Famed physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking’s new book The Grand Design, set to be released on 9/9 is a rebuttal to Isaac Newton’s idea that the design of the universe cannot possibly be explained as a the result of chaos and chance. Newton postulated that there must be a designer. There must be God. Hawking, reportedly says this is not necessarily the case. I have flipped through the net this morning looking for more excerpts of the book, but this is about all I have found so far: (from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/02/stephen-hawking-god-not-n_n_703179.html).
In his “1988 book "A Brief History of Time," Hawking appeared to accept the possibility of a creator, saying the discovery of a complete theory would "be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God."But "The Grand Design" seems to step away from that, saying physics can explain things without the need for a "benevolent creator who made the Universe for our benefit."
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing," the excerpt says. "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 ... set the Universe going."
Here are my first impressions of this news:
- This is a big deal. It is not necessarily a new conclusion, but it is a new route. It is also a big deal simply because of its source. When Hawking held to the possibility of God, the scientific community backed away from him. Now that he is trumpeting this horn, wait and see how quickly the “non-God” theorists pick up an instrument and try to make a brass band out of this one.
- I heard about this initially on the Robin Meade program on HLN. From time to time she will post facebook comments from viewers. One of the comments, which is not an uncommon sentiment, alluded to the idea that Christians were ignorant for believing that the universe must have been created by a creator. Then came the question, “Who created God?” Let me just put this one out there - if you ask that question, you are ignorant of the definition of God as well as categorically ignorant of the Christian position. The Christian/creationist position is that there is no need for God to be created. He is self-existent. To ask, “Who created God?” is irrelevant to the argument. The irony is that most of the people who ask that question will accept the idea of infinite matter but will not accept the idea of an infinite God. It is philosophical hypocrisy.
- From what I understand Hawking postulates that since there is the law of gravity there is no need for a creator. Because of gravity something can be created from nothing through impersonal force. Here we go again. According to Hawking something existed - the law of gravity. Who was the law giver? The discipline of science began as an exploration of laws so that we could better know the great law giver, the creator. By examining His laws, we were examining Him. Hawking may have removed the idea of pre-existent matter, but we are not yet removed from the necessity of a pre-existent law giver. We just can’t get away from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity can we. When you say “law” here comes Lewis.
- There is a certain prejudice to science that skews the entire process. The prejudice is that certain questions cannot be asked and thus certain conclusions will not be accepted. Those certain questions and conclusions inevitably point toward God. Because God cannot be subjected to the scientific theory for testing then He cannot possibly be a proven conclusion. What we fail to realize is that evolution, and/or non-god design, falls under the same heading of theories that cannot be scientifically proven, but yet they are allowed to be valid conclusions. Without certain questions being asked certain conclusions will never be drawn. This is not an entirely honest process. When the same data is analyzed by the “pro-god” or the “god is a possibility” scientific community there will be other conclusions. Just wait, but I doubt you will hear about it on HLN - c’mon Robin!
- There will be an underlying opinion that comes from this as Christians and the “pro-god is possible” community objects. The opinion will be that Hawking is way too smart for the “pro-god is possible” and Christian community to understand. It is this arrogance that has fueled the non-god scientific community for years. It is this arrogance that has turned what should be a debate into a largely atheistic monologue. I would submit 1) Hawking is way too smart for most people who will weigh in on this issue to understand, but yet they will speak. Facebook user # uno on Robin Meade this morning proves my point. 2) Just because something is complicated does not mean it cannot be understood. 3) Just because someone disagrees, does not mean they are stupid.
So here we go. It will be interesting to see how this plays out once the book is released. I will be particularly interested to see how those who do not agree with Hawking interpret the data.