CURRENT READING – THE BIG PICTURE – (fifth continuation)

Carroll continues by discussing additional issues regarding the Core Theory and Quantum Field Theory such as crossing symmetry, Feynman diagrams, the place of dark matter, and so forth which I will skip over. He concedes there may be some unknowns, but we can be sure that the current model includes all the features that concern us at the macroscopic level – what he calls effective field theory. For sure there is a need to explain emergent phenomena, but any explanation will have to be compatible with the Core Theory.

He then moves on to the theoretical question as to why the universe exists. First he believes the universe may be a brute fact that does not require an explanation. The poetic naturalist rejects the idea of necessity or necessary existence when it comes to the universe, rather one must lay out the possibilities and assess the credences. The universe may be eternal or time may be emergent depending on different Schrodinger equations. An unchanging universe is possible if we picture it as stacked classical worlds based on different quantum outcomes as hypothesized by Steven Hawking and James Hartle’s quantum cosmology. Alternatively the universe may have a beginning which is not to suggest a prior state of nothingness followed by a transforming event, but rather a moment of time before which there were no moments, and considered possible buy physicists if composed of an equal balance of positive and negative components that zero each other out.

He next examines the body/soul problem and immortality. He believes metaphysical dualism is not tenable since no one has been able to explain how the non-physical would be able to interact with the physical or how it can be compatible with conservation of energy. “To a poetic naturalist, ‘mind’ is simply  a way of talking about the behavior of certain collections of matter…”13 Carroll thinks ‘soul theory’ is unsound as any consideration would require specifics that work within Core Theory and these are not forthcoming. Consequently there is no basis to justify belief in life after death. Furthermore all empirical arguments for an afterlife, such as near death experiences, do not hold up to scientific scrutiny. Despite how it may feel to us, life itself is not a force unexplained by the Core Theory, but rather a process that emerges from particular configurations of matter and which ceases at death.

(sixth continuation next post)


13Carroll, Sean, The Big Picture. Penguin Random House, LLC, New York, NY, 2016. ISBN 978-052595- 482-8, page 210.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.