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The most profound questions that philosophers and scientists have asked across the centuries have been metaphysical and existential, such as “What is the meaning and purpose of life, why are we here, and why is there something rather than nothing?” There can be no definitive answers to these questions, so those who pose and propose answers to them necessarily engage ideology. Some physicists have become philosophers in that they are attempting to answer these profound questions with highly speculative theories as, for instance, Hawking and Mlodonow’s book The Grand Design (2010) which they tout as providing new answers to age-old questions by positing a multiverse that created itself. Other physicists impugn these efforts as putting physics in a no-man’s land and wanting to relax the empirical and falsifiable criteria for judging the usefulness of a theory. These theories are offered in response to the remarkable precision of the initial conditions of the Big Bang, and the exquisite fine-tuning of nature’s laws for intelligent life. Theistic or deistic physicists see these things as the mark of a designer; atheist or agnostic physicists call this a as an affront to science and offer the multiverse hypothesis as an alternative. The ideological battles are thus between ontological naturalists (there is no reality beyond the physical) who lean toward atheism, and methodological naturalists (there is a mental and spiritual reality as well as a material one) who lean toward theism or deism.

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This document was originally published in Journal of Ideology by Scholar Commons - Institutional Repository of the University of South Carolina. Copyright restrictions may apply.