Thursday, June 30, 2011

Science has answers - I: God is Not Necessary for the Creation of the Universe - Says Stephen Hawking

Introduction:

Herein the age old question surrounding the creation of the Universe, including our planet Earth of course, and God's role in this will be visited and analyzed in some detail, both from the physicists' and creationists' perspectives.

Discussion:

Any idea that science finally has the answers to how our universeand everything within it, including ourselvescame to be, which don't involve any divine or supernatural intervention, doesn't sit well with many observers who have become accustomed to generations of faith-based theological systems, in guiding them through the harsh and rough realities of human social life, as well as aiding them to psychologically come to grips with what sense to make of their very being. As a result, on the way forward, science has made quite a few enemies; some openly hostile to science, while others, less willing to openly to share their frustrations with science.

As such, there can be no doubt about the buzz created, particularly within theological circles, when physicists like Stephen Hawking, came out with the provocative announcement that science can now answer many of the mysteries of our universe, without once appealing to divine intervention. Modern science has long been run under the premise that, just because wehumansdon't always have answers to the mysteries of the universe, doesn't mean that such mysteries must then be the work of a supernatural being, which in essence, facilitates an easy way out of a puzzle. Rather, in science, the idea is to continue to press for and work our way through to attaining answers to difficult problems or questions, especially when they are difficult. This materialist approach is what has at times, driven science to clash with individuals of faith and guardians of theology.

We are going to rely heavily on Stephen Hawking's work in this blog entry, since the man is one of the most widely recognized personality in the field and to reiterate, is the one, in partnership with physicist Leonard Mlodinow, who published "The Grand Design", telling the world for the first time that science has progressed to the point where it now is sufficient to answer many of the mysteries of the natural world, and along with it, how our universe came to be, without once invoking the intervention of a conscious supernatural agent, which/whom many recognize as simply "God". Accordingly, naturally, our narrative takes off with a universe that starts its history with a "Big Bang".

So, how does a universe just appear on its own without the guidance of a conscious supernatural being? Why of course, due to the concept of "spontaneity". Hawking starts with the perspective of religion, stating,

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.

Momentarily note the reference to the word "coincidences" above, as we proceed onto the next few lines:

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.


Rather, from a scientific standpoint:

As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing.

"Spontaneity", we are told,

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.

Yet, when "spontaneity" is talked about in any scientific conceptualization of the universe, it is frowned upon by theologists, as if to say that "spontaneity" should be acceptable in religion but not in science. We are therefore told to take for granted, that an omnipresent supernatural being somehow "spontaneously" appeared on its own, or rather and more specifically, that this being is "self-created". Now of course, to preemptively settle the otherwise endless cycle of "what then created the next stage", theologists maintain that this supernatural being is not self-created in the sense that we can really fathom, since the supernatural being also has "no beginning", and "never dies"i.e. eternal.

Obviously, this understanding of the conscious supernatural "creator" defies all known preexisting laws and properties of our universe, and therefore, leads to the conclusion that "time" as we know it, no longer has use once the observer gets to dealing with any analytical stage of the supernatural being. There is only one exception to this situation: "property" of "intelligence", which appears to be the only constant theme between our universe and an existence external to our universe [which is tacitly equated with the supernatural being's state]. In other words, theologists are essentially telling the listener that we definitely know at least one property of an existence beyond our own universe, and one which we can relate to that in our own universe.

So, while what we call "time" breaks down beyond our universe, and certainly by the stage of existence wherein one theoretically deals with the supernatural creator/being, the property of "intelligence" supposedly doesn't. It goes even beyond this single "constant" property between our universe and an existence beyond our universe, if one is to consider the ideology in say, at least Christianity, wherein followers are told that "God has created man in his own image". This just creates yet another element for theologists to account for, were they put to the rigors of scientific scrutiny, because what it seems to be saying, is that the human anatomy is yet another constant that one can definitely find between our own universe and an existence beyond our universe.

One has to wonder why a supernatural being like "God" would need limbs like humans, or eyes, mouth and other orifices that characterize the human body, when such a being clearly would have no need for such things; humans attained these features, precisely because humans were an end-product of evolution, and humans need them to acquire and transform energy. However, since organized religions do not seem to agree on their perception of "God's anatomy", we will instead focus on what they seem to generally agree on, like say, the property of "eternity" ascribed to the supernatural being.

