Sunday, January 21, 2007

Cosmic

The physicist Steven Weinberg - a Nobel Laureate - reviewing Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion", finds it "disturbing that Thomas Nagel in the New Republic dismisses Dawkins as an “amateur philosopher”, while Terry Eagleton in the London Review of Books sneers at Dawkins for his lack of theological training."

But also while cantering - it seems to me - through Aquinas' five proofs for the existence of God, he says of the "cosmological proof", that "it does have a certain appeal to the physicist. In essence, it argues that everything has a cause, and since this chain of causality cannot go on forever, it must terminate in a first cause, which we call God."

It is important to remember though that Aquinas' coinage of the Prime Mover argument from motion precedes Newton's formulation of the conservation of momentum. Today the argument suggests a God that set the universe in motion by giving it a huge kick up the arse a long time ago, but that is not really what Aquinas suggested. Following Aristotle he would say that motion continues so long as there is only an applied motion to an object and removing the motion stops the object, so his first "proof" is really more along the lines that God is what keeps the universe going rather than some sort of divine pool shark with a sledgehammer break.

I think it is an important distinction. You may disagree, but at least I've got it off my chest. For your homework review New Order's 1990 England football anthem in the light of the above:
Love's got the world in motion
And I know what we can do
Love's got the world in motion
And I can't believe it's true
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