Stephen Hawking discovers atheism September 3, 2010

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking apparently concludes in his forthcoming book “The grand design” that physics has eliminated the need for God to have created the universe. Instead, he claims, the universe (or multiuniverse) was created from nothing by the laws of science (e.g. the law of gravity). But this is an ontological black hole, for if he is right (which he isn’t of course) the laws of nature must have had a prior and independent existence before the nature they describe came into being. In what matrix, we must ask, did these laws exist in the absence of the material universe?

The theist might answer (as Hawking himself formerly answered) that they existed in the “mind of God”. But now Hawking has abandoned that view, where, pray, were these laws located before creation occurred? In fact, it is a philosophical leap of faith to suppose that the laws of nature can have an existence in the absence of the nature they describe. It certainly isn’t science. From a scientific perspective the laws of nature are an integral part of nature and thus of the divinely created order.

In fact, most of Hawking’s arguments (such as the appeal to multiverses and a confused understanding of what constitutes the the laws of nature) are considered and refuted in “Who made God?”, published just a year ago!

Comments:

Here is a selection of comments made to Professor Andrews along with his responses.

Philosophy is dead. Is Logic dead also?

How did the scientists come to know that an entire universe could come out of nothing? Or, how did they come to know that anything at all could come out of nothing? Were they present at that moment when the universe was being born? As that was not the case at all, therefore they did not get that idea being present at the creation event. Rather they got this idea being present here on this very earth. They have created a vacuum artificially, and then they have observed that virtual particles (electron-positron pairs) are still appearing spontaneously out of that vacuum and then disappearing again. From that observation they have first speculated, and then ultimately theorized, that an entire universe could also come out of nothing. But here their entire logic is flawed. These scientists are all born and brought up within the Christian tradition. Maybe they have downright rejected the Christian world-view, but they cannot say that they are all ignorant of that world-view. According to that world-view God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. So as per Christian belief-system, and not only as per Christian belief-system, but as per other belief-systems also, God is everywhere. So when these scientists are saying that the void is a real void, God is already dead and non-existent for them. But these scientists know very well that non-existence of God will not be finally established until and unless it is shown that the origin of the universe can also be explained without invoking God. Creation event is the ultimate event where God will have to be made redundant, and if that can be done successfully then that will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that God does not exist. So how have they accomplished that job, the job of making God redundant in case of creation event? These were the steps:
1) God is non-existent, and so, the void is a real void. Without the pre-supposition that God does not exist, it cannot be concluded that the void is a real void.
2) As virtual particles can come out of the void, so also the entire universe. Our universe has actually originated from the void due to a quantum fluctuation in it.
3) This shows that God was not necessary to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going, as because there was no creation event.
4) This further shows that God does not exist.
So here what is to be proved has been proved based on the assumption that it has already been proved. Philosophy is already dead for these scientists. Is it that logic is also dead for them?

uchitrakar

Thank you Uchitrakar for your comment. The issue of the void from which all things came is potentially a most important argument in favour of divine creation. As you say, atheist scientists claim that a quantum fluctuation in a void/vacuum was sufficient to create the universe spontaneously without divine intervention. But this could only happen if the ‘void’ in question had the same properties as an absolute vacuum within space-time … namely, the ability to support quantum fluctuations and the physical laws that govern such fluctuations. So their ‘nothing’ is not nothing at all but rather a regime possessing physical properties such as we find today within the universe. So these properties and laws must have already been in place before the universe was created. So who or what created them?

Edgar Andrews

I want to add some more lines to my earlier comment:

“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.”
- Stephen Hawking in “The Grand Design”
“As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously 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.”
– Stephen Hawking, Ibid

