Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Theology, Religious Studies, religion, god, faith and other topics of a spiritual nature.

Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Marshall on September 2nd, 2010, 10:19 pm 

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmi ... d-for-all/

Hawking's new book goes on sale 7 September but advance orders have already made it #9 bestseller today among all Amazon books.

Blogger Sean Carroll, a Caltech research associate, is already commenting on Hawking's book. Hawking used the help of another Caltech guy, Leonard Mlodinow, as a co-author. Sean has probably seen an advance copy.
Sean has this 3 minute video, at that link. You can watch what he has to say. I don't have the greatest confidence in Sean, he's media-crazy, but he's obviously a smart guy.

Come to think of it, despite great differences, there are character analogies between Sean and Stephen. I won't elaborate. Sean calls his 3 minute video book review this:
"Stephen Hawking Settles the God Question Once and For All"

Of course it is tongue in cheek. But he has a serious point he wants to make about the question
"Why is there something?"
He wants to argue about whether the question "Why does existence exist?" can be addressed within the context of empirical science.

As an afterthought, I'm really not such a fan of Sean Carroll, and Amazon has a two paragraph quote direct from Stephen Hawking. So you might prefer to read that instead.
http://www.amazon.com/Grand-Design-Step ... 553805371/

Stephen Hawking on The Grand Design:

==quote==
How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? Over twenty years ago I wrote A Brief History of Time, to try to explain where the universe came from, and where it is going. But that book left some important questions unanswered. 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?

It was Einstein’s dream to discover the grand design of the universe, a single theory that explains everything. However, physicists in Einstein’s day hadn’t made enough progress in understanding the forces of nature for that to be a realistic goal. And by the time I had begun writing A Brief History of Time, there were still several key advances that had not yet been made that would prevent us from fulfilling Einstein’s dream. But in recent years the development of M-theory, the top-down approach to cosmology, and new observations such as those made by satellites like NASA’s COBE and WMAP, have brought us closer than ever to that single theory, and to being able to answer those deepest of questions. And so Leonard Mlodinow and I set out to write a sequel to A Brief History of Time to attempt to answer the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. The result is The Grand Design, the product of our four-year effort.

In The Grand Design we explain why, according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence, or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. We question the conventional concept of reality, posing instead a "model-dependent" theory of reality. We discuss how the laws of our particular universe are extraordinarily finely tuned so as to allow for our existence, and show why quantum theory predicts the multiverse--the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature. And we assess M-Theory, an explanation of the laws governing the multiverse, and the only viable candidate for a complete "theory of everything." As we promise in our opening chapter, unlike the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life given in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the answer we provide in The Grand Design is not, simply, "42."

==endquote==
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Sisyphus on September 3rd, 2010, 12:14 am 

Multiverse? Really? I wonder what's on page 42...
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Marshall on September 3rd, 2010, 1:19 am 

Sisyphus wrote:Multiverse? Really? I wonder what's on page 42...


Yes really. Here's what it says in Hawking's own blurb:
"...quantum theory predicts the multiverse--the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature. And we assess M-Theory, an explanation of the laws governing the multiverse, and the only viable candidate for a complete "theory of everything."..."

How do you make a Yuk emoticon? Sounds like a Mighty Potboiler, the very Juggernaut of Hype. But I haven't seen the actual book--we'll just have to see how this plays out.

EDIT: I just checked the Amazon page again and it was #1 among all Amazon books. THE Best Seller.
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Paul Anthony on September 4th, 2010, 12:48 am 

Well.....

So was the Bible.

People will believe almost anything they can read.
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Lincoln on September 9th, 2010, 3:00 pm 

Or, if previous experience with Hawking's writing can be generalized, they will also believe anything they can't read.

Hawking's books are painful.
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby shadypops on September 10th, 2010, 11:38 am 

Im not a physicist, i would guess that some of you are? I dont fully understand physics but i still attempt to grapple with the concepts. Is what he suggests really that far off the mark? If so, why?
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Marshall on September 10th, 2010, 1:20 pm 

Lincoln wrote:...
Hawking's books are painful.


