Monday, February 28, 2011
The 2010 Bantam Book The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow purports to show that physical laws account for life and reality, without the intervention of a prime mover, God.
But after one reads the book, with all the complex interlocking laws of quantum physics and the hypotheses of the so-called M-theory as presented by Mlodinow (mostly), one has to conclude that, indeed, a supreme mind, a thing we can call God, did indeed create the universe and life as we know it.
Physicists try to promote their god – mathematics – with abstruse theories and convoluted mathematical gyrations, but after all is said and written, the conclusion that only make rational sense is that reality is, indeed, a concoction of a sensate entity, no matter how that entity is defined.
Our belief, however, is that God existed – we think He/It died or has gone hidden, as expounded by such writers as Richard Elliott Friedman in The Hidden Face of God [Harper, 1995].
No amount of mathematical machination by physicists destroy the early thinking of philosophers such as Aristotle, or the great theologian Thomas Aquinas – that God is (or was) the designer of the Universe and life itself.
Chapter 7, The Apparent Miracle (Page 165 particularly), provides the unconscious belief in God by Mlodinow (and Hawking also?) exampled by the thoughts of Kepler, Newton, and Einstein, who themselves believed a mind (God) created the laws that govern the Universe and life.
The book can be skimmed in parts, as much of it presents the gyrations of physicists who are as flummoxed by existence as laymen are, but who pretend, like the alchemist of old, to have access to the secrets of life, presented by them as mathematical theories, obfuscated so as to feign hidden knowledge.
M-theory is a reworking of the philosophies of the early Greeks and the scientific investigations of such luminaries as Galileo, Maxwell, Newton (of course), and others. The Grand Design tries to make a case for M-theory, calling it “the unified theory that Einstein was hoping to find” (Page 181) and is, in fact, The Grand Design.
That’s an egregious stretch.
M-theory and string theories are all extrapolations of earlier thinking by Biblical writers and the Greek, Islamic, and Scholastic thinkers of the past.
The inherent quandary (about reality) of physicists is not masked by their obeisance to mathematics, which didn’t really arrive in science until Newton, and have been ballyhooed by physicists and science ever since, but not making any sense, as scientific use of math (or arithmetic) of any kind is merely an elitist ploy to make laypeople believe that science has an inside track to the truth of existence.
But as Richard Bucke shows in his masterwork, Cosmic Consciousness, reality is something so transcendental that human minds can only occasionally observe it but never truly understand it.
For Hawking and Mlodinow (and others, such as Dawkins, Smolin, et al.) to write that that they are near to resolving The Grand Design is beyond preposterous; it’s hubris of a massive kind.