Monday, May 14, 2012

A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time By Stephen W. Hawking Book Review
By Richard E. Noble I read this book several years ago and since that time I have read it several more times. Since my first reading, I have not been able to get this book off my mind. On that account I should give it five stars. But the things that I can’t get off my mind are all negative criticisms. On that account I should give it one star. My criticisms start before I even get to the author. In his introduction Carl Sagan speaks of “Einstein’s famous question about whether God had any choice in creating the universe.” Unfortunately Mr. Sagan paraphrases this one of Einstein’s many famous questions incorrectly, as my memory recalls. If there were a God why would he not have a choice in creating the universe? This paraphrasing makes no sense. Einstein’s question as I recall it was whether or not God had any choice in his own existence. Now that is a big question. Mr. Sagan’s incorrect paraphrasing makes Einstein’s “famous question” no question at all. Asking whether God had a choice in his own existence is a subtle way of stating the impossibility of the God concept. If there is a God he could not have had the choice to exist or not to exist. He either was or he wasn’t. If he wasn’t, he could never have been because something cannot come from “nothing.” The answer to the rhetorical question is that he had no choice and therefore was lacking in freedom. God cannot be God and be lacking in freedom. Therefore the concept of God is untenable. The above is not my opinion; it is simple philosophic logic that can be found in any philosophy book debating the God concept. This was really a rhetorical question in my opinion on the part of Einstein. He was expressing his dubiousness on this subject. If there is a God whether or not to create the universe is no problem at all; God can do as he pleases. He can create it or not create it. Who or what is going to make him do it or not do it? What logic says he can’t do it? Sagan’s question makes no sense. There is a second interpretation of this question. Could God have made the universe in any other way than the way that it is? This question was already asked and debated vigorously. Gottfried Leibniz presented this notion in 1710 Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil. Leibniz’s point was that this is the best of all possible worlds. Of course, if this is the best of all possible worlds, God could not have been all that bright according to Voltaire. Voltaire mocked and ridiculed this notion in his popular play Candide. Einstein certainly was aware of all this. I doubt he would have asked the same foolish question once again. Did God have any choice in his own existence, is a much bigger question. This question is more of what I would expect from Albert Einstein. And this is Einstein’s question as I have read it in biographies of Albert Einstein. Albert was not a believer in any anthropomorphic God notions. He proposed a cosmic concept of the universe based on physics and science. Now we come to Mr. Hawking and friends. Unfortunately there is a lot of sloppy language going on in the scientific community. Mr. Hawking is just one of many who “slop” around terms to the point of meaninglessness. One such term is the word “universe.” The universe is defined briefly as, “all that is.” I am sorry but there cannot be two “all that is.” All that is covers everything. It follows then that there can be no multiple universes, parallel universes or competing universes. There can only be one universe. Scientists are obviously using the word “universe” with a different understanding than “all that is.” Somebody should explain to readers how the scientific community is defining the word universe. Other improperly used words are infinite and annihilate. The universe cannot be at the same time infinite and limited. An infinite universe cannot expand. It is already infinite. It can’t get no bigger than that. A particle cannot be annihilated and at the same time transformed into something else. If a particle is annihilated it not only disappears, it ceases to exist. It doesn’t just disappear. As far as I know annihilation is impossible. Therefore if a particle turns into light and/or energy, then it hasn’t been annihilated. It has been transformed. It can only be annihilated if it has been turned into nothing – and this is an impossible theoretical state. A state of “nothing” does not exist. Space is also something. Its influences may be so minimal that they are not necessary to mathematical equations but space is more than a state or condition fabricated by gravity and other magnetic forces. There are scientists who are presently working to discover exactly what space is and what its influences are on the universe. Light travels in straight lines in all directions infinitely – but it also bends. This is impossible. It does one or the other. It either travels infinitely in straight lines or it bend and wiggles its way through space. If light bends and wiggles its way through space then it certainly cannot be used as a measurement of the distance between planets or galaxies. Unless someone can measure the exact amount of wiggle at every distance in space – which I doubt very much is possible. What the heck are these scientists talking about? An ellipse is an extended circle? Then I suppose a circle is a square with rounded sides. I know these guys are trying to dumb this stuff down for folks like me but if they dumb it down too much they are me and then we are all going nowhere. I’m not a Big Bang guy and neither was Mr. Hubble. I have read that Mr. Hubble who established the notion of red shifts and blue shifts said that he in no way concluded from this observation that the universe is actually expanding or that any Big Bang was involved. I think the Big Bang notion is comparable to “the world is flat” notion along with the Ptolemaic universe and phlogiston. It is being challenged by plasma theorists and others. The whole concept seems to be imploding in favor of an infinite, self-evolving universe. I am reading a book at the moment by Eric J. Lerner The Big Bang Never Happened. It is making some sense to my way of thinking. Question posed in Mr. Hawking book: What was God doing before he created the universe? Answer provided in book by St. Augustine: Time did not exist before the beginning of the universe. So then where was God? He obviously did not exist before the universe either. Is God not a part of “all that is”? Does he exist? If so then he must have existed within the concept of “all that is” – the universe. No universe, no God. And if the universe had no beginning – and the Big Bang cannot be construed as the beginning of “all that is” – then St. Augustine may be right. Time began when the universe began; the universe always was and always will be (in one shape or another) therefore time always was and always will be. Mr. Hawking, Mr. Sagan and others in the scientific community I don’t think are/were big on philosophy. They know their math but seem short on logic and semantics. This book to me is pretty much an exercise in scientific madness (time going backwards, the universe collapsing, parallel universes, universes that are cone shaped, or infinite but finite and limited) but it is not just Mr. Hawking who has gone mad. He has a whole bunch lined up to jump off the edge of the universe and splatter on the nothingness below following eagerly behind him.

1 comment:

The Daily Growler said...

Excellent thinking, Richard...and did you think because these "whatevers" are all MAN conceived and spouted they are WRONG from the is not the center of any universe, is he? The only God or gods I know are in the imaginations of men.