Physics reveals more about the nature of reality each year. But when the media reports science, its spiritual implications are often played down, or used to crudely--and incorrectly--argue that science and religion are necessarily in conflict. This is not only untrue, it is dangerous, given the direction of cutting-edge research. This project will bring some of the boldest ideas in astronomy, cosmology, and particle physics to the public. It will do this through both a popular science book (due to be published by Basic Books, in 2016), which will address some of humanity’s deepest metaphysical concerns, and through an interactive website designed to actively engage users with the Big Questions raised, long after reading the book.

The book, “Universe 2.0,” directly tackles the hubristic claim made by world-renowned physicists that humans could soon make a “baby universe” in a particle accelerator, such as the LHC. Divorced from our spacetime, this baby universe could host habitable planets and evolve intelligent life. This scientific topic has never been the sole focus of a book, and its religious and ethical implications have not been directly studied by qualified theologians and philosophers. My book will bring experts from these disciplines together to discuss these issues--and present their conclusions to the public.

A JTF grant would support travel to visit scientists at the forefront of this research, theologians able to analyze its religious consequences, and laboratories with relevant experiments. To maximize the book’s impact--and, in turn, the reach of the Big Questions addressed--the bulk of the grant will be used to develop a web-based interactive resource, so that the widest possible audience can debate the questions posed: What is the origin of our universe? Could humans become “gods” and create a cosmos, complete with life? And what are the ethical implications for our civilization, if we are now seriously contemplating wielding such power?