Mind of God The Scientific Basis for a Rational World PDF

Throughout history humans have dreamed of knowing the reason for the existence of the universe In The Mind of God physicist Paul Davies explores whether modern science can provide the key that will unlock this last secret In his quest for an ultimate explanation Davies reexamines the great questions that have preoccupied humankind for millennia and in the process explores among other topics the origin and evolution of the cosmos the nature of life and consciousness and the claim that our universe is a kind of gigantic computer Charting the ways in which the theories of such scientists as Newton Einstein and recently Stephen Hawking and Richard Feynman have altered our conception of the physical universe Davies puts these scientists' discoveries into context with the writings of philosophers such as Plato Descartes Hume and Kant His startling conclusion is that the universe is no minor byproduct of mindless purposeless forces We are truly meant to be here By the means of science we can truly see into the mind of God


10 thoughts on “Mind of God The Scientific Basis for a Rational World

  1. says:

    Celebrity Death Match Special The Mind of God versus Le Petit PrinceThe next asteroid the Little Prince came to was inhabited by a Pop Scientist He was just putting the finishing touches to a large bookGood morning said the Little Prince I see you have written a book Maybe you could tell me what it is about?It is called The Mind of God said the Pop Scientist It is about how wonderful the world is and what we can learn from that about the Person who may or may not have made itI enjoyed Signor Dante's book very much said the little Prince Is yours similar?Not really said the Pop ScientistThen what is it like? asked the Little PrinceWell said the Pop Scientist I consider the fine tuning of the physical constants and the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics as an explanatory mechanism That surely tells us something important Though one must also consider the consequences of Gödel's Theorem And I often use Conway's Game of Life as an illustrative exampleI said something like that to God the last time I met Him said the Little PrinceReally? said the Pop Scientist And what did God reply?He just laughed said the Little Prince And then I woke upI do not think you understand anything about these matters said the Pop Scientist angrilyYou are quite right said the Little Prince But all the same I believe I understand them about as well as you do Now I must be goingAnother one he said to himself as he saw the asteroid getting smaller behind him Yes grown ups are very very very strange


  2. says:

    I must confess this is the most monumentally unfair review I have ever written But how could I resist?


  3. says:

    Paul Davies is a working physicist who believes that the universe is not an accident that the laws science has discovered have a special form that links the human mind with the physical world You may agree or disagree but this book will make you think Recommended to anyone who thinks about science and religion either together or separately


  4. says:

    This book is a great argument for the contention that physicists should not write books concerned with metaphysics Davies like others in his profession normally follows empirical reasoning and evidenceEXCEPT in his thinking about religion god and the destiny of humanity In those instances his reasoning becomes trite and circular Just because some scientists wish that humanity was not just a random event in the universe doesn't mean that there must be a grand destiny for us that merely replicates on a large scale the logical shortcomings the anthropic principle Still there are some very interesting ideas to play with here so long as one avoids the easy temptation toward positivism another logical error exhibited by physicists with a metaphysical bent


  5. says:

    Once upon a time I thought Paul Davies was awesome I read About Time for a Physics for Poets and Philosophers class and it was so accessible and fantastic I thought all his books would be fantastic but this was lacklusterPaul Davies makes it perfectly clear that he's a deist a believer in God the watchmaker or God the ultimate architect He's not as pushy about his beliefs like Dawkins is in his books but he is very very redundant 200 pages later we've covered the randomness of quarks the beauty of pi the idea of parallel universes and the necessity of the universe being just right for life Yet this is a book that could have been written in a lot fewer pages He doesn't try to introduce any universal theory of everything but states purely that the existence of everything is too complex for the mere random arrangement of quarks It was a good idea but poorly executed


  6. says:

    A very enjoyable interesting and rewarding book The author is not afraid to tackle the most fundamental questions about the Universe sciencemathematics consciousness and their fascinating mutual inter relationships And he does it in a deep but accessible way combining a scientific approachoverview with interesting philosophical insights He is one of the few scientists who are not afraid to be politically incorrect in his positions and who honestly explores the deep ontological and epistemological questions that have confronted humankind since the ancient Greeks and he does it approaching the issues from several perspectives coming to conclusionsinsights with which I mostly strongly agree Excellent book