I guess they would be if you tried to read them as science, rather than as the un-nameable monstrous whatever-it-is they actually are: speculative tease, provocative posing, pontification, Godmongering, pseudo-science reaching out to pseudo-philosophy, exploitation, pandering?

He has uncanny talent for the sci-porn potboiler.

If you have actually read through his popular books, I can only salute such stoic determination.
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Lincoln on September 10th, 2010, 1:29 pm 

Not all of them. After a few....well, if it hurts when you do that, don't do that.

But I don't mind the sci-porn potboiler as you call it. Not at all. After all, that kind of crap drew me to science. It took a couple of good slaps to get me to realize what that sort of stuff is, but it has value.

My >>real<< problem is that his books are such god-awful popularizations. If he wasn't stuck in that wheelchair, I don't think he'd publish anything popular. Oh..maybe...the Lucasian Chair means something. But there are much better popularizers out there.
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby alpha_3 on September 10th, 2010, 1:44 pm 

Marshall, I think you exaggerate...he has after all made a kind of serious work on black holes- if I am right. But his ideas are extreme for science- I remind you the "mechanical evolution" stuff.

I have not yet red the new book-he seems to be trying to solve in terms of popular science all the problems of physics so far?-If its so it's bad, too bad...
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Marshall on September 10th, 2010, 2:02 pm 

Alpha, you didn't understand what I was saying. I have always had highest admiration for Hawking's real scientific work (most dates before 1985) and great respect for him as a scientist.

It is true that his post-1985 ideas on quantum gravity and cosmology have not enjoyed continued success with his younger colleagues. His Euclidean Quantum Gravity pretty much bombed and his No-Boundary proposal seems to have been a dud. These were not as successful and the BLACK HOLE contributions of, say, pre-1985, actually mainly 1970s. But that's not to be critical. As a whole, his lifetime scientific contribution is major, if not awesome.

That has nothing to do with the spectacle of his potboiler books and media attention-grabs in his old age. I am talking about NOW. You suggest I exaggerate?

I see your point, Lincoln. Sci-porn helps stimulate the adolescent brain and bring youngsters into science. It can have real value, especially if well done. I guess I would say too, if it has a kind of basic honesty. If it owns up to the need for step-by-step pay-as-you-go empiricism so that the young readers come out scientists instead of self-indulgent fantasy-adicts.
So often when people show up at a science forum fresh from BRIAN GREENE or Hawking books they turn out to be bad news, damaged goods somehow. Permanently unrealistic expectations about what science is supposed to be like. Peace. I will put off such dour gloom and be cheerful:

Since we are talking about Hokum and Bloody-guff, here is an article in the WSJ presented as an excerpt from their book! Folks may wish to comment. Favorable comments or un- are equally welcome.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 24244.html

==quote Hawking and Mlodinow excerpt==
Newton believed that our strangely habitable solar system did not "arise out of chaos by the mere laws of nature." Instead, he maintained that the order in the universe was "created by God at first and conserved by him to this Day in the same state and condition." The discovery recently of the extreme fine-tuning of so many laws of nature could lead some back to the idea that this grand design is the work of some grand Designer. Yet the latest advances in cosmology explain why the laws of the universe seem tailor-made for humans, without the need for a benevolent creator.

Many improbable occurrences conspired to create Earth's human-friendly design, and they would indeed be puzzling if ours were the only solar system in the universe. But today we know of hundreds of other solar systems, and few doubt that there exist countless more among the billions of stars in our galaxy. Planets of all sorts exist, and obviously, when the beings on a planet that supports life examine the world around them, they are bound to find that their environment satisfies the conditions they require to exist.