On the issue of "eternity" and "consciousness" of a supernatural existence beyond our universe, one may well come up with the same question that Hawking raised with obvious sense of humor injected into it, as follows:

If one believed that the universe had a beginning, the obvious question was what happened before the beginning? What was God doing before He made the world? Was He preparing Hell for people who asked such questions? 

The question of why it took God almost eternity to think of creating our universe and ourselves, is of course, predicated on the idea that the universe had a beginning, but also that God on the other hand, had been around for eternity. This issue of a universe with a "beginning" had also dogged observers within scientific circles, since the question remained: why did the universe not emerge much sooner than it had? For example, lest one got the impression that Aristotle was into some "divine intervention" from the earlier excerpt, then think again:

Aristotle, the most famous of the Greek philosophers, believed the universe had existed forever. Something eternal is more perfect than something created. He suggested the reason we see progress was that floods, or other natural disasters, had repeatedly set civilization back to the beginning. The motivation for believing in an eternal universe was the desire to avoid invoking divine intervention to create the universe and set it going

Conversely, those who believed the universe had a beginning, used it as an argument for the existence of God as the first cause, or prime mover, of the universe. 

So, what we see here, is peoplelike Aristotle and later on, some in the scientific communitywho were earlier on resistant to the idea of a universe with a "beginning", since they felt that it gave a pretext for others to argue for a "divine intervention" in the creation of the universe, and so, theorized on an "eternal" universe. On the other hand, it was a legitimately observed that others would use the idea of a universe with a "beginning" to argue for a "divinely" created universe. Still, the creationists were and are also confounded by a similar question, as to why the universe wasn't created much sooner, and likewise, why an "eternal" God would wait for so long, to create a universe and all else in it, especially being that this creator was/is "intelligent".

Mr. Hawking elaborates as follows and treats us with examples of past efforts within scientific circles, to push for a universe without a "beginning", likely for underlying motives already outlined above:

The problem of whether or not the universe had a beginning was a great concern to the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant. He felt there were logical contradictions, or antimonies, either way. If the universe had a beginning, why did it wait an infinite time before it began? He called that the thesis. On the other hand, if the universe had existed for ever, why did it take an infinite time to reach the present stage? He called that the antithesis. Both the thesis and the antithesis depended on Kant's assumption, along with almost everyone else, that time was Absolute. That is to say, it went from the infinite past to the infinite future, independently of any universe that might or might not exist in this background. This is still the picture in the mind of many scientists today.

....The expansion of the universe was one of the most important intellectual discoveries of the 20th century, or of any century. It transformed the debate about whether the universe had a beginning. If galaxies are moving apart now, they must have been closer together in the past. If their speed had been constant, they would all have been on top of one another about 15 billion years ago. Was this the beginning of the universe? Many scientists were still unhappy with the universe having a beginning because it seemed to imply that physics broke down. One would have to invoke an outside agency, which for convenience, one can call God, to determine how the universe began. They therefore advanced theories in which the universe was expanding at the present time, but didn't have a beginning. One was the Steady State theory, proposed by Bondi, Gold, and Hoyle in 1948.

In the Steady State theory, as galaxies moved apart, the idea was that new galaxies would form from matter that was supposed to be continually being created throughout space. The universe would have existed for ever and would have looked the same at all times. This last property had the great virtue, from a positivist point of view, of being a definite prediction that could be tested by observation. The Cambridge radio astronomy group, under Martin Ryle, did a survey of weak radio sources in the early 1960s. These were distributed fairly uniformly across the sky, indicating that most of the sources lay outside our galaxy. The weaker sources would be further away, on average. The Steady State theory predicted the shape of the graph of the number of sources against source strength. But the observations showed more faint sources than predicted, indicating that the density sources were higher in the past. This was contrary to the basic assumption of the Steady State theory, that everything was constant in time. For this, and other reasons, the Steady State theory was abandoned.

For elements within the scientific community, the real issue was not temporal "finiteness" or "beginning" of the universe, but rather, with their conception of "time". The same problem around "time" continues to dog the theologists' perspective, but in addition to the "consciousness" factor of the "intervening agent" aka God. However, scientific progress in astronomy and quantum physics has essentially laid such concerns to rest, when it was realized that "time" breaks down at the super hot "singularity of infinite density" before the Big Bang, in addition to treating any existence beyond said "singularity of infinite density" beginning-point (which some have called "alpha") as that of neither a "supernatural", nor  a "conscious" existence. Rather, such an existence is scientifically perceived as one with its own would-be set of laws and physical properties that are at present, beyond the scope of human reach, and hence, scientific examination.

