Summary of Chapter 4
Chapter 4 deals successively with the origin of the cosmos, its history up to
the present time, and conjectures concerning how it all ends.
Four conjectured origin scenarios are surveyed; three of them postulate a
spontaneous emergence from a null state or singularity that avoids any explicit
appeal to any realm of Transcendence. They therefore share the ellipsis of
being ontological danglers, and for this reason cannot be accepted. The
fourth, that of Hartle and Hawking, finesses the origin conundrum through a
mathematical trick that envisages time as having a space-like 'real' origin, so that in
terms of ontological priorities, space has precedence over time. This implies a
value judgment suggesting that science was here exceeding its mandate.
Commonsense intuition protests over any such cavalier short changing of the
The present 'default' theory of how we got from there to here
is -to my taste- unaesthetic and 'brute-forceish'. Guth's 'inflation'
episode near to the 'big bang' origin seeks to contend with otherwise
contradictory anomalies in the degree of homogeneity in the macrostructure of
the cosmos. And finessing the recent type 1a supernovae observations
-seemingly signifying an accelerating expanding universe- has led to
a reinstatement of an updated version of Einstein's cosmological constant -an
ad hoc solution. Far more attractive is Joao Magueijo's
proposal that the observations are artifacts caused by a progressive shift in
the velocity of light's 'constant' c.. This also accounts for what
otherwise intrudes as a remarkable coincidence -that at the present time,
Ω = 1 -as nearly as we can tell. (Such a unitary
value, I would add, comes close to being demanded by any 'Anthropic Principle'
able to meet the needs of a positive eschatology of the type featured in my own
overview of reality).
This, of course, is no argument for those who dismiss the whole idea as
'folk superstition'. The 'variable c' theory is not without its
problems, yet for the way it restores sanity to the status quo, it ought to be
instated as the default posture pending further discoveries.
So far as the wind-up of the cosmos is concerned, most lines of speculation
envisage a limited innings for life and consciousness, regardless of what might
be the fate of
the material, inorganic realm (whether it converge to a 'big crunch' or
oscillates or expands indefinitely, progressively losing coherence, or whatever).
Here and there, however, an odd physicist or two have speculated that consciousness of
sorts might endure indefinitely. What most of the proponents of this line
of thought seem to be unaware is that they are confusing the eternal
with the everlasting, offering us the latter whereas it would only be the
former that could be something truly to be wished. An everlasting existence would be
indistinguishable from hell.
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