Streams

How a Godless Cosmos Creates

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A montage of images of the Saturnian system prepared from an assemblage of images taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft during its Saturn encounter in November 1980. A montage of images of the Saturnian system prepared from an assemblage of images taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft during its Saturn encounter in November 1980. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/NASA)

Howard Bloom tackles the question of how a godless cosmos creates. His new book The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates looks at theories about the birth of a universe and the human need for meaning.

Guests:

Howard Bloom

Comments [49]

johnemm from NJ USA

I have to agree with the observation that Bloom seems enchanted with reference to his precocious brilliance.

"When, by the age of 12, when I was reading two science books a day..."

Quite a lot of this. And yes, his Science is very shakey. I don't mind his atheism, if that's what it is. But his notions about what's going on out there, and why, are just as arbitrary as anyone else's.

Dawkins and Hitchens are far more convincing, and stick to their turf more successfully IMO.

Dec. 08 2012 12:21 PM
Curt Nelson

I listened to this guest until he said "the new atheists" (like Richard Dawkins) are dogmatists who have turned atheism into a new religion, and it was too much. I had never heard of Howard Bloom and now I know why.

Dec. 04 2012 05:52 PM

I've sat next to Mr. Bloom countless times at the Tea Lounge in Park Slope, where he generally works, and he inevitably talks my ears off once he learns I have a background in science (and my friends are treated no less graciously). Though he claims to have a background in science, himself, you'd never know it from talking with him. He expounds great tales of pseudoscientific nonsense, spins yarns of nothing, and trying to interject with facts or logic is met with confusion or silence; his audience, I've observed, are those who don't know better and trust he must know what he's talking about. He doesn't, and what he says and writes should be noted are fictional entertainment and nothing more. If you want science, psychology, cryptozoology, or anything else, please look up someone with an actual background in the field—either authentically and rigorously self-taught or formally educated in the matter.

Dec. 02 2012 07:35 PM
pooloniousmonk from River Edge

I thought I was listening to an old segment of Long John Nebel. Howard Bloom is not really about science, he is about great entertainment. If he truly believes what he is espousing then that perhaps that could be viewed as a tragic overtone, but I think it makes his silliness all the more fun.

Nov. 30 2012 09:18 AM
Ken from Rhode Island

Bloom has.interesting scientific ideas couched in a dogmatic knee-jerk liberal world view. He would be more interesting if he weren't so closed minded.

Nov. 30 2012 05:42 AM
david spence

ponderous RT wing zionist a-hole

Nov. 30 2012 01:14 AM
Dan from NJ

This guy believes he's invented science!! I like his enthusiasm and reallt enjoyed listening to this segment, but a little less boasting would of given him a bit more credibility.

Nov. 30 2012 12:41 AM
Oscar Maldonado from ny

And after the last sun in the universe dwindles its power and the last human host, we will find out yet that god will have the last word on us

Nov. 29 2012 08:30 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

Quite right, Ramaswamy. His mangled misunderstanding of the 2nd law would embarrass an IDer. His Big Bagel 'cosmology' is arch crank.net-style pseudoscience too.

Nov. 29 2012 01:11 PM
John A.

This morning while researching I did find a source where Tom Wolfe (a guest everyone here probably knows) linked Marshall McLuhan's work (also) to Teilard de Chardin. So things can get deep if you look, thanks to the Internet. "The Last Question" was given to me accidentally by my father, but the effect has lasted decades. Things fall up indeed... fall farther up please.

Nov. 29 2012 12:59 PM
Henry from Manhattan

Amy said:
‘If the cosmos creates, then what created the cosmos? Or is Mr. Bloom defining "cosmos" differently? Did the cosmos create itself? (OK, this is parallel to the theological q. of "If God created the universe, who/what created God?")’

Yes, maybe the universe did create itself. Maybe it came from nothing or maybe it was always there, or cycles in and out of being into infinity. All plausible, though certainly not intuitive, but there’s not reason it should be. We’ll probably never know for sure.

