Does God exist? - Religion - Salon.com by Alan Lightman "Ten years ago, I began attending monthly meetings of a small group of scientists, actors and playwrights in a carpeted seminar room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Our raison d’être, broadly speaking, has been an exploration of how science and art affect one another. As we drink merlot and munch on goat cheese and crackers, with the late afternoon sun draining from the room, we discuss topics ranging from the history of scientific discovery to the nature of the creative process to the way that an actor connects to an audience to the latest theater in New York and Boston. Our salon works because we never have an agenda. At the beginning of each session, one of us will begin talking about some random idea, another person will chime in or change the subject, and miraculously, after 20 minutes, we find that we have zeroed in on a question that everyone is passionate about. "What continues to astonish me is the frequency with which religion slips into the room, unbidden but persistent. One member of our group, playwright and director Alan Brody, offers this explanation: “Theater has always been about religion. I am talking about the beliefs that we live by. And science is the religion of the twenty-first century.” "But if science is the religion of the 21st century, why do we still seriously discuss heaven and hell, life after death, and the manifestations of God? Physicist Alan Guth, another member of our salon, pioneered the Inflation version of the Big Bang theory and has helped extend the scientific understanding of the infant universe back to a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after t = 0. Another member, biologist Nancy Hopkins, manipulates the DNA of organisms to study how genes control the development and growth of living creatures. Hasn’t modern science now pushed God into such a tiny corner that He or She or It no longer has any room to operate — or perhaps has been rendered irrelevant altogether? Not according to surveys showing that more than three-quarters of Americans believe in miracles, eternal souls and God. Despite the recent spate of books and pronouncements by prominent atheists, religion remains, along with science, one of the dominant forces that shape our civilization. And our little group of scientists and artists finds itself fascinated with these contrasting beliefs, fascinated with different ways of understanding the world. And fascinated by how science and religion can coexist in our minds."