我 们发现自已是处于使人为难的世界中。我们要为自己在四周所看的一切赋予意义并问道：什么是宇宙的性质？我们在它之中的位置如何，以及宇宙和我们从何而来？ 为何它是这个样子的？我们采用某种“世界图“’来试图回答这些问题，如同无限的乌龟塔——一个支持平坦的地球是这样的一种图象一样，超弦理论也是一种图 象。虽然后者比前者更数学化、更精确，但两者都是宇宙的理论。两个理论都缺乏观察的证据：没人看到一个背负地球的大龟，但也没有人看到超弦。然而，龟理论 作为一个好的科学理论是不够格的，因为它预言了人会从世界的边缘掉下去。除非发现它能为据说在百慕达三角消失的人提供解释。这个预言和经验不一致！
最 早先在理论上描述和解释宇宙的企图牵涉到这样的思想，事件或自然现象是由具备人类感情的灵魂所控制，它们的行为和人类非常相像，并且是不可预言的。这些灵 魂栖息在自然对象之中，诸如河流和山岳，包括诸如太阳和月亮这样的天体之中。它们必须被祈祷并供奉，以保证土壤的肥沃和四季的变化。然而，一些规律性逐渐 地被注意到：太阳总是东升西落，而不管是否用牺牲去对之进贡。更进一步，太阳、月亮和行星沿着以被预言得相当精确的轨道穿越天穹。太阳、月亮仍然还可以是 神祗，只不过是服从严格定律的神。如果你不将耶和华停止太阳运行之类的神话当真，则这一切显然是毫不例外的。
量 子力学通过一族量子理论来处理这种情形，粒子没有很好定义的位置和速度，而是由一个波来代表。它们给出了这波随时间演化的定律，在这种意义上，这些量子理 论从属于宿命论。这样，如果某一时刻这个波是已知的，便可以将任一时刻的波算出。只是当我们试图按照粒子的位置和速度对波作解释之时，不可预见性的紊乱的 要素才出现。但这也许是我们的错误：也许不存在粒子的位置和速度，只有波。只不过是我们企图将波硬套到我们预想的位置和速度的观念之中而己。由此导致的不 一致乃是表面上不可预见性的原因。
在 本书中，我特别将制约引力的定律突出出来，因为正是引力使宇宙的大尺度结构成形，即使它是四类力中最弱的一种。引力定律和直到相当近代还被坚持的宇宙随时 间不变的观念不相协调：引力总是吸引的这一事实意味着，宇宙必须或者在膨胀或者在收缩。按照广义相对论，宇宙在过去某一时刻必须有一无限密度的状态，亦即 大爆炸，这是时间的有效起始。类似地，如果整个宇宙坍缩，在将来必有另一个无限密度的状态，即大挤压，这是时间的终点。即使整个宇宙不坍缩，在任何坍缩形 成黑洞的局部区域里都会有奇点。这些奇点正是任何落进黑洞的人的时间终点。在大爆炸或其他奇点，所有定律都失效，所以上帝仍然有完全的自由去选择发生了什 么以及宇宙是如何开始的。
当 我们将量子力学和广义相对论相结合，似乎产生了以前从未有过的新的可能性：空间和时间一起可以形成一个有限的、四维的没有奇点或边界的空间，这正如地球的 表面，但有更多的维数。看来这种思想能够解释观察到的宇宙的许多特征，诸如它的大尺度一致性，还有像星系、恒星甚至人类等等小尺度的对此均匀性的偏离。它 甚至可以说明我们观察到的时间的箭头。但是如果宇宙是完全自足的、没有奇点或边界、并且由统一理论所完全描述，那么就对上帝作为造物主的作用有深远的含 义。
有 一次爱因斯坦问道：“在制造宇宙时上帝有多少选择性？“如果无边界假设是正确的，在选择初始条件上它就根本没有自由。当然，它仍有选择宇宙所服从的定律的 自由。然而，实在并没有那么多的选择性；很可能只有一个或数目很少的完整的统一理论，它是自治的，并且允许复杂到像能研究宇宙定律和询问上帝本性的人类那 样的结构的存在。
即 使只存在一个可能的统一理论，那只不过是一组规则或方程。是什么赋予这些方程以生命去制造一个为它们所描述的宇宙？通常建立一个数学模型的科学方法不能回 答，为何必须存在一个为此模型所描述的宇宙这样的问题。为何宇宙陷入其存在性的错综复杂之中？是否统一理论是如此之咄咄逼人，以至于其自身之实现成为不可 避免？或者它需要一个造物主？若是这样，它还有其他的宇宙效应吗？又是谁创造了造物主？
迄 今，大部分科学家太忙于发展描述宇宙为何物的理论，以至于没工夫去过问为什么的问题。另一方面，以寻根究底为己任的哲学家不能跟得上科学理论的进步。在 18世纪，哲学家将包括科学在内的整个人类知识当作他们的领域，并讨论诸如宇宙有无开初的问题。然而，在19和20世纪，科学变得对哲学家，或除了少数专 家以外的任何人而言，过于技术性和数学化了。哲学家如此地缩小他们的质疑的范围，以至于连维特根斯坦——这位本世纪最著名的哲学家都说道：“哲学仅余下的 任务是语言分析。“这是从亚里士多德到康德以来哲学的伟大传统的何等的堕落！
然 而，如果我们确实发现了一套完整的理论，它应该在一般的原理上及时让所有人（而不仅仅是少数科学家）所理解。那时，我们所有人，包括哲学家、科学家以及普 普通通的人，都能参加为何我们和宇宙存在的问题的讨论。如果我们对此找到了答案，则将是人类理智的最终极的胜利——因为那时我们知道了上帝的精神。
We find ourselves in a bewildering world. We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is? To try to answer these questions we adopt some “world picture.“ Just as an infinite tower of tortoises supporting the fiat earth is such a picture, so is the theory of superstrings. Both are theories of the universe, though the latter is much more mathematical and precise than the former. Both theories lack observational evidence: no one has ever seen a giant tortoise with the earth on its back, but then, no one has seen a superstring either.
