On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:
…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975
and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.
I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:
Arif Ahmed, Sir David Attenborough, Mark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael Bate, Patricia Churchland, Aaron Ciechanover, Noam Chomsky,Alan Dershowitz, Hubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan Feuchtwang, David Friend, Riccardo Giacconi, Ivar Giaever , Roy Glauber, Rebecca Goldstein, David J. Gross, Brian Greene, Susan Greenfield, Stephen F Gudeman, Alan Guth, Jonathan Haidt, Theodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison, Hermann Hauser, Roald Hoffmann, Bruce Hood, Herbert Huppert, Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve Jones, Shelly Kagan, Michio Kaku, Stuart Kauffman, Lawrence Krauss, Harry Kroto, George Lakoff, Elizabeth Loftus, Alan Macfarlane, Peter Millican, Marvin Minsky, Leonard Mlodinow, Yujin Nagasawa, Alva Noe, Douglas Osheroff, Jonathan Parry, Saul Perlmutter, Herman Philipse, Carolyn Porco, Robert M. Price, Lisa Randall, Lord Martin Rees, Oliver Sacks, John Searle, Marcus du Sautoy, Simon Schaffer, J. L. Schellenberg, Lee Silver, Peter Singer, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Ronald de Sousa, Victor Stenger, Barry Supple, Leonard Susskind, Raymond Tallis, Neil deGrasse Tyson, .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John Walker, Frank Wilczek, Steven Weinberg, and Lewis Wolpert,
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|Born||1942 (age 73–74)|
Michael Mann (born 1942) is a British-born professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Visiting Research Professor at Queen’s University Belfast. Mann holds dual British and United States citizenships. He received his B.A. in Modern History from the University of Oxford in 1963 and his D.Phil. in Sociology from the same institution in 1971. Mann is currently visiting Professor at the University of Cambridge.
Mann has been a professor of Sociology at UCLA since 1987; he was lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex after graduation. Then became reader in Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science from 1977 to 1987. Mann was also a member of the Advisory Editors Council of the Social Evolution & History journal.
In 1984, Mann published The Autonomous Power of the State: its Origins, Mechanisms, and Results in the European Journal of Sociology, the foundation for the study of the despotic and bureaucratic power of the modern state.
Mann’s most famous works include the monumental The Sources of Social Power (four volumes) and The Dark Side of Democracy, spanning the entire 20th century. He also published Incoherent Empire, where he attacks the United States’ ‘War on Terror‘ as a clumsy experiment in neo-imperialism.
The last two volumes of The Sources of Social Power – Global Empires and Revolution 1890-1945 and Globalizations 1945-2011, were published by CUP in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Mann’s work has been subject of several books including J.A. Hall and R. Schroder (eds). The Anatomy of Power: Social Theory of Michael Mann (Cambridge UP, 2006) and R. Schroder (ed) Global Powers: Michael Mann’s Anatomy of 20th century and Beyond (Cambridge UP, 2016).
The Providential Scholar
Sociology Professor Michael Mann studies the power structure of old empires and the behavior of nation-states. So why is his influential new book about U.S. policy today?
By Matt Welch
Photography by Joel Lipton
“Life,” John Lennon wrote, “is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”
For Lennon’s Northern England contemporary Michael Mann, this quip’s no joke; it’s a way of life. Mann wouldn’t be teaching at UCLA at all (and probably wouldn’t be an American citizen) if he hadn’t been busy making other plans in 1986 to promote his groundbreaking study of empires,The Sources of Social Power; and he was in the middle of not one but two book-series projects when life happened in a very big way on September 11, 2001, unleashing events that have dragged this globally recognized practitioner of “comparative sociology” from the relative gentility of historical analysis to the crossfire of Fox News.
In his early 60s, an age when other professors might be busy making plans to retire or at least slow down, Mann is working at a frenetic rate. This spring alone, the sociologist was busy talking up his October 2003 critique of current U.S. foreign policy, Incoherent Empire (which won him Germany’s prestigious Friedrich Ebert Foundation award in May), overseeing the July publication of the six-country study Fascists, and preparing yet a third book for release in September, called The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing. It is no wonder that the slim, bright-eyed and mustachioed Brit is currently — and finally — on sabbatical from teaching.
“I’ve never worked as hard in my life,” he says with a weary smile. “This came up all of a sudden; I certainly didn’t plan it this way.”
In the third video below in the 108th clip in this series are his words and my response is below them.