  7. says:

    one of the most interesting book i have read this is about creation and the principle of universediscussion about god and his relation to universe


  8. says:

    I just finished a book that required my full attention and challenged many of the assumptions I had about a divide between god and science This book I would say is one of the most challenging science slash philosophy book I have completed but one of the most rewarding What this book proposes is that science is a limited tool but one that can allow us to gather evidence of god This is suggested by the mysteries that lie outside the scientific realm mainly the existence of the laws of physics and consciousness and the limitations of science and mathematical reasoning Even though these are two of the chief ways of discovering the truth they have their limitations which before reading this book I did not fully understand This book also proposes a kind of reverential or mystical awe of the world that is furthered through an understanding in science Therefore it avoids many of the pitfalls of conventional religion and instead simply revers god the absolute the infinite call it what you well That this book is able to combine science and mysticism though a detailed and concise review of contemporary physics sets it apart as something special Science though beautiful is limited It is limited primarily because it uses inductive reasoning which at best can say something is very likely to happen but never certain It is further limited because it assumes the world is rational when there very well may certain questions that lie outside the scope of its reach or do not conform with our assumption of rationality Mathematics faces similar problems Both are invaluable but I did not understand their limitations or the leaps of faith required in following either field Another strong aspect of this book is that it does not cling to any one possible explanation or route of reasoning Instead it proposes many different theories that support its hypothesis of an ordered yet potentially evolving universe It leaves room for indeterminism and becoming at the individual and even universal scale In order to support these claims the author uses many arguments The bulk of them are from science explaining the laws of physics the connection between matter and energy singularity at the moment of the big bang quantum mechanics the elegance of mathematical formulas the existence of consciousness and others but he also strays into other somewhat philosophical justifications including the existence of beauty the potential power of mysticism and a somewhat Platonic realm of existence For me the Platonic argument rang very hollow as did his explanation of game theory or computer simulation universes but because that was only one of many strands of evidence employed I could easily disagree with him in that specific area but agree with him overall This is a strength of the book it presents many different options and leaves room for disagreement It is not limited by a dogma it must defend but rather open to many different ideas One of the most beautiful parts of the book involves a discussion of “existence is this paradoxical conjunction of begin and becoming” While I usually think of this on a philosophical level and interpret it simply on the realm of people and other animate objects Davies extends the idea of being and becoming to the universe itself He calls this process theory and he says that the universe may in fact be evolving and changing in an indeterministic way much like the individuals who inhabit and actively participate in this change It “asserts the primacy of becoming over being” 184 That’s a mind blowing idea Interestingly enough the idea of a timeless god juxtaposed with a changing physical universe is full of ideological problems which Acquinas and Augustine among others tried to reconcile Davie’s theory of an evolving universe that is simply a part of god avoids these pitfalls It may also be helpful to describe the three basic notions of god that exist – deism theism and pantheism Deism is “belief in a divine being who starts the universe off and then ‘sits back’ to watch event unfold taking no direct part in subsequent affairs” all these quotes will be from page 43 Secondly comes theism “belief in a god is who creator of the universe but who also remains directly involved in the day to day running of the world between creator and creature” Finally comes pantheism where “no such separation is made between god and the physical universe” I feel myself most comfortably in the last camp due to the presence of god that I see in others and the physical world I think Davies is also in this camp though he may attribute a bit of the watchmaker theist god in terms of the evolving universe That I can’t quite pin down what he believes in points to the author’s fairness in presenting different ideas without advocating his own at the expense of another Perhaps the main argument Davies uses and I would say rather brilliantly is that he doesn’t use matter as his main piece of evidence but rather the existence of overarching physical laws as evidence as to god’s hand in the universe “According to Stephen Hawking The universe of space time is internally consistent and self contained Its existence does not require anything outside of it specifically no prime mover is neededGiven the laws of physics the universe can so to speak take care of itself including its own creation But where to do these laws come from? Must we in turn find an explanation for them?” 68 While most contemporary scientists are content to ignore wondering about the origins of these laws one could say they make a leap of faith in this area Davies explores