However, the tortoise theory fails to be a good scientific theory because it predicts that people should be able to fall off the edge of the world. This has not been found to agree with experience, unless that turns out to be the explanation for the people who are supposed to have disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle! The earliest theoretical attempts to describe and explain the universe involved the idea that events and natural phenomena were controlled by spirits with human emotions who acted in a very humanlike and unpredictable manner. These spirits inhabited natural objects, like rivers and mountains, including celestial bodies, like the sun and moon. They had to be placated and their favor sought in order to ensure the fertility of the soil and the rotation of the seasons. Gradually, however, it must have been noticed that there were certain regularities: the sun always rose in the east and set in the west, whether or not a sacrifice had been made to the sun god.
Further, the sun, the moon, and the planets followed precise paths across the sky that could be predicted in advance with considerable accuracy. The sun and the moon might still be gods, but they were gods who obeyed strict laws, apparently without any exceptions, if one discounts stories like that of the sun stopping for Joshua.
At first, these regularities and laws were obvious only in astronomy and a few other situations. However, as civilization developed, and particularly in the last 300 years, more and more regularities and laws were discovered. The success of these laws led Laplace at the beginning of the nineteenth century to postulate scientific determinism; that is, he suggested that there would be a set of laws that would determine the evolution of the universe precisely, given its configuration at one time.
Laplace’s determinism was incomplete in two ways. It did not say how the laws should be chosen and it did not specify the initial configuration of the universe. These were left to God. God would choose how the universe began and what laws it obeyed, but he would not intervene in the universe once it had started. In effect, God was confined to the areas that nineteenth-century science did not understand.
We now know that Laplace’s hopes of determinism cannot be realized, at least in the terms he had in mind.
The uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics implies that certain pairs of quantities, such as the position and velocity of a particle, cannot both be predicted with complete accuracy. Quantum mechanics deals with this situation via a class of quantum theories in which particles don’t have well-defined positions and velocities but are represented by a wave. These quantum theories are deterministic in the sense that they give laws for the evolution of the wave with time. Thus if one knows the wave at one time, one can calculate it at any other time.
The unpredictable, random element comes in only when we try to interpret the wave in terms of the positions and velocities of particles. But maybe that is our mistake: maybe there are no particle positions and velocities, but only waves. It is just that we try to fit the waves to our preconceived ideas of positions and velocities. The resulting mismatch is the cause of the apparent unpredictability.
In effect, we have redefined the task of science to be the discovery of laws that will enable us to predict events up to the limits set by the uncertainty principle. The question remains, however: how or why were the laws and the initial state of the universe chosen? In this book I have given special prominence to the laws that govern gravity, because it is gravity that shapes the large-scale structure of the universe, even though it is the weakest of the four categories of forces. The laws of gravity were incompatible with the view held until quite recently that the universe is unchanging in time:
the fact that gravity is always attractive implies that the universe must be either expanding or contracting.
According to the general theory of relativity, there must have been a state of infinite density in the past, the big bang, which would have been an effective beginning of time. Similarly, if the whole universe recollapsed, there must be another state of infinite density in the future, the big crunch, which would be an end of time. Even if the whole universe did not recollapse, there would be singularities in any localized regions that collapsed to form black holes. These singularities would be an end of time for anyone who fell into the black hole. At the big bang and other singularities, all the laws would have broken down, so God would still have had complete freedom to choose what happened and how the universe began.
When we combine quantum mechanics with general relativity, there seems to be a new possibility that did not arise before: that space and time together might form a finite, four-dimensional space without singularities or boundaries, like the surface of the earth but with more dimensions. It seems that this idea could explain many of the observed features of the universe, such as its large-scale uniformity and also the smaller-scale departures from homogeneity, like galaxies, stars, and even human beings. It could even account for the arrow of time that we observe. But if the universe is completely self-contained, with no singularities or boundaries, and completely described by a unified theory, that has profound implications for the role of God as Creator.
Einstein once asked the question: “How much choice did God have in constructing the universe?“ If the no boundary proposal is correct, he had no freedom at all to choose initial conditions. He would, of course, still have had the freedom to choose the laws that the universe obeyed. This, however, may not really have been all that much of a choice; there may well be only one, or a small number, of complete unified theories, such as the heterotic string theory, that are self-consistent and allow the existence of structures as complicated as human beings who can investigate the laws of the universe and ask about the nature of God.
Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? Or does it need a creator, and, if so, does he have any other effect on the universe? And who created him? Up to now, most scientists have been too occupied with the development of new theories that describe what the universe is to ask the question why. On the other hand, the people whose business it is to ask why, the philosophers, have not been able to keep up with the advance of scientific theories. In the eighteenth century, philosophers considered the whole of human knowledge, including science, to be their field and discussed questions such as: did the universe have a beginning? However, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science became too technical and mathematical for the philosophers, or anyone else except a few specialists.
Philosophers reduced the scope of their inquiries so much that Wittgenstein, the most famous philosopher of this century, said, “The sole remaining task for philosophy is the analysis of language.“ What a comedown from the great tradition of philosophy from Aristotle to Kant! However, if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God.