50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)
Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)
A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)
Interview of the sociologist Michael Mann
Below is a letter I wrote to Dr. Mann and in the letter I respond to his quote:
December 25, 2014
Dr. Michael Mann, c/o Dept of Sociology, UCLA,
Dear Dr. Mann,
I ran across this quote from you and it prompted me to write you. “My mother was a very loving, warm person who I remember her getting extremely unhappy when I told her at the age of 13 I was an atheist but she was the core of the family, but in terms of intellectual life my father in some ways he was a highly intelligent man and he did become quite successful in business but he would have quite liked the intellectual life as well. So there were books in the house and education was always encouraged.”
I have taken a look at the lives of many atheists and I still find that they have this longing from inside to find God. Let me present you with some evidence that God exists and also discuss some of these atheists that am talking about.
I wanted to write you today for two reasons. First, I wanted to make some observations about the life of Carl Sagan and I would love to hear your thoughts on his life too. Second, I wanted to point out some scientific evidence that caused Antony Flew to switch from an atheist (as you are now) to a theist. Twenty years I had the opportunity to correspond with two individuals that were regarded as two of the most famous atheists of the 20th Century, Antony Flew and Carl Sagan. (I have enclosed some of those letters between us.) I had read the books and seen the films of the Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer and he had discussed the works of both of these men. I sent both of these gentlemen philosophical arguments from Schaeffer in these letters and in the first letter I sent a cassette tape of my pastor’s sermon IS THE BIBLE TRUE? (CD is enclosed also.) You may have noticed in the news a few years ago that Antony Flew actually became a theist in 2004 and remained one until his death in 2010. Carl Sagan remained a skeptic until his dying day in 1996.
You will notice in the enclosed letter from June 1, 1994 that Dr. Flew commented, “Thank you for sending me the IS THE BIBLE TRUE? tape to which I have just listened with great interest and, I trust, profit.” It would be a great honor for me if you would take time and drop me a note and let me know what your reaction is to this same message.
On December 5, 1995, I got a letter back from Carl Sagan and I was very impressed that he took time to answer several of my questions and to respond to some of the points that I had made in my previous letters. I had been reading lots of his books and watching him on TV since 1980 and my writing today is a result of that correspondence. It is my conclusion that Carl Sagan died an unfulfilled man on December 20, 1996 with many of the big questions he had going unanswered.
Much of Carl Sagan’s aspirations and thoughts were revealed to a mass audience of movie goers just a few months after his death. The movie “CONTACT” with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey is a fictional story written by Sagan about the SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE (SETI). Sagan visited the set while it was filming and it was released on July 11, 1997 after his unfortunate death.
The movie CONTACT got me thinking about Sagan’s life long hope to find a higher life form out in the universe and I was reminded of Dr. Donald E. Tarter of NASA who wrote me in a letter a year or so earlier and stated, “I am not a theist. I simply and honestly do not know the answer to the great questions…This brings me to why I am interested in the SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE (SETI)…Let me assure you, one of the first questions I would want to ask another intelligence if one were discovered is, DO YOU BELIEVE IN OR HAVE EVIDENCE OF A SUPREME INTELLIGENCE?”
Was Sagan ever satisfied with the answers he came up with in his life? It is my view that true peace and satisfaction can come from a personal relationship with Christ and only in the Bible can we find absolute answers that touch this world we live in. The Apostle Paul was totally content when he wrote the book of Philippians from a jail in Rome right before he was beheaded (according to tradition). Paul observed, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). On March 11, 2012 my pastor Brandon Bernard at Fellowship Church Little Rock read that scripture and then commented:
Paul is reminding us that in every circumstance and in everything he has gone through that his satisfaction is found deeply in Christ. You think about this guy who is writing from prison. He is in this prison cell and it is a hardship in his life, but him of all people is saying that “I am writing to you but I am content and I am satisfied.” That is a statement you don’t hear from a lot of people these days… A lot of people are discontent and dissatisfied… Think about the poets from your generation or the generation before us. How about the deep theologians called “The Rolling Stones.” Remember them. They wrote this song “I can’t get no satisfaction.” And you know what they say after that phrase? “And I try and I try and I try.” I am not sure how deep most of their lyrics are, but they voice the cry of many people. “I can’t get no satisfaction and I try and I am trying and I am trying.”
What about one of those other poets by the name of Bono who wrote a song called, “I still haven’t found what I am looking for.” It is interesting. “I still haven’t found what I am looking for.” It has a nice melody to it but there is probably a reason why it is so popular because there is a lot of people deep down in their soul feel like they haven’t found what they are looking for. It is true. What is so funny to me is that what is so desired is so elusive.
