Jose Carillo's Forum


This section features discussions on education, learning and teaching, and language with particular focus on English. The primary subjects to be taken up here are notable advocacies and contrary viewpoints in these disciplines and their allied fields. Our primary aim is to clarify matters and issues of importance to language and learning, provide intelligent and useful instruction, promote rational and critical thinking, and enhance the individual’s overall capacity for discernment.

“Science’s uncertainty is a great strength that we should embrace”

Surely you must have asked yourself this question sometime, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”, and you must have come up with some deeply personal answers that you have either kept to yourself or shared only with those you hold in close confidence. Philosophers and scientists over the ages have been more open with their answers to this question, however, and Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and monthly columnist for Scientific American, have put together their widely varying views in an article that appeared in the October 12, 2010 issue of Big Questions Online.

Shermer enumerates and explains the ten of the most prominent answers to that Biggest of All Big Questions, as follows: (1) God, (2) Wrong Question, (3) Grand Unified Theory, (4) Boom-and-Bust Cycles, (5) Darwinian Multiverse, (6) Inflationary Cosmology, (7) Many-Worlds Multiverse, (8) Brane-String Universes, (9) Quantum Foam Multiverse, and (10) M-Theory Grand Design.

Outer Space
Photo courtesy of NASA

Most of these ten explanations are testable, Shermer says, but none has been determined to be true and definitive by far. “In the meantime,” he concludes, “in answer to the question ‘Why is there something instead of nothing?’, it is okay to say ‘I don’t know’ and keep searching. There is no need to turn to supernatural answers just to fulfill an emotional need for certainty and comfort. Science’s uncertainty is its greatest strength. We should embrace it.”

Read Michael Shermer’s “Why is there something instead of nothing?” in Big Questions Online now!


God’s big comeback worldwide. In “Survival of the Godliest: Does strong religious belief provide an evolutionary advantage?”, an article that appeared in the November 11, 2010 issue of Big Questions Online, Phillip Longman, a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation and Schwartz Senior Fellow at the Washington Monthly, says that fundamentalist belief in God is making a big comeback worldwide because secular society is being outbred and outpopulated by deeply religious societies. “Ironically, the structure and sensibility of secular society is bringing about its own demise,” he explains. “By the 1960s, expanding secularism may have set back religion severely as a force in history, but in doing do so, it strengthened the remaining strongholds of faith and set in motion patterns of reproduction and acculturation that would allow its most fundamentalist forms to reclaim the future.”

Read Phillip Longman’s “Survival of the Godliest” in Big Questions Online now!

A patron saint for lost causes. In “The Persistent Paradox of Human Uniqueness,” an article that came out in the November 2, 2010 issue of Big Questions Online, Simon Conway Morris, professor of evolutionary paleobiology at the University of Cambridge and fellow of St. John’s College, says that there may be unexpected lessons for in the position taken by the British naturalist St. George Jackson Mivart (1827-1900) in the heated dialogue between science and religion. Mivart never doubted evolution but saw little merit in natural selection and became one of Darwin’s fiercest critics. He believed that human intelligence was far from being some sort of accidental by-product of the universe, and insisted that evolution must not be denied its metaphysical context. In the face of subsequent scientific findings, Morris argues, that position now doesn’t look like the lost and foolhardy cause that it was during Mivart’s time.

Read Simon Conway Morris’s “The Persistent Paradox of Human Uniqueness” in Big Question Online now!

Click to read responses or post a response

View the complete list of postings in this section
(requires registration to view & post)


Copyright © 2010 by Aperture Web Development. All rights reserved.

Page best viewed with:

Mozilla FirefoxGoogle Chrome

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!

Page last modified: 30 October, 2010, 1:15 a.m.