It is possible to turn that last statement into a scientific principle: The fact of our being restricts the characteristics of the kind of environment in which we find ourselves. For example, if we did not know the distance from the Earth to the sun, the fact that beings like us exist would allow us to put bounds on how small or great the Earth-sun separation could be. We need liquid water to exist, and if the Earth were too close, it would all boil off; if it were too far, it would freeze. That principle is called the "weak" anthropic principle.

The weak anthropic principle is not very controversial. But there is a stronger form that is regarded with disdain among some physicists. The strong anthropic principle suggests that the fact that we exist imposes constraints, not just on our environment, but on the possible form and content of the laws of nature themselves.

The idea arose because it is not only the peculiar characteristics of our solar system that seem oddly conducive to the development of human life, but also the characteristics of our entire universe—and its laws. They appear to have a design that is both tailor-made to support us and, if we are to exist, leaves little room for alteration. That is much more difficult to explain.

The tale of how the primordial universe of hydrogen, helium and a bit of lithium evolved to a universe harboring at least one world with intelligent life like us is a tale of many chapters. The forces of nature had to be such that heavier elements—especially carbon—could be produced from the primordial elements, and remain stable for at least billions of years. Those heavy elements were formed in the furnaces we call stars, so the forces first had to allow stars and galaxies to form. Those in turn grew from the seeds of tiny inhomogeneities in the early universe.

Even all that is not enough: The dynamics of the stars had to be such that some would eventually explode, precisely in a way that could disperse the heavier elements through space. In addition, the laws of nature had to dictate that those remnants could recondense into a new generation of stars, these surrounded by planets incorporating the newly formed heavy elements.

By examining the model universes we generate when the theories of physics are altered in certain ways, one can study the effect of changes to physical law in a methodical manner. Such calculations show that a change of as little as 0.5% in the strength of the strong nuclear force, or 4% in the electric force, would destroy either nearly all carbon or all oxygen in every star, and hence the possibility of life as we know it. Also, most of the fundamental constants appearing in our theories appear fine-tuned in the sense that if they were altered by only modest amounts, the universe would be qualitatively different, and in many cases unsuitable for the development of life. For example, if protons were 0.2% heavier, they would decay into neutrons, destabilizing atoms.

If one assumes that a few hundred million years in stable orbit is necessary for planetary life to evolve, the number of space dimensions is also fixed by our existence. That is because, according to the laws of gravity, it is only in three dimensions that stable elliptical orbits are possible. In any but three dimensions even a small disturbance, such as that produced by the pull of the other planets, would send a planet off its circular orbit, and cause it to spiral either into or away from the sun.

The emergence of the complex structures capable of supporting intelligent observers seems to be very fragile. The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned. What can we make of these coincidences? Luck in the precise form and nature of fundamental physical law is a different kind of luck from the luck we find in environmental factors. It raises the natural question of why it is that way.

Many people would like us to use these coincidences as evidence of the work of God. The idea that the universe was designed to accommodate mankind appears in theologies and mythologies dating from thousands of years ago. In Western culture the Old Testament contains the idea of providential design, but the traditional Christian viewpoint was also greatly influenced by Aristotle, who believed "in an intelligent natural world that functions according to some deliberate design."

That is not the answer of modern science. As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws. That multiverse idea is not a notion invented to account for the miracle of fine tuning. It is a consequence predicted by many theories in modern cosmology. If it is true it reduces the strong anthropic principle to the weak one, putting the fine tunings of physical law on the same footing as the environmental factors, for it means that our cosmic habitat—now the entire observable universe—is just one of many.

Each universe has many possible histories and many possible states. Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist. Although we are puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in a sense the lords of creation.
==endquote==
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby alpha_3 on September 11th, 2010, 5:37 pm 

I am not sure if the whole thing is just a commercial bubble or he felt the duty to give an answer to his previous uncertainty abour God's interference in the creation of the universe. Is actually a God needed to pull the trigger?

Dawkins, too, did not resist the temptation to write a book on the 'God Delusion" which is unphilosophical and out of topic.

