It feels like the movie Thelma and Louise. I am in a car with Professor Hawkings. We have just shot philosophy and are now running from the law on a wild road trip to who knows where. We have robbed humanity of free will and locked objective reality in the boot. This is wild! Wooooo hooooo!
A few pages into Chapter 3 Hawkings is saying that the bible never clearly taught that the planets rotated around the earth. That’s good to hear. He may get on to bash the bible later in the book but at least it’s not on this point. Interestingly, in the next few sentences, he goes on to say that it would not be wrong to say that the planets go round the earth! It just depends on your frame of reference. It’s only because the Copernican (thinking of the sun at the centre) system is simpler that we tend to prefer it.
But how do we know what the true frame of reference is? How do we know we are not in the Truman Show, or the Matrix, or a dream, or matrix in a matrix or 10 levels down in a dream? “Model dependent realism” simply says that if a model we have fits with observable data then it is a good model. Questions of whether something is really there are irrelevant. Light can be modeled as a particle or a wave. Both are helpful. We have a model of the world that includes Quarks which is consistent with our previous observations and predicts future ones. Could there be another model that explains the observations without reference to Quarks? Possibly. Does a quark exist? Who cares! Just use the most convenient model. Interestingly model dependent realism would look at young earth creation and the big bang theory and say the latter comes out on top in terms of fitting with observation but that neither can be said to be more real than the other.
“regarding the laws that govern the universe, what we can say is this: there seems to be no single mathematical model or theory that can describe every aspect of the universe. Instead, as we mentioned in the opening chapter, there seems to be a network of theories called M-theory. Each theory in the M-Theory network is good at describing phenomena within a certain range.”
The next chapter will look at the idea that the universe has no single past, rather:
“every possible version of the universe exists simultaneously in what is called quantum supposition. It is a model of the world that has so far passed every experimental test that is has been subjected to.”
That should at least make passing history exams easier. Just make it up make it up, safe in the knowledge that there is a universe, co-existing with ours, that has that history.