Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

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Human history i…

Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

A novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist

Mr. Bean vs. Einstein

Einstein and Mr. Bean sitting next to each other on a long flight. Einstein says, “Let’s play a game. I will ask you a question, if you don’t know the answer, you pay me only $5 and if I don’t know the answer, I will pay you $500.”

Einstein asks the first question: What’s the distance from the Earth to the Moon?

Mr. Bean doesn’t say a word, reaches his pocket, pulls out a $5.

Now, it’s Mr. Bean’s turn.

He asks Einstein: What goes up a hill with 3 legs and comes down on 4 legs?

Einstein searches the net and asks all his smart friends. After an hour he gives Mr. Bean $500.

Einstein going nuts and asks: Well, so what goes up a hill with 3 legs and come down with four?

Mr. Bean reaches his pocket and give Einstein $5.

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Our presence in the universe is something too bizarre for words. The mundaneness of our daily lives cause us take our existence for granted — but every once in awhile we’re cajoled out of that complacency and enter into a profound state of existential awareness, and we ask: Why is there all thisstuff in the universe, and why is it governed by such exquisitely precise laws? And why should anything exist at all? We inhabit a universe with such things as spiral galaxies, the aurora borealis, and SpongeBob Squarepants. And as Sean Carroll notes, “Nothing about modern physics explains why we have these laws rather than some totally different laws, although physicists sometimes talk that way — a mistake they might be able to avoid if they took philosophers more seriously.” And as for the philosophers, the best that they can come up with is the anthropic principle— the notion that our particular universe appears the way it does by virtue of our presence as observers within it — a suggestion that has an uncomfortably tautological ring to it.

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

—Bertrand Russel (1872 – 1970, British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic)