The “Infallibility” of Stephen Hawking

"O Ye Of Little Faith"

I may be a fan of Sacred Scripture, but that does not mean I ignore news reportage on science and physics. A brief story hit the news wire today that the physicist  Stephen Hawking (Cambridge) argues in a recent article that there is no need for God to play a role in physics or the “big bang” theory.  In other words, physicists do not need to leave open the possibility that a prime mover initiated the “big bang.”

I suppose this is news because Hawking is himself a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science.    Hawking had previously held out the possibility, though he did not believe it himself, that a “God” may have been the only necessary explanation for the “big bang.”

The article got me thinking about the remarks made a few years back by the insufferable physicist Carl Sagan.  Sagan argues, somewhat illogically, that it made no sense to call Jesus Christ the center point of human history since the birth of Christ occurred only several billion years after the universe had been in existence.  Sagan clearly holds rock and frozen gas in higher esteem than humans, likely because those are the two materials of which his brain is made.

Sagan seems to have forgotten is that the birth of Christ and the Passion actually do occur in the center of recorded human history, which is only about 6,000 years old.  Prior to that, humankind recorded nothing.  And prior to the dawn of human history, the universe did not harbor intelligent life for its first several billion years of existence.  So the universe was, from the point of view of intelligent life, an irrelevant reality – a movie set without any actors.

Human beings give reality – the universe – meaning because humans are self-aware. We reason, we ponder, we consider the cause of our creation, our end, and we ask fundamental questions like “why are we here?”  Christ is the center point of human history because God is the “Grand Architect” of the “Grand Design.” Jesus is also God-become-man, an affirmation that God is actively involved in human affairs. God is not a clock winder or an engineer.  He is our creator and we are made in His image.  Humankind is destined to encounter Christ at the end of time, and what God intends to do with creation as it existed for the past few billion years is a bit moot.

Which brings me back to Stephen Hawking.  His latest book is entitled the “Grand Design.”  The title is a swipe at Christians who advocate “intelligent design,” a theory that God pre-ordained the universe to end up the way it did.  In the “Grand Design,” Hawking rejects the need to invoke God as actor who initiates the “big bang.”  According to Hawking, the force of gravity itself explains the creation and destruction of matter.

I have two objections to Hawking’s position. First of all, his prose is impenetrable and rather boring. Anyone who has read “A Brief History of Time” will concede that it is not an exciting read. Secondly, the scientific community canot explain physics at the quantum level, nor at the cosmic level.  We simply do not know how the universe was created.  And, we simply cannot predict or model the behavior of sub-atomic particles. They behave unpredictably, they have partial charges, and they interact with “black” particles known as anti-matter, which are suspected to exist but are enormously difficulty to measure.   In short, physicists like Hawking know little more about the origins of the universe than do most theologians. Here’s what astronomer Guy Consolmagno said about Hawking’s new book:

“The ‘god’ that Stephen Hawking doesn’t believe in, is one that I don’t believe in either. God is not just another force in the universe, alongside gravity or electricity. God is not a force to be invoked to ‘swell a progress, start a scene or two’ and fill the momentary gaps in our knowledge.

“God is the reason why existence itself exists. 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.”

To say that “God is not needed to explain the creation of the universe” is an infallible statement so flawed and scientifically unprovable that it would embarrass even the Pope.

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  1. 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?

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