A new season of the Science Channel’s Through the Wormhole started this week with an interesting question: is our world the only one in the universe that believes in God, and is it possible aliens who are more advanced than humans do not need religion? Morgan Freeman, who did play God in a couple of movies, helped tackle these questions through several experiments that shows how religion affects our lives and how technology may change our attitude towards the need for God.
The show takes on several different philosophies. From the idea of a divine mind creating the universe and using religion to teach people about self-control, to whether science and technology can explain everything, or even create artificial intelligence that asks the same religious questions we do.
The discussions use very interesting experiments. One involves asking young children why pointy rocks or still ponds exist, and how their answers suggest everything exists for a reason. Another one shows that there is a tipping point where the majority of a belief will overcome another, and it’s done by someone who tries to order a hot dog by using an ancient Incan language rather than English. That experiment, which claims that a majority in several countries won’t be affiliated with a religion by the year 2050, isn’t really convincing. Religion is trying to keep its influence in America, especially in the thorny issues of health care, abortion and gay rights.
The episode keeps arguing that maybe aliens in other worlds may not need to worship a God because they’re more technologically advanced than we are, and use science to answer their need to determine why they exist. There’s also a discussion about whether artificial intelligence will lead to robots who will ask questions about their existence.
The final segment, however, argues that no one, whether from Earth or alien worlds, will be able to know everything. That’s illustrated through a hypothetical truth machine and Russian nesting dolls.
Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole airs Wednesdays at 10 PM Eastern and Pacific on the Science Channel.
Nice review. Overall, I liked the episode. But, like so many of this stripe, ITWwMF tends to get a bit dodgy when they take on religious concepts; not quite embracing them, yet not willing to wholly debunk them, either. Also, I got annoyed at the insistence on referring to “God”, as if humanity has only ever cooked up one, and by extension, if space aliens have religion, it must involve worshiping that very same example, as well. Seemed awfully naive and parochial.