When I see "important" scientists managing so bad the philosophical affairs I smile a bit...not necessarily from pleasure..
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Marshall on September 12th, 2010, 11:32 am 

There is some fine writing in this book. Maybe it's not science, but it is *inspiring* and *elevated* in tone---this is just my superficial first impression---and at least parts could be a fun read. Amazon.co.uk posts this as a free sample. It has overlap with the excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal, but may be worth reading even if it repeats some of what we already saw.

==quote Hawk/Mlod==

Chapter 1 The Mystery of Being.

We each exist for but a short time, and in that
time explore but a small part of the whole universe. But
humans are a curious species. We wonder, we seek answers. Liv-
ing in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at
the immense heavens above, people have always asked a multitude
of questions: How can we understand the world in which we find
ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of
reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a cre-
ator? Most of us do not spend most of our time worrying about
these questions, but almost all of us worry about them some of
the time.

Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philoso-
phy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern develop-
ments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the
bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge. The
purpose of this book is to give the answers that are suggested by
recent discoveries and theoretical advances. They lead us to a new
picture of the universe and our place in it that is very different
from the traditional one, and different even from the picture we
might have painted just a decade or two ago. Still, the first
sketches of the new concept can be traced back almost a century.
According to the traditional conception of the universe, objects
move on well- defined paths and have definite histories. We can
specify their precise position at each moment in time. Although
that account is successful enough for everyday purposes, it was
found in the 1920s that this “classical” picture could not account
for the seemingly bizarre behaviour observed on the atomic and
subatomic scales of existence. Instead it was necessary to adopt a
different framework, called quantum physics. Quantum theories
have turned out to be remarkably accurate at predicting events on
those scales, while also reproducing the predictions of the old
classical theories when applied to the macroscopic world of daily
life. But quantum and classical physics are based on very different
conceptions of physical reality.

Quantum theories can be formulated in many different ways,
but what is probably the most intuitive description was given by
Richard (Dick) Feynman, a colourful character who worked at the
California Institute of Technology and played the bongo drums at
a strip joint down the road. According to Feynman, a system has
not just one history but every possible history. As we seek our an-
swers, we will explain Feynman’s approach in detail, and employ
it to explore the idea that the universe itself has no single history,
nor even an independent existence. That seems like a radical idea,
even to many physicists. Indeed, like many notions in today’s sci-
ence, it appears to violate common sense. But common sense is
based upon everyday experience, not upon the universe as it is re-
vealed through the marvels of technologies such as those that
allow us to gaze deep into the atom or back to the early universe.
Until the advent of modern physics it was generally thought
that all knowledge of the world could be obtained through direct
observation, that things are what they seem, as perceived through
our senses. But the spectacular success of modern physics, which
is based upon concepts such as Feynman’s that clash with every-
day experience, has shown that that is not the case. The naive
view of reality therefore is not compatible with modern physics.
To deal with such paradoxes we shall adopt an approach that we
call model- dependent realism. It is based on the idea that our
brains interpret the input from our sensory organs by making a
model of the world. When such a model is successful at explain-
ing events, we tend to attribute to it, and to the elements and con-
cepts that constitute it, the quality of reality or absolute truth. But
there may be different ways in which one could model the same
physical situation, with each employing different fundamental el-
ements and concepts. If two such physical theories or models ac-
curately predict the same events, one cannot be said to be more
real than the other; rather, we are free to use whichever model is
most convenient.

In the history of science we have discovered a sequence of bet-
ter and better theories or models, from Plato to the classical the-
ory of Newton to modern quantum theories. It is natural to ask:
Will this sequence eventually reach an end point, an ultimate the-
ory of the universe, that will include all forces and predict every
observation we can make, or will we continue forever finding bet-
ter theories, but never one that cannot be improved upon? We do
not yet have a definitive answer to this question, but we now have
a candidate for the ultimate theory of everything, if indeed one ex-
ists, called M-theory.

