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The Grand Design gets angry reviews

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow’s The Grand Design (Bantam Books) was Amazon’s top seller upon its release on Tuesday. It has since fallen to the fourth spot, raking in less than Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy but more than Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom [even without Barack Obama getting an ARC].

Co-authored by the world’s most recognizable living physicist, the book uses science to answer ancient questions about the purpose of life. According to Amazon, The Grand Design illustrates how we “create history by observing it” and dives into the M-theory, described as the “theory of everything.”

The Twitter community brings up The Grand Design every few minutes while a few religious groups get riled up over the book’s ideas. One scientist and former head of the Royal Institution in the U.K. even described Hawking’s determined convictions as “Taliban-like.” After all, according to the Telegraph, Hawking and Mlodinow (more or less) deny the existence of God, writing the following: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.”

In the midst of it all, The New York Times’ Dwight Garner has given the book another slap:

The real news about The Grand Design, however, isn’t Mr. Hawking’s supposed jettisoning of God, information that will surprise no one who has followed his work closely. The real news about The Grand Design is how disappointingly tinny and inelegant it is. The spare and earnest voice that Mr. Hawking employed with such appeal in A Brief History of Time has been replaced here by one that is alternately condescending, as if he were Mr. Rogers explaining rain clouds to toddlers, and impenetrable.

Garner later describes the co-authors as “an awkward pair, part A Beautiful Mind, part borscht belt,” and the book as “provocative pop science, an exploration of the latest thinking about the origins of our universe. But the air inside this literary biosphere is not especially pleasant to breathe.”

Q&Q has yet to smell the air in The Grand Design‘s literary biosphere. But it’s easy to see why Hawking and Mlodinow might get condescending: they are writing about creation, a subject we’ve failed to get any real grasp of for thousands of years.

  • http://www.suprarational.org Ron Krumpos

    n “The Grand Design” Stephen Hawking postulates that the M-theory may be the Holy Grail of physics…the Grand Unified Theory which Einstein had tried to formulate and later abandoned. It expands on quantum mechanics and string theories.

    In my e-book on comparative mysticism is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

    Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (fx raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

  • N3e3o

    what if we are both right. that there just may be ‘an architect’ that has ‘scientifically’ evolved us. If this is a game, then in the end, he (a human word to define a human condition – male or female – which in reality is quite irrelevant) wins either way. There is a variable left – the variable of why? For what reason. Perhaps he ( a human word to define a human condition – which in reality is quite irrelevant), does not know himself. Perhaps he has left us with choice to make these decisions on our own. Einstein. now there was a man, who had completely no control over anything. Despite all the calculations, the theories, the formula’s. He still had no control. In the quote you mentioned below Ron,  he wrong only about one thing…  …this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all of us. our anger of why he/she has left us to decide on our own came out of Einstein in that last sentence. It is only human. It was.. ..only the way it was then and is now. i wish i could tell Steven to listen to more music now. out of everything, this is really the only true gift given to us. It cannot be cut off, diseased, taken away from us, burnt, betrayed, destroyed or die. Even when we are dead,  it still goes on. They say, “one who does not love music, is a computer program with skin.” i say, we are all computer programs wanting to shed the ‘skin’. and we will use all the equations in the universe to do it to. 

    :)

    daniel

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