Sunday, August 13, 2017

Book Review: The Grand Design (2010) by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

The Grand Design (2010) by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

We each exist for but a short time, and in that time explore but a small part of the whole universe. But humans are a curious species. We wonder, we seek answers. Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at the immerse heavens above, people have always asked a multitude of questions: How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator? Most of us do not spend most of our time worrying about these questions, but almost all of us worry about them some of the time.”

Good introduction, fair questions. The last book I read by Hawking is A Brief History of Time which primary dealing with how did the universe begin and what made its start possible, does time always flow forward, is the universe unending or are there boundaries, are there other dimensions in space, and what will happen when it all ends. In The Grand Design, Hawking (and Mlodinow) writes a sequel which try to explore deeper questions such as the above quotation. Both authors explain why, according to quantum theory, “the cosmos does not have just a single existence, or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously.”

They question the conventional concept of reality, posing instead a "model-dependent" theory of reality (which I’m not so clear about). “We discuss how the laws of our particular universe are extraordinarily finely tuned so as to allow for our existence and show why quantum theory predicts the multiverse – the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature,” explained Hawking. “And we assess M-Theory, an explanation of the laws governing the multiverse, and the only viable candidate for a complete ‘theory of everything’” (the unified theory that Albert Einstein was looking for even on his deathbed).

I think one particularly controversial claim that both authors wrote in this book is the idea that the universe can be explain without God. “Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? Why this particular set of laws and not some other? Some would claim the answer to these questions is that there is a God who chose to create the universe that way. It is reasonable to ask who or what created the universe, but if the answer is God, then the question has merely been deflected to that of who created God. In this view it is accepted that some entity exists that needs no creator, and that entity is called God. This is known as the first-cause argument for the existence of God. We claim, however, that it is possible to answer these questions purely within the realm of science, and without invoking any divine beings.

I say that the fact that M-theory, the Theory of Everything, the unified theory Einstein was hoping to find, cannot be found until today or ever will be, is because to understand the universe, we cannot depend on physical evidences and observable experiments alone. The grand design come from the Great Designer, the Living God. My interest in science and theoretical physics especially, does not need me to ignore the existence of God, but rather, because God is the grandiose Designer, I want to understand the world (and remain curious) both in physical and spiritual perspectives.

[This book is for general readers, but some terms and theories are so hard for me to understand. So I need help. I watched Lawrence Krauss - Physics Made Easy on YouTube and Discovery Channel Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design: Documentary. And to detox my mind from the ‘denial’ of God, I listened and watched John Lennox, scientist and apologist, counter argument in God and Stephen Hawking on YouTube]

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