Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Stephen Hawking's latest book fails to disprove God
Science and Values ^ | 09/06/2010 | Andrew Halloway

Posted on 09/06/2010 2:41:02 PM PDT by SeekAndFind

Back on 11 August I wrote about Stephen Hawking’s forthcoming book and how it was going to challenge God as an explanation for the universe. The national secular media have now caught up. On Saturday (2 September 2010), the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph both carried exactly the same headline: ‘Stephen Hawking: God was not needed to create the Universe’, and the rest were similar, e.g. ‘Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God’ (the Guardian).

The reason for all the publicity? The launch of the physicist’s book was only a week away. In the somewhat ironically titled ‘The Grand Design’ (doesn’t a grand design suggest a Designer, Stephen?), Hawking says: “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… It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”

In his most famous previous tome, ‘A Brief History of Time’ (1988), the professor had left open the possibility of a divine plan behind the universe by saying: "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.”

But now that he claims to have discovered that ‘complete theory’ of how everything works, he’s changed his tune. Perhaps he’s been listening to Richard Dawkins too much. However, only a day after the fanfare in the major papers, commentators in many of the same newspapers reacted with some scepticism of Hawking’s claim to have made God irrelevant.

The Daily Telegraph’s Graham Farmelo hit the nail on the head. Pointing out that Hawking’s ‘M-theory’ basically says that “our universe followed inevitably from the laws of nature”, Farmelo retorted: “But, we might ask, where did they come from?” And even if Hawking’s M-theory stands up to experimental testing in the future, “the reasons for the mathematical order at the heart of the universe's order would remain an unsolvable mystery.”

The Arcbhishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, told the press: “Belief in God is not about plugging a gap in explaining how one thing relates to another within the Universe. It is the belief that there is an intelligent, living agent on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence." "Physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing."

But the best reply came from Oxford mathematics professor, John Lennox. Writing in the Daily Mail, Lennox simply stated: “As a scientist I'm certain Stephen Hawking is wrong. You can't explain the universe without God.” While explaining that Hawking’s belief that the universe created itself is hardly new, Lennox believes it is a “simplistic approach” that has no logical foundation in science.

The mathematician points out that there is no fundamental conflict between the laws of physics and God, because “laws themselves do not create anything, they are merely a description of what happens under certain conditions. What Hawking appears to have done is to confuse law with agency. His call on us to choose between God and physics is a bit like someone demanding that we choose between aeronautical engineer Sir Frank Whittle and the laws of physics to explain the jet engine. “That is a confusion of category. The laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works, but someone had to build the thing, put in the fuel and start it up.”

Lennox describes only what any sensible believer in God, and any decent philosopher, has known for years, yet somehow the blind determination of atheistic scientists to find a scientific explanation that rules out God continues, regardless. I think it demonstrates their refusal to admit that logic is not on their side.

Hawking is no different. The existence of the law of gravity does not make the universe inevitable, because the law of gravity did not exist until the universe itself appeared. As Lennox says: “How did gravity exist in the first place? Who put it there? And what was the creative force behind its birth?”

For Lennox, the amazing design of the universe is something that boosts his faith rather than challenging it: “For me, as a Christian believer, the beauty of the scientific laws only reinforces my faith in an intelligent, divine creative force at work. The more I understand science, the more I believe in God because of my wonder at the breadth, sophistication and integrity of his creation. “The very reason science flourished so vigorously in the 16th and 17th centuries was precisely because of the belief that the laws of nature… reflected the influence of a divine law-giver." “One of the fundamental themes of Christianity is that the universe was built according to a rational, intelligent design. Far from being at odds with science, the Christian faith actually makes perfect scientific sense.”

Pointing to biology as well as physics as evidence for God, Lennox continues: “When we see a few letters of the alphabet spelling our name in the sand, our immediate response is to recognise the work of an intelligent agent. How much more likely, then, is an intelligent creator behind the human DNA, the colossal biological database that contains no fewer than 3.5 billion 'letters'?”

