In the '80s, you were really no one unless you read Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time."
Not that it was an easy read. The most efficient option for getting a handle on it, I found, was to ask someone what was in it. As I understood it then, Hawking believed that there might somewhere, out there, be a God. You know, one of those all-powerful beings that we can never hope to quite understand.
In a new book called "The Grand Design", however, co-written with Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking seems to explicitly reject the idea that God woke up one day and said "Abracadabra."
The Telegraph quotes from the book: "Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist."
This reads as if our world, the NFL, love, and even social networking are all mere accidental happenstance. Once upon a time, there was this thing called gravity. And gosh, it had grave consequences, even though it had no idea of its own power.
Perhaps he is right. Perhaps gravity is where it all spontaneously began. Perhaps, as he writes in "The Grand Design": "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going."
But it all seems so terribly unexciting if we all just materialized out of nowhere, and to nowhere will return. Can't we at least leave the door open for a little more meaningful fantasy?