Steven WeinbergPassed away last week at the age of 88, he is not only a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, but also one of the most eloquent science writers of the past half century. His most famous (or perhaps notorious) statement can be found on the penultimate page of his first bestseller, First three minutes, Published in 1977.After telling the story of how our universe formed with the Big Bang about 13.8 billion years ago, and how it will end in the next billions of years, he concluded that no matter what the universe is about, it must be Yes oops not about US“The more the universe seems to be understandable,” he wrote, “the more it seems meaningless.”
For thousands of years, people have assumed the opposite. Our ancestors watched the world around us—people and animals, mountains and seas, sun, moon, and stars—and saw God.As Psalm 19 says: “The heavens speak of the glory of God, and the heavens proclaim his deeds.” Even Isaac Newton Saw a universe full of purpose. In his masterpiece, principle, He wrote: “This most beautiful system consisting of the sun, planets and comets can only come from the advice and rule of a smart and powerful person.”
In the centuries after Newton, science developed by leaps and bounds, and scientists rejected most theisms. Many thinkers believe that the universe operates like a powerful clockwork. Maybe a creator was needed to start it from the beginning, but now it can run on its own. EinsteinPeople who often talk about God in metaphors have adopted different strategies. He rejects personal gods, but believes that a pantheism—roughly speaking, the identification of God with nature—is reasonable.
In the second half of the 20th century, many people even thought these little gods were superfluous.exist Brief History of Time (1988), Stephen Hawking speculates that the universe has no possibility of a precise beginning; he controversially “Borderless proposal“(Co-proposed with Jim Hartle in the 1980s) shows that at the earliest moments of the universe, time may be like space. Without “time zero”, there is no moment of creation—the creator has nothing to do. (Some people have an opinion on the theory of evolution. Is hesitant in teaching, it’s not surprising Also opposed to the teaching of Big Bang Cosmology.)
Weinberg and many other famous physicists agree with Hawking’s materialist philosophy, that the universe is produced through a certain combination of contingency and natural laws. Prince Hamlet saw the purpose even in the tiniest event—”the sparrow falling has a special providence”—many scientists today only see objective laws of physics.
When I interviewed Weinberg in 2009, he told me that this sentence cast a long shadow on the “meaningless” universe.He said: “I have some negative reactions to the statement.” “Sometimes they take the form,’Well, why do you think it will have one point? ‘Other times people will say,’Well, this is not within the scope of science, it is up to you to decide whether it makes sense. I agree with this.I don’t think science can decide where Yes It doesn’t make sense; but it can definitely prove that it didn’t find one. He particularly criticized the view that used to be called “natural theology”-as the 19th psalm implies, people can learn about God by studying nature. Natural theology “is now discredited; we can’t see it in nature.” God’s hand. What conclusions you draw from this depends on you. “
Although he never tried to hide his atheism—perhaps only Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris were more outspoken—weinberg sympathized with those who longed for a deeper understanding of God. “I think a world ruled by a creator who cares about humans is more attractive in many ways than an impersonal world ruled by natural laws that must be expressed in mathematics; there is no law in the law that shows any special connection with human life, “he told me. Embracing science is the hardship of life and death without such comfort. “We will die, and those we love will also die. I believe this is not the end. We will live outside the tomb and see our loved ones again. It’s great,” he said. “Life without God is not so easy. In this sense, I feel the attraction of religion.”
Religion gives us “Requiem Mass, Gothic cathedral, and wonderful poetry”, which is commendable. We don’t have to give it up; we can still enjoy these things like I do.But I think if I really think I would like it better about Something; I don’t have one. It’s just beautiful poems, beautiful buildings, and beautiful music-but it has nothing to do with anything. “
Philosophy proposed by Weinberg First three minutes It has now been responded to in many popular physics books.exist Big picture (2016) The physicist Sean Carroll believes that there is nothing to fear in an immoral universe. He wrote that our task is to “live in peace with a universe that doesn’t care what we do, and be proud of the fact that we care no matter what.” Similarly, string theorist Brian Greene ) Insist that this is the whole content of physics.exist Until the last moment (2020) He wrote: “Particles and fields. The laws of physics and initial conditions. As far as the depth of reality we have explored so far, there is no other evidence to prove this.”
As for meaning, he stood firmly in the Weinberg camp: “In our brief moment under the sun, we shoulder the noble mission of finding our own meaning.” The end of everything (2020), astrophysicist Katie Mack conveyed a series of existential views of astronomers and physicists, most of whom repeated some versions of Weinberg-Carroll-Green’s position: the universe does not Full of meaning; instead, you must find your own. On the penultimate page—obviously, this is where these things happen—she reflects on “this great experiment of existence. This is the journey, I repeat to myself. This is the journey. “
Weinberg believes that science and religion are not constructive to each other, and many (though certainly not all) of his colleagues agree with this view. But the history of science can unfold in different ways. We can imagine generations of scientists standing with Newton, using nature as a way to understand God’s thoughts. To be sure, even today, some scientists still view their work in this way. (Guy Consomanio, An astronomer in the Vatican City, is an example. )
But they are a minority. As science and religion began to part ways—the process accelerated with Darwin’s work—science became secular. “Eliminate the word of God from the discourse of science,” wrote the historian Jon Roberts, “constitutes the defining characteristic of modern science.” Weinberg would agree. As he said to his audience in 1999: “One of the great achievements of science is that if it is not for making smart people impossible to believe in religion, then at least they can be made not. We should not shrink from this achievement.”
This is an opinion and analysis article; opinions expressed Author or author Not necessarily those Scientific american.