Re: Mind of God (was <no subject>

David S. Buchanan (
Fri, 19 Apr 1996 16:43:36 -0500

William Cobern asks:

>What caught my attention however was an extended discussion of Adolf
>Grunbaum's assertion of an "uncaused" beginning of the universe.
>Grunbaum apparently argues that modern physics is not *silent* about
>causes of the universe prior to the Big Bang, it actually rules them
>out. In other words, what happened before t=0 or what caused the Big
>Bang are questions based on assumptions that are actually denied by
>the model to which these questions are posed. At first this struck
>me as a physics version of the biology claim that the modern theory
>of evolution rules out any teleological question about (say) what
>drives evolution. If so, then I would expect this physics assertion
>to be just as pre suppositionally loaded as the assertion some in
>biology make that life is inherently without purpose - based on
>evolutionary theory. However, I don't know enough about the Big Bang
>theory to respond to Grunbaum's claim, and also I have not read
>Grunbaum. I am wondering if any on the ASA list who are physicists
>or philosophers would care to comment on Grunbaum's assertion. I
>would be particularly interested to hear from any one who has read
>Grunbaum's papers.

I am neither a physicist nor a philosopher. However, your post did
remind me of my impressions when I read "A Brief History of Time" by
Stephen Hawking. If I may briefly quote:

Einstein once asked the question" "How much choice did God
have in constructing the universe?". If the no boundary proposal
is correct, he had no freedom at all to choose initial conditions.
He would, of course, still have had the freedom to choose the laws
that the universe obeyed. This, however, may not really have been
all that much of a choice; there may well be only one, or a small
number, of complete unified theories, such as the heterotic
string, that are self-consistent and allow the existence of
structures as complicated as human beings who can investigate the
laws of the universe and ask about the nature of God.
Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is
just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire
into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?

Is Hawking commenting on your question?