Question to Weinberg: What is the Point of Living in a Universe with no Purpose?
Gingerich: What is the point of continuing to live in a universe that
has no ultimate purpose? Thats for you, Steve.
Weinberg: Well, if you dont see the point then, too bad for you. I
feel there is a point. How can I say it? Theres nothing in science that says
we should look at life as not worth living any more than there is something
that tells what there is about life that is worth living. It is left as an open
question for us to decide on any grounds we like. And for me I enjoy life and
there are things I value very much about being alive and thats the point it
has. I remember in the preface of one of his plays, I think it was Heartbreak
House, George Bernard Shaw said, Darwin has knocked centuries of dusty
theology out of the room and now we dont have any of that anymore but a the
same time he has knocked out morality. And now because of Darwins work there
is no basis of any moral principle. I disagree. I dont think Shaw was right
about that. I think Darwin perhaps took away the idea that there was a
supernatural plan which imposes a moral order - not only Darwin but science in
general - but it did not say that we must behave immorally. We are left to make
moral choices or not and we are free to make them. And, in fact, not only to
make moral choices for ourselves but for others just as we would condemn
someone else who tortured children. Were free to find point and to make moral
choices. We dont get them from an objective supernatural world order.
Polkinghorne: There was a German atheist philosopher, Max Horkheimer,
who said there was a deep longing in the human heart that the murderer should
not triumph over his innocent victim. And some of us entertain that hope that
the murderer will not ultimately triumph. But those that cant entertain that
hope and who live a sort of, if I might say so, a life of austere nobility in
the face of a hostile world, I think that is a very - I think it is mistaken
but that it is an admirable position to hold, if I may say so.
Contributed by: Sir John Polkinghorne and Steven