And yes, layering a deity as the creator of the universe doesn’t really address any different questions because all you get is where did that deity come from? Did it created itself? Was it always there?

We have some sort of evidence for the universe at least; we can measure matter and see where it’s traveling, etc, so why beginning making speculations about a deity we have no tangible evidence for?

It’s fine in faith-based sense, but does not offer much if we are tracking evidence.

Nov. 29 2012 12:51 PM
Seth from NYC

The guest has a self-supporting theory - of the universe and the power of his own insight. Great guest concept... but he is inescapably imprisoned, not by anything having to do with theism or atheism, but by his own certainty. It didn't quite sound like he was making sense because he wasn't, quite. Oh, well, that's OK: Leonard does a great show; cosmology is wonderful topic, and sometimes you gotta take a risk with a guest.

Nov. 29 2012 12:49 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

It seems to me that we have two separate subjects here: Science and Philosophy. Mr. Bloom is attempting to discuss Science. The Philosophy is also divided into two parts: that of whether there can be Science with a G-d or without a G-d. As we are here, it is pointless to discuss the theosophy; so let Mr. Bloom get on with his Science.

The Philosophy/Theosophy will never be resolved by us, anyway, so we can argue it as the Greeks argued about Fate, and we can write learned texts from each of our individual points of view, but we will never really KNOW.

Nov. 29 2012 12:47 PM
Sally from Bushwick

Most supercilious cocktail party EVER.

Nov. 29 2012 12:42 PM
art

Here's some sacrosanct "science" - Pasteurization of dairy products.

I don't find this guy insufferable - I have heard worse smugness - I think he's interesting. We do blindly look through some beliefs as though they were religion.

Nov. 29 2012 12:41 PM
Ed from Larchmont

It's fine to think about science and the physical world but why turn on God?

Unfortunately, he didn't address the question of how something exists when before there was nothing, as the title of the book suggests would be the topic.

Nov. 29 2012 12:40 PM
Mike C from Manhattan

why does there have to be a "point" why not just be and do for the sake of "it" and "that" alone....

Nov. 29 2012 12:40 PM
John A

The man did put to one side most modern popular Atheists while saying he is an Atheist. So the glass is half full, either way you look at it. :)

Nov. 29 2012 12:39 PM
Henry from Manhattan

Whoops, I meant “I should be the target audience for Bloom.”

The only reason I’m not entirely dismissive of Bloom is that his publisher is Prometheus. I haven’t really heard of him in the science community though, and his write up on Wikipedia is odd.

He keeps stating that scientists don’t question such and such things, but there is in fact philosophy of science where philosophers and scientists do exactly that. There’s a robust history of such thinking.

Nov. 29 2012 12:38 PM
Amy from Manhattan

If the cosmos creates, then what created the cosmos? Or is Mr. Bloom defining "cosmos" differently? Did the cosmos create itself? (OK, this is parallel to the theological q. of "If God created the universe, who/what created God?")

Nov. 29 2012 12:36 PM
Ramaswamy from Closter, NJ

It is amazing how confidently Mr. Bloom is running around dispensing misinformation. The 2nd law is not contradicted by the formation of atoms, cells, organisms etc. The law only says that for closed systems, entropy increases. A cell, or an organism are not closed systems- they absorb energy from the outside, and hence are able to produce local order.

Again, I am aghast that he trots out these falsehoods so confidently.

Nov. 29 2012 12:36 PM
CK from Yorktown

I hear better info about Science on the Big Bang Theory.

Nov. 29 2012 12:35 PM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

I love this subject but can't stand the super-arrogant guest. Didn't he learn anything from all those years of public relations?

Nov. 29 2012 12:35 PM

Thanks Leoonard for an interesting guest. Though it seems the comments here lean negative, perhaps due to Mr. Bloom's Athesism, I applaud his opinion and concepts.

Nov. 29 2012 12:31 PM
Mike from Tribeca

I missed the introduction. Why are you playing audio clips of Jeff Goldblum in "Jurassic Park"?

Nov. 29 2012 12:31 PM
Hell's Kitchen from Manhattan

I think the man has started to believe his own PR (not difficult if you've spent half your life in PR).

Nov. 29 2012 12:30 PM
John A.

Stop sounding ignorant, people. Without NASA we get National priorities focused on Military destruction. Please, more NASA.

Nov. 29 2012 12:29 PM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

Fascinating that this insufferable, arrogant, talking head atheist refers to the universe as "her." I'd love to hear his theory on THAT.

Nov. 29 2012 12:29 PM
Bob from Flushing

At some point as we learn more about the workings of the brain, we may conclude that the need so many have to cite a god as the source of all we know is a manifestation of some physical attribute of the brain that they have and others don't. Those who must attribute everything to an unseen entity find it incomprehensible that anyone could see things otherwise. They're organically incabable of accepting an alternative view.

Nov. 29 2012 12:29 PM
MCT from UWS

I came here to make a comment about this annoying guest, but Margaret from Brooklyn beat me too it and she said it perfectly. Thanks Margaret!

Nov. 29 2012 12:28 PM
Henry from Manhattan

Margaret, yeah, I feel like I should be the target argument for Howard Bloom, but he’s not really doing it for me. He’s making a lot of assertions…

Maybe I’m missing something, maybe his book is more explanatory, but he’s not selling it very well.

He’s raising my skepticism more than my curiosity.

Nov. 29 2012 12:28 PM
Tony from Canarsie

jgarbuz from Queens -- you're assuming that the "space program" is only concerned with manned missions. NASA does a heckuva lot more than just that, and on a budget of $18.4 billion (2011) which is only about 0.5% of the federal budget.

To infinity and beyond!

Nov. 29 2012 12:27 PM
Ed from Larchmont

No, it accelerates ... and keeps increasing in acceleration.

Nov. 29 2012 12:26 PM
John A

Book book book. Winning!
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I can't wait till somebody writes the killer theory linking Atheism with Narcissism.

Nov. 29 2012 12:25 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Godlessness = Hopelessness. The existence of life, including our species, is utterly pointless.

Nov. 29 2012 12:23 PM
Esther from Baltimore

Dear Mr. Bloom... you read what and decided to become an atheist?! This would never be tolerated in any school of higher learning. I would assume to make such a decision you should go to the original source material and read it in the original language to understand all the nuances and include sophisticated commentaries. You know, like Chumash/Talmud/Gemara and Rashi/Rambam/Luzzato/Ramban, etc. Have you heard of any of these names? If you read Chumash & Gemara on the level of a fairy tale, than that's all you will get. It's more sophisticated that you think. What you have read is a Reader's Digest version. Very sad.

Nov. 29 2012 12:22 PM
Jf from Ny

Nasa has always been a scam. Lighter than airships can make it to the edge of space with only traces of fuel. They know this. But imagine if everyone knew that they coould make a spaceship at home a.d travel with solar sails into the galaxy at speeds that build up to close to the speed of light.

Nov. 29 2012 12:21 PM
Ed from Larchmont

They were creationists in that they believed in God, but not in that they believed that it was created in 7 days.

Nov. 29 2012 12:19 PM
Mike

OMG, Leonard, this guy is tedious. Just how young was he when he started studying science? How great of a student was he? Oh my, Reed? I think he has a different kind of God problem....

Nov. 29 2012 12:19 PM
Margaret from Brooklyn

I am a regular listener of the Leonard Lopate Show, and I cannot recall a more insufferable, self-righteous guest. Harold Bloom's insistence on his precocious genius is cringe-worthy, and distracts from his probably interesting points.

Nov. 29 2012 12:19 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Peano's axioms are for establishing a basis for mathematics.