Rice Broocks in his book GOD’S NOT DEAD noted:
Astronomer Carl Sagan was a prolific writer and trustee of the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) founded in 1984 to scan the universe for any signs of life beyond earth. Sagan’s best-selling work COSMOS also became an award-winning television series explaining the wonders of the universe and exporting the belief not in an intelligent Creator but in potential intelligent aliens. He believed somehow that by knowing who they are, we would discover who we as humans really are. “The very thought of there being other beings different from all of us can have a very useful cohering role for the human species” (quoted from you tube clip “Carl Sagan appears on CBC to discuss the importance of SETI [Carl Sagan Archives]” at the 7 minute mark, Oct 1988 ). Sagan reasoning? If aliens could have contacted us, knowing how impossible it is for us to reach them, they would have the answers we seek to our ultimate questions. This thought process shows the desperate need we have as humans for answers to the great questions of our existence. Does life have any ultimate meaning and purpose? Do we as humans have any more value than the other animals? Is there a purpose to the universe, or more specifically, to our individual lives?
Carl Sagan had to live in the world that God made with the conscience that God gave him. This created a tension. As you know the movie CONTACT was written by Carl Sagan and it was about Dr. Arroway’s SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE (SETI) program and her desire to make contact with aliens and ask them questions. It is my view that Sagan should have examined more closely the accuracy of the Bible and it’s fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament in particular before chasing after aliens from other planets for answers. Sagan himself had written,”Plainly, there’s something within me that’s ready to believe in life after death…If some good evidence for life after death was announced, I’d be eager to examine it; but it would have to be real scientific data, not mere antedote”(pp 203-204, The DemonHaunted World, 1995).
Sagan said he had taken a look at Old Testament prophecy and it did not impress him because it was too vague. He had taken a look at Christ’s life in the gospels, but said it was unrealistic for God to send a man to communicate for God. Instead, Sagan suggested that God could have written a mathematical formula in the Bible or put a cross in the sky. However, what happens at the conclusion of the movie CONTACT? This is Sagan’s last message to the world in the form of the movie that appeared shortly after his death. Dr Arroway (Jodie Foster) who is a young atheistic scientist who meets with an alien and this alien takes the form of Dr. Arroway’s father. The alien tells her that they thought this would make it easier for her. In fact, he meets her on a beach that resembles a beach that she grew up near so she would also be comfortable with the surroundings. Carl Sagan when writing this script chose to put the alien in human form so Dr. Arroway could relate to the alien. Christ chose to take our form and come into our world too and still many make up excuses for not believing.
Lastly, Carl Sagan could not rid himself of the “mannishness of man.” Those who have read Francis Schaeffer’s many books know exactly what I am talking about. We are made in God’s image and we are living in God’s world. Therefore, we can not totally suppress the objective truths of our unique humanity. In my letter of Jan 10, 1996 to Dr. Sagan, I really camped out on this point a long time because I had read Sagan’s book SHADOWS OF FORGOTTON ANCESTORS and in it Sagan attempts to totally debunk the idea that we are any way special. However, what does Dr. Sagan have Dr. Arroway say at the end of the movie CONTACT when she is testifying before Congress about the alien that communicated with her? See if you can pick out the one illogical word in her statement: “I was given a vision how tiny, insignificant, rare and precious we all are. We belong to something that is greater than ourselves and none of us are alone.”
Dr Sagan deep down knows that we are special so he could not avoid putting the word “precious” in there. Francis Schaeffer said unbelievers are put in a place of tension when they have to live in the world that God has made because deep down they know they are special because God has put that knowledge in their hearts.We are not the result of survival of the fittest and headed back to the dirt forevermore. This is what Schaeffer calls “taking the roof off” of the unbeliever’s worldview and showing the inconsistency that exists.
In several of my letters to Sagan I quoted this passage below:
Romans 1:17-22 (Amplified Bible)
17For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.18For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. 19For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. 20For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],21Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and [a]godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].
Can a man or a woman find lasting meaning without God? Three thousand years ago, Solomon took a look at life “under the sun” in his book of Ecclesiastes. Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.”
Let me show you some inescapable conclusions if you choose to live without God in the picture. Solomon came to these same conclusions when he looked at life “under the sun.”
- Death is the great equalizer (Eccl 3:20, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”)
- Chance and time have determined the past, and they will determine the future. (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13 “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.”)
- Power reigns in this life, and the scales are not balanced(Eccl 4:1; “Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors— and they have no comforter.” 7:15 “In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness. ).
- Nothing in life gives true satisfaction without God including knowledge (1:16-18), ladies and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and great building projects (2:4-6, 18-20).
- There is no ultimate lasting meaning in life. (1:2)
By the way, the final chapter of Ecclesiastes finishes with Solomon emphasizing that serving God is the only proper response of man. Solomon looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture in the final chapter of the book in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “ Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted. In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me that Kerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had and that “all was meaningless.” I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that.
Livgren wrote, “All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”
Both Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. Hope is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.
Thank you again for your time and I know how busy you are.