Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stephen Hawking marked absent at the Universe's creation

All over the news today: Stephen Hawking Says God Did Not Create the Universe. In a related news story: God says Stephen Hawking Was Not Present at the Creation of the Universe. Bad news Stephen, God was taking attendance and noted your conspicuous absence.

So if Stephen wasn't there, how can he be so certain that God did not create the universe? Hawking says:
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," writes Hawking.

"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,"
First problem with his statement: "Because there is." The fact that there is anything - including physical law - demands an explanation. What was the origin of the gravity which Hawking credits as the cause behind "spontaneous creation"?

If I were to insist that my car had been spontaneously created, I would rightfully be laughed at. Yet someone can declare the complexity of everything there is was just spontaneously created - just came into existence without cause nor creator - and we take him seriously? Nonsense is nonsense no matter how brilliant the speaker.

Moreover, Hawking says later in the interview:
"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works."
Science is based upon observation and reason? Observe the beauty and complexity of the cosmos, the atom, or the human body - what does reason tell you of their origins? As I walk through the woods if I observe a tumbledown stone wall, which is more reasonable to say: the wall had both cause and creator or the wall had been spontaneously created?

Further, I continue to take exception to the clich├ęd sentiment Hawking regurgitates about religion and science being in some sort of battle. In my recent post, Marriage - just a piece of paper? I discussed this very issue:
Notice that while I chose the words "mystical" and "transcendent," I am still talking about reality. Science reveals truth (reality), but there is truth beyond what science can reveal. Transcendent truths are just as real. And I believe one of those transcendent truths is that in marriage, the two really become one.
I explore this same theme in both my posts: More than meets the eye and Common Foundation of Faith. The bottom line is that science and religion are no more at war than are numbers and letters.

So if you want to know the origins of the universe, don't ask Stephen Hawking but rather someone who was there: "In the beginning God..." (Genesis 1:1).

10 comments:

Stephen said...

Have you ever bothered to do any basic particle physics, higher mathematics and/or astronomy courses? Have you ever read Stephen Hawking's book "The Grand Design" from cover to cover? Maybe if you had, your apparent knee jerk response might be a little less defensive and a little more awe inspired. Remember - how Copernicus and Galileo where treated by the church? Remember too, it was Einstein et al who brought us "relativity" along with the means to end the second world war. As for life, Darwin began to make sense of it all and our developing understanding of DNA sequencing has forced a major change of world view those biblical writers never ever dreamed of.

Since when, can any "revealed truth" rationalised from a series of human epiphanies claimed over the last thee to four thousand years ever replace the "factual truth" now being discovered by scientists looking deep into ice packs, the many layers of ground beneath our very feet and ancient light from the sum of 4,280,000 visible galaxies visible to the Hubble Telescope dating back some 13.4 billion earth years.

Your disrespect and unwarranted contempt for Stephen Hawkin, his life's work and the truth of how insignificant you and the rest of humanity really are on this small speck of a blue planet, is in my view, truly astounding.

Stephen said...

Correction above: "Hawkin's"

Anonymous said...

I think it is important for the poster to be cautious in how they format their argument. For instance, you argue "If I were to insist that my car had been spontaneously created, I would rightfully be laughed at. Yet someone can declare the complexity of everything there is was just spontaneously created - just came into existence without cause nor creator - and we take him seriously?" You rightly suggest that humans create the car that you drive and they do so using earthly materials that have been altered and such. To summarize ... humans take earthly elements, process and machine them into mechanical parts that make the moving system you drive. What makes your proposal of divine creation any different? I find it odd that you scoff at the notion of spontaneous creation in your analogy, yet religion is all about spontaneous creation. There is not religious reference to what materials God used to create anything or even a notion that there was anything material for him to start creating from ... meaning he just created the matter of creation as he went along (sounds like having a car magic up and appear in front of you doesn't it?). So we are still left with the question of where did His building blocks come from? Additionally one could go even further and question what God Himself is composed of and where that matter originated from. In short, I think you are arguing a similar argument to Hawking and the notion of divine creation are subject to the same criticism as those Hawking proposes and you so eagerly attacked. The only difference in what you and Hawking use as a source of "truth" and the degree of certainty affiliated with that "truth" is where your information originates. You use the bible and see it as infallible and he relies on observation and experimentation which comes with a degree of uncertainty in all calculations. In the end neither of you know where all the matter came from in the beginning. Please be careful about how you make discrediting posts like this in the future and think thoroughly about the argument you're making.

