I have no comment at the moment on James’ review, but I look forward to reading more of his posts. He’s a self-described “Catholic Thomist”, and he appears to be a thoughtful guy, although I’m mystified that people still follow medieval theology.
Why should we expect that there are causes or explanations or a reason why in the universe in which we live? It’s because the physical world inside of which we’re embedded has two important features. There are unbreakable patterns, laws of physics—things don’t just happen, they obey the laws—and there is an arrow of time stretching from the past to the future…. But crucially, both of these features of the universe that allow us to speak the language of causes and effects are completely absent when we talk about the universe as a whole. We don’t think that our universe is part of a bigger ensemble that obeys laws. Even if it’s part of the multiverse, the multiverse is not part of a bigger ensemble that obeys laws. Therefore, nothing gives us the right to demand some kind of external cause.
My immediate interest is solely Carroll’s thought:
It raises the more general question: “what right do we have to think the universe should conform to our expectations?” When I consider existence in this way, it reinforces the thought that only by observing patterns in the world can we make sense of the world. It is an empirical approach to the cosmos that will help us understand it.
nothing gives us the right to demand some kind of external cause
That doesn’t mean that there’s no room for mystery, faith or magical thinking in the world - tens of billions of people have survived by the seat of their pants. But when you ask life’s “deeper questions” - mystery, faith and magical thinking will not get you in line with the cosmos that you observe.
So start paying attention to the world.