M-theory is the only model that has all the
properties we think the final theory ought to have, and it is the
theory upon which much of our later discussion is based.
M- theory is not a theory in the usual sense. It is a whole family
of different theories, each of which is a good description of obser-
vations only in some range of physical situations. It is a bit like a
map. As is well known, one cannot show the whole of the earth’s
surface on a single map. The usual Mercator projection used for
maps of the world makes areas appear larger and larger in the far
north and south and doesn’t cover the North and South Poles. To
faithfully map the entire earth, one has to use a collection of
maps, each of which covers a limited region. The maps overlap
each other, and where they do, they show the same landscape.
M- theory is similar. The different theories in the M- theory family
may look very different, but they can all be regarded as aspects of
the same underlying theory. They are versions of the theory that
are applicable only in limited ranges—for example, when certain
quantities such as energy are small. Like the overlapping maps in
a Mercator projection, where the ranges of different versions
overlap, they predict the same phenomena. But just as there is no
flat map that is a good representation of the earth’s entire surface,
there is no single theory that is a good representation of observa-
tions in all situations.

We will describe how M-theory may offer answers to the ques-
tion of creation. According to M- theory, ours is not the only uni-
verse. Instead, M- theory predicts that a great many universes were
created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the inter-
vention of some supernatural being or god. Rather, these multiple
universes arise naturally from physical law. They are a prediction
of science. Each universe has many possible histories and many
possible states at later times, that is, at times like the present, long
after their creation. Most of these states will be quite unlike the
universe we observe and quite unsuitable for the existence of any
form of life. Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist.
Thus our presence selects out from this vast array only those uni-
verses that are compatible with our existence. Although we are
puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in
a sense the lords of creation.

To understand the universe at the deepest level, we need to
know not only howthe universe behaves, but why.

Why is there something rather than nothing?
Why do we exist?
Why this particular set of laws and not some other?

This is the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Every-
thing. We shall attempt to answer it in this book. Unlike the an-
swer given in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ours won’t be
simply “42”.

==endquote==
Marshall
 


Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Marshall on September 12th, 2010, 12:30 pm 

Maybe just to be clear I should emphasize that just because I quote the Amazon.co.uk free sample chapter doesn't mean I subscribe to what it says.
It's deplorable obfuscation to mix up the Feynman path integral with the idea that a multitude of universes actually exist, with different laws etc etc.

The Feynman path integral assumes that only where you don't observe it the particle could be trying all different ways to get from A to B. If it INTERACTS with anything along the way, like a detector or a barrier with slits to pass thru or just another particle then where it went is NAILED DOWN. The alternatives do not exist---the path integral formula ignores them.

The gross details of our universe have plenty of observation and interaction to nail them down. There is no suggestion of alternative universes here. Not, anyway, from the Feynman formulation of quantum mechanics (a beautiful intuitive and highly useful formulation, good for calculating transition probabilities.)

Lincoln can correct me here if I have some details wrong. But the main point is that there's some rhetorical sleaze---some Hokum-Pokum in their Chapter 1.

Also it looks like pseudo-science reaching out into pseudo-philosophy.

========================

I'll frankly rant my personal private viewpoint here. Don't let me be the only one to do this. Please let's welcome our personal expression of views on this. Here's what I think:

It is bullshît that "philosophy is dead" and Hawking does not "speak for Science".

About "M-theory" the hype is enormously inflated. It looks considerably less promising now than, say, prior to 2003, and professional research interest in it has been declining. An actual theory (basic principles, equations) is Missing. That may be what the "M" stands for.
During the 10 years 1995-2005 there was a lot of HOPE that a theory with definite equations founded on explicit principles, so maybe it should be called "H-theory" for Hope.
But it fills a rhetorical need for Hawking. He has to gesture in the direction of some imagined Theory of Everything in order to tell the story.

