Stephen Hawking says no need for God

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Stephen Hawking on God

Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest scientific minds of our time, was recently interviewed about his latest book “The Grand Design”:

According to Hawking, something can indeed be created from nothing. He believes our universe was created from nothing. […] Hawking, arguably the greatest scientific mind of our time, said he believes the laws of physics and not the hand of a god explain why we are here. He said that physics can explain why the Big Bang happened. He writes: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” [abcnews]

I must say, I am a bit surprised at just how far he took his remarks here. Unfortunately, it’s another example of scientists applying their scientism to answer questions that can never, ever be answered by science. This is elementary philosophy and metaphysics, and a subject Hawking is, dare I say, clearly over his head on.

This is a bit like if Brad Pitt were to come out with a book about the soundness of Keynesian Economic Theory. He’s a brilliant actor. But that doesn’t mean he knows anything about economics.

Science does not really explain the “why” of anything. It explains the how. Science also can not explain itself.

Hawking said, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” First, Hawking is rather casually denying one of the most fundamental philosophical principles universal to almost every belief system: ex nihilo nihil fit…”Out of nothing comes nothing.”

Second, he clearly implies a prerequisite of gravity for the universe to create itself from nothing. So is it created from nothing? Or from gravity? Gravity is not nothing. So which is it?

Even his semantics, explaining “why” we are here, is weird. The Laws of Physics can not explain why we are here. They explain how we are here. And even then, they only explain part of how we are here because we are still left having to explain how the Laws of Physics are here in order for them to have “created us out of nothing.”

This is not science. This is religion. And it’s bad religion at that.

I thank Professor Hawking for his tremendous contributions to science. I urge him not to tarnish that reputation by starting his own nonsensical religion.

Here’s the interview:

Update: I just found Fr. Barron’s response to this topic…said much more elegantly than I. Totally worth a listen:

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Angela Santana September 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Thanks for writing this, Matt, and representing a lot of people’s response to Hawking’s words.

Jose mojica September 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Stephen Hawkins is another example of a great intellect reaching its maximum capacity thus creating a style on his own. Only Man is limited in his intellect, but not God. Why Man is unable to see God’s constant creation? Because God does not have limits, therefore it is hard for us to identify his unlimited creations. On the contrary, Man, not matter how intellect can be does have a limit. Moreover, when that limit reaches its full capacity, he starts to go around in circles leaving behind marks that are later identified as their style. Thus, it is by their style that we are able to identify the works of our intellectuals, Painters, Poets, Writers, Financiers, Scientists, etc, etc. Stephen Hawkins really believes that he is the greatest mind on earth, \; but he also knows he is not the greatest mind in the universe. This is precisely why he is unable to explain the “why of anything.” God creates everything, men only discovers and then invent. You cannot explain what you have not created. Hawkins did not create the genetics of our Universe.

Marc Cardaronella September 7, 2010 at 8:22 pm

The interesting thing to me is that science can only attempt to understand what’s already there…and that’s great. Understanding the universe and how it works is a fantastic thing. But you’re right. It doesn’t really explain why it came about. That’s always been Hawking’s thing though, to understand the laws of physics in order to prove that God doesn’t exist.

Joe Jordan September 8, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I’ve actually met Stephen Hawkins, and since I have a B.S. in Physics, have always been able to appreciate his powess in the discipline. With this interview though, he stepped over the line and lost my respect completely. If I ever have a chance to meet him again, I’m simply going to ask him Who came up with those laws of physics he is so confident caused everything to be. I guarantee you he hasn’t a clue.
Sadly, he’s fallen into the oldest sin in the universe – the sin of pride.
Wise men know they don’t know everything. Fools don’t even realize their folly.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi September 9, 2010 at 5:09 am

It is said that the universe can and will create itself from nothing. This is not correct. This belief is not scientific. This is against the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy. Nothing can be created from ‘NOTHING’. In fact, the universe has been created from Infinite Expanse of Virtual Nothingness. In theologians terminology this is known as Infinite Expanse of Spirituality (Consciousness). Both gravitational waves and current of consciousness could not so far been seen by any manner. Since they can not be seen, they have been termed as ‘NOTHING’ or ‘ZERO’. This state of nothingness is eternal and the universe has been created from here.

Christian September 11, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Wait wait what about “no gravity without mass?”
It seems Hawkings is trying to purge a “Deus ex machina” explanation for the origin of the universe from science: his hope is to find a creation theory that agrees with, and affirms, the laws he has based his whole career on. But even if contemporary natural science – which by the way is still VERY finite (600 years ago we thought the Earth was round, ten years ago we thought Pluto was a planet) – even if contemporary science natural science does explain how the universe created, how does this disprove God? Who is to say that whatever natural process we find is not simply the method God used – I mean, He knows Physics better than we do…

Christian September 11, 2010 at 2:39 pm

oops I mean 600 years ago we thought the Earth was flat.

Katie September 13, 2010 at 6:02 pm

My reaction almost exactly! Thank you for saying it more eloquently than I could. It seems so perplexing that so thoughtful a man would come up with such an easily questioned statement.

The whole idea of science is that a theory must be testable! For him to make such a sweeping declaration makes me wonder at the soundness of his mental capabilities. A scientist should know when to admit that he is unable to test a theory and therefore unable to prove it. To come out claiming anything otherwise is making a mockery of science, for heaven’s sake (no pun intended… I just got worked up).

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi November 8, 2010 at 11:40 pm

*
Stephen Hawking writes in The Grand Design, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.” Hawking said the Big Bang was merely the consequence of the law of gravity. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking had suggested that the idea of God or a divine being was not necessarily incompatible with a scientific understanding of the Universe.

Although Hawking is very close to Truth yet he is not perfect in his views while discarding the role of divine being. I consider the role of eternal gravity uppermost but I strongly differ with Hawking on the role of divine being. I consider Divine Ordainment is the cause of Creation of Universe.

Now I give Radhasoami Faith view of Creation Theory. In Sar Bachan (Poetry) composed by His Holiness Soamiji Maharaj the August Founder of Radhasoami Faith the details of creation and dissolution has been described very scientifically. It is written in Jeth Mahina (name of Hindi moth) in this Holy Book: Only He Himself (Supreme Father)and none else was there. There issued forth a great current of spirituality, love and grace (In scientific terminology we may call this current as gravitational wave). This is called His Mauj (Divine Ordainment). This was the first manifestation of Supreme Being. This Divine Ordainment brought into being three regions, viz., Agam, Alakh, and Satnam of eternal bliss. Then a current emerged with a powerful sound. It brought forth the creation of seven Surats or currents of various shades and colours (in scientific terminology we may call it electromagnetic waves). Here the true Jaman or coagulant was given (in scientific terminology this coagulant may be called as weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force). Surats, among themselves, brought the creation into being.

These currents descended down further and brought the whole universe/multiverse into being i.e. black holes, galaxies etc. were born.

I would like to add further that sound energy and gravitational force current are non polar entity and electromagnetic force is bi-polar. Hence spiritual polarization, if occurred, is occurred in the region of Sat Lok and region below to it only.

enness July 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm

What a shame. With an ounce more humility, he could have been truly great.

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