Only if we were clued in those would-be laws and properties, then can a time scale be applied that is specifically suited to the aforementioned extra-universe existence, that is, if such a scalar quantity would even be required at all. To this end, it might be worth recalling the theory put forward by Mr. Hawking:

The problem of what happens at the beginning of time is a bit like the question of what happened at the edge of the world, when people thought the world was flat. Is the world a flat plate with the sea pouring over the edge? I have tested this experimentally. I have been round the world, and I have not fallen off. As we all know, the problem of what happens at the edge of the world was solved when people realized that the world was not a flat plate, but a curved surface.

Moreover...

Time however, seemed to be different. It appeared to be separate from space, and to be like a model railway track. If it had a beginning, there would have to be someone to set the trains going. Einstein's General Theory of Relativity unified time and space as spacetime, but time was still different from space and was like a corridor, which either had a beginning and end, or went on forever. However, when one combines General Relativity with Quantum Theory, Jim Hartle and I realized that time can behave like another direction in space under extreme conditions. This means one can get rid of the problem of time having a beginning, in a similar way in which we got rid of the edge of the world. Suppose the beginning of the universe was like the South Pole of the earth, with degrees of latitude playing the role of time. The universe would start as a point at the South Pole. As one moves north, the circles of constant latitude, representing the size of the universe, would expand. To ask what happened before the beginning of the universe would become a meaningless question, because there is nothing south of the South Pole.

Simply put, "time" as we know it, only has meaning within our universe's frame of reference, and so, it makes no sense to gratuitously apply it to any existence outside of this universe. Therefore, contrary to the verified scientific observations, what if it were simply assumed that our universe had "no beginning" and was an eternal entity, like one of the earlier hypothesis (e.g. the aforementioned failed Steady State Theory) assumed? In many cases, such assumptions take it for granted that the universe is unchanging as well, if not "static", but for our purpose, time would merely be an abstract idea that would aid us in measuring our time on earth, which would extend to the duration of the existence of our entire solar system, and by extension, our galaxy.Time on this occasion, would only carry meaning to the extent that the physical being of these entities, including our own existence, are understood to be of a finite one.

"Time" in this sense would simply be interpreted as temporary intervals on an otherwise "endless" scale, since likewise, our existence, including our solar system and galaxy, would only amount to temporary intervals among those of other temporary elements in an otherwise "steady state", and "eternal" universe. Keep in mind, that there is the issue of the law of gravity, and the interplay between that quantity and acceleration, that a steady state universe has to struggle with as well, but temporarily putting that aside, how could "time" in a steady state and eternal universe be graphically conceived?  Look no further, as Mr. Hawking shares his viewpoint on this as well:

There were a number of attempts to get round the conclusion, that there was a singularity of infinite density in the past. One suggestion was to modify the law of gravity, so that it became repulsive. This could lead to the graph of the separation between two galaxies, being a curve that approached zero, but didn't actually pass through it, at any finite time in the past. Instead, the idea was that, as the galaxies moved apart, new galaxies were formed in between, from matter that was supposed to be continually created. This was the Steady State theory, proposed by Bondi, Gold, and Hoyle.

In the above, as the reader is informed, the law of gravity is modified to accommodate the theory, rather than ensuring that it is the theory that complies with the law of gravity. To entertain the notion that the driving force behind the drifting of galaxies from one another is "repulsive" gravitational force, the theorists thereof are ignoring the verifiable observation that galaxies are formed in the first place by the pulling together or clustering of its contentnamely stars, planets, meteorites, clouds of dust & gases, etc, precisely because the conventional principle of gravity must be at work. As such, the Steady State theory is ignoring one dynamic of gravity in its narrative, that isgravity's role in the creation of "new galaxies in between preexisting drifting galaxies, from continually created matter", while heavily relying on another supposed dynamic of gravity, that isthe said "repulsiveness", just to give them an opportunity to explain why the galaxies are drifting apart.

Yet, as we've already covered earlier, the Steady State theory suffers from other exposures to scrutiny, one of which had to do with tests done to study the rate and strength of radioactive signals from distant and fainter "sources" vs. those produced by closer and brighter "sources":

The Steady State theory, was what Karl Popper would call, a good scientific theory: it made definite predictions, which could be tested by observation, and possibly falsified. Unfortunately for the theory, they were falsified. The first trouble came with the Cambridge observations, of the number of radio sources of different strengths. On average, one would expect that the fainter sources would also be the more distant. One would therefore expect them to be more numerous than bright sources, which would tend to be near to us. However, the graph of the number of radio sources, against there strength, went up much more sharply at low source strengths, than the Steady State theory predicted.

