November 3, 2010

Through the Fishbowl

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?

1 comment :
  1. In "The Grand Design" Stephen Hawking postulates that the M-theory may be the Holy Grail of physics...the Grand Unified Theory which Einstein had tried to formulate but never completed. It expands on quantum mechanics and string theories.

    In my e-book on comparative mysticism is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

    E=mc², Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

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