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On the Origin of the Cosmos
An Interview with Dr. Michael G. Strauss
Associate Professor of Physics, University of Oklahoma

Item# V031
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Dr. Michael Strauss is respected both in the National Laboratories where he conducts research in experimental elementary particle physics, and the university classroom where he has received many teaching awards. In this exclusive interview at UC Santa Barbara, Strauss tackles a number of provocative questions relating to the origins and design of our universe. He relates how the evidence pointing to an expanding universe and a moment of creation troubled many scientists in the Twentieth century. As a result of mounting evidence for the beginning of the universe and the exquisite fine-tuning of natural laws and physical parameters necessary for life, most of these scientists have come to acknowledge a "superintellect" behind it all.

Recorded at the University of California, Santa Barbara, October 2003.
Total program time: 43 minutes.

Interview Questions:

  1. Would you briefly describe your educational and professional background?
  2. How did you develop an interest in the study of physics and cosmology?
  3. What have been the prevailing scientific theories of the origin of the universe?
  4. How did the shift from a steady-state model of the universe to the Big Bang model take place?
  5. Could you discuss some of the submodels of the Big Bang?
  6. What are some of the problems with the oscillating model of the Big Bang?
  7. Would you comment on Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time?
  8. What is your take on the Anthropic Principle?
  9. What lines of evidence are there for an intelligent design of the universe?
  10. Could you give other examples of fine tuning in the universe?
  11. How finely tuned must the subatomic world be?
  12. How do those who do not believe in a designer explain the fine tuning of the cosmos?
  13. What are the strengths of a purely materialistic worldview?
  14. What are some of the weaknesses of a purely materialistic worldview?
  15. Can a materialistic worldview distort scientific inquiry?
  16. How did the Christian worldview play a role in the rise of modern science?
  17. In his book, God and the Astronomers, Robert Jastrow, a self-proclaimed agnostic wrote, "For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries." Would you comment on Jastrow's thoughts?
  18. Paul Davies has moved from promoting atheism to conceding that "the laws [of physics] ? seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design" (Superforce, p. 243). He further testifies, "There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all ? it seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature's numbers to make the Universe ? The impression of design is overwhelming" (The Cosmic Blueprint, p. 203). Would you comment on Davies' conclusions?
  19. Please comment on the following statement by Allan Sandage: "We can't understand the universe in any clear way without the supernatural."
  20. Please comment on these remarks by Albert Einstein: "The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation ? His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."
  21. Please comment on the following remarks by Sir Fred Hoyle: "A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question."
  22. Where did the idea originate that Christianity and science are in conflict? How many universes would be required to make our finely tuned universe plausible by chance? So why isn't a multiverse theory scientific? Does the multi-universe theory tell us more about the objective reality or subjective belief? Does it tell us more about a person's mind or heart?

About Michael G. Strauss

Dr. Strauss is currently an Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He conducts research in experimental elementary particle physics at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, where he studies the fundamental particles and forces in the universe. His most recent research has focused on studying the quarks and gluons that make up the internal structure of the proton.

With an interest in science and theology, Dr. Strauss attended Biola University where he studied both subjects in detail. After graduating summa cum laude from Biola, he pursued a graduate degree in physics at UCLA. As a graduate student he was fascinated with quantum mechanics and subatomic physics, so he joined a High Energy Physics experimental group doing research at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). At SLAC, he measured the polarization of particles produced in quark fragmentation, and graduated from UCLA in 1988 with his Ph.D. in elementary particle physics.

Dr. Strauss continued to do research at SLAC as a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His research interests centered on using the SLD silicon pixel vertex detector to tag heavy quark flavors while studying Quantum Chromodynamics.

In 1995, he joined the faculty in the department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Oklahoma. He has primarily taught introductory physics classes to engineers, life science majors, and physics majors. Dr. Strauss has received a number of teaching awards including the Associated Students' Outstanding Professor in the College of Arts and Science, the BP AMOCA Foundation Good Teaching Award, and the Regents Award for Superior Teaching. He currently conducts research in experimental elementary particle physics at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, where he studies fundamental particles and forces in the universe, such as the quarks and gluon that make up the internal structure of the proton.

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