Hawking Again Under Fire

As if you didn’t know it, religious figures didn’t like Dr. Stephen Hawking’s last heretical statement against God, and how ‘He’ wasn’t needed to create the Universe.

Namely the chief honchos of the Church of England:

Religious leaders in Britain on Friday hit back at claims by leading physicist Stephen Hawking that God had no role in the creation of the universe.

In his new book “The Grand Design,” Britain’s most famous scientist says that given the existence of gravity, “the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” according to an excerpt published in The Times of London.

“Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” he wrote.

“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going.”

But the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, told the Times that “physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing.”

He added: “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 agent on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence.”

Williams’ comments were supported by leaders from across the religious spectrum in Britain. Writing in the Times, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said: “Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation … The Bible simply isn’t interested in how the Universe came into being.”

The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, added: “I would totally endorse what the Chief Rabbi said so eloquently about the relationship between religion and science.”

Ibrahim Mogra, an imam and committee chairman at the Muslim Council of Britain, was also quoted by the Times as saying: “If we look at the Universe and all that has been created, it indicates that somebody has been here to bring it into existence. That somebody is the almighty conqueror.”

Hawking was also accused of “missing the point” by colleagues at the University of Cambridge in England.

“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, director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion.

“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,” he added.

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.

“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.”

Hawking’s book — as the title suggests — is an attempt to answer “the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,” he wrote, quoting Douglas Adams’ cult science fiction romp, “The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

His answer is “M-theory,” which, he says, posits 11 space-time dimensions, “vibrating strings, … point particles, two-dimensional membranes, three-dimensional blobs and other objects that are more difficult to picture and occupy even more dimensions of space.”

He doesn’t explain much of that in the excerpt, which is the introduction to the book.

But he says he understands the feeling of the great English scientist Isaac Newton that God did “create” and “conserve” order in the universe.

It was the discovery of other solar systems outside our own in 1992 that undercut a key idea of Newton’s — that our world was so uniquely designed to be comfortable for human life that some divine creator must have been responsible.

But, Hawking argues, if there are untold numbers of planets in the galaxy, it’s less remarkable that there’s one with conditions for human life. And, indeed, he argues, any form of intelligent life that evolves anywhere will automatically find that it lives somewhere suitable for it.

Hawking seems unfazed by this, as I have indicated earlier to commenters on this blog that he isn’t worried about his opinion because no only does he feel he’s right, he feels he’s paid his dues and then some.

But if there’s a God, Hawking would be the one to find it.

Religious leaders hit back at Hawking

4 responses

  1. Whoa! A number of issues, here…

    I have to take the good Rabbi Sacks to task on his statement about the Bible not being concerned with how the universe came into being. The opening verses in Genesis are very clear on how the Earth came into being, and, Who it was that was responsible for it’s being. Also, it’s made very clear by the Fourth Commandment Who has ownership for creation:

    “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:11

    “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Col 1:16

    I would also disagree with Mr. Watts on his assertion that God isn’t proven through the universe’s existence. Memory doesn’t serve me, as I believe that there is a verse somewhere that goes along the line of saying (paraphrasing heavily, here) that by those things that have been created, we have the assurance that God lives. As I said, that’s paraphrasing heavily, so I hope that anyone more knowledgeable reading this will forgive my want for accuracy. The above two quotes, by themselves, should dispel any false notions our clerical friends might have generated.

    I do share their view that Hawking hasn’t undermined anything of significance with regard to God’s existence or authorship. I notice there is a lot of celebration in the radical infidel camp over Hawking’s statements, thinking that this is some kind of death-stroke delivered to Christianity. If it were intended to be, I don’t think Hawking is conscious of it. There are many that wish it were! No, I still hold that Hawking isn’t completely convinced there isn’t a supreme being. His mention of gravity, itself, containing the potential for the spontaneous generation of life, is the realization, as mentioned in your previous post, that finite minds have reached a boundary in their ability to accurately observe the inner and outermost workings of nature. Hawking is reduced to philosophizing in his attempt at understanding what is simply unobservable. That doesn’t diminish his intelligence, it only reveals his mortality, the same as ours. In place of that, we have God’s Word to “plug the gap.”

    This is where faith comes into play, Marine. The belief in those things unseen. It is a very important component in our understanding of God and our redemption. Without it, even knowing scripture cover-to-cover isn’t enough. The issue in Eden was over trust. Adam proved that he couldn’t trust God, and man’s redemption depends, now, on the reestablishment of that lost trust. This is why God does not always intervene when we wish Him to. It is a matter of us learning to trust Him when He says that He will do what ultimately is in our best interest.

    I still value Hawking’s views on cosmology, and, who knows if he isn’t right on his theories about multiple universes, gravity, quantum foam, etc? I didn’t see how God made things, maybe He chose those elements and forces in His work of creation? Point is, I’ve always believed Hawking was on the right track. Whether he stays on it or not, time will tell.

    And, as any cosmologist will tell you, time is everything! (Almost)


  2. Point is, I’ve always believed Hawking was on the right track. Whether he stays on it or not, time will tell.

    I don’t think you have to worry about whether Dr. Hawking stay’s on the ‘right’ track, like you said, what physicist can’t resist trying to know the mind of ‘God?’

    Here is something up your alley HW; http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2010/09/-the-selfish-biocosm-a-new-theory-says-weve-already-received-a-message-from-et.html#more

  3. “Gardner has been welcomed at major planetariums and legitimate scientific conferences, explaining his ideas to a surprisingly interested public.”

    It’s always been in the back of men’s minds to understand who and why they are. As much as some people profess to hate God and Christianity, all have an opinion on the subject and most are willing to express it.

    The difference between God and some disinterested yet super-intelligent race is that God has always remained with His creation, guiding and protecting and nurturing it. Even Von Daniken postulated that the ancient astronauts merely seeded us here, then left us to our own devices.

    We have come a long way from Eden. It wasn’t a mystery, in the beginning, Who created the universe and man. It was more an issue of whether they wished to have God as their ruler and master. Throughout the ages, the further we got from Eden, the more we forgot about God, not having His presence constantly before us as before, nor those that were witnesses to His glory. The Bible states that the devil knows God exists… and trembles! Satan knows for a fact what man chooses to ignore and uses it to his advantage.

    It’s a credit to God that Hawking has such insight, and I hope that Hawking’s right about much of what he says. Like with most of the great thinkers in history, it’s inevitable that they should sooner or later confront the Master in His works of nature. However, it was Christ Who stated most emphatically that those that are most highly esteemed in His sight are those that believe having not demanded any evidence for it. (John 20:29)

    Unfortunately, there aren’t that many of those running around, these days.

  4. Most ancient astronaut adherents think the present day UFO phenomenon is related, even Von Daniken, so if anything they believe the aliens were watching their flock/experiment.

    I don’t profess to know the minds of geniuses like Hawking and Gardner, let alone God, but I’m willing to have an open mind.

    Is it as simple as having ‘faith?’ I don’t know, but I’m hip to hearing all sides.

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