Finally, Lennox is convinced of Christianity not just by science but by the evidence of history, personal experience and human morality: “Support for the existence of God moves far beyond the realm of science. Within the Christian faith, there is also the powerful evidence that God revealed himself to mankind through Jesus Christ two millennia ago. This is well-documented not just in the scriptures and other testimony but also in a wealth of archaeological findings.

“Moreover, the religious experiences of millions of believers cannot lightly be dismissed. I myself and my own family can testify to the uplifting influence faith has had on our lives, something which defies the idea we are nothing more than a random collection of molecules.

“Just as strong is the obvious reality that we are moral beings, capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong… The existence of a common pool of moral values points to the existence of transcendent force beyond mere scientific laws.” The fact is that, in tackling the God question, Hawking has inevitably moved from hard, experimental science to conjecture and philosophical supposition.

As science author Antony Latham says: “M-theory… is very much a conjectural theory and other physicists are not happy with it… Even Hawking says: ‘People are trying to decipher the nature of M-theory but that may not be possible.’ None of it is based on observation and it is thus unproven.”

Latham adds: “Hawking does not seem to tackle the very important question of the 'First Cause'. The only recourse he and others might have is an infinite regress of causes into the infinite past. However it is easily proven (by mathematicians such as Hilbert) that there is no such thing as an infinite series of anything.” A mathematician of Hawking’s undoubted quality should have remembered that.

At the end of the day (or the universe), science can never be used to finally prove or disprove God, as even Dawkins has admitted. Science is the study of the natural, not the supernatural. It has the wrong tools for the job.

TOPICS: Astronomy; Religion; Science
KEYWORDS: creation; evolution; faith; god; science; scientism; stephenhawking

1 posted on 09/06/2010 2:41:07 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Really, how could it? You can’t prove a negative.

further I will say it again - science rejects the idea of a self-creating universe. There are no self-creating causes. The universe is the effect, not the cause. And causes just don’t create themselves.

Really the book needs to be honestly called: I won’t believe in God because I don’t like what that would do to my worldview, and instead I’ll ignore science and try to believe by faith the universe came about all on its own so I don’t have to think about God. But Oops, I still have to think about God because I have to say I don’t believe in God.

2 posted on 09/06/2010 2:50:04 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
Lemme think....

Or the Great "I AM"

Imagination of this "theoretical physicist"...
God's eternal message...

Who do you trust?

3 posted on 09/06/2010 2:55:33 PM PDT by Wings-n-Wind (The main things are the plain things!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

I never cared much for Hawking. I don’t do artsy fartsy.

4 posted on 09/06/2010 3:11:02 PM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (Algore is a politician and a con artist. He is NOT a scientist.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

This guy already beat him.

5 posted on 09/06/2010 3:14:50 PM PDT by ThisLittleLightofMine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

You cannot prove God. You cannot disprove God. God is transcendental, God is beyond proof.

6 posted on 09/06/2010 3:32:48 PM PDT by reg45
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

I’ll be 66 years on this earth next month. At my age, this all is quite tiring to read. Mr Hawking, darling of the left, please STFU. Thank you.

7 posted on 09/06/2010 3:42:29 PM PDT by QBFimi (When gunpowder speaks, beasts listen.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Wings-n-Wind

Serious question: If the laws of math mandate that matter can be created from nothing, then why don’t we see the creation of matter as a “matter” of routine. (sorry). It should be a regular occurrence. I guess it depends on how you define “nothing”. If nothing means the absence of matter/energy and space/time, then how can the rules of math exist? If “nothing” can exist in space/time, then how much of it do we need to spark creation? A cubic meter? more? Less? Does the amount of matter created vary with the size of the unit of “nothing”? Does a cubic foot of “nothing” create more matter than a cubic mile?

Lot’s of issues here, and I just have a JD.

8 posted on 09/06/2010 3:43:19 PM PDT by uscabjd
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Did he create this book out of thin air?? or did a book printer create it? and so on.