That an entire universe can come out of nothing is not a scientifically proven fact, rather it is merely a speculation. This speculation is also based on a logically flawed assumption, the assumption that the void is a real void. Here scientists have assumed that our universe is a Godless universe, and that therefore the void is a real void. But it may be true that this is a Godless universe, or it may not be true. As the believers cannot claim that they know with certainty there is a God, so also scientists cannot claim that they know with certainty there is no God. However there is a definite way to know with certainty that there is no God. Here I am not claiming that there is a definite way to know with certainty there is a God, but I am only saying that there is a definite way to know with certainty there is no God. And this definite way is the scientific way. If scientists ultimately become successful in explaining everything in this universe, including its origin also, without invoking God, then we will have no other option but to admit that the universe we live in is a Godless universe. But there is a very big “IF” here, if they become successful. Until and unless they achieve their success here, they do not know whether they will be ultimately successful or not. So until and unless they achieve their success here, they do not know whether it is a Godless universe or not. All their earlier successes cannot give them any assurance that in future also they will be equally successful. If anybody claims that there is no reason as to why they will not be successful, then I will have to bring in Hume here, but I think it will not be necessary. It is like climbing a mountain peak. So long as you are not there at the peak, you do not know whether you will be able to reach there at all. But once you have reached there, you know with certainty that you have done it. So in order to coming to the conclusion that we live in a Godless universe scientists will have to be able to give scientific explanation for each and every single fact, every single event, or every single phenomenon of this natural world, and not a single fact, single event, or single phenomenon should be left unexplained. Covering a big part of the series by scientific explanation and leaving the remaining part unexplained will not do. If the scientists claim here that they have explained almost everything of this natural world without invoking any kind of god, then I will have to point out to them that the origin of the universe has not yet been explained in a properly logical way. Before proceeding further here I want to quote a single line (or, a part of it) from an essay by Keith M. Parsons, an atheist philosopher: “…prima facie the most promising location for a Creator would be in the “creation” event itself, the origin of the universe.” (No Creator Need Apply: A Reply to Roy Abraham Varghese (2006)). If the most promising location for a Creator would be in the “creation” event itself, then this Creator must have to be eliminated first from the “creation” event, because that act only can ensure that there is no such Creator. So until and unless this so-called Creator has been eliminated from the creation event by providing a most plausible, and natural, scientific explanation for it (A), we cannot have any idea as to whether the void is a real void (B) or not. This is because if there is a creator God, then as per the religionists that God is everywhere and therefore the void is no longer a real void. So let A be provided first by the scientists. Then only we can be sure that the void is a real void. Therefore A should always come first, and then only can come B. But in the case under consideration B has come first, and then came A. And that makes all the difference.
Let me try to make my point more clear. Let e0 be the event zero, the origin/birth/creation of the universe, and let e1 to en be all the events that have so far happened in this universe after its origin. Let ne0 be the natural explanation for event zero, and let ne1 to nen be the natural explanations for events e1 to en respectively. Let us now suppose that scientists have already been able to provide ne1 to nen, but that they have so far failed to provide ne0. Will this situation allow us to conclude that there is no God? No, we cannot come to any such conclusion, because if there is a God then there will definitely be His hand behind the event zero. Yes, we can say this with absolute certainty, because God, if He is really God, and if He is really there, will not be our God at all, and neither will we recognize Him as such, if He has no control over our destiny. In other words, if this universe is not His creation. So in order to prove that there is no God one must have to show that there is no hand of God behind the creation event. All the other natural explanations ne1 to nen put together cannot prove that there is no God. But once ne0 is given, it is firmly established that God does not exist. Therefore so far as the question of non-existence of God is concerned, we can say that when ne0 has already been given, ne1 to nen will become unnecessary, and when ne0 has not yet been given, ne1 to nen are simply useless. And thus we can say that the necessary and sufficient condition for establishing the non-existence of God is that there will have to be a natural explanation for the origin of the universe (ne0). Therefore so long as ne0 has not been given, we cannot come to the conclusion that there is no God. And therefore so long as ne0 has not been given, neither can we conclude that the void is a real void. And therefore so long as ne0 has not been given, neither can we say that as virtual particles can appear from out of nothing, so also an entire universe.
Here scientist Victor J. Stenger will perhaps say that so long as there is no proof for the existence of God, the default position is that there is no God. So in that case they are fully entitled to treat the void as a real void. But it might also be the case that this universe has actually been created by a God who is non-interventional, that is, after creating the universe He has withdrawn Himself, and has not intervened in it at all. In that case this universe will not display any proof of His existence. So from the mere fact that so far there is no proof of the existence of God it cannot be concluded that this universe is a Godless universe. In such a case the matter regarding the existence or non-existence of God can only be settled at the creation event itself. So scientists are in no way entitled to treat the void as a real void until and unless it is firmly established that this void is really a void, that is, until and unless the creator God is eliminated from the creation event by providing a natural explanation for it. Scientists usually say that as there is no evidence for the existence of God, so it is reasonable to believe that there is no God. Here I have very clearly shown that neither there is any evidence that something can come out of nothing. On the basis of this lack of evidence we can also say that it is reasonable not to believe that the universe has actually originated from nothing. We can also demand that scientists should immediately stop deceiving us in the name of science.

