Authors: "Manuel M Carreira S.J.", "Julio A. Gonzalo"

Everything Coming Out of Nothing vs. A Finite, Open and Contingent Universe

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Printed Copy: US $89
Library Book: US $96
ISBN: 978-1-60805-551-7
eISBN: 978-1-60805-460-2 (Online)
DOI: 10.2174/97816080546021120101

Introduction

Stephen Hawking, present occupant of the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge University, is today one of the best known theoretical cosmologists in the world. His important contributions, in collaboration with Roger Penrose, to the physics of black holes are well known, but this does not make comparable to those of Albert Einstein, as some times is affirmed in the mainstream media. In this book, Hawking´s work as presented at the Vatican Study Week on Astrophysical Cosmology (1981), his bestseller “A Brief History of Time” (1988), his lecture on “Gödel and the end of physics” (2002), and “The Grand Design”(2010) are briefly examined. In them many philosophical questions are raised but no rigorous answers are provided. In the second half of the book, chapters on the origin of science in the Christian West, the post-Renaissance scientific revolution, the true pioneers of modern physics put contemporary cosmology in a proper perspective. The authors conclude that contemporary observational data are compatible with a finite, open and contingent universe, rather than with “everything coming out of nothing”. This book puts in a proper historical perspective, contrary to Hawking’s, that the universe is intelligible as attested by the monumental fact of modern science, and, therefore, that it is contingent, and therefore created. Very often, contemporary theoretical cosmologists ignore the crucial contributions made in Medieval Europe to the birth of modern physics. This book intends to bridge the gap in accessible language for the non specialist.

Preface

Some contemporary scientists do not care about the principle of energy conservation and say seriously that the universe comes out of nothing. Of course Planck, Einstein and Lemaitre would disagree. But they do not seem to worry in the least. This is a clear proof that nowadays nonsequiturs are easily accepted in academic circles as most serious scientific statements.

After an introduction in which the authors review high level presentations at the 1993 Summer Course in El Escorial in which two future Nobel Prize winners, John C. Mather and George F. Smoot were principal speakers, this book puts into perspective the views of Stephen Hawking, from his presentation at the Vatican Study Week on Astrophysical Cosmology (1981), his book “A brief history of time”, (1988), his lecture on “Gödel and the end of physics” (2002), and his latest book “The Grand Design” (2010).

Chapters on the origin of science in the Christian West, the Post-Renaissance Revolution and the true pioneers of Modern Physics follow. A concluding chapter reviews briefly the evidence for a finite, open and contingent universe, and an illuminating Appendix on “The Chaos of Scientific Cosmology”, by the late historian and philosopher of science Fr. Stanley L. Jaki, recently deceased, completes the book.

In summary, pretending that “Everything coming out of nothing” is a realistic description of the origin of the universe is not logically, epistemologically or metaphysically tenable. On the other hand “A finite, open & contingent universe” is a reasonable coherent and intelligible description.

A description well grounded on the scientific evidence now available. In pre-Christian civilizations (India, China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, even pre-Christian Greece and Rome), as noted by Stanley L. Jaki, the cosmos was viewed as an eternal, infinite entity, subject to eternal returns. Only in medieval Catholic Europe, under the protecting shadow of right reason aided by Biblical revelation, did the view of a finite, open and contingent universe emerge. To some extent, this Christian view is shared also by Jews and Muslims philosophers who did not relapse to pagan pre-Christian pantheism.

Manuel Ma. Carreira S.J.
U. Pontificia de Comillas
Madrid

Julio A. Gonzalo
U. San Pablo CEU
Madrid

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