Mark is looking for feedback from readers of popular books on modern physics or cosmology which touch on the philosophical issues, including theological implications, of some aspects of modern physics.
“Mark Vernon would love to hear from any fans of popular science books written by physicists. Particularly the books of those who draw philosophical, even theological, implications in their writing.
- Do you agree with Steven Weinberg? ‘The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.’ The First Three Minutes
- Or do you side more with Freeman Dyson? ‘You ask: what is the meaning or purpose of life? I can only answer with another question: do you think we are wise enough to read God’s mind?’ Book inscription
- Dyson seems close to Paul Davies who has argued in books like The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life? that the fine-tuning of the universe requires an answer because it appears to give rise to a universe that can understand itself.
- Roger Penrose has a Platonic take on this: ‘There is a very remarkable depth, subtlety and mathematical fruitfulness in the concepts that lie latent within physical processes.’ Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness
- Different again are the views of Martin Rees: ‘(A posthuman future) is a substitute for religious belief, and I hope it’s true.’ What We Believe but Cannot Prove
- Or physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne: ‘The insights of science and the insights of religion are both essential to that task, for the more we learn about the structure and history of the natural world, the more we need to ask the question of whether there is a meaning and purpose behind that fascinating story.’ The Way the World Is: The Christian Perspective of a Scientist
- Or again, many readers turn to cosmologist Brian Swimme: ‘All fifteen billion years form an epic that must be viewed as a whole to understand its full meaning. This meaning is the extravagance of the creative outpouring, where each being is given its unique existence.’ The Universe Story
What is striking is that the ‘new physics’ is characterised by substantial and intriguing uncertainties: the interpretation of phenomena such quantum entanglement; the reality or not of the multiverse; the possible role of consciousness. It is very hard to know what to make of these mysteries and they attract much speculation.
These writers, and others, try to make sense of the meaning of this science, if they believe it has one. It is no doubt why many readers turn to them. Discernment is key.
IF ONE OR MORE OF THESE AUTHORS MEAN SOMETHING TO YOU, AND YOU’D BE HAPPY TO DISCUSS WHAT, PLEASE BE IN TOUCH BY EMAIL – mail at markvernon.com. Thank you!”