There were attempts to explain away this number count graph, by claiming that some of the faint radio sources, were within our own galaxy, and so did not tell us anything about cosmology. This argument didn't really stand up to further observations.

Another weakness of the theory came to light as follows:

But the final nail in the coffin of the Steady State theory came with the discovery of the microwave background radiation, in 1965. This radiation is the same in all directions. It has the spectrum of radiation in thermal equilibrium at a temperature of 2 point 7 degrees above the Absolute Zero of temperature. There doesn't seem any way to explain this radiation in the Steady State theory.

The above-mentioned radiation can of course be readily explained within framework of the singularity beginning of our universe, as a residue of the cooling expanding universe.

In keeping with non-theological theories formulated to circumvent the conclusion that the universe must have had a beginning in the form of an expansion from a very hot singularity of infinite density, theories of a "cyclic" universe emerged. Here's one such example:

Another attempt to avoid a beginning to time, was the suggestion, that maybe all the galaxies didn't meet up at a single point in the past. Although on average, the galaxies are moving apart from each other at a steady rate, they also have small additional velocities, relative to the uniform expansion. These so-called "peculiar velocities" of the galaxies, may be directed sideways to the main expansion. It was argued, that as you plotted the position of the galaxies back in time, the sideways peculiar velocities, would have meant that the galaxies wouldn't have all met up. Instead, there could have been a previous contracting phase of the universe, in which galaxies were moving towards each other. The sideways velocities could have meant that the galaxies didn't collide, but rushed past each other, and then started to move apart. There wouldn't have been any singularity of infinite density, or any breakdown of the laws of physics. Thus there would be no necessity for the universe, and time itself, to have a beginning. Indeed, one might suppose that the universe had oscillated, though that still wouldn't solve the problem with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: one would expect that the universe would become more disordered each oscillation. It is therefore difficult to see how the universe could have been oscillating for an infinite time.

This theory, like the example preceding it, tacitly presents "time" as a quantity without a beginning or end, and likewise, our universe. Obviously, a universe without a beginning and is eternal, would also not require the intervention of an outside "conscious" agent like God, to get it going. Still, as we are informed above, the theory suffers from the rigors of scrutiny. It fails to meet the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The would-be residual disorderliness carried from earlier oscillations should have a profound impact on the present state of orderliness of the universe.

A time-space graph plotting the distance between any two galaxies in such a universe would show the curve lowering to figures closer to zero separation, but obviously never quite reaching zero itself, at some time interval in the past, and then the curve rising before undergoing a lowering trend again at some space and time intervals in the future.

Perhaps the least sophisticated of theories speaking to a universe without a beginning, is the idea of a "static" universe. The fault of this idea that immediately jumps at an informed observer, is the fact that there would be no dynamism in the universe. One would have to explain away why planets even need to spin and revolve at all in a universe lacking dynamism, not to leave out why there are any galaxies or solar systems at all, or why distances of varying magnitudes exist between individual galaxies. To put in Mr. Hawking's words:

In a universe that was essentially static, there would not have been any dynamical reason, why the stars should have suddenly turned on, at some time. Any such "lighting up time" would have to be imposed by an intervention from outside the universe.

So what would a time-space graph plotting distance between any two galaxies in a static universe look like? Well, Mr. Hawking again tells us:

One can plot the separation of two galaxies, as a function of time. If there were no acceleration due to gravity, the graph would be a straight line.

This would be the case for an indefinite period of time. But, if it was assumed, as many did in the past outside of scientific circles, that the "static" universe had a "beginning", i.e. one brought about by the intervention of an outside "conscious" agent, namely God, then the graph would show the straight line mentioned above, that would not only be parallel to the time scale at a constant, but would also stop at zero on the time scale, when considering a finite past.

All the above-mentioned examples may differ in their specifics on the genesis of the universe, but they converge on their basic intention of circumventing the quantum physic perspective of a universe that began with a rapid expansion of a singularity of infinite density, and their inability in some shape or form to take into account the Second Law of Thermodynamics...

