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Please be aware that the content of this new work might be held to implicitly or explicitly tend to cast some doubt upon traditional views about God, Religion, Faith and Religious Beliefs.
Michelangelo. The Creation of Adam. 1508-1512. Fresco. Sistine Chapel, Vatican
A pre-release review of The Grand Design, on Amazon under Stephen Hawking's personal by-line, included this as an opening statement:-
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?As the new book's content develops the authors of The Grand Design set out to contest Sir Isaac Newton's assertion that our universe could not have arisen out of chaos due to the mere laws of Nature!
They cite the discovery, in 1992, of a planet orbiting another sun than "our own", as being the first blow to Newton's belief that the universe could not have risen from chaos.
"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 as evidence that the earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings. Not just other planets like the Earth, other universes may exist."Another relevant quotations on this theme being:-
"Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist."There was widespread publicity about the new book in early September, 2010, with many print and on-line media outlets covering the story.
The two quotes just mentioned often featured in this coverage and were sometimes attributed to an extract from the new book published in The Times of London on 2 September, 2010.
That extract was itself presumably made available by the publishers and calculated by them to provide a boost to sales of The Grand Design through stimulating interest or perhaps, as Hawking and Mlodinow in the new book make the claim that Godly assistance or intervention was not necessary in terms of the creation of our Universe - by stirring up controversy in relation to an evident breach between traditionally creationist religion and Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow's presentation of an explanation of physical existence arising due to the operation of natural laws.
The extract published with The Times newspaper on 2 September, 2010, was accompanied by a covering article which began:-
Modern physics leaves no place for God in the creation of the Universe, Stephen Hawking has concluded.
A page that appeared on the BBC website on 2 September, 2010, the day the story about the imminent publication of The Grand Design made headline news, featured this as background text:-
There is no place for God in theories on the creation of the Universe, the physicist and mathematician Professor Stephen Hawking has said.The following quotation, delivered by Stephen Hawking during a very brief appearance on an accompanying on-line video about the new book, was explicitly announced, by the presenter of this news item, to be The Key Conclusion of The Grand Design:-
"Because there are laws such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going."(The expression "to light the blue touch paper" is possibly something of an anglicism and is to do with the custom of lighting the fuses of fire-works in a garden setting).
Also coincidental with the publication of The Grand Design was an appearance on US primetime television in the form of an interview on CNN LARRY KING LIVE during which the following question was posed and answered:-
KING: What, Stephen, do you most hope people take away from your new book "The Grand Design?" In your opinion, it's a great book with a lot of important points. What is the most important point in the book?
It seems that Stephen Hawkings latest thinking embraces a speculative unifying framework called M-theory, (which visualises the existence of 11 space-time dimensions and has as a principal conceptual component so-called "String Theory"), which is held to show how a multiplicity of universes – each with the possibility of differing laws of physics being in operation within them – could arise out of nothing.
The authors make mention that, as they see it, only slight adjustments of the constants that control nuclear synthesis in stars would have produced a Universe without Carbon or Oxygen - making life as we know it impossible.
The authors seem to suggest that the fact that they, and ourselves, are here to ponder such mind-boggling questions is in itself indicative that the laws of physics in operation in "our own" universe are such as to make it inevitable that a state of physical existence consistent with the origin of life has been in operation here - without any necessity for Godly interventions.
According to Leonard Mlodinow:-
We presently have not only Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow but also other detractors from traditional religion such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens who are undeniably, (and without much apparent hesitation or apology), tending to undermine the credibility of many aspects of "faith as we traditionally knew it" where God was closely involved in what was ultimately his creation and was capable of interceding in the lives of individual people, and in the functioning of the states they lived in, providing moral guidance through religion, punishing sins and rewarding virtues.
"You will hear things like, "Science doesn't know everything." Well, of course science doesn't know everything. But, because science doesn't know everything, it doesn't mean that science knows nothing. Science knows enough for us to be watched by a few million people now on television, for these lights to be working, for quite extraordinary miracles to have taken place in terms of the harnessing of the physical world and our dim approaches towards understanding it. And as Wittgenstein quite rightly said, "When we understand every single secret of the universe, there will still be left the eternal mystery of the human heart."
Stephen Fry quoting Wittgenstein during a Room 101 TV program
Key insights (from the Great Faiths, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras, and Shakespeare!!!) are available on our pages that give convincing support to this view of Human Nature!!!
Believe it or not even SCIENCE seems to agree with this view!!!
Plato, Socrates and Shakespeare endorse a Tripartite Soul view of Human Nature.
"...man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots,
whose flower and fruitage is the world..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Whatever concept one may hold, from a metaphysical point of view, concerning the freedom of the will, certainly its appearances, which are human actions, like every other natural event, are determined by universal laws. However obscure their causes, history, which is concerned with narrating these appearances, permits us to hope that if we attend to the play of freedom of the human will in the large, we may be able to discern a regular movement in it, and that what seems complex and chaotic in the single individual may be seen from the standpoint of the human race as a whole to be a steady and progressive though slow evolution of its original endowment."
Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View (1784)
Or to quote Emerson, from his famous Essay ~ History more fully:-
"In old Rome the public roads beginning at the Forum proceeded north, south, east, west, to the centre of every province of the empire, making each market-town of Persia, Spain, and Britain pervious to the soldiers of the capital: so out of the human heart go, as it were, highways to the heart of every object in nature, to reduce it under the dominion of man. A man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots, whose flower and fruitage is the world. His faculties refer to natures out of him, and predict the world he is to inhabit, as the fins of the fish foreshow that water exists, or the wings of an eagle in the egg presuppose air. He cannot live without a world."
"There is one mind common to all individual men....
....Of the works of this mind history is the record. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. All the facts of history pre-exist as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of this manifold spirit to the manifold world."
From Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essay ~ History
Which brings to mind the opening sentence of The Grand Design's pre-release review on Amazon, which appeared under Stephen Hawking's personal by-line, and which read - "How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves?"For these eminent Professors of Physics "The Mystery of Being", (and indeed their new book), is explicitly focussed on these questions:-
There is a claim made by the authors on page 1 of chapter 1, (a chapter that itself bears the title "The Mystery of Being"), of the new book that " Philosophy is Dead ". Another metaphor! Intended to indicate that, as far as Professors Hawking and Mlodinow are concerned, traditional philosophy is incapable of attempting to answer many fundamental scientific questions concerning the universe as this more extensive quotation makes clear:-
"... but Philosophy is Dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch in our quest for knowledge."
"Why is there something rather than nothing?They would have us accept that their theorising, (in so far as we can actually follow it), provides a credible explanation of the physical origin of our own Universe - and of Humanity!!!
Why do we exist?
And why this particular set of laws and not some other?"
"What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Man's Divided ~ Multi-faceted ~ Nature?
"Mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or strange in this particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature."
David HumeWe have prepared some fairly meaty, but hopefully entertaining, pages about a most informative episode in European History in the spirit of attempting to learn worthwhile lessons of history about The Human Condition!!!
The European Revolution of 1848
A brief resume of some poetry quotations that may even qualify as being " Central Poetry Insights " is set out in the following scrollable panel:-
A brief resume of some spiritual quotations that may even qualify as being " Central Spiritual Insights " is set out in the following scrollable panel:-
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Professor Stephen Hawking's new book
The Grand Design page