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Author Topic: Norse Myths, Physics & Stephen Hawking  (Read 4801 times)
Mark C.
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« Topic Start: September 13, 2010, 12:03:05 pm »

An interesting article on the "science" of Volupsa: http://www.jcf.org/new/index.php?categoryid=37

Professor Stephen Hawkins recently said:

Quote
the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists…It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going

The article written by Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried states:

Quote
Switch the mystic power from capital-G “God” to little-g “god,” move the frame of reference from Christian mythology to Norse mythology, and Hawking appears downright spiritual. Modern physics may be incompatible with the Christian creation myth, but it works nicely with the Norse one.

He continues:

Quote
According to the Eddas, the 13th-century Icelandic manuscripts that are primary sources for Norse mythology, there was nothing at the dawn of time but Ginnungagap – the beguiling void of chaos. Then, out of nothing came something. Fire and ice appeared, and our reality emerged from their clash – their “Big Bang,” if you will. There was no conscious agent at work, no Prime Mover. This fits nicely with Hawking’s assertion that “the Universe can and will create itself from nothing.”

Another interesting section is:

Quote
The scientist and the philosopher have more in common with the Old Norse than the Christian; for the societies in which Norse mythology developed as an expression of living faith, this sense of wonder at the glory of existence was expressed by tales of larger-than-life gods and goddesses who represent natural powers and phenomena. The gods did not create the natural world; they are the natural world.

It's an interesting article on how Norse Mythology (as metaphor, not literal truth) can fit very well with modern physics and I hope it is of interest.

Mark.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 03:00:33 pm by Star, Reason: Correcting spelling in subject » Logged

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« Reply #1: September 13, 2010, 02:03:57 pm »

Interesting perspective. I wonder if Hawkins would like to be interpreted like that, but when I read A short story of time I found he is filled with awe about the universe, maybe comparable to the awe some Pagans feel for "nature" or maybe even like some Christians feel for their deity...

But I think it really depends on what you define as 'spiritual'. Is awe for something per se spiritual?

However - maybe some scientific paradigms are really more compatible to one myth and line of thinking than to another, but I think it's first most that - a different compatibility. Compatibility doesn't mean they are factually linked or will lead to each other.
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« Reply #2: September 14, 2010, 03:44:02 am »

Compatibility doesn't mean they are factually linked or will lead to each other.

Very true! Compatibility with what we know about the world around us is important to me, but it is me finding that compatibility (and learning lots in the process) and I certainly don't see the myths as having a “hidden scientific knowledge”. I do however see them as being made valueless if they are interpreted to run contrary to modern knowledge by being read literally.

For example, it is said that Honir, Lodur & Odin made the first man and woman from trees. We can view that as being literal truth … which can be instantly disproved by genetics, archaeology and scientific observation. Or we can take it as metaphor that man evolved (from more “primitive” life) and became man when the process resulted in them having developed the “gifts” from the various gods. Did Odin, Vili and Ve really cut up a huge sleeping giant to form the world … or do we see that as “the divine” forming the laws of physics that shaped our universe?

My ancestors used the mythology to understand their place in the universe, and I am doing the same. The difference is that I have access to vast amounts of knowledge my ancestors did not … so I have to see things a little differently and seek a “modern understanding” that is compatible with what we know to be true. I therefore don’t see the myths as literal scientific truth, but instead as poetic metaphors for the natural world, the “internal world” and the interface between the two.

I find this looking at the modern world through an “old lens” helps me to wonder at natural world. Science can explain to the formation of the sun, the way in which light reaches the earth, and the way in which my eyes and brain react to that light … but the mythology helps me sit in awe as I look at the sunset.

Mark.
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« Reply #3: September 14, 2010, 02:53:51 pm »


But I think it really depends on what you define as 'spiritual'. Is awe for something per se spiritual?



I agree this question needs to be raised. Although there is no easy answer, it is necessary so one may better understand the different perspectives this issue could be seen from. However, it is pretty interesting how adaptable these two world views could be towards each other, in this instance.

Not meaning to be picky, but we are talking about Stephen Hawking right? I just want to make sure the topic isn't about a different scientist and his love for the universe.   Cheesy
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« Reply #4: September 14, 2010, 03:00:03 pm »

Not meaning to be picky, but we are talking about Stephen Hawking right? I just want to make sure the topic isn't about a different scientist and his love for the universe.   Cheesy

::looks up the quote::  I think you're right; I'll correct the subject line.
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« Reply #5: September 14, 2010, 08:11:24 pm »

::looks up the quote::  I think you're right; I'll correct the subject line.
Oh, thank you - that was making me itch.  <corrects subject line on own reply>

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« Reply #6: September 16, 2010, 08:33:06 am »

An interesting article on the "science" of Volupsa: http://www.jcf.org/new/index.php?categoryid=37
Super article, thanks for sharing!!! I love stuff like that, and the Norse creation myth is one I love for a lot of what the article talks about. However, I'm kind of appalled at some people's reactions cited in the beginning... I mean, I know science and religion aren't popularly held as buddies, but they're really two sides of the same coin IMO. Jeez!

I also read something somewhere *quick Google search* about life evolving in ice... here. This really struck me, because in the Norse mythos, it's Audhumla who licks life from the primeval ice at the beginning of the world. How freakin' cool! Smiley
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« Reply #7: September 16, 2010, 08:33:40 am »

Not meaning to be picky, but we are talking about Stephen Hawking right? I just want to make sure the topic isn't about a different scientist and his love for the universe.   Cheesy
Good catch... I would have missed it! lol.
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"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #8: September 16, 2010, 08:44:30 am »

But I think it really depends on what you define as 'spiritual'. Is awe for something per se spiritual?
Maybe this is a different thread altogether (lol), but in my mind you are referring here to the Romantic aesthetic concept of the Sublime, as awe in the face of vastness. And yes, I do see it as spiritual. (I mean, Wordsworth and Keats were just a bunch of tree huggers, right?!? haha, jk)

Following are some quotes from Edmund Burke's A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful.

"Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, theat is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime, that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling."

"The passion caused by the great a sublime in nature, when those causes operate most powerfully, is astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other, nor by consequence reason on that object which employs it. Hence arises the great power of the sublime, that far from being produced by them, it anticipates our reasonings, and hurries us on by an irresistible force."

"If we rejoice [in the face of the sublime], we rejoice with trembling; and even whilst we are receiving benefits, we cannot but shudder at a power which can confer benefits of such mighty importance..."
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15

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