This argument about whether or not the universe had a beginning, persisted into the 19th and 20th centuries. It was conducted mainly on the basis of theology and philosophy, with little consideration of observational evidence. This may have been reasonable, given the notoriously unreliable character of cosmological observations, until fairly recently. The cosmologist, Sir Arthur Eddington, once said, 'Don't worry if your theory doesn't agree with the observations, because they are probably wrong.' But if your theory disagrees with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, it is in bad trouble. In fact, the theory that the universe has existed forever is in serious difficulty with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Second Law, states that disorder always increases with time. Like the argument about human progress, it indicates that there must have been a beginning. Otherwise, the universe would be in a state of complete disorder by now, and everything would be at the same temperature. In an infinite and everlasting universe, every line of sight would end on the surface of a star. This would mean that the night sky would have been as bright as the surface of the Sun. The only way of avoiding this problem would be if, for some reason, the stars did not shine before a certain time.

The above-mentioned "argument about human progress" pertains to this segment:

The time scale of the universe is very long compared to that for human life. It was therefore not surprising that until recently, the universe was thought to be essentially static, and unchanging in time. On the other hand, it must have been obvious, that society is evolving in culture and technology. This indicates that the present phase of human history can not have been going for more than a few thousand years. Otherwise, we would be more advanced than we are. It was therefore natural to believe that the human race, and maybe the whole universe, had a beginning in the fairly recent past. However, many people were unhappy with the idea that the universe had a beginning, because it seemed to imply the existence of a supernatural being who created the universe. They preferred to believe that the universe, and the human race, had existed forever. Their explanation for human progress was that there had been periodic floods, or other natural disasters, which repeatedly set back the human race to a primitive state.

The analogy between "human progress" and the "development of the universe" being, that shaky theories on the past state of both entities generally ignore the extent of their present state.

Speaking of the aforementioned issue of dynamism in the universe, this is something that has been observed about the universe. It is for instance, realized that when we observe galaxies at astronomical distances from our planet, including highly distant stars in the night sky, what we are really looking at is a peek into the past, since those entities will have already moved on from the locations they had been snap shot.

What's at work here, to put it simply, is that these entities are at such astronomical distances, that it takes quite some time even for light to travel from them and reach us. Anybody familiar with light, knows that there aren't that many things that can travel at a faster speed than light.Taking a cue from Mr. Hawking, we have the following:

As we look out at the universe, we are looking back in time, because light had to leave distant objects a long time ago, to reach us at the present time. This means that the events we observe lie on what is called our past light cone. The point of the cone is at our position, at the present time. As one goes back in time on the diagram, the light cone spreads out to greater distances, and its area increases. However, if there is sufficient matter on our past light cone, it will bend the rays of light towards each other. This will mean that, as one goes back into the past, the area of our past light cone will reach a maximum, and then start to decrease. It is this focusing of our past light cone, by the gravitational effect of the matter in the universe, that is the signal that the universe is within its horizon, like the time reverse of a black hole. If one can determine that there is enough matter in the universe, to focus our past light cone, one can then apply the singularity theorems, to show that time must have a beginning.

...In the case of the universe, the fact that the microwave background has such an exactly thermal spectrum indicates that it must have been scattered many times. The universe must therefore contain enough matter, to make it opaque in every direction we look, because the microwave background is the same, in every direction we look. Moreover, this opacity must occur a long way away from us, because we can see galaxies and quasars, at great distances. Thus there must be a lot of matter at a great distance from us. The greatest opacity over a broad wave band, for a given density, comes from ionised hydrogen. It then follows that if there is enough matter to make the universe opaque, there is also enough matter to focus our past light cone. One can then apply the theorem of Penrose and myself, to show that time must have a beginning.


Basically, what this means, is that a glimpse at the past shows that the universe was much brighter, due to the closer distances between galaxies. To elaborate on this point, consider for instance...

Hubble found that stars are not uniformly distributed throughout space, but are gathered together in vast collections called galaxies. By measuring the light from galaxies, Hubble could determine their velocities. He was expecting that as many galaxies would be moving towards us as were moving away. This is what one would have in a universe that was unchanging with time. But to his surprise, Hubble found that nearly all the galaxies were moving away from us. Moreover, the further galaxies were from us, the faster they were moving away. The universe was not unchanging with time as everyone had thought previously. It was expanding. The distance between distant galaxies was increasing with time.

