Live Science enumerates eight "shocking things" that we learn from a new book by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, the Grand Design. Many of you would have heard about the book a sensation in circles of philosophical inquiry into the non-entity called god where Hawking and Mlodinow declared, I quote Live Science, "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going". God is a superfluous concept in cosmology.
I have not read the book, but I have no idea why Live Science should call this and seven other "assertions", shocking. It does not shock me to know that fictitious, and often allegedly anthropomorphic and sentient non-entities, that go by the name "gods", have nothing to do with this and other probable universes. These gods were merely created to serve pompous and parasitic men and a few, rare, females of the species who wanted to control the lives of others and extort from them their upkeep and maintenance.
My personal favorite, however, is #5 on the Live Science list:
5. Oppressed fish
A few years ago, the city council of Monza, Italy, barred pet owners from keeping goldfish in curved bowls. This law was meant to protect the poor fish from a distorted nature of reality, since bent light might show them an odd portrayal of their surroundings.
Hawking and Mlodinow bring up the incident to make the point that it is impossible to know the true nature of reality. We think we have an accurate picture of what's going on, but how would we know if we were metaphorically living in a giant fishbowl of our own, since we would never be able to see outside our own point of view to compare?
That's interesting. Does this mean that we'll never know the "truth" about the universe? Is reality only as we see it through the "fishing bowl"? Is everything that we observe, analyze, and interpret, subjective at best? Does this lend support the Rabindranath Tagore's contention in his conversation with with Albert Einstein eighty years ago, that what we perceived as reality was illusory? I don't think so.
Deriving his arguments from the Upanishads, Tagore thought of matter and the universe the table in the room where they met, for example merely as a product of our subjective experience. Einstein had countered that the universe, just as the table that it contained, was an objective reality, independent of the observers. I am with Einstein: unlike the gods who were supposed to have caused it, the existence of the universe is not an illusion.
In any case, it's not like any fiction is going to make truth shine through the fishbowl, is it?