I am responding with surprise and disappointment to a post by you Jerry, that seems to me to stem from some kind of gut reaction on your part..
I haven’t responded to the review by Albert simply because it seemed to me not worthy of response.. and nothing has changed my mind about that. Perhaps he didn’t read the book as he certainly didn’t describe anything that was actually in the book and that wasn’t in either the preface or the afterword..
I suspect those two things upset him to the point that he clearly didn’t read or understand the key physics concepts and his comments about religion at the end were irrelevant (as if, in a cosmology book, I should devote time talking about why religion is bad for humanity.. I think it probably is bad for humanity.. but that is irrelevant to the origin and evolution universe.. all I care about is understanding how the universe evolved, and if possible originated, and the issue there is whether God helps understand that.. and it doesn’t as far as I can see). Ultimately it seemed a poorly thought out illogical and tangential book review by someone who had something they perferred discussing rather than the actual book, and not worth responding to..
I guess I am responding to this (albeit briefly and I don’t plan to write more than this note) because I think you are confused, and you seemed earnest in trying to read the book and for whatever reason I guess I care more what you think..
In any case, as you make clear, you didn’t understand the book, which also surprised me as I tried very hard to make a concise and up to date, and accurate history and explanation of the physics of our current understanding of the present strange and remarkable universe .. I was also surprised that as a scientists you would prefer me to focus more on the origin of the universe before explaining the properties of our universe that I feel must inform and precede such a discussion.. (indeed I would argue that in this sense you are taking a philosophical approach rather than a scientific one.. having your arguments derive from questions and concepts you make up rather than questions and concepts the universe leads us to..)
And you seem to have missed the key point. It is not lost on me that the goal posts have changed..I was honest about this.. my point is that the question of ‘nothing’ is one that needs to be explored from a scientific perspective.. and when one does so, the whole meaning of the question becomes less important.. nothing is not so simple anymore.. and moreover, the claims that I define nothing to be the quantum vacuum is something I keep reading in some of these reviews, but that is disingenuous. I carefully tried, in 3 steps, to progressively explore different versions of what one might operationally call nothing from a physicists perspectve..
The first version is indeed the empty vacuum of space–the eternal void of the bible if you wish. Such a version of nothing can quickly be dispensed with as easily leading to something, and not really that different from something.. as I point out. ( and for some reason this bothers some people who think it shouldn’t be so..) But then I talk about how the complete absence of space itself, of our universe, can lead to the creation of space.. our universe.. when quantum gravitational considerations are included….
Now, in this case, there may be ‘something’..perhaps an eternal multiverse out of which our universe may arise.. but in no sense did OUR universe, or OUR vacuum state in our universe, exist before such spontaneous creation may occur.. Finally I point out that the laws of physics themselves may be unique to our universe. (It is true as I point out that quantum mechanics itself may be common to all universes or not.. I have no idea.. but that is not the point..it is a side issue).
I made the point somewhere in the book that when one considers these things the question why is there something rather than nothing (where we live to ask the question) is like asking why some flowers are blue and others red.. it may not be a fundamentally interesting question from a scientific perspective.. That may be disappointing, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be true.. If it is a bait and switch that is because science as done the switching.. I may not be focusing on the classical question that has bother philosophers, but I don’t think I ever claim to.. I am more interested in the questions of the real universe…
Moreover, the point of the book is to carefully show that the characteristics of our universe are more or less precisely those characteristics of a universe that could spontaneously arise and evolve by physical, and not supernatural causes.. and that didn’t have to be the case! I think that alone is worth celebrating, and explaining, and with all due respect, having read the literature, I don’t think that has been described carefully and knowledgably (with both the particle physics and cosmological issues treated) and in an up to date fashion in the public literature before..
And finally, without the pretense that it may appear that this sentence, I do think in spirit that what it does is similar to what Darwin’s book tried to do.. albeit I agree without being the monumental piece of new exploratory science that his masterpiece uniquely was in the history of science.. it simply tries to plausibly understand how the diverse and wonderful universe we see, which appears naively to be designed, can arise by purely physical processes that might be both understood and predictive…
I would hope you would give it another go and try and puzzle your way through the cosmology, but I am sure you have other things to do.