Letters to the Editor

Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Letters to the Editor


ANTHROPIC QUESTIONS

I read with interest this article about the anthropic questions raised by the "just so" state of the universe that allows for human life ["Anthropic Questions" by Gordon Kane, "Big Space/Little Space," Fall 2002] Dr. Kane speculates much on the various reasons that this could have happened by chance. He dismisses those who think that there may be design with two sentences: "If you win the lottery, you may feel very grateful, but someone had to win, and no one selected who that was, except randomly. Just because a universe has a unique set of laws and parameters should not lead one to wonder whether that set was designed" [p. 24]. You mean when I see all the beauty and complexity in the universe and in life itself, the inappropriate response is wonder? And to wonder how it could all come to be is a question that is out of bounds? Hmm. That seems a bit narrow to me.

But I will grant that the physicists and astronomers may someday be able to explain all the universe by reference to law and equations and that there would be nothing that remained a mystery. Would that eliminate the question of God? I think not.

May I suggest an analogy? Let us take a simple piece of piano music by Bach only two pages in length, Prelude No. 1 in C major. There is much to explain about this piece. I can describe the Baroque period in which he lived, the cultural milieu in Germany where he wrote, and all who influenced him. I can describe the physics of the piano and how it is constructed and why sounding various keys produces different notes and how the ratios of the vibrations of the strings produce tones and overtones. I could go into music theory and reveal how the various chord sequences in the piece are pleasant to the human ear, and then I could explain why the human ear responds the way it does to produce pleasure in the listener. I could delve into the anatomy and physiology of the human hand and mind that allows us to play such pieces. Etc., etc., etc.

But all this does not explain one thing: the genius of the composer. In fact explaining all the above only casts his genius into clearer focus, for he created a masterpiece using all these as his tools to make a beautiful composition that we admire 300 years after his death.

Dr. Kane thinks that if he could explain all of the universe he would eliminate the need for thoughts of a Designer. In actuality, his ruminations make the evidence for a Designer even more clear. The universe is a wonder-producing combination of law and chaos, and I am not amiss in attributing it to a Master Designer, in spite of Dr. Kane's objections.

Allen E. Shepherd, MD

Berrien Springs, Michigan

BIG SPACE/LITTLE SPACE

Congratulations on the fall issue of Forum ["Big Space/Little Space"]. I found it extremely interesting, having just tackled Hawking's book on The Universe in a Nutshell. You are timely, and I commend you on the policy of centering issues on themes. I appreciate that that simple policy is very taxing and requires much careful thought in advance.

George W. Williams

Durham, North Carolina

The Fall 2002 issue, cover-to-cover, had a common theme: relative to, relativity, and relativism. Einstein's "Theory of Relativity" perhaps is the worst-named theory in science. Any human applying only a minimum of natural reasoning must accept that "relativism" is, of logical necessity, the "true" state, as opposed to "absolutism." He also must, for peace and harmony in his soul and within society, accept that standards (under the guise of absolutism) are useful artifacts, else there can be no judgment, no evaluation.

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