Nov. 29 2012 12:18 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The space program is as pointless as the building of burial pyramids by the Pharaohs. The chance of humans getting anyplace outside of this solar system is as high as the chance of the Pharaohs getting to the afterlife. The Space Program is just another man-made religion to replace the existing ones. The truth is that our pointless species is going to go into oblivion just as every other pointless species did before us.

Nov. 29 2012 12:14 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Yes, Bertrand Russell was an atheist. Exactly, they are dogmatists.

Nov. 29 2012 12:12 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Good argument for private enterprise.

Nov. 29 2012 12:11 PM
Henry from Manhattan

Assuming that there is a God is already beginning with an assumption.

It’s not that scientists are assuming there is no God, they are assuming nothing, starting with a blank slate, so a universe with a God becomes just one of many possibilities as a universe without one.

However, the historical answer of “God did it.” never really furthered deeper practical understanding when attempting to ascertain what causes thunder in the sky, tides in the seas, disease in humans or other phenomenon. Scientists, of both theist and atheist persuasions, seek more relevant and explanatory answers.

The problem with assuming there is a God, well, first there the problem of what counts as evidence, but then God is such a complex concept that more questions arise than are solved.

If an omnipotent omnipresent matter-less consciousness that always existed created the cosmos in such a way that humans can investigate the universe as if that being didn’t create it, then it’s hardly a fault in judgment to understand the universe as not requiring such an entity. Really, it would seem to be that being’s intention that humans not posit it’s existence since it apparently went through so much trouble to cover it’s tracks so thoroughly.

Otherwise what? We know there’s a humble purple giraffe under my chair be it hides itself so perfectly?

Look, if you want to believe in Gods then go ahead, but implicit in most theistic religions is that it’s understood as a matter of faith, meaning you believe despite evidence, that’s kind of the point; Jesus in particular was big on this. And hey, that’s fine. But when we’re talking about what the evidence is, we’ve already moved into a different discussion than accepting things without evidence.

Nov. 29 2012 12:10 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

While it may be true in fact, nevertheless a Godless universe implies that everything is pointless, meaningless and purely the result of random, pointless, meaningless activities. Life is just a random fluke of chemical reactions. And there is no "God-given" right to Life, Liberty, or to Pursue your happiness. Your existence is no more significant than that of a virus. The implications are quite stark.

Nov. 29 2012 12:06 PM
John A. from L'Osservatore

My way out of the Atheist trap goes like this: Physics (Thermodynamics) says the universe has a finite lifetime, Humanity is growing towards greater capabilities in this Universe... Will humanity be able to create a new universe, given our powers by the time (our) universe dies? OK, so where's God? The creator of This universe, and with it, (from it), us.
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I wasn't alive in 1956, but I hold that year in special regard. Why? because that was when "The Phenomenon of Man" by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
was translated into english and Also when the "The Last Question" was written by Isaac Asimov. Both persons reach nearly the exact conclusion.

Nov. 29 2012 11:28 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Fr. Spitzer refers to the recent cosmological theory of Gooch, etc., and arguments from entropy.

But the theorists who try to explain the universe without God do a favor: they show the humility of God. He created the universe as a cosmic temple (see Scott Hahn - Genesis), where eventually he could dwell with his people. But He created it in such a way that one could actually investigate if it could have been created without him.

Nov. 29 2012 08:10 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Why assume that it's a God-less cosmos? It seems that people will jump through incredible hoops to try to explain things without reference to God. Why they do this is a mystery. Makes fun reading, though pathetic at times.

In any event, no doubt, God created the world with a great deal of freedom. For example, animals and plants can adjust to their environment on their own through evolution. It's not done without the will of God, but is done usually without his direct intervention. A beautiful system. The amount of intervention or oversight can be discussed.

It must be mentioned though that creation from nothing is only possible by God, who is, who was, and who always will be.

See Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ 'Cosmic origins: the scientific evidence for creation' 2012, for arguments from cosmology that make the bizarre bouncing universes, etc., not only bizarre but scientifically not possible according to current understanding.

Nov. 29 2012 05:49 AM

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