Brief Answers to the Big Questions

  • Author
    Stephen Hawking
  • Published year
    2018
  • Category
    Science
  • Status
    Reading

8 Highlights

Science is increasingly answering questions that used to be the province of religion. Religion was an early attempt to answer the questions we all ask: why are we here, where did we come from?
The laws of science determine the evolution of the universe, given its state at one time. These laws may, or may not, have been decreed by God, but he cannot intervene to break the laws, or they would not be laws. That leaves God with the freedom to choose the initial state of the universe, but even here it seems there many be laws. So God would have no freedom at all.
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space." - Hamlet
William Shakespeare
Einstein objected strongly to the idea that the universe is governed by chance. His feelings were summed up in his dictum 'God does not play dice.' But all the evidence is that God is quite a gambler. The universe is like a giant casino with dice being rolled, or wheels being spun, on every occasion.
At first, evolution proceeded by natural selection - from random mutations. This Darwinian phase lasted about three and a half billion years and produced us, being who developed language to exchange information. But in the last 10,000 years or so we have been in what might be called an external transmission phase. In this, the internal record of information, handed down to succeeding generations in DNA, has changed somewhat. But external record - in books and other long-lasting forms of storage - has grown enormously.
I discount suggestions that UFOs contain beings from outer space, as I think that any visits by aliens would be much more obvious - and probably also much more unpleasant.
General relativity was a major intellectual revolution that has transformed the way we think about the universe. It is a theory not only of curved space but of curved or warped time as well. Einstein had realised in 1905 that space and time are intimately connected with each other, relating space and time to each other.
We can actually observe this warping of space-time produced by the mass of the Sun in the slight bending of light or radio waves passing close to the Sun.