Rod Dreher

Astrophysicist Brian Greene talks with an Atlantic correspondent about his work with composer Philip Glass on “Icarus At the Edge of Time,” a re-imagining of the Icarus myth. The work debuts this week at the World Science Festival in NYC. Excerpt:

Why did you think it was important to recast the Icarus story?
Two reasons, really. The first is when I first was introduced to Icarus as a kid, the story always bothered me. Here you have a young boy. He goes against authority, he does what he’s not supposed to do, and what does he get for it? He pays with his life for it. Whereas when I got older–and even intuitively when I was young–it was so clear to me that the way you change the world, the way you make great discoveries is by doing just that: by not doing what you’re told, by going against perceived wisdom, by going against authority.
And that’s what makes a great scientist. It’s not that you pay for such revolutionary acts with your life, but you do however sometimes change the world in a very traumatic way, and you may have to cope with a very unfamiliar reality based on your own exploration. And indeed, that’s what happens in the story. He has to cope with a new reality, and that ends up being a wonderful, more accurate reflection what discovery is all about.

Greene goes on to say that he thinks science and religion can co-exist, though he himself is not a believer, because there are some questions science just can’t answer — and because he doesn’t find those questions personally compelling is no reason to tell others they must share his disinterest. Excerpt:

For some of those very deep questions, I can go back and it’s very clear I can’t answer them, and for some people that’s not really enough. And that’s ok with me. The fact that I don’t have any particular need for religion doesn’t mean that I have a need to cast religion aside the way some of my colleagues do.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus