron in the universe must therefore adjust itself, somehow, to occupy a slightly different energy level. We are therefore, literally, connected to everything else in the universe. The fact that we can prove this is true, not only explains why there is incredible beauty in physics, but to my mind makes it somewhat more believable than talking snakes and magic wine.
Finally another clip from Sixty Symbols, only this time on the Higgs Boson and understanding the difference between photons (fluctuations in the electromagnetic field) and the field itself.
Now, what’s the point of this? Well, it’s a little experiment. See, I think I know what any Christian willing to take part in this little challenge is going to say, no matter what they might learn from the above videos, and I think I know what they’re going to say about my attending a church service too.
So as not to influence the outcome (every experiment needs a control) I’ve taken a date stamped screen shot of a text document and email, written before publishing this blog entry, with some suggestions as to what the possible replies to this challenge might be. This will be published after the results are in.
So as to rule out any tampering or editing, I’ve sent a copy of the text document containing my predictions to Richard Morgan, a Christian friend of mine from the Fundamentally Flawed Podcast, who will vouchsafe that I did indeed write out my predictions, before clicking “Send” on this article and, therefore, before reading any comments posted below.
How to take part:
If you’re a Christian and you want to send an atheist to church, leave a comment below stating the date of the next Sunday service you won’t be attending so as to instead watch the above video clips and write a review of them in the comments below. When I get back from the church service I will post a full account of the experience and publish my predictions on what you might say in response.
Here is a screen shot of the email to Richard, containing my predictions on your responses, which was sent BEFORE this article was published. Good luck!
I am publishing this article at: 22:55 and 20 seconds on the 8th of Jan 2012