this subject brilliantly For Davies these laws are godlike They are universal perfect absolute omnipotent and eternal Isn’t it funny that these are attributes religions often give to their gods? I think this is one of the strongest and most compelling points of the book scientific laws are clues of god that we can glimpse and study as they are imbedded in the universe Equally fascinating is how Davies clearly values science and math and yet recognizes their limitations and ascribes them a level of uncertainty due to quantum mechanics I had no idea that there are hosts of unsolvable problems and uncomputable numbers in mathematics or the connection of uncertainty in quantum mechanics to both mathematics and science “Underlying the complexity of nature is the simplicity of physics” 135 what a beautiful sentence and what a deeper mystery it points to Through science we discover the world is simultaneously algorithmically compressible and open to organized complexity which allows us to be in deterministically open to creating our own path So cool What is ultimately beautiful about this book is it admits that human reasoning and the scientific method may not be enough to answer all our questions in particular the ultimate questions or metaphysical questions However it only arrives at this conclusion after a careful study of science not just a casual dismissal This is an author who thoroughly understands science and does a good job of communicating that eloquence to the reader This is also an author who understands the limitations of science and the leaps of faith one takes while being a follower of science I guess I’m proud to consider myself in the same camp as Davies a student of science and a happy participant in this cosmic mystery that is god’s dream A damn good bookQuotes“There remains that odd problem about the end of the explanatory chain achieved by reductionism However successful our scientific explanations may be they always have certain starting assumptions built insooner or later we all have to accept something as given whether it is god or logic or a set of laws or some other foundation for existence Thus ‘ultimate’ questions will always lie beyond the scope of empirical science as it is usually defined” 15“Far from exposing human being as incidental products of blind physical forces science suggests that the existence of conscious organisms is a fundamental feature of the universe We have been written into the laws of nature in a deep and I believe meaningful wayScience is a noble and enriching quest that helps us to make sense of the world in an objective and methodical manner It does not deny a meaning behind existence On the contrary” 21“This cosmic order is underpinned by definite mathematical laws that interweave each other to form a subtle and harmonious unity” 21“Science is founded on the hope that the world is rational in all its observable aspects It is possible that there may be some facets of reality which lie beyond the power of human reasoning” 24“Thinking is a process Being is a state When I think my mental state changes with time But the ‘me’ to which the mental state refers remains the same This is probably the oldest metaphysical problem in the bookThrough our own selves constitute our primary experience we also perceive an external world and we project onto that world the same paradoxical conjunction of process and being of the temporal and the atemporal On the one hand the world continues to exist on the other hand it changesSuperimposed on this backdrop of being in continual change Things happen The present fades into the past and the future ‘comes into being’ the phenomenon of be coming What we call ‘existence’ is this paradoxical conjunction of begin and becoming” 34“Heisenberg’s uncertainty principalthis unpredicatablitiy implies that the microworld is indeterministic to use Einstein’s picturesque phraseology god plays dice with the universeby weakening the link between cause and effect quantum mechanics provides a subtle way for us to circumvent the origin of the universe problem” 61“The essence of the dispute is whether one is simply to accept the explosive appearance of the universe as a bald unexplained fact – something belonging to the ‘that’s that’ category – or to seek some satisfying explanation” 60“According to Stephen Hawking The universe of space time is internally consistent and self contained Its existence does not require anything outside of it specifically no prime mover is neededGiven the laws of physics the universe can so to speak take care of itself including its own creation But where to do these laws come from? Must we in turn find an explanation for them?” 68“The existence of regularities in nature is an objective mathematical fact On the other hand the statements called laws that are found in textbooks clearly are human inventions but inventions designed to reflect albeit imperfectly actually existing properties of nature Without this assumption that the regularities are real science is reduced to a meaningless charade” 81“No one who is closed off from mathematics can ever grasp the full significance of the natural order that is woven so deeply into the fabric of physical reality” 93“Is it not a miracle that the universe is so constructed that such a simple abstraction as number is possible?” 