Archive for April, 2012
24 Apr 2012
The title of Lawrence Krauss's book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing, might have led you to believe that the theoretical physicist had attempted to answer the question of why there is something rather than nothing.
But it seems that Krauss was claiming nothing of the sort. At least, that's what I glean from a recent interview. Here are some selected highlight (interviewer's words in bold):
On that note, you were recently quoted as saying that philosophy "hasn't progressed in two thousand years." ...
Well, yeah, I mean, look I was being provocative, as I tend to do every now and then in order to get people's attention. ...
I try to be intellectually honest in everything that I write, especially about what we know and what we don't know. If you're writing for the public, the one thing you can't do is overstate your claim, because people are going to believe you. ...
And so when I read the title of your book, I read it as "questions about origins are over." ...
Well, if that hook gets you into the book that's great. But in all seriousness, I never make that claim. In fact, in the preface I tried to be really clear that you can keep asking "Why?" forever. At some level there might be ultimate questions that we can't answer, but if we can answer the "How?" questions, we should, because those are the questions that matter. And it may just be an infinite set of questions, but what I point out at the end of the book is that the multiverse may resolve all of those questions. From Aristotle's prime mover to the Catholic Church's first cause, we're always driven to the idea of something eternal. ...
I don't ever claim to resolve that infinite regress of why-why-why-why-why; as far as I'm concerned it's turtles all the way down. The multiverse could explain it by being eternal, in the same way that God explains it by being eternal ...
What drove me to write this book was this discovery that the nature of "nothing" had changed, that we've discovered that "nothing" is almost everything and that it has properties. ...
If I'd just titled the book "A Marvelous Universe," not as many people would have been attracted to it.
Well, glad we've got that cleared up now. Why does the multiverse exist rather than n— ... erm ... nada, zilch, nuttin'? That's a question we can't answer. The multiverse just exists. It's eternal.
23 Apr 2012
I'm glad that there is such a thing as a Christian response to climate change, but it needs to be much greater in order to help the huge number of people who are already suffering the consequences of our past and current actions.
10 Apr 2012
A bit of Easter reading for you: The Physical Future, an article on Theology Network by Paul Blackham, about the Christian hope for eternity. It's a hope that is clearly glimpsed by Jesus' body being raised back to life on Easter Day, and it's a hope that Jesus will return to put things right, and to enable us to live for ever on this earth in physical bodies.
The article includes a striking quote by 2nd-century Christian apologist Justin Martyr:
There are some who are called Christians, but are actually godless, impious heretics, and they teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, and foolish… These who are called Christians, who venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob say that there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven forever; do not imagine that they are Christians.
How things have changed! Many Christians today would speak of "going to heaven forever" as their hope for the future. But it seems that in Justin Martyr's day, this was so obviously wrong that he would have assumed that anyone who spoke in those terms must surely not be a Christian at all! But compared with this kind of disembodied existence, the reality of the hope of bodily resurrection, as the article explains, is so much more exciting and so much more appealing.
3 Apr 2012
...is the title of a talk I'm due to give later in April, to a Christian group in Leeds. Here's the summary:
Is there a distinctively Christian view of astronomy? Or is astronomy "neutral", and untouched by Christian faith?
The Reformational stream of Christian thinking emphasises that all areas of life, reality and culture are created by God, affected by the Fall, and will ultimately be put right by Christ. This means that for any area, such as astronomy, Christian faith ought to make a radical difference.
The aim of this talk is to look at astronomy from a distinctively Christian perspective. How might Christians look differently at the universe? How might Christians look differently at the academic discipline of astronomy? And how might Christians look differently at the place of astronomy in society? The talk may or may not succeed in answering those questions, but a liberal sprinkling of pictures of stars and galaxies will ensure that it is an awe-inspiring evening!
No idea what I'm going to say yet. Suggestions welcome in the box below...
More details about the talk are on the WYSOCS events page. Maybe see you (both) there?