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Not by Design Hardcover – May 1, 1988
Scientific Teaching Series
Shop the Scientific Teaching Series from Macmillan.
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He wrote in the Preface to this 1988 book, "In our own culture, dominated as it is by Judeo-Christian thought, most people normally take as evident that the universe began as the result of some creative act... The very order of the universe was seen to imply a grand design. the natural laws responsible for that design must have been laid down by some lawgiver. That lawgiver was God. MOdern science has even been called on to testify to the validity of the notion of creation... In a papal encyclical in 1951, Pope Pius XII took [the Big Bang] as evidence for a Creator... In this book, this certainty is challenged. Nothing in our current scientific understanding of the universe, including the Big Bang, demands that it begin with a purposeful creation. The fact that the universe had a beginning, and is not static but has evolved to its present state, does not necessarily imply a grand design. On the contrary developments in physics and cosmology ... are leading us to a starting conclusion: The universe, including its current orderly state, can have appeared spontaneously out of nothingness." (Pg. 8)
He adds, "My claim is not that the absence of a creative force has been, in any sense, 'proven' but rather that what we now know about nature does not, as many people believe, require either a creation or a Creator. The simplest hypothesis that so far seems to explain the data is that the universe is an accident." (Pg. 11-12)
He states, "I argued that order can occur by chance; that no agent is necessary to produce order, although such agents do exist. When we look at the universe as a whole, however, it appears that NO AGENT WAS POSSIBLE since the universe began in total chaos. The presence of the words on this page, however, shows that order now exists, so let us proceed to see what may have happened when a black hole... exploded to produce the universe." (Pg. 159)
He argues, "Once we assume there is a grand design, the disorganized reality we see around us becomes almost impossible to explain, unless it too is part of the plan... The misery, disorder, and injustice of the world are dismissed as mysteries our minds are incapabel of comprehending. However, if we do not assume the existence of a Creator right from the start---as unquestioned, self-evident truth---then the disorder in the world can much more reasonably be seen as evidence for lack of plan rather than for one purposefully hidden from our view." (Pg. 179-180)
He summarizes, "In this book I have tried to describe what is beginning to develop as science's view of an accidental, unplanned origin of the universe. In doing away with the notion of a Creator, we fly in the face of some of the most sacred beliefs fo the world's great religions... believers might argue that they have the proof of venerability on their side. After all, how could so many great thinkers over so many centuries be wrong? But recall that these same thinkers also believed that the sun revolved around the earth, and theie belief did not make it so." (Pg. 180)
He concludes, "The universe COULD have happened by accident, and arbitrary natural laws COULD result from the accidental way the original lawless symmetries were broken as our particular universe expanded and cooled during the first fraction of a second of its existence." (Pg. 181)
This was Stenger's first book, and has since been surpassed in detail by his later books. But it shows the original path that his thought took, and one can follow the further development in his more recent books.
Highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of Sagan, Asimov, Krauss, Tyson, or any of the new atheists.