In my post Stephen Hawking: Brilliant But Foolish, I shared what God thinks of Stephen Hawking. In his upcoming book, The Grand Design, Hawking tells what he thinks of God. So, in today’s post, readers have a life-altering, eternal choice to make: Hawking or God: who do you believe?
In The Grand Design, Hawking posits that given the existence of gravity, “the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” In excerpts released this weekend, he continues, “Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.” His book, as the title suggests, is an attempt to answer “the ultimate questions of life.” (For my summary of life’s seven ultimate questions click here.) Hawking also opines that “it is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going.” Thus, for him, there is no need for God to explain existence.
However, some of Hawking’s Cambridge colleagues said the physicist has missed the point. “The ‘god’ that Stephen Hawking is trying to debunk is not the creator God of the Abrahamic faiths who really is the ultimate explanation for why there is something rather than nothing,” said Denis Alexander. “Hawking’s god is a god-of-the-gaps used to plug present gaps in our scientific knowledge. Science provides us with a wonderful narrative as to how [existence] may happen, but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative,” said Alexander, director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion.
And Fraser Watts, an Anglican priest and Cambridge expert in the history of science, said that it’s not the existence of the universe that proves the existence of God. But, he said, “a creator God provides a reasonable and credible explanation of why there is a universe, and … it is somewhat more likely that there is a God than that there is not. That view is not undermined by what Hawking has said.”
In summary, Dr. Hawking concedes that our universe is finely tuned for our existence, but then claims that he has proven the universe created itself from nothing, and then theorizes that creation was “an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics.”
Hawking’s dismissal of God reflects fundamental confusion about the Christian concept of God as the Creator of all that exists—both the physical universe and the laws of physics which apply to it. Put more simply, “Who created the laws of physics?”
Although Hawking talks about the universe creating itself from nothing, he presupposes that this “nothing” somehow involved gravity and other fundamental laws of physics. Again, “Who created gravity?”
Former president of Gongaza University, Robert Spitzer explains, “Let’s take the law mentioned by Dr. Hawking — the law of gravity. It has a specific constant associated with it and specific characteristics, and it has specific effects on mass-energy and even on space-time itself. This is a very curious definition of ‘nothing’.”
How can there be a law of gravity if nothing exists? Gravity is a relationship between two bodies, and if there are no bodies then there is no gravity. So how can a non-existent law of gravity produce spontaneous creation?
Dr. Hawking has clearly not explained why there is something rather than nothing. He has only explained that something comes from something.
Theologian Mike Wittmer (http://bit.ly/aPJC4M) notes that “Hawking’s assertion that nothing spontaneously created something is a religious rather than a scientific claim. It arises from his presupposition that God does not exist, and this faith commitment is not checkable by the scientific method. Hawking is committed to his religious belief that there is no God. He is not the objective, dispassionate observer that he portrays.”
Historically, Christian theologians as well as non-Christian philosophers have argued precisely the opposite of Hawking's point: namely, that the laws of physics can only be ascribed to an infinite, intelligent and non-physical creator. The preconditions for the universe’s unfolding and operations were not a form of “nothing,” as Hawking considers them to be. Rather, they are the conditions created by God for the ordering of the world. God is the reason why space and time and the laws of nature can be present for the forces to operate that Stephen Hawking is talking about.
Hawking’s dismissal of God was based not only on his incorrect designation of physical laws as “nothing,” but also on a failure to grasp the notion of God’s transcendence. As such, Hawking is really dismissing a kind of “god” in which Christians do not believe.
The “god” that Stephen Hawking doesn’t believe in, is one I don’t believe in either. God is not just another force in the Universe, alongside gravity or electricity. God is the reason why existence itself exists.
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 Creator on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence. Physics on its own will never settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing.
Wittmer’s conclusion is similar to the one I made in my earlier post Stephen Hawking: Brilliant But Foolish. “Romans 1:18-32 declares that everyone knows there is a God, and Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 assert that only a fool would say that there is no God. Hawking is a genius, but his assertion that the universe spontaneously formed from nothing shows how far some people will go to avoid bowing down before the God they know exists.
We have two couldn’t-be-more-different choices for the cause of the universe: God or nothing. Which do you think is more likely?