Friday, September 03, 2010

Impressive stupidity

God did not create the universe, says Hawking

From Reuters

AFP/File – God no longer has any place in theories on the creation of the Universe due to a series of developments …

By Michael Holden Michael Holden – Thu Sep 2, 9:08 am ET

LONDON (Reuters) – God did not create the universe and the "Big Bang" was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book.

In "The Grand Design," (Continuum editorial comment: Design? Does he really mean to use that word?) co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts on Thursday.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing (A law which just happens to exist without any origin or design?). Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," Hawking writes.

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

Hawking, 68, who won global recognition with his 1988 book "A Brief History of Time," an account of the origins of the universe, is renowned for his work on black holes, cosmology and quantum gravity.

Since 1974, the scientist has worked on marrying the two cornerstones of modern physics -- Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which concerns gravity and large-scale phenomena, and quantum theory, which covers subatomic particles.

His latest comments suggest he has broken away from previous views he has expressed on religion. Previously, he wrote that the laws of physics meant it was simply not necessary to believe that God had intervened in the Big Bang.

He wrote in A Brief History ... "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we should know the mind of God."

In his latest book, he said the 1992 discovery of a planet orbiting another star other than the Sun helped deconstruct the view of the father of physics Isaac Newton that the universe could not have arisen out of chaos but was created by God.

"That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions -- the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass, far less remarkable, and far less compelling evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings," he writes. ("Coincidence" was never the argument made by believers. Yet he uses the simple fact that the universe makes sense to argue random chance. All he has proved is that a giant intellect really can inhabit a tiny mind after all.)

Hawking, who is only able to speak through a computer-generated voice synthesizer, has a neuro muscular dystrophy that has progressed over the years and left him almost completely paralyzed...

Last year he announced he was stepping down as Cambridge University's Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a position once held by Newton and one he had held since 1979.

"The Grand Design" is due to go on sale next week.


It is all too easy to refute-like shooting fish in a barrel. let us extend his argument about the universe to particular details within it.

We could argue, using the same logic:

"There was no J.S. Bach. The perfectly logical but random design of tones and timing explains why the sounds we hear as music make sense to our minds. But, in fact, they are not really music, but merely vibrations interacting with our ears and our brains, randomly designed by no one. The existence of our ears and brains makes the coincidence of apparent order in the arrangement of vibrations (appearing to be tones and rhythm) less remarkable. We don't need any longer to believe in some Being we call a composer."

And, we could argue, also using Hawking's brand of logic:

"There was no Frank Lloyd Wright. Research has uncovered foundations resting beneath all of the buildings previously credited to Wright, proving that they were not the design of some Being we call an architect, but the design of the same random chance that placed foundations on those spots. It was inevitable that buildings would be the result of those foundations, all of which just happened to be there anyway. The foundations make the coincidence of the buildings less remarkable"

My brother, David Bentley Hart, is so right about the disappointing intellectual state of contemporary atheists. They present no intellectual challenge whatsoever.


J. Gordon Anderson said...

He should read some of the Rev'd Dr. John Polkinghorne's books.

AFS1970 said...

Haking's theory that something randomly formed out of nothing is strange, because in order to have nothing there would be no base material to randomly combine into something. In order to have something there must no longer be nothing. that something had to come from somewhere. The missing component to his theory is of course a someone, in that God created the Heavens and Earth.

The idea that another star being the sun to another planet disproves God is poor science at best. To continue with the J S Bach analogy, if we were to suddenly find an unknown and unpublished piece by Bach, would it immediately disprove his composition of all previous works? Of course not. The mere fact that we are now discovering God's creation to be bigger than we first realized does not make God less of a creator, it in fact would make him more of one.

I remember an episode from the Science Fiction series Doctor Who. Two of the Doctor's companions (Tegan & Nyssa) are discussing the start of the universe, which I think they called Event Zero. Nyssa (an alien) says it is the Big Bang and not God. Tegan (a human) replies that someone had to make the big bang after all.

This relates to the whole debate about Heaven being a physical place or not. Realizing that God's creation is really really big might just explain why the first astronauts didn't bump into heaven.

Then again science abhors belief.

Matthew the Curmudgeon said...

I feel for Professor Hawking. Ever since he found out he had this debilitating disease, he's been trying to run from 'a' or 'the' GOD he doesn't want to believe is needed or exists.
Just based on what I've read from and about this book, I don't see how anyone can take it seriously. This is like Dan Brown's DaVinci Code only with 'scientific' support. The same people will rush out, but the book read it haphazardly to reinforce their own disbelief and run around saying, 'SEE THIS GOD THING ISN'T EVEN REAL OR NEEDED!'
Sad, Very Sad.

Death Bredon said...

Professor Hawking doubts that the universe needs God, but the more pressing question is whether God needs Stephen Hawking (or any of us). The obvious answer to that question ought to be enough to bring the strongest and the most fragile alike to bended knee.

Canon Tallis said...

The first time I served as an acolyte in an Anglican Church the celebrant was the Rev'd Doctor William Pollard, the head of Oak Ridge Institute, and one of the leading nuclear physicists of that time. In his lecture to the university (which he delivered in his cassock) he began with the following words: "Gentlemen, 'In the beginning God created light' and that is the first law of physics."

He was an unashamed Christian and Anglican and a reminder that with the Christian faith modern science as we know it would not exist. One has only to look at the first members of the Royal Society or to their great predecessor, Robert Grossteste, who as bishop of Lincoln did work in optics and the nature of light which still stands.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

That reminds me. No one knows what light is. Most people assume it is energy; but, it is not energy. It remains a mystery.

Anonymous said...

Hawking isn't saying anything new, or anything that he hadn't implied before. What he's accomplished is a way to sell books.

If spontaneous creation of something from nothing accounts for our existence and the existence of the universe, either it was a singular event that is not repeatable, or it is a regular part of reality. In that case, we should expect it to be happening all the time.

Can I employ this spontaneous creation of something from nothing to fill my bank account so that I don't have to go to work tomorrow?

Anonymous said...

It is striking how resolutely (it would seem) Professor Hawking (and not he alone) ignores Leibniz's questions, "Why is there something rather than nothing? Why are things as they are and not otherwise?" Trying to account in the most thorough, likely fashion for 'just how' things are in the cosmos, may touch the second of these questions, but it and the first are effectively excluded, haughtily dismissed, etc.

Eric Voegelin (that admirer of Hooker!), if I am not mistaken, saw these questions, not of course only as Leibniz formulated them, but in some form, nonetheless, as 'millenial constants' in how any humans whose records survive have ever attempted to understand the world.

A project that, effectively, so attempts to exclude such questions, or even the serious, valid possibility of such questions, is not in the truest sense 'scientific', but something like what Voegelin calls a 'Second Reality', a manipulable ideological construction, that gives those who 'conjure it up' and 'conjure with it', if not power over Reality, then Sauruman-like powers over others' perceptions of Reality.