“Why Does the World Exist?” by Jim Holt

I picked up a copy of this book at the New Hanover County Library book sale.  It was $1.  It is also available at the CFCC library. It is easy to read and humorous.  If anyone is looking for an introduction to philosophical and scientific explanations to the existence of the world, then this is a good starting place.

Here’s a typical passage that captures the spirit of the book:

“From a philosophical perspective, Linde’s little story underscores the danger of assuming that the creative force behind our universe, if there is one, must correspond to the traditional image of God: omnipotent, omniscient, infinitely benevolent, and so on.  Even if the cause of our universe is an intelligent being, it could well be a painfully incompetent and fallible one, the kind that might flub the cosmogenic task by producing a thoroughly mediocre creation.  Of course, orthodox believers can always respond to a scenario like Linde’s by saying, ‘Okay, but who created the physicist hacker?’   Let’s hope it’s not hackers all the way up.”

 

 

Now Reading John Muir’s “My First Summer in the Sierra”

I am now reading John Muir’s, My First Summer in the Sierra. I picked it up by chance at Old Books on Front Street in Wilmington.  What a wonderful store. They have all kinds of old books, including some philosophy, as well as some new thrift editions from Dover press, and it’s all stuffed into a maze of old bookcases pressed up against the brick walls.  I picked up a new copy of Muir’s book for $7.95.  Here’s a delightful passage, and I’ve only read a bit of the book so far.

“June 7.– The sheep were sick last night, and many of them are still far from well, hardly able to leave camp, coughing, groaning, looking wretched and pitiful, all from eating the leaves of the blessed azalea.  So at least say the shepherd and the Don.  Having had but little grass since they left the plains, they are starving, and so eat anything green they can get.  ‘Sheep-men’ call azalea ‘sheep-poison,’ and wonder what the Creator was thinking about when he made it,–so desperately does sheep business blind and degrade, though supposed to have a refining influence in the good old days we read of.  The California sheepowner is in a haste to get rich, and often does, now that pasturage costs nothing, while the climate is so favorable, that no winter food supply, shelter-pens, or barns are required.   Therefore large flocks may be kept at slight expense, and large profits realized, the money invested doubling, it is claimed, every other year. This quickly acquired wealth usually creates desire for more.  Then indeed the wool is drawn close down over the poor fellow’s eyes, dimming or shutting out almost everything worth seeing.”

Muir has been hired to supervise a shepherd who is taking a flock of sheep high into the Sierra Nevada mountains in California to find summer pasturage.  I imagine that John Muir would not be pleased with what we are doing to nature these days.  We are polluting the air and filling the oceans with garbage all while deforesting the land.  It would seem that the wool has been pulled over our eyes.