Friday, September 03, 2010

"How" is not "Why"

Apparently top physicists haven't figured out the difference between "how" and "why." In a review of The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, this article says they answer "why we are here." Then it goes on to explain that Hawking and Mlodinow provide an easy-to-understand explanation of how the universe (and others) came into being out of nothing.

Unfortunately, they have confused How a thing happens, which science is very good at explaining, with Why a thing happens, which science is unequipped to answer. "Why are we here?" is not answered with references to particles and such. Science doesn't have any facts or measurements that can quantify the meaning of life.

The idea that science can provide an answer to why we are here is a fallacy, and it can lead to people thinking that because science has no answer, there is no reason. Don't fall into the trap.

I have my theories about why I'm here, based on my experiences and research. I don't claim to have the answer for everyone, but I've found meaning in my life, and I'm happy with that.

If you can't find meaning in your life, at least make up something that's fun.


  1. After reading about Hawking's conclusion regarding God, I was nearly provoked into writing about it, and then I realized I don't give a rat's ass what Hawking thinks about God. Just goes to prove that no matter how "smart" you are, if you don't open up your heart to the divine source within, there's one aspect of yourself that remains stupid and cut off from all the power that is your birth right.

  2. Here, here! Well said, Frater RO. It is so easy to explain things in the "how" and assume that it fulfulls the "why." But as one of my profs uses to say, "don't mistake physics for metaphysics. One will tell you what the world is and the other why the world is here."

  3. I have to agree with The Scribbler. I am way past caring what highly regarded scientists believe or do not believe about God or anything other than the technical details of the "how."

    For too many people, scientists have become the new shaman/priest.

  4. Thought about posting on this as well.

    But then I realised everything I have to say to Dr Hawking can be summed up with an Indiana Jones quote:

    "Indy, you're digging in the wrong place."

  5. Someone had to say it.

    I'm glad it was you.

  6. There is a word for this exact sort of confusion that I learned in a psych class once. It's bothering the hell out of me that I can't remember it.

  7. RO: Yes, I was a bit surprised with Mrrs. Halking and Mlodinow came to their conclusion. It reminded me of a passage in a book, "Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb" and "the world is full of educated derelicts".


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