Professor Michio Kaku, author of the new book, The God Equation, was interviewed by The Guardian on his thoughts about string theory ("The universe in some sense is like a chess game and for 2,000 years we've been trying to figure out how the pawns move."), Isaac Newton ( "A person like that comes along once every several centuries."), extraterrestrial life, and religion.
From the Interview:
You believe that within a century we will make contact with an alien civilisation. Are you worried about what they may entail?
Soon we'll have the Webb telescope up in orbit and we'll have thousands of planets to look at, and that's why I think the chances are quite high that we may make contact with an alien civilisation. There are some colleagues of mine that believe we should reach out to them. I think that's a terrible idea. We all know what happened to Montezuma when he met Cortés in Mexico so many hundreds of years ago. Now, personally, I think that aliens out there would be friendly but we can't gamble on it. So I think we will make contact but we should do it very carefully.
You describe yourself as an agnostic. Has your research led you closer or further away from the idea of a designer God?
Stephen Hawking said that he didn't believe in God because the big bang happened instantly and there was no time for God to create a universe, therefore God couldn't exist. I have a different point of view. My parents were Buddhists and in Buddhism there is Nirvana, timelessness, no beginning and no end. But my parents put me in a Presbyterian church, so I went to Sunday school every week and learned about Genesis and how the universe was created in seven days. Now with the multiverse idea we can meld these two diametrically opposed paradigms together. According to string theory, big bangs are happening all the time. Even as we speak, Genesis is taking place somewhere in the cosmos. And what is the universe expanding into? Nirvana. Eleven-dimensional hyperspace is Nirvana. So you can have Buddhism and Judeo-Christian philosophy in one theory.