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The poet finally despairs of repetition renewal in the ethical sphere, as does his advisor and friend Constantius in the aesthetic sphere. The book ends with Constantius' intimation of a third kind of repetition--in the religious sphere. The first volume. In Repetition Kierkegaard discusses the most profound implications of the unity of personhood and of identity within change-the repetition that creates the rebirth of God in the heart of man, brings the eternal into the present, and allows the past to retain its meaning.

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Kierkegaard's Writings: v. 6: Fear and Trembling/ Repetition by Soren Kierkegaard (Paperback, 1983)

Brand new Book. Seller Inventory AAC Book Description Princeton University Press , Book Description Princeton University Press. Seller Inventory ZZN. All they do is codify, in our human language, the ways that the Universe very often and continually appears to us to behave. That is a description. This is a belief. To believe that these laws are always obeyed, and always have been and always will be, is unscientific and is an article of blind faith—because the spirit of scientific enquiry always keeps an open mind to anything at all happening, including these laws being sometimes broken, and modifies its observations and predictions accordingly.

There is no way of checking if these laws are always obeyed because we do not have the entirety of the operations of the Universe available to us to investigate scientifically, in the past, present or future. This is the un-established Assumption 2 that I mentioned above. This is the religion of Scientism: believing in Science, so that Science has taken the place of God.

It is a belief system, a kind of faith, without evidence: the worst kind of belief system. Science provides no reason for why the laws of nature are as they are. Where did the laws come from? Science also provides no reason or for why they could never be broken. It is possible that they could sometimes be broken by a being who brought them about, to serve as evidence for the existence of that being.

Another interesting concession, but what seems like a muddled one to me. The religious person is not saying that the laws of nature are identical with God, but rather that God could have brought them about. What a beautiful piece of luck! Might this not be a suggestion that a human-like mind is behind the existence of the universe? Or is it a wonderful coincidence that the universe can be understood by the human mind?

Cue debate about the anthropic principle. Does it have evidence supporting it?

Which they are not, according to any kind of science. How could the laws of nature possibly do that? The laws of nature are still part of the universe—part of everything that exists. In fact, they do not have an independent existence of their own; all they are is description of how things in the universe tend to behave. They are not an explanation of the universe at all. And we can still legitimately ask: Where did the laws of nature come from? Why are they as they are? Science has no way of explaining those things or answering those questions. This is the province of religion—this is one of the boundaries where science and religion both meet and diverge.

Actually, we know some of the past and the present and the idea that the laws will continue to work like this in the future is, again, an article of faith. There is no reason why they have to. If they do, Science has no way of explaining why they do. At the risk of repeating myself, this idea would be important, but it is also completely unprovable by science.

Another concession. But a meager one, and a flawed one. Here are some other areas that religion can lay claim to: the purpose of existence, reasons to be ethical towards others, art, miracles, historical evidence for religion, powerful religious experiences. Religious people do not usually believe in God just because they believe the universe needed to have been created by someone! After all, it is hard to think of a more important, or fundamental, mystery than what, or who, created and controls the universe. It all depends on what your starting points are for understanding the scope and purpose of science.

The basic assumption of science is scientific determinism. Another cards-on-the-table moment. At least Hawking admits that scientific determinism is an assumption here. These laws may, or may not, have been decreed by God, but he cannot intervene to break the laws, or they would not be laws. That leaves God with the freedom to choose the initial state of the universe, but even here it seems there may be laws.

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So God would have no freedom at all. This is entirely question begging! A phrase philosophers use to mean an argument uses circular logic.

Hawking assumes that the laws can never be broken Assumption 2, above , and then argues that the laws can never be broken on the basis of this assumption. Which makes the rest of what he says in this extract nonsense.

Incidentally, the three ingredients are energy, space and the laws of nature, by the way. What I want to ask here, though, is who is doing the universe-making here?

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Critique and Postcritique

Who is baking the Universe cake? The anthropomorphisation of science? Stephen Hawking???


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Ok, this is where Hawking really gets into the nitty gritty. This is the new insight that Hawking claims to be offering since he wrote The Grand Design. They either just existed, or God created them. Both are options: their existence is still unexplained by science. But science has no explanation at all! How can a total absence of an explanation be compelling? For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.

In find these sentences utterly dogmatic and that they betray the mind of an author who is ignorant of a good deal of philosophy and theology. Even my sixth form philosophers can explain that many religions think of God as eternal, in other words atemporal or outside time. God does not need to be within time to be believed in or to exist. What I find funny is that according to scientific determinism we are not free to believe what we want!

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We are un-freely determined to believe certain things according to the laws of nature. Now we get to the real heart of the matter, but a lot more needs to be said in order to unpack this sentence. Unfortunately Hawking just leaves things here. But that sentence is doing an enormous amount of work—books could be written to substantiate it and to argue with it: that this is the simplest explanation has not been demonstrated here. Because: Where did the laws of nature come from? But does this principle, which appears to apply to causal explanations of phenomena within the universe, also apply to the whole of the universe itself?

And we may still ask: Where did the laws of nature come from?

Kierkegaard's Writings, VI: Fear and Trembling/Repetition: Fear and Trembling/ Repetition v. 6

Either way, there is mystery. Both atheist scientist determinists and religious people some of whom are scientists too have to deal with mystery. And it could very well be the case that the laws of nature were created, and that their creator has put signs, wonders and clues into his creation to point towards his existence, primarily by entering into his creation himself, dying and rising again. You may disagree.

But please do not think that the explanatory possibility of God has been eliminated just because science can now explain how a universe could spontaneously arise from the laws of nature.