Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stephen Hawking's god

A recent PBS documentary on science, “Genius by Stephen Hawking” beckoned. Anything about genius and Stephen Hawking promised to be good. I hoped nothing would interrupt me when it was on TPT.

Hawking challenged volunteers to think like geniuses in finding answers to seemingly unanswerable questions. I expected to be intrigued. Volunteers saw plates suspended in the air and spinning. Magic?  No, it turned out to be magnets. We were to conclude that the laws of nature answer mysteries of the universe.

All mysteries? Some scientists thought so. Pierre-Simon LaPlace asserted: If we knew all facts of the universe, we would know everything that will happen in the future. He and others posited the clockwork universe of determinism, but I won’t get into that because I didn’t buy it and Hawking didn’t either.

In another puzzle that Hawking set up, a volunteer's head was wired up so that his brain was connected to a screen. When he moved his finger, something moved on the screen. A tiny moment before this change showed on the screen, electrical impulses indicated activity in his brain.

Conclusion? Hawking said that the brain made the decision to move his finger—not a thinking mind but a brain, that is, matter. In other words, we should believe that our decisions are determined by physical stuff, not by thought.
I saw clear signs of consciousness or thought operating in the demonstration, but Hawking and the volunteers never wondered what caused the brain activity before that brain activity caused bodily movement.

Hawking seemed intent on proving that no immaterial force exists. Apparently he is so mesmerized by the foolishness of belief in gods that he cannot grasp a more sophisticated concept of what is called “God.”

There were six episodes in the series shown in three evenings, two every evening. By the last evening I was bored. The admittedly ingenious scientific challenges Hawking set up for volunteers continued to engage their scientific minds.
But I'm no good at and not interested in solving math and science problems. I want to ponder the implications of scientific findings, the large questions of meaning. Hawking promised to address them, but I kept seeing promises broken.

He asked good questions: “Why are we here? Is free will an illusion? Can we take credit for our actions? How did the universe begin? How did life begin? Can we go backward in time?

To every question his answer was to show volunteers grappling with physical, scientific puzzles but never tackling the deeper issues. We saw evolution in process, how electrons befuddle experimenters, how old life is, where we fit in the universe, how unfathomably large it is, and more. We did not, however, see answers to ultimate questions posed in the experiments.

We did not see the origin of the universe demonstrated as Hawking had promised. One evening focused on life’s beginnings, purporting to show how we came to be. We saw amino acids + salt (sea water saw the first life forms) + glyceral + energy leading to life forms.
In all steps demonstrated that evening, the key ingredient was ENERGY—not a physical thing. Energy is non-material, therefore spiritual. Energy could be one synonym for “God,” but Hawking’s mind could not go there.

In another episode, blindfolded volunteers showed that the position of particles on the quantum level is unknowable. Hawking mentioned Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, but he did not mention the most enigmatic part of it—that the outcome of every quantum experiment depends on the experimenter, on the decision of a human mind. The word “consciousness” came up but not its significance, the point where science meets spiritual reality.

The task Hawking seemed to set for himself in planning this series was to prove that God does not exist. To accomplish this, he tried to take the mystery out of physical phenomena, but he did not succeed. Instead Hawking revealed that his god is science, and physical science delineates the boundaries of his genius.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Israel & Palestine—facts

News widely reported in the U.S. the past few days.
Two Palestinian gunmen killed four Israelis in a Tel Aviv retail center. Israel reacted by banning Palestinians from visiting relatives in Israel, traveling to Jerusalem for Ramadan prayers or to Tel Aviv for travel out of the country. Since October Palestinian attacks have killed 33 Israelis.

News not reported in the US.
Since September 29, 2000,
Palestinians killed by Israelis—9,370 Palestinians, 2,112 of them children.
Israelis killed by Palestinians—1,224 Israelis,  133 of them children

More news not reported in the US:
Military aid from the U.S. going to Israel: $10.2 million per day!
Military aid from the U.S. going to Palestine:  0

Whenever Israel and Palestine are in the news I recommend
  If Americans Knew  or Jews for Justice for Palestinians or numerous other sites. I especially recommend this engaging video about Israeli atrocities in Palestine, which should be viewed by every American.

Apparently, many Jews in America disagree with the few rich Jews who keep Congress, the president, other politicians, and American media hostage to the one-sided view that Israel deserves unconditional support no matter what. Anyone who tells the truth is branded anti-Semitic. 

One day I was bored, too tired to read, and idly looking for entertainment on public television (I rarely watch commercial channels). I saw Risk Steves sympathetically listening to an Israeli man report an attack by Palestinian “terrorists” on settlers.  I could smell where this was going and didn’t keep watching to see whether we’d learn about the terrors committed by Israeli settlers who are stealing Palestinian land. I knew coverage of Israeli atrocities that provoke Palestinian “terrorism” was not forthcoming.

By the way, the government of Israel pays Israelis to settle on Palestinian land. Every once in a while the U.S. government protests but does nothing to stop the injustice. And the military dollars keep flowing.


When will this end?  When enough Americans get educated and pressure politicians to stop it.