9 posted on 09/06/2010 4:36:49 PM PDT by Cheetahcat (Zero the Wright kind of Racist! We are in a state of War with Democrats)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


10 posted on 09/06/2010 5:55:00 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Democratic Underground... matters are worse, as their latest fund drive has come up short...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

in the year 2525 duplicates are still gonna ba alive. Additional: some totally irrelevant sidebars:
11 posted on 09/06/2010 6:11:03 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Democratic Underground... matters are worse, as their latest fund drive has come up short...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: uscabjd
I appreciate your analysis - well said.

The same line of reasoning can be used to inquire of "light" and "darkness":

Light can be visibly discerned, and in any case is measurable in spectrum, frequency, and energy.

Darkness is easier -- it's merely the absence thereof.

And from where I sit--so many things are "discovered" or purported to be "created" by these theoreticans-- and occasionally the activist judiciary.

Blackmun's majority opinion in Roe v. Wade "discovered" the constitutionality of infanticide.... "in the shadow of the penumbra"---

...In plain language with no flourishes....
We find the reasoning for so many needless deaths....

Go figure....


I was once taught by a wise man...

Knowledge finding the answers...

Wisdom asking the right questions in the first place.
(For my money-- this is the fatal flaw with the "deep reasonings" of Hawking.... Sagan before him... and a few notable infinitum

Thanks again...

12 posted on 09/06/2010 8:45:24 PM PDT by Wings-n-Wind (The main things are the plain things!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

The issue stands that even if you concede that there are Laws of matter and that someone created those Laws then why don’t you ask what created the creator?

You are willing to accept that life needs a creator cause it magically happening is impossible, God is a living creature (in that it exists and is sentient, not that it is possible to die) yet you require nothing to prove of it’s creation.

God can come to be by some magical property, but the universe needs an explanation?

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

13 posted on 09/09/2010 2:39:27 PM PDT by Guchie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Guchie

GOD by definition is ETERNAL , TIMELESS. He always exists.

Therefore, to ask the question who created God, is to ask the question who created someone who always exists.

I contend that if you don’t believe in God, you are simply excercising faith as much as those who DO.

14 posted on 09/09/2010 2:44:02 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

It takes no faith to not believe in something that cannot be seen, it merely takes sanity.

Belief in God is no different than people who believe in UFOs or Bigfoot. It takes blind faith without any factual evidence to believe in a God.

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence comet evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

15 posted on 09/09/2010 5:04:08 PM PDT by Guchie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Guchie

In the book of Isaaih, God states that he created evil. In the book of Job, Satan comes when summoned. The truth of the matter is that it is modern Christianity’s simplistic interpretation of God that is lacking. He has his reasons for things, and part of our purpose in being here is wrestling with that, and having faith that one day, “EVERY knee shall bow” before Him.

16 posted on 09/10/2010 4:59:16 AM PDT by badbass
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Guchie

RE: Belief in God is no different than people who believe in UFOs or Bigfoot

So does belief in a complex world without a designer. You’re asking me to believe that our complex bodies, our world our solar system came about as a result of chance. How’s that different from believing that a Boeing 747 came about without a designer?

RE: Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Errr... if God ( the one who judges what is right or wrong) doesn’t exist, what is evil but the figment of your imagination and mine ?

A random collision of atoms called the Nazis happened to hit on a random collision of atoms called the Jews. You call it evil, that’s your PERSONAL belief, someone else calls it good that’s his personal belief.

If you want to tell me that OBJECTIVELY SPEAKING, there is no good or evil, that’s fine with me. That’s your belief.

But please, don’t call something evil, evil without simultaneously telling me that that’s what you personally call it. Because without God, nothing is really good or evil.

17 posted on 09/10/2010 6:31:35 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Maybe God created the Big Bang to create the universe. I believe that he could have done it in a week, but i also believe he could have done it in 7 AGES. Maybe Stephan Hawking was partly right. He based his information on CHRISTAIN scientists....

Please post back.

18 posted on 10/28/2010 10:05:54 PM PDT by Disscusion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

When I read “The Grand Design” I kept thinking, Hawking seems to be making a case for God’s existence. Then at the last minute, he does a 180 on us. I finished the book with a feeling of disappointment.

19 posted on 04/01/2011 5:52:36 PM PDT by ixtl (You live and learn, or you don't live long.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson