Great Books and Great Authors

2021 Dec 7

Many of us have experienced the sublime pleasure of finding a book and realizing that it is completely engaging and immersive. While we are reading, it is hard to put down. After it is done we are both satisfied and disappointed that we came to the end.

What do we learn about the author by having read it? We do know that the author existed because we read their book, however, most of the time we don’t know much more. We also know they have skill in their craft and that they are creative for having constructed a world of ideas that was so compelling.

Disclosure and Truth

Sometimes the book includes a short bio on the author. It exists because the author discloses themselves to us. Sometimes there is separate information available that tells us more about the author. Maybe it is an autobiography. In all cases, we only come to know the author by what they reveal of themselves to us.

We might not trust the author was truthful in what they disclosed. However, unless we have personal experience with them (directly or indirectly), we have no other options to learn about them. Even if we have some direct connection to them, only the author themselves is able to reveal who they are as an individual. To know someone, it is absolutely necessary that they disclose themselves to us.

In the end, we might completely disbelieve what we are told about the author. However, if we have the book, we cannot say there was no author. We do know there was a skillful, creative and great author! We may not know the identity of the true author, but we know there was an author because books always only come from authors.

The Book of Nature

Nature is like a book because it has a beginning, and we can predict that it also has an end. The story that nature is telling us had a beginning, but also the book of nature’s existence had a beginning too. All effects in this material world come from a cause. Said another way: nothing happens without a cause in this universe. Therefore, we know the universe itself also had a cause; there was something that caused all matter, time and energy to begin to exist.

This book of nature is not random because it is full of carefully chosen parameters that make it work. We call this the fine tuning of nature. There are dozens of these parameters that are absolutely critical to the universe and life. These parameters make us possible because they are hyper-precisely chosen to work together as an integrated whole. If many of them were trivially different, our universe would not even exist. Just as an author makes carefully selected choices as they write their story to make a world that works and is true to life, so nature is fine tuned to make our existence possible.

Nature around us is also filled with living things. In the last century we discovered genetics, and this century we have learned to read these genes. They turn out to be long sentences stored in codes. The sentences are coherent, and from out of them comes a highly integrated world of molecular machines, systems and sub-systems that work in concert to create a world of life. Communication and control systems tie these functional systems together.

Living things have been added to this world in discontinuous increments. The fossil record shows that original organisms were added to this world at different times. The evidence clearly shows that organisms did not all appear at once, and organisms did not gradually appear. They were introduced to the story in stages. note

Watch the video Gunter Bechly Explains What The Fossil Evidence Really Says

  • Gunter is a paleontologist. The video is interesting, understandable, authoritative and highly recommended.

In this metaphor, we are characters in the book of nature, each one of us creating sub-plots in the larger story. We all have actual words and sentences inside each of us that give us life and agency. Unlike the rest of non-living matter, we live and move and act and speak. In addition, we communicate with languages of words and music and movement.

Author of the Nature Book

Like all books, the book of nature also must have an author. (There is literal encoded language in living things. Language and words in books by all uniform and repeated experience comes only from authors!) What can we know about this author by looking at the book? We clearly know the author is skillful and creative.

Since the author caused matter and time and energy to begin, the author must stand outside of these dimensions, and must be undefined by these constructs. Since the book is constructed with carefully chosen and integrated free parameters, the author must have a will, the ability to make choices and the ability to reason to a goal. Since the book of nature encodes carefully crafted language in all of its living elements, the author must have intelligence and the ability to communicate.

We might theorize that the author put some of themself in us. If so, we might believe the author has an appreciation of beauty, a sense of humor, and is interested in love, morality and justice. The author definitely was interested in communication because the world they created is infused with it. These are reasonable inferences although are not certainties. However, it is also reasonable to think that the author made a bio available to those who might be interested to learn more about them.

So, this is where we run out of information on the author from just the book of nature.

  • We have very good evidence there is an author.
  • We have good clues to the author’s characteristics.
  • We have some suggestions about the author’s character.

Now we need some other book to give us more. Wouldn't you want to learn more about this author?


See also