uchitrakar

OK but you are getting close to advocating a “God of the gaps” according to which science could in principle eliminate God by “explaining” everything naturalistically. One of the things I point out in the early chapters of “Who made God?” is that science does not “explain” anything except in terms of its own non-intuitive concepts … science is ultimately a description of the physical universe not an “explanation”. That being the case science can never “explain away” the existence of a Creator because by definition its only tools are the laws of nature whose origin they cannot explain (as I demonstrate in the book). So be careful about using arguments based on the explanatory power of science … that power has limits that seriously confine science’s ability to account for origins.

Edgar Andrews

I appreciate your additional thoughts Uchitraker but I don’t think this discussion is likely to cast any further light on the matter so I am closing it with thanks for your interest.

Edgar Andrews

To uchitrakar: your argument seems to be:

1) Providing a natural explanation for every event in the universe, especially the origin of the universe, makes God unnecessary, and disbelief in God reasonable.

2) The method in question of doing this is to say that the universe arose from ‘real void,’ that is, nothing.

3) If God exists, he is presumably omnipresent, meaning that the void is not ‘real void,’ and the natural explanation fails.

4) Therefore, the method in question for disproving God’s existence (or at least disproving the necessity of God’s existence) presupposes God’s non-existence — begs the question.

Disclaimer:
I am a Christian and firm believer in God and Jesus, and I believe that the idea of the universe creating itself without God, though interesting and worth investigating, falls far short of providing a sufficient explanation for the existence of the universe. By debating your particular point against the theory, I do not by any means mean to support atheism. Also, I apologize if I have misunderstood your argument. I do not believe that presenting a viable naturalistic model of the origin of the universe disproves God’s existence, or that such a model has been successfully developed.

[the remainder of this post has been edited out because the argument was unclear]

Nadira

No man no matter how intelligent is able to remember the things that transpired when he was born or in his infancy. That is you or me as a new born baby knowing what made you cry or smile. But gradually after infancy we start remembering things and retaining them in our memories. Even as adults we can’t pinpoint the exact time when this consciousness occurred. So if can’t tell our own beginning how can we tell the beginning of the universe of which we are just a very tiny part. If the scientist call the beginning “active nothingness” and religionist call it “living nothingness” then all of them believe in a beginning that existed before the beginning of the universe; and it’s wise to say that the only possible means to have a limitless universe is to say “let there be a limitless universe”!

ezechukwu

Thanks Ezechukwu but can I press your analogy a little further? Although the baby cannot remember its birth or early days, its parents can and do … and often speak of them in years thereafter. So if it is true (as I believe) that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” it is wholly consistent that the same eternal God, as the ‘progenitor’ of the universe, should thereafter reveal and talk about those creation events … as He does throughout the Scriptures. So we are not left in darkness about the reality and source of creation.

Edgar Andrews

What is God? I mean what are the “properties” of a god. If god is a thing then we must be able to define it in terms of “properties”.. What makes a god a god? We all have our own conceptions of God–the god of the bible the Hebrew god most of all.

Can we have a generic description of what a god is? So I can recognize what a god is not

How do you know what a god is? How can I recognize a god?

sarita

Thank you Sarita for your question. Let me try to answer it by giving my own experience (which I posted recently on a close-group website).
“I was converted to Christ as a 19 year old by reading the New Testament (NT). No one told me I had to believe its authenticity. No one even told me I should read it. I wasn’t brought up in a Christian family nor did I attend church as a child. In grade school ‘Religious Instruction’ was my worst subject … I couldn’t get my head around it at all. I didn’t even own a Bible. Yet a day came when, as a physics student, I felt an irresistible desire to read the NT. I borrowed a copy from a friend and began to read. The overwhelming sense I had was of the reality and truth of what I was reading, and above all of Jesus Christ as a living Person. I had been an avid reader of classical novels, poetry and all kinds of fiction, but the NT was totally different and it was so true that I embraced its teaching … a life-changing experience. Now just 60 years later I have the privilege of preaching that same gospel truth each week. The authenticity of the NT writings is for me not just something derived from historical arguments, good though they are, but was a matter of personal experience long before I heard those arguments!”
If you haven’t read my book “Who made God?” I suggest you would find it really helpful in answering your question because its approach is to advance as an hypothesis that the God described and defined in the Bible does exist and then to work out the predictions of this hypothesis, comparing these predictions with the kind of world and universe we experience in reality. I find a close agreement between predictions and observations … which therefore validates for me the definition of God given in the Bible (the self-existent Creator of all things ex nihilo, who created man in His own image and who sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to redeem the race that had rebelled against Him … and so much more of course).

