Shuck and Jive

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Universe From Nothing

I just interviewed Lawrence Krauss, physicist and author of A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing.    I enjoyed both the book and the conversation and you can hear the interview in a few weeks on Religion For Life.  

This is a book about cosmology and the universe and how wild it is.  He takes a few well-deserved and necessary pokes at theologians who want to fit "God" in there somewhere.   He shows convincingly to me at least that there is not much place for "supernatural shenanigans" as he puts it.   He writes:
A universe without purpose or guidance may seem, for some, to make life itself meaningless.  For others, including me, such a universe is invigorating.  It makes the fact of our existence even more amazing, and it motivates us to draw meaning from our own actions and to make the most of our brief existence in the sun, simply because we are here, blessed with consciousness and with the opportunity to do so.   p. 181

I have been blathering for six years on this blog.  I have expressed my doubts about God, life after death, and what have you from the vantage point of a minister.   I like religion.  I embrace its social aspect.  I regard its mythologies as poetry.   When religion is honest it is good.  But it is hardly ever literal for me.   

In doing this, I have felt a little guilty.  Perhaps I was writing from the perspective of a person born sucking a silver spoon.  Perhaps if I suffered more I would more readily accept the teachings of the orthodox faith and bow to the wisdom of Mother Church and her guardians.  If I was more acquainted with pain I would embrace the truth of the bodily resurrection and the reality of a personal God.

Now with the death of my son, I think I am a legitimate member of the "sufferer's club."   If that isn't a pitiful club to join I don't know what might be.

Yet even after this experience, I cannot say I am more willing to embrace orthodoxy.   I am pretty much the same as far as all of that goes.  I recognize the impermanence of life more.   Some of the theologians got that right.  I do love church.  I love the hymns and the scriptures, but more importantly I love the people.    I am fiercely proud and in awe of anyone who does and believes in whatever they need to do or believe in in order to cope with the excruciating fragility of life.

But after all of this, I am, at the end of the day, no more and no less than I was before, still in the camp of Krauss, who writes about the universe's future thusly:
Our universe will then recollapse inward to a point, returning to the quantum haze from which our own existence may have begun.  If these arguments are correct, our universe will then disappear as abruptly as it probably began.

In this case, the answer to the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" will then simply be:  "There won't be for long."  p. 180

Oddly enough, I am OK with that.


1 comment:

  1. But we are part of the Universe. The part that looks at itself in the mirror and says, "Thou art the fairest of them all".

    What is the difference between life and death? Are we not always part of the primordial soup, the star dust that configures and reconfigures itself, one day a moon, another day a tree, one day a son of man, the next, a star again?

    We are like kneaded dough. Our thoughts, our feelings and memories, become the feelings and memories of the Universe from whence we came, and to which we return, even though we never left.

    It is love, the string, which binds us all together. Galaxy to Star, Star to Planet, Planet to Father, Father to Son, and back again. From big bang to big bang, an endless heart beat, from time everlasting to time everlasting, and all over again. We may seem to be nothing, but we saw!

    We lived and saw it.

    How long did the atoms in your eye have to wait their turn to experience the magnificence of it all? And how long will they gladly wait to see it all again?

    "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
    The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
    What is man that You take thought of him,
    And the son of man that You care for him?
    Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
    And You crown him with glory and majesty!"