The reason for launching the Multiverse mythology is basically that string/M turned out to have a huge number of different solutions none so far found to match our universe exactly, and no principle of selection appeared, so therefore:

1 string/M is a failure and we have to look at some other approaches, or

2 Nature herself has an invisible myriad of different versions and string/M might (if other problems are resolved) serve as a theory of this mystical myriad.

BTW my religious views are generally atheist (with some irrational feelings about the universe and a desire for life to survive and spread out beyond the solar system, and I like poetry too, but generally atheist). I don't think Hawking has any honest atheism here. I think it's mystical crap.

But if you disagree please say!
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Paul Anthony on September 12th, 2010, 2:30 pm 

There would seem to be no purpose in furthering our discussion - or any of the discussions that occur on PCF - now that we have been officially informed of the death of Philosophy. We should shut down the Forum and shelf our own curiosity, deferring instead to a select hand-full of self-appointed scientists qualified to tell us the answers to our questions.

This sounds similar to what Religions have been telling us for centuries. Science may be Hawking's religion, but I have already dismissed religions as the arbiters of Truth, so I should have no problem ignoring him.

Philosophy will not die until the last human being takes his last breath. I want to know what data Science can provide, but I will interpret the data myself, thank you very much. :)
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby shadypops on September 14th, 2010, 5:36 am 

I would suggest that the 'death of philosophy' was for dramatic effect. I would consider myself a philosopher, and i would say there is some truth to what he says about science advancing further than philosophy involving some issues. But obviously, philosophy is not dead.

Why dont we try to outline the areas philosophy is still relevant and outline where science has provided the answers.

I will begin:

pro science:
The meaning of life: Scientific evidence shows there is no meaning, just hapless existence.
Creation: could science prove there is no need for a creator? I believe so...
Morality: a state of nature has no morality. Morality is artificially created by social consensus..


Pro philosophy:
political/economic systems - possibly attributed to economists

oh... i have stumped myself on that one. i will have a think and get back.

any other ideas?
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Forest_Dump on September 14th, 2010, 8:27 am 

It might be interesting sometime to try to figure out how often someone has proclaimed the death of someone else's discipline (i.e., cases of disciplinary empire building). In going through my backlog of pop-sci literature this summer, there was a far too common theme of this. Biologists and evolutionary psychologists proclaiming the death of social sciences because everything can now be subsumed under their brand of science. Even some test tube gazers claiming that the study of fossils is becoming anachronistic because DNA will reveal everything. I would predict that philosophy will out-live Hawking just as God (or at least of the concept of) out-lived Nietzche and will also out-live Hawking.
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby alpha_3 on September 14th, 2010, 5:09 pm 

Perhaps faith, which has its source in the irrational part of the self, competes and often wins the battle with the rational part which only deals with measurable entities.

But as we are able to conceive infinite things or imagine unmeasurable quantities we coin terms like 'God' or the 'Absolut" which remain unknowable in themselves but not less possible than creatures like "strings" or other units suggested by the scientists.

But, the concept "God" serves another way: it is a universal moral imperative and a compagnion-at least in the Christian faith- of the unfortunate people, not necessarily uneducated. Rich and famous are less in the need of the "supernatural'.
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Sisyphus on September 14th, 2010, 5:39 pm 

alpha_3 wrote:But as we are able to conceive infinite things or imagine unmeasurable quantities we coin terms like 'God' or the 'Absolut" which remain unknowable in themselves but not less possible than creatures like "strings" or other units suggested by the scientists.

I know this "Absolut"...

Image
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby shadypops on September 15th, 2010, 4:30 am 

alpha_3 wrote:Perhaps faith, which has its source in the irrational part of the self, competes and often wins the battle with the rational part which only deals with measurable entities..


I wouldnt suggest that faith has its source in the irrational part of the self. Rationality is the weighing up of all options in consideration of finding the correct or applicable option. Therefore, faith, or belief in a god and religion, may be considered the most rational option with other available knowledge and options considered.

