03 September 2010

"Those deepest of questions"

Politics, schmolitics. For me, the big news of the week was this.

Why is there a universe -- why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? Why are the laws of nature what they are? Did the universe need a designer and creator?

These questions are often rhetorically tossed into the air by the anti-evolution ignorantsia (who don't even seem to realize that the origin of life and the origin of the universe are two completely separate questions), but when Stephen Hawking spends four years writing a book about them, you can be sure that you're going to get substance, not confusion. It comes out Tuesday -- I'll be at the bookstore that same day.


Blogger Leah said...

I remember how proud I was when I learned that I have the same birthday at Stephen Hawking. :-)

Looking forward to the book.

03 September, 2010 04:52  
Blogger Silverfiddle said...

I saw that his new book is coming out. It should spur some good thought.

In "The History of Time" he did not discount a God or Clockmaker. He has shifted somewhat more towards your position, according to the article I read.

He still does not discount some "force," but I'm interested in how he addresses primum movens.

He is one smart dude.

03 September, 2010 04:58  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I saw this yesterday and can't wait to read it. Indeed, those are the most profound questions. When I was a kid a friend and I used to shut our eyes real tight and say to each other "Imagine that once there was no time there was no space, there was nothing--nothing."

I tried to imagine what that would be like. Alas, my poor limited brain could not. Perhaps our brains--mine anyway--is not capable of such an abstract idea, just like I cannot imagine 16 dimensions, or multi-universes, a singularity, or vibrating strings.

These are real mysteries and exciting subjects to contemplate.

As for Hawking's comment on the universe not needing a creator--that'll be what the chattering classes will choose to highlight out of all the other fascinating material in the book.

I've always said that science allows me to see the universe as astonishing and wonderous, whereas religion always made it appear small and mean.

No god that I've ever read about ever helped me apprehend the extraordinary world that science continuously reveals to me.

03 September, 2010 06:20  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Thanx for the info Guy!

03 September, 2010 09:18  
Blogger B.J. said...

The discovery of another planet orbiting another star:

"That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions -- the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass, far less remarkable, and far less compelling evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings," Hawking writes.

Still, I find rainbow, mountin clouds, butterflies, the taste of raw oysters, constellations and all the sea creatures Jules Verne described in “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” pleasing.


03 September, 2010 10:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hawking: No need for God to explain the creation of the universe


03 September, 2010 11:14  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thanks all!

Leah, hopefully you'll review it on your blog.

Shaw: Our brains evolved to cope with a particular environment which posed a limited range of problems, and it's not surprising that they have trouble imagining phenomena and situations completely alien to that environment. In fact, it's remarkable that the brain can deal with abstractions as well as it can.

BJ: More than 100 planets of other stars are now known, but none seems remotely hospitable to any kind of life.

It now seems most likely that the appearance of life on a planet is a very rare and unlikely event, and its elaboration into complex life such as we see on Earth is even vastly more so. But in a universe with something on the order of 100 billion billion planets, it's no longer surprising that even something so fantastically unlikely could have happened on one of those planets, namely Earth. I think that's Hawking's point.

03 September, 2010 12:39  
Blogger Pamela D. Hart said...

My husband, sons and I have these conversations quite frequently and they normally end with me saying something like, “Stop it, my head’s ready to explode!” Like Shaw, I have tried to imagine “nothing” but have received a headache rather than answers.

I’m going to purchase Hawking’s book too. Maybe when we’re all done reading the book we can give our “reviews”.

03 September, 2010 13:21  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Catsden: Good link, thanks.

Pamela: I think a range of reviews would be a good idea.

03 September, 2010 17:12  
Blogger B.J. said...

Many years ago I read that man only uses about five percent of his brain’s capacity. That would put us in a range between pseudo-intellectual and garden slug.

Will life “more complex” continue to evolve on Earth? Good question. In our own little tick of the time clock, it seems to me a reversal is occurring.


04 September, 2010 15:09  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I read that man only uses about five percent of his brain’s capacity.

This is a common belief -- or perhaps I should say cliché -- but it is without any foundation in reality. All of the brain is being used, even if in some cases we can't yet figure out exactly how.

But, yes, within thirty years or so, mind-machine integration will enable us to increase our intelligence to trillions of times its present level. And then real thought and real history will begin.

04 September, 2010 16:14  

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