108It appears as if there is a kind of randomness or uncertainty dare I call it ‘free will’ built into the Life universe as indeed there is in the real universe due to the restrictions of logic itself as soon as systems become complex enough to engage in self reference 115The popular image of mathematics as a collection of precise facts linked together by well defined logical paths is revealed to be false There is randomness and hence uncertainty in mathematics just as there is in physics 133The world is ordered both in the sense of being algorithmically compressible and in the sense of having depth The order of the cosmos is than mere regimented regularity it is also organized complexity and it is from the latter that the universe derives its openness and permits the existence of human beings with free will 139‘The book of nature’ opined Galileo ‘is written in mathematical language’ Why this should be so is one of the great mysteries of the universeThere are two broadly opposed schools of thought concerning its character The first of these holds that mathematics is purely a human invention the second is that it has an independent existence 141If beauty is than mere biology at work if our aesthetic appreciation stems from contact with something firmer and pervasive then it is surely a fact of major significance that the fundamental laws of the universe seem to reflect this ‘something’ 176Process though is an attempt to view the world not as a collection of objects or even as a set of events but as a process with a definitive directionality The flux of time thus plays a key role in process philosophy which asserts the primacy of becoming over beingprocess philosophy stresses the openness and indeterminism of nature The future is not implicit in the present 181Is this not to admit an element of irrationality into the world? Einstein thought so “God does not play dice with the universe” This was why he could never accept that quantum mechanics is another complete description of reality But one man’s irrationality is another person’s creativity And there is a difference between stochasticity and anarchy The development of new forms and systems is subject to general principles of organization that guide and encourage rather than compel matter and energy to develop along certain predetermined pathways of evolutionOne might say there is order in disorder Even chaos can possess statistical regularities 192The world contains individual objects and systems but they are structured such that taken together they form a unified and consistent wholeThe life cycle of stars provide just one example of the ingenious and seemingly contrived way in which the large scale and small scale aspects of physics are closely intertwined to produce complex variety in nature 197All three of the above arguments regarding the existence of the universe are founded on the assumption of human rationality that it is legitimate to seek ‘explanations’ for things and that we truly understand something only when it is ‘explained’ Yet it has to be admitted that our concept of rational explanation probably derives from our observations of the world and our evolutionary inheritance It is clear that this provides adequate guidance when we are tangling with ultimate questions? Might it not be the case that the reason for existence has no explanation in the usual sense? This does not mean that the universe is absurd and meaningless only that an understanding of its existence and properties lies outside the usual categories of rational human thought 225Regarding mystical experiences the language used to describe these experiences usually reflects the culture of the individual concerned Western mystics tend to emphasize the personal quality of the presence often describing themselves as being with someone usually god who is different from themselves but with whom a deep bond is feltEastern mystics emphasize the wholeness of existence and tend to identify themselves closely with the presence 227According to Rudy Rucker apparently a guy who trips pretty often ‘the central teaching of mysticism is this reality is one The practice of mysticism consists in finding ways to experience this unity directly The One has variously been called the good god the cosmos the mind the void or perhaps most neutrally the absolute No door in the labyrinthine castle of science opens directly onto the absolute But if one understands the maze well enough it is possible to jump out of the system and experience the absolute for oneself 228We who are children of the universe – animated stardust – can nevertheless reflect on the nature of that same universe even to the extent of glimpsing the rules on which it runs How we have become linked into this cosmic dimension is a mystery Yet the linkage cannot be denied 232


  9. says:

    The Mind of God by Paul Davies is subtitled The Scientific Basis for a Rational World it is both a tour and explanation of theories physical and metaphysical regarding ultimate causes Its title comes from a quotation from Stephen Hawking If we do discover a theory of everythingit would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would truly know the mind of GodIn the preface Davies explains that he has been interested in ultimate causes since childhood having annoyed his parents with unending why's about everything with each answer demanding another why and usually ending with the reply Because God made it that way and that's that Davies' narrative explores the nature of reason belief and metaphysics theories of the origin of the universe the laws of nature the relationship of mathematics to physics a few arguments for the existence of God the possibility that the universe shows evidence of intelligent design and his opinion of the implications of Gödel's incompleteness theorem that the search for a closed logical scheme that provides a complete and self consistent explanation is doomed to failure


  10. says:

    No matter if you are a deist atheist agnostic or whatsoever just go and read if you have that curiosity beyond Don't read to decide whether to believe or not but read to question what you want to believe