When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? Why are the laws of nature so fine tuned as to make possible the existence of human self awareness and intelligence?
Then is the “grand design” of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator-or does science offer another explanation? Author Stephen Hawking, recipient of the Metal of Freedom award, discusses these in his book.
If you are looking for information leading to the triumph of human reason, you may want to read this publication. It is available in the Manhattan Library.
The writer said, at first laws become apparent only in astronomy. The behavior of things on earth is so complicated that early civilizations were unable to discern patters or laws that governed them. Gradually, new laws were discovered, in other areas than astronomy that lead to the idea of science. Laws must hold everywhere at all times. There must be no exceptions and no superstitions. This rules out miracles in the bible and other religious writings. It seems to me, he inferred that God will not interfere with our behavior. He gave us free will to make decisions to make or help suffering people without His influence over us.
Aristotle and Plato believed that the principles of nature exist out of “necessity” that is because they are the only rules that makes logical sense. At first the only known laws were Newton’s law of gravity and motion. They were extended by Einstein with his theory of relativity and how laws were discovered.
The laws of nature tell us how the universe behaves, he writes, but they don’t answer the why. Such questions as why do we exist.
Some would claim the answer to the question is that there is a God to choose to create us the universe this way. It is reasonable to ask if God created this, who created God? The author believes we can answer questions within the realm of science, and without involving any divine beings.
The author states the physics of the universe are simple, but the chemistry can be complicated. Some people claim self-awareness is unique to humans. It gives free will or the ability to do right or wrong. Mathematician John Conway of Cambridge created a game of life.
This exercise shows that even a simple set of laws can produce complex features similar to those of intelligent life. The laws of the universe determine evolution. The energy of the universe must remain constant.
To me this means that if we have global warming here, it will become colder somewhere else. We do have global warming according to most scientists.
Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will express itself from nothing, says the writer. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing. It is why the universe and humans exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to create and set the universe going. The m or string theory is the only candidate for a complete theory of the universe accordingly to this theory. But a whole universe can. This is because gravity shapes time and space. The positive energy of matter can be balanced by negative gravitational energy for the creation of the whole universe. Empty space is stable. Bodies such as stars cannot just appear out of nothing and neither did the world, yet Hawkins says a whole universe can.
Because gravity shapes time and space, the positive energy of matter can be balanced by negative gravational energy, so there is no restriction on the creation of the whole universe. To me, this is not consistent. The scientists theory is the matter cannot be created or destroyed. How can something be created out of nothing? There is much we do not understand about the theories of physics.
We seem to be at a critical point in science history, according to Hawking. It appears the number and form of apparent laws of nature are not demanded by logic or physics. We have recently discovered a God particle, the Higgs Bosom. This is supposed to be the remnant of an interaction common to all objects with mass.
It was discovered by a large collider in Switzerland. How this mass became a remnant and what it decays into will be researched. I think this new information of the first mass by observable, concrete phenomena will help us understand more about how natural law works and how the universe began.
We human beings are mere reflections of particles of nature but have been able to come close to understand the laws govern us and our universe, stated Hawking. That we have done this is a great triumph.
The miracle is that abstract considerations of logic lead to a theory that predicts and describes a vast universe full of the amazing variety we see. It seems to me we are more than particles of nature.
I have a spiritual part due to a belief that science cannot deal with. Religion, likewise, should not delve into science. At one time people put to death by the church for believing the sun went around the earth.
In my opinion, we will not have found the grand design until we can predict and describe a vast universe full of amazing variety that separates science form religion, and learn more about what is and what are the benefits of a spiritual life.
What are we to make of the fine tuning that made our situation? Is it evidence, states the author, that the universe was designed by a benevolent creator? Or does Science have another explanation?
The “Grand Design” is a succinct startling and well illustrated guide to discoveries that are changing our understanding and a threat to some of our cherished beliefs. It will inform and provoke.
Les Frazier is a Kansas State University emeritus professor.