We then have to understand that people need to be reached, really reached, by alternative knowledge against faith and religion to add to their rationale. We also have to consider the arguement that their is an evolutionary tendancy to persist with a certain rationale, in the face of new evidence. This is due to the survival benefits of ancestors, who's survival may have been threatened by spending time considering and adopting alternative knowledge and techniques which could potentially aid there survival.

This is the situation that needs to be broken. Based on this, i would argue that faith schools and the indoctrination of children into religion creates this persistance and block or rationale, and that they should not be allowed on the grounds of the welfare of childrens rationality and world view. After all, we only live once as you all will know, would it be fair to let children live a life of irrational strict guidelines and fear, potentially walking door to door spouting worthless religion.
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby xris on September 15th, 2010, 8:01 am 

Irrational faith, is indoctrination, nothing to do with desire. I cant reject the notion just because you assume its desire. I am an agnostic who finds the subject extremely interesting , is that an irrational desire?

I think science is in a damned quandary, the fact that have found the universe so amazingly finely tuned, scares them witless. So their only answer is to invent a theory that attempts to correct that quandary. Trillions of universes ,unseen, unproven, are invented to rectify this quandary. It leaves us with two suspects an engineered universe or an imagination that requires us to believe these universes exist. Both need an enormous leap of faith. We are not allowed to philosophise on this quandary ,we must accept science , with all its doubts, all its imaginings and just believe. Can we distinguish between the ardent believers? Scientific certainty, versus dogmatic faith..What shall we do?
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby alpha_3 on September 15th, 2010, 5:24 pm 

Sisyphus, don't expect to block my intellectual horizon with a bottle of vodka...Champagne I could discuss.
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby alpha_3 on September 15th, 2010, 6:08 pm 

There is a new faith that is developping now, the faith to science and to its capacity to answer all possible questions with datas or conjectures. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Why not agree, with positivists, that there is not any "beyond" the principles of physics, or, if there is something this something is unknown?

Do we have sufficient evidence to claim that in phenomena a supreme metaphysical substance is reflected?
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Marshall on September 17th, 2010, 12:38 am 

The Guardian has a gentle parody of Hawking's book in the form of a one-page summary of what it says---purportedly a condensed version of The Grand Design that you can read in under 3 minutes.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/se ... king/print
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby Natural ChemE on September 17th, 2010, 1:38 am 

Sure, the book had little if any intellectual content for those who study this stuff, but I'm pretty happy about it all the same. Hawkings has thrown his weight as an authority against religion, and that's a good thing in my book.
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby shadypops on September 17th, 2010, 5:11 am 

Natural ChemeE, I agree!

Stephen hawkings book may not be entirely stomachable for those deeply involved in that field, but he is taking the mainstream a leap forward in awareness and understanding of science, physics and the state of the universe. Armed with this knowledge, the mainstream will be more reluctant to religous dribble. God bless stephen hawking
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Re: Stephen Hawking settles the God question (*joke*)

Postby ktsint6969 on October 28th, 2010, 3:42 am 

I DO THINK ITS VERY EARLY FOR MR HAWKINGS TO EVEN BEGIN TO THINK WE GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT ON THE CONTRARY WE CANT EVEN CORRECTLY EXPLAIN A CIRCLE YET OOUR MATH SKILLS AS A SPECIES IS INFANTILE WE STILL USE BASE TEN ( THAT MEANS WE USE OUR FINGERS TO COUNT) AND WHILE WE HAVE PUSHED THIS VERY FAR UNTILL WE HAVE A MATH SYSTEM THAT WORKS ( NO IRRATIONAL NUMBERS) WE CANT HOPE TO UNDERSTAND WERE NOT THAT FAR FROM BELIVING THE WORLD IS FLAT BUT I GIVE YOU THIS OUR BRAINS ARE A BIOCHEMICAL MACHINE WHICH I DONT BELIEVE CAN CONCIVE OF ANYTHING THAT ISNT POSIBLE BECAUSE IT WORKS BY THE TRUE LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE EVEN IF WE DONT KNOW THEM YET
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