It should be pointed out, that just as the meaning of "time" in our universe ceases to be beyond the point of singularity of infinite density, so too does it cease to have meaning inside a black hole, as the laws specific to our universe as we recognize them break down in black hole:

The first theorems [of theorems by Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking] were designed to show that time came to an end, inside a black hole, formed by the collapse of a star. However, the expansion of the universe, is like the time reverse of the collapse of a star. I therefore want to show you, that observational evidence indicates the universe contains sufficient matter, that it is like the time reverse of a black hole, and so contains a singularity.

Perhaps the lead up to the formation of black holes should serve as an example of transformation of laws of physics in one existence (the universe at large) into a new yet-to-be-defined laws of physics in another existence (inside a black hole), and yet the latter existence (inside a black hole) is inseparable from the former (the universe), since it is part of the former, but just a part. Once the star collapses to that infinitely dense singularity (black hole), the laws of physics break down, including gravity, since we are no longer able to measure the physical properties of this singularity in terms of the familiar 4 dimensional space-time (Euclidean space-time).

Obviously we know what lies outside a black hole, precisely because we live in that existence (universe). Furthermore, because we live in an existence outside of black holes, we understand the processes and laws of physics that lead up to the formation of black holes. We see that these processes are not guided by a conscious manipulator (supernatural being). The only major difference here, being that we don't know the precise nature of the existence outside of the Big Bang phase of the infinitely dense singularity, simply put, because we don't live in that existence.

However, theoretically speaking, had we lived in the existence outside of said infinitely dense singularity, the corresponding familiarity with the processes outside of our universe would have then made the seemingly "sudden appearance" of our universe less "so sudden", and less "spontaneous". In that respect, our universe will simply appear as the outgrowth of processes of another existence outside of our universe, with its respective laws of physics, which too would have required no conscious guidance by a supernatural being. As such, our universe would have appeared as just another "component" or "element" of another existence, not as some observers figure, i.e. "separate" from that existence, which they make synonymous with the existence of a supernatural being. This is the kind of approach that science is using in its quest to understand how our universe came into being. This matter will be revisited later on.

Some have sought to question progresses made in astronomy and quantum physics with regards to our understanding of the universe, by claiming that there is still much left about the universe that science hasn't unraveled, and hence, there is reason to take preexisting quantum theories about the genesis of the universe with a little grain of salt. This objection to scientific theory is further legitimized, so it goes, on the grounds that science has not definitely disproved the existence of a supernatural creator, not leaving out the notion that science uses [and is handicapped by] human-conceived abstracts to describe only that which is accessible to the human perception, and on the other hand, that religion too has not definitely proven the existence of this supernatural being. Reading between the lines, this is a essentially catchphrase for "not ruling out the existence of the supernatural being, although science may also be correct in its estimation that there is no evidence of a supernatural being or its intervention in the workings of the universe". In response to this kind of thinking, it's worth quoting Mr. Hawking as follows:

This raises deep philosophical questions about the meaning of existence. I shall deal with these by adopting what is called, the positivist approach. In this, the idea is that we interpret the input from our senses in terms of a model we make of the world. One **can not ask whether the model represents reality, only whether it works**. A model is a good model if first it interprets a wide range of observations, in terms of a simple and elegant model. And second, if the model makes definite predictions that can be tested and possibly falsified by observation.

Indeed, the models that we use to describe human observations are the creations of the human mind, and hence, are not tangible in the sense that one can physically touch them, nor are they immune to the imperfections in human perceiving capacity. For instance, "time" that we covered extensively in preceding passages, is simply an abstract conceived only in the human mind to measure the lifespan of humans, and elements of the universe. It is not something that one can touch, smell or see, but it is an abstract that works on a wide range of processes & events other than those undertaken by human beings themselves.

The same can be said of religious conceptsincluding the idea of a supernatural being, which theologists seem to shield from philosophical questions "about the meaning of existence" as a function of human perceptibility, but not afford the same to science; these are not things that can necessarily be touched, since many of them are only creations of the human mind. Human-conceived models should not be judged on whether they can be touched and to what extent, but rather, on how well they work! It is therefore worth repeating that : A model is a good model, if first it interprets a wide range of observations, and secondly, if the model makes definite predictions that can be tested and possibly falsified by observation. This is the essence of science.

To be continued: Here
_________________________________________________________________
*References:

Appreciations go to Stephen Hawking for making information available from his presentations on; The Origin of the Universe, The Beginning of Time, and Life in the Universe.

Wired Science website.

Scientific American website.

morningcoffeephysics.com.

Personal notes 2010 & 2011.

1 comment:

John D. Socrates a.k.a. Black Socrates said...

Excellent Summary of Dr. Hawking's argument