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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why is there something rather than nothing?, 17 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Grand Design (Paperback)
I opened with rather grand expectations the much talked about book by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow called `The Grand Design', as I really expected to be told how and why our universe was born.
However, I did lay this book down a a bit disappointed two nights later. In reality the book was just a grand tour of the latest theories in cosmology over which I did really already have a working knowledge even before reading this book.

Of course, the big news was that Stephen Hawking has thrown his full weight on the M-theory that does contain the idea of the multiverse. On the other hand, maybe the real big news for the general public was that Stephen Hawking has finally triumphantly and openly dismissed the idea of a creator-god as an unproven and unnecessary hypothesis.
This all is big news for those who are inclined to hero worship and Stephen Hawking has undoubtedly been a hero for many. Because of this fact, this book can of course have a bigger impact on the world than an reader like me can imagine.

I can freely admit that I have always thought that a person with the amount of knowledge and experience like Stephen Hawking has accumulated can never be other than a deist, agnostic or atheist. A person who is well versed in real science over the nature of our universe and cosmology in general just cannot believe in the kinds of gods that religions have on offer. This is true, if he or she wants to remain sane.

Of course, a scientist like Albert Einstein can believe in a pantheistic spirit of the universe or in a spiritual sameness of the whole nature. For some unknown reason, he preferred to call this idea confusingly with a same name that the religions do use for their own "gods".
One must really remember that this Einsteinian spirit of the universe has nothing to do with the angry and worship demanding god-figure that is available in, for example, the Jewish and Christian religions.

However, the book is an excellent read and for a person just dipping his or her toes in these matters it can be a real eye-opener. The writers do explain in a clear and crisp language very many difficult concepts and ideas. They really explain a lot of the nature of the bits and pieces that make up our universe.
I did enjoy the book all the way. However, I was left with the feeling that towards the end of the book the grip of the writers had lessened. The grand ideas presented there are just presented with a little too thin layer of explanations.

After all, I was left after reading this book at the very same point as before reading it. I am greatly enthralled by the M-theory and a keen believer in the idea of multiverses, but even after reading this book I do think that they are still theories, even if very, very, very promising theories. I hope that one day we can also prove them, as they offer a good way to solve many puzzles in the nature of our universe.
Sadly this day is not here, even if Stephen Hawking has apparently become quite convinced on the validity of these theories. Of course, this endorsement gives a major boost to the scientific reputation of these theories, but reputation alone does not prove a theory.

On the other hand, we can also think as my wife. She said just recently when we did discuss the nature of our universe: "I do not need to know how the refrigerator works to use it". In other words, we can live happy and full lives even with the full knowledge that we do not know for certain why our universe was born. Of course, we can get comfort from the certainty that we most certainly will have better knowledge about this matter in 10 or 100 or 1000 years.
There is the incredible hubris of the creators of these religions who claim to having found all the answers to all of the unanswered or difficult questions that humanity has ever faced.
This book would of course be a valuable source of information just for people quite satisfied with the crude and extremely simplistic answers offered by the religions, but I'm afraid the people who would need most to read this book will never come even near it.
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