Postponed: Science and the Humanities With Alan Lightman and Friends

Co-hosting this Saturday (10 October) will be Alan Lightman, discussing with philosophers Rebecca Goldstein and Edward Hall what separates science from the humanities. For example, what would it take to convince a scientist that a phenomenon was actually a miracle?

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this episode has been postponed and will be rescheduled. Our apologies.

In this discussion with philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein, philosopher of science Edward Hall (Harvard), and physicist and novelist Alan Lightman (MIT), we will consider the question of the role of experiment in science and how that feature separates science from the humanities. We will also discuss the strong commitment of scientists to a completely lawful universe.

This latter issue could be framed as a question: What would it take to convince a scientist that some phenomenon was a miracle — that is, could not be explained, even in principle, to lie within the laws of nature?

For most scientists, the answer is NOTHING. Yet surveys repeatedly show that 75% of the American public believes in miracles. Why this marked discrepancy between the beliefs of scientists and nonscientists?


  • Alan Lightman is a novelist, essayist, physicist, and educator. Currently, he is Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Until 2003, he was John Burchard Professor of the Humanities at MIT.
  • Rebecca Newberger Goldstein is an American philosopher, novelist and public intellectual. She has written ten books, both fiction and nonfiction.
  • Edward J. Hall, also known as Ned Hall, is an American philosopher and Norman E. Vuilleumier Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. He is known for his expertise on philosophy of science and epistemology.

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