Edgar Andrews

First of all , I shall introduce myself
I am a 15 year old boy that wants to understand the UNIVERSE and its mysteries I am also a big fan of Astrophysics.
Although I have a very different view and vision from most of you I will try to contribute and show you my way of seeing things .

I Admire Stephen Hawking’s work but I’m stricly against some of his theories. I think that he skips some NECESSARY steps that must be considered .

Hawking thinks that atheism is a step toward EVOLUTION , He thinks that believeing in a god or a divine creator is a human SPECULATION for satisfaction and answering the most DEEP mysteries of the universe.
Although I do not believe in the bibical god or any religion’s god , I believe in a More intelligent being , a generous one .
My definition for god is ‘ INTELLIGENCE ‘
Intelligence is god .
Some of you may find the existence of god a sollution for a lot of questions but the circumstences that god is living in remain a Huge mystery for Humanity . I personally think that god lives eternally in a demonsional – like place. I am truly amazed by the Power of this god ; how he created energy matter and space , life and the universe.
I also see humans like programs . Really !! you have to see it my way ; the cells dividing themselves , how do they reproduce etc. all of it is like a computer program it does what it is programmed to do wich shows a power behind it too.
We must not Neglect the need for a god .We should EMBRACE it instead . I See the universe like a FIELD of study where god observes us and we study his Design and work .so these are my personal opinions , now let’s move to my concerns and contraductions : My only concern right now is “AFTERLIFE” ..
Everyone Believes that it exist but I am not so sure about that . When they ask me why , I say that I see humans like a sort of intelligent and civilized ANIMAL, so where do normal and classic animals go after death ?
If afterlife isn’t prooved then there is no purpose for our lives . and then it would be the ultimate proof that there is no such god to rool the universe . Just like Stephen Hawking said ; the Human brain is like a computer , when a computer stops working it doesn’t go elsewhere and doesn’t have an afterlife same for our brains.
I Kind of UNDERSTAND this theory because if we speak scientifically , We are Carbon based lifeforms , we are made of a head , two arms and a body and two legs etc . There is no SOUL in the composition of the human body . Only the brain is what makes us different from animals .
Resurruction may be the only solution for AFTERDEATH Theory .

Haha I think I’ll better stop here . I have a lot of questions and concerns in my life . Hope you people understand them and try to give me some solutions to them.

Thanks .

ILY CONE

Ily, it doesn’t sound as if you have read “Who made God?” If you sincerely want answers I suggest you might find some of them at least in the book because it was written for just such folk as yourself.

Edgar Andrews

Yes you caught me lol .Don’t worry , I am SO readind your book .

ILY CONE

“The overwhelming sense I had was of the reality and truth of what I was reading, and above all of Jesus Christ as a living Person. I had been an avid reader of classical novels, poetry and all kinds of fiction, but the NT was totally different and it was so true that I embraced its teaching … a life-changing experience”

Your reading of the New Testament obviously had a very powerful effect on you Edgar……but how is this any different from someone listening to Elvis for the first time…….and then becoming a life long Elvis fan?
I’ve had read the New Testament…..but it didn’t move me as it did you Edgar….again this is no different from another person listening to Elvis and not being moved by his music.
So whilst your experience wit the New Testament was very powerful for you……it doesn’t mean much in regards to whether God or Jesus actually exist.

Klambo

Thanks Klambo, but you might be surprised to know that the New Testament explains why folk like yourself are unable to see the wonder of God’s mercy extended to mankind in Christ. In 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 Paul writes as follows; “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world [i.e. Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Edgar Andrews

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.