Will any Christians accept my Science Sunday challenge?

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:

Google Maps

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!

Note that the timestamp in the top right corner is before the publication time of this article.

I am publishing this article at: 22:55 and 20 seconds on the 8th of Jan 2012

The email to Richard was sent at:

11 comments on “Will any Christians accept my Science Sunday challenge?

  1. Note that the timestamps on this article and the timestamp in the screenshot of the sent email to Richard are ahead by one hour because WordPress.com is on European Central Time and I am in the UK an hour behind on Greenwich Mean Time.

  2. Jim,

    I am wondering if you can tell your readers what the point is. I get having Christians watch thought-provoking scientific lectures, but what I don’t get is your stipulation that they forego attending church service. You acknowledged that there is nothing stopping a Christian from watching the lectures now and still going to church, but then said that this defeats the purpose. “You have to watch the clips on Sunday, instead of going to church as usual.” But what you didn’t explain is why.

    P.S. I will not be participating in this experiment, primarily because I already keep abreast of most of the issues discussed in these video lectures (given your descriptions of their content), especially particle physics and the hunt for the Higgs. You already suspect, I should think, that I have an abiding passion for scientific pursuits and discoveries.

  3. You’re going to think I’m making this up, but I almost put in a disclaimer that this was open to everyone except Ryft Braeloch :D

    I know you stay on top of this stuff, and have a good understanding particularly of physics. It was more aimed at some of the people on /r/Christianity on the site Reddit.com who don’t, as a rule, watch or read a lot of science. Since the videos are mostly introduction points to science, I had hoped to get feedback from people who don’t normally watch videos on science who might think about giving it a try, just to “win” the chance of sending an atheist to church.

    In short, I thought it was a fun way to say, “you give this a try and I’ll meet you half way”. But, yes, I probably should have mentioned it’s probably not going to be a lot of use to religious people like yourself, who already pay quite a bit of attention to science.

  4. Jim,

    Perhaps I did not express myself very well. My bad. What I am wondering is why the participant MUST forgo church in order to watch these video lectures, why BOTH watching them AND going to church defeats the purpose. That is, what is the purpose, exactly, such that also going to church would defeat it? I hope I was clearer this time.

    P.S. I would have had a good laugh if that disclaimer had been in there.

  5. I have a better deal, and better terms. Forget a building called “church” and become part of the body of Christ. The true “church”.

    “”Church” (ekklesia) is used to denote all the saved without any particular geographic designation (Matt. 16: 18), and of the saved in a particular geographic area (1 Cor. 1: 2). “Church” used universally (all the saved) is always used in the singular.”

    Repent of your sins. Trust in Jesus with your entire life, heart, mind, and soul and I will watch and write about those videos. Deal?

    P.S. I do not attend church services, and I will probably watch them anyway because I love science. I am assuming they’re about science things thinking of your possible, and quite common, failed bigotry that Christians hate science, or whatever. Probably the whole reason for this absurd “bet”. Silly Atheist. I do find it absolutely hilarious that you’re literally saying “try science” (like the failed “try Jesus”) like some cult persuasion like it will “convert” someone into atheism, or something. You’re such a dork. The cult of science (http://bit.ly/cultscience) is nothing new for Atheists. You’re in “good” company these days.

    You see, science is not the problem at all here. Naturalism is. No, naturalism didn’t produce this laptop. Science and God did. Naturalism artificially rules out a kind of cause before it has a chance to speak by the evidence. The cause of intelligence for one. Do you agree there are real dangers of scientists taking philosophical positions such as this? Naturalism has not been scientifically evidenced, simply its taken as a philosophical paradigm.

    Anyway I don’t care if you go to some building to be persuaded by some slick snake oil salesman so that you will fill his pews. I want you broken and contrite and desperately seeking the Lord’s forgiveness for your wickedness. I want to see your Salvation. I want a soundly saved Brother in Christ. Are you up for that? If not we have nothing to discuss here.

    Thanks for the laugh though.

  6. P.S.S. Most Baptist Churches, these days, needs a visit from a preacher that stand them up, like this one, because they are Godless cultures.

    No commitments to each other, but I will watch yours, if you watch mine. Did that sound gay?

    Joking aside, I would much rather you take an hour of your time and hear Paul Washer’s message then any other Baptist preacher out there. He will never convert you, that is not his job, but he speaks truth. That is the important part.

  7. “I want you broken and contrite and desperately seeking the Lord’s forgiveness for your wickedness.”

    Dan, you really are a colossal dick

  8. Dan’s not getting something here: Alex is willing to go and hear the other side out in exchange for the religious to hear our side out. Dan instead wants Alex to outright convert instead of just hearing them out.

  9. Jim, as far as I know the Pauli Exclusion Principle states that no two electrons in the same atom can have the same energy level (as opposed to no two electrons in the universe). Electrons in different atoms can have the same energy levels. An energy level is essentially just a quantum state between which the electrons can jump.

  10. I noticed that in that Cox guy’s lecture. It was well delivered and it got me thinking about Pauli’s Exclusion in a different way. A way I hadn’t not thought of before. Yes, two electrons can and do occupy the same ‘energy levels’. That’s because their angular momentum is different, helium being the easiest example. Don’t hang him for over simplifying for the masses.
    I watched this on a Saturday. However, do to the principals set forth in the second lecture, it has been proved with empirical evidence that I have watched these videos on a Sunday either in a previous iteration of the universe, at some other location in the multiverse, or if neither of the above is true.. I will for certain watch the above videos on a Sunday at some point in the future.
    Can’t we all get along? The fermions of the religious and those of the atheist are eternally, inescapably yielding to each other politely in their quantum dance. Why can’t self aware lumps of nothing learn to yield to each other politely as well?

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