Musings + book review #4

There has been a melancholic mood in the air ever since former PM Lee Kuan Yew passed on–not surprising since he ‘gave up his life’ for the country. It is difficult to put in words his numerous contributions and though some policies were misguided on hindsight, I thought I had been caught up in the LKY hating and all. No politician is perfect and LKY isn’t the benevolent patriarch portrayed in his later years. You have your opinion, I have mine. This is akin to the weak anthropic principle used in cosmology: without LKY, you probably wouldn’t exist here complaining about him. Being involved in Sunday’s sending-off procession, I marveled how people were willing to stand in the pouring rain to send him on his last journey. Though I was soaking wet, there was pride in saluting such a great leader. There are so many tributes out there, both big and small, such that it is unnecessary to add one of my own. Yet, these acknowledge a life sacrificed for the people and one respected by all. Unfortunately it can only happen when he is gone. It all boils down to Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, where ‘to everything there is a season….’ including a time to be born and a time to die.

On another hand, I watched The Theory Of Everything (the life of Stephen Hawking) and was inspired to read A Brief History Of Time. It is amazing how he could even produce the book despite his disability. The content brings up important questions about the universe and its origins.

Throughout the book Hawking illustrates how the universe came to be, incorporating findings from scientists such as Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and even CN Yang (!). He does promises to make the book easy to understand by avoiding equations and simplifying phenomena. Hawking’s ultimate goal is to find a theory that could explain how the universe works.

Given Hawking’s atheistic background, he is sceptical of a divine creator, since there is no reason to start things off so perfectly where by right, disorder should lead to order. He also poses the age-old paradox of whether God could make a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it. He also concludes that finding the ‘theory of everything’ would allow us to ‘know the mind of God.’ Should we know how God thinks when He created the universe and us? I admit it would resolve certain mysteries that we are curious about. Is it sufficient to attribute the unexplained to God? Or is the unknown meant to be left as that? What cannot be denied is that for us to even question the origin of the universe is a miracle in itself. For all the suitable conditions to be in place requires more than mere chance as Hawking mentioned. Are there other reasons to support or discredit a creator?

Personally, I believe that ‘His hands the wonders wrought.’ We only need to look at nature and the night sky to see how amazing the world can be. It seems too simplistic to attribute the universe to a set of laws. However I am also excited to see what discoveries can be unearthed to understand our world better.