Adam said...

Anonymous, while both Hawking and the Bible assert a type of spontaneous creation, the argument I was making is that within the natural world, there is no example of spontaneous creation. If spontaneous creation did occur at the beginning of time, it must be attributable to that which is outside of nature, or supernatural.

Science has observed that matter itself does not appear to be eternal, but is subject to the second law of thermodynamics. Greater order demands a force acting upon a system. A system cannot act upon itself to bring greater order nor to bring itself into existence. Spontaneous creation defies a natural explanation and so demands a supernatural one.

Scientists and mathematicians can bring us to the moment of the Big Bang - to the very moment when the natural world came into existence. However that moment and the existence of the natural world cannot be explained by natural means. That which caused the natural world to be created ex niliho must be supernatural - beyond the nature it brought into being.

Anonymous said...

I am an educator and would like to believe that I received a well-balanced course of study in my lifetime. I am also a Christian, who does not follow any particular set of rules or even attend church regularly. I enjoy reading about medical breakthroughs, space exploration, and debating some of the theories thrown about classrooms today. It's all part of learning about the universe we obviously live in. I don't know HOW it was made (neither does Hawking or the Pope), but I agree that it was MADE. I have a great deal of respect for scientists who probe and calculate and analyze everything around us, and if any of them prefer not to believe in any religion, I still respect that. I respect them for simply saying, "I don't know" when asked if they think there is a god, or a higher power behind it all. However, I really have little respect for bright, highly educated individuals who come to a stage and make declarations about the certainty of a godless universe. Who can say such a thing if you first have not even reached the edge of our little solar system? I am a believer simply because I choose to believe, and as such, I do not have the burden of proof upon my shoulders. No one would ever expect me to prove that there is a God. However, for those who claim that science has the answer and that answer irrevocably concludes that there is NO God, then it is something that science should be able to prove! As I see it, each person has a choice of what to believe. I choose to believe those things which have been scientifically proven, AND I choose to believe in a Creator. I will not believe in scientific theory over my own beliefs since they are both improbable and mine explains a hell of a lot more to me.

Anonymous said...

Why do you accept that the man/men who wrote "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God" were actually correct? Why the assumption that they held some sort of divine revelation or knew more than you or I? Isn't it just as probable that the verse in question is simply someone's opinion about how the universe came into existence? For just a moment, try to open your mind to other possibilities...

Adam said...

@Anonymous 01/02/2010 - Let's for a moment set aside the veracity of the Bible. The main thrust of my argument is that there is no adequate "natural" explanation for the existence of nature. As such, the existence of all that is must have a "super-natural" (beyond nature) explanation.

While I was chided to: "For just a moment, try to open [my] mind to other possibilities," I find that most scientists are just as (if not even more) close-minded to the possibility of a super-natural explanation for all that is.

My mind is open to other possibilities, but so far I have found no other theory of the universe's origins that satisfies as intellectually or spiritually as a super-natural explanation.

padi said...

Lord Buddha once said "not to go back to find where we came from but only to figure out where we wanna go". Coz as humans we will never ever figure out the creation of this universe and so forth. Does anyone have proofs of seen god? When you are constantly being bombarded with certain concept your mind seems to follow in that direction and eventually you will decide it is the truth and nothing else is true.Whether it is the concept of God or evolution had its own way of creating its own thing, people will kill each other to make others to follow what they believe, in order to feel better. human are evolved from cruel animal like past to a little civilized society until now. give them any chance they all bring back our own animal instincts coz survival is the first instinct of a living being, you may know and agree with. Bible is a nicely written by many wise men in order to make people follow it. So we can teach our next generation to be more civilized than us. take the religious teachings off the schools and i bet there will be many troubled kids coming out of those schools. Hurricane katrina, Tsunami, many more disasters took place in the history of human kind and what did we get. nothing other than seen stronger ones taking advantage of innocent n weak ones.
So if there is god let that fellow be. figure out where you wanna go n how you wanna live your life, at the end there is nothing but emptiness..... until you develope your mind,

Anonymous said...

hmm innocent hawking u cant fight wid God..............science n religion r not necessory to agree on same point of view.....

Anonymous said...

Catholicism expects you to come to the faith based on reason and observation. Not because you feel threatened by some authority. There is no war between religion and science, that is a false paradigm much like his spontaneous creation theory.