Thursday, September 02, 2010

When a Brilliant Scientist Sounds Brilliantly Stupid It's Both Bizarre and Sad

In Dr. Stephen Hawking's newest book The Grand Design, Dr. Hawking argues that "the universe can and will create itself from nothing."


He goes on to write: "Spontaneous creation is the reason why 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 [fuse] and set the universe going."

Okaaay ....

I guess the reader of Hawking's book is to accept, by faith, the declaration of this brilliant scientist that nothing created the universe out of nothing, and even though nothing cannot be identified or quantified, nothing is the reason why we exist.

I do believe that Hawking's atheism requires enormous, google-like faith.

By comparison, it requires the faith the size of a mustard seed to believe that God created all things, that He condescended to His Creation and appeared as Man, that He paid the price of man's disobedience at Calvary, and that each man will one day return to His Creator to give an account of his life and/or his relationship with the Creator through personal trust in the person and work of the God/Man Jesus Christ.

I'll take the old fashioned good news that requires such little faith every time over Hawking's religion.

In His Grace,



Ramesh said...

I believe Stephen Hawking's idea that universe was created out of nothing (big bang)and multi-verse or even sequences of universe creations and destruction are all really old ideas. There is no way to prove them. Some of these ideas are also borrowed from Hinduism.

For me I was once a Hindu, an atheist, a Pagan, a Hindu again and now am a Christian. I am slowly discovering that Christianity is built on very logical foundations. Yes one needs faith. But the logical underpinnings are astounding. I am simply amazed at the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ, then Apostle John and Apostle Paul and other Apostles. I am also amazed at the number of prophecies fulfilled in the OT and NT.

But I do have doubts about the Genesis creation stories and how it gels with my understanding of the age of things and life. Maybe someday my Creator will explain all this to me (more clearly).

To balance this I am intrigued with some recent posts of Tom Chantry (CRBC Pastoral Blog) on this subject ...

The Power of Scientific Snobbery

Understanding Science

The History of Science

Bob Cleveland said...

Someone once pointed out that, to believe there is no God, you have to know, with certainty:

A) Every form God could take;

B) Every place in the universe that He could possibly be;

C) Be able to see everywhere He might possibly be, in the Universe, and;

D) Be able to see them all at the same time.

THAT kind of faith I DON'T have.

Steven Stark said...

My understanding of Hawking's point is not that there is no God, but rather that the God hypothesis is not required when speaking of the start of our universe. There may be some sort of eternal mechanism in place that caused our universe.

A multiverse hypothesis is similar in this regard.

The start of our universe may just be totally bizarre from our point of view. Everything we see is caused, but that doesn't mean the whole thing was caused. "Every man has a mother, but that doesn't mean that mankind has a mother."

I don't favor that explanation. I go with my intuition that there is some reason behind things. But it is not unreasonable to think otherwise. And it's definitely not "brilliantly stupid."

Steven Stark said...


I don't accept that as a good argument for God's existence, because if it were true, it would also follow, that I could not state that unicorns don't exist.

But even Richard Dawkins says on a scale of 1 to 7 - 1 being absolutely sure is a God and 7 being absolutely sure there is no God - He is a 6 leaning towards 7. Even he admits to some degree of agnosticism, though he thinks it is more practical to say atheist.

But I agree with your point if it just means that extreme statements are probably unwarranted towards anything.

Christiane said...


you wrote:
"But I do have doubts about the Genesis creation stories and how it gels with my understanding of the age of things and life."

I am fond of these quotes that were written for anyone who is conflicted about the Creation story and science:

""...methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.
The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are."
from 'Gaudium et Spes', a pastoral letter.

I'm also fond of this quote:
"Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth".

I have no trouble accepting that God created the material world from nothing. I have no trouble accepting the discoveries of science that reveal His Creation to us in more detail.

I think the concept that Creation and Science are at odds with one another is a result of a 'literal' interpretation of Genesis.
This concept has led many, many people to lose their faith, because they did not know how to resolve a literal interpretation AND scientific findings.
But that doesn't have to happen, if they remember the words of Scripture that, for God
'a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day', and that 'His ways are far above ours'.

We don't fully understand all that we know. :)

Steven Stark said...

"We don't fully understand all that we know."

Nice statement! I like it.

Anonymous said...

I have one of Hawking's books on my reading list.

I am surprised that he would make a statement like he did. It shows how scientists often get caught up in philosophical or theological discussions which are really outside their area expertise.

Hawking's wandering into the philosophical is not only outside of his expertise, it's also bad science.

This is a demonstration of one reason why the evloution-creation discussions often get off track.


FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Thy Peace - I agree with you about the "logical foundations" of Christianity. I've been exploring the history and beliefs of Mormonism, for example, and their entire faith is built on the nonsensical visions of Joseph Smith and the golden tablets he supposedly discovered in the early 1800s. To look at the foolishness of false religions gives one an appreciation for the foundations of our faith in Jesus Christ.

At my blog I've posted an article about a Mormon TV ad campaign running in my home town of Jacksonville and 8 other U.S. markets giving testimonies of how "normal" Mormons are - yes, they are normal people, but their faith is very odd and not the same as Protestant Christianity.

Clif Cummings said...

And I must remember that the "mustard seed" faith that I posess is not my own, or of my own discovery, but a graceful gift to me by my heavenly Father. Keeps me humble! Thanks Wade! Glad your back on the blog.

r. grannemann said...

"Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists."

Okay, then why is there spontaneous creation -- which is something? Causality for physics has to begin with matter or energy. Of course Hawking hasn't answered the fundamental ontological question of "Why?" Actually, physics can't get you there. As Christians we have the belief that the miracle of the resurrection and our faith does.

Pastor Bob Farmer said...

In August of 2003, Hawking's nurse reported that he had received burns from being left out in the sun by his wife. He is now divorced from Elaine after years of alleged abuse by his second wife. So it is no wonder this poor guy comes up with these wacky views.

Ramesh said...

VTM Bottomline [Paul Burleson] > I'VE BEEN THINKING AGAIN..WHAT IF....?
Do you suppose whatever eternity is like, as a place, it may not be "out there" or even "up there" but, perhaps "right here?"

Lydia said...

"But I do have doubts about the Genesis creation stories and how it gels with my understanding of the age of things and life. Maybe someday my Creator will explain all this to me (more clearly)."

My uncle was a rocket scientist (seriously!) and he had the same challenges with the age of the earth. Yet, he believed in Jesus Christ. He also said the same thing you say, that someday his Creator would explain it all to him.

Thanks for sharing bit of your history. His power amazes me. What praise He deserves for your being saved.

BeamStalk said...

Nothing as stated by physicists is not the same thing as the colloquial nothing. Lawrence Kraus has a good talk, I believe from a TED lecture, about it that is easy to find on YouTube. It is an hour plus long.

BeamStalk said...

Pastor Bob Farmer said...

In August of 2003, Hawking's nurse reported that he had received burns from being left out in the sun by his wife. He is now divorced from Elaine after years of alleged abuse by his second wife. So it is no wonder this poor guy comes up with these wacky views.

I am assuming you have evidence for such an accusation? I mean I can always posit that there were Amanita muscaria, a hallucinogenic mushroom, on the island of Patmos. So it is no wonder where John of Patmos comes up with these wacky views. Now I am not saying it directly but just implying but is a rather unloving and vicious implication (some might even say defamation of character).

John Fariss said...

I grew up in and with traditional Southern civil religion. We "believed" in God and Jesus, we said the the Bible was the Word of God, we were a moral family, we did little but lay around and rest on Sundays, we didn't drink or cuss (at least in the presence of women), and we darkened the doorways of various churches for weddings annd funerals; my mother was a member of a Methodist church in a town she moved away from about 1931, and my father was a member of a Baptist church he had not attended since before World War II. (Had I been raised in India, I expect we would have been Hindus with the same degree of involvement and certainty, in Arabia, Moslems, etc.). Civil religion; mine happened to claim the name "Christanity." Going to college, I majored in physics with the intention of becomming a high school science teacher (though much has changed since I graduated in 1974, and even then, on my best days, I could not keep up with someone of Hawkings' intellect on his worst days).

But I did learn a couple of things which served me well through my conversion until today, even though they often put me at odds with my morer conservative brothers and sisters. These two little things kept me from becomming a atheist and kept me open to Christianity, and for that, I thank the scientists and professors who made me aware of these, and that a great God stood behind them, whispering in their ears. One is that science attempts to explain "How?" while faith addresses the question "Why?" Second is that however we got here--whether through some sort of evolution, or special acts of creation, or whatever--it was God's plan to get us here. On the controversial side, it consequently seems to me that a literal underestanding of the creation accounts, especially with a young earth interpretation, are anything but the simplest, plain reading of the text, and instead is the product of 16th Century Enlightenment presuppositions. On what I think is a more affirmative side, the big bang theory and the multi-verse concept seem to dovetail rather precisely into the Genesis accounts of creatio ex nihlo (pardon, I have forgotten much of what little Latin I once knew), creation out of nothing, and the Biblical concepts of God existing outside of and independent from time itself, unrestrained by anything at all save His own self.

I susopect that Dr. Hawkings would do well to consider these two tidbits; and for all I know, he has.


Steven Stark said...

Beamstalk and John Fariss,

I enjoyed your comments!

John Fariss said...

I just thought of something related to my previous entry: Orcam's Razor. Although today many atheists and agnostics claim it, Orcam was a Christian monk in the Middle Ages. He postulated that all other things being equal, the simplest explanation was generally correct. Which is the simplest: that the universe somehow created itself out of nothing, or that a God who exists outside of both time and the physical universe created it?


Steven Stark said...


That's a good question. Perhaps it could go either way. There is probably some sort of "necessary" reality, but it could be a metaphysical law or something, not necessarily a theistic or deistic God. I think it comes down to personal intuition.

Ramesh said...

I would like to add that the "big bang" for all practical purposes happened when Jesus Christ said "It is finished" and/or when he was resurrected. The world has changed irrevocably after this incident. This is like a "pivot" in the history of the universe.

I am eternally grateful that I am in the period of Grace.

Bob Cleveland said...


Mine was not an argument that God does exist. It was an argument against the position that God does not exist.

Strangely, but probably not really strangely, God said the firmament is undeniable evidence that He does exist. I'll take His word over Hawking's supposition, any day.

Come to think of it, Hawking also stated .. as I recall .. that the reason matter seemed to be escaping from a black hole was that it was exceeding the speed of light, enabling it to do so. That contradicts Einstein's theory, and I'll also take Einstein's word over Hawking's, too.

Steven Stark said...

Hi Bob,

I understand, but that particular point is like Bertrand Russell's assertion that there is a celestial teapot orbiting the earth. Is it reasonable to say you don't believe in it, just because it can't absolutely be proven that it is not there?

I don't place any ideas of God in the same category of celestial teapots. Please don't get me wrong. My point is simply that it is tough to absolutely prove a negative.

As to the firmament - is there a firmament? I always thought it was a clear dome keeping out the waters that the ancients thought were flowing over the earth (not clouds, but the blue water of the sky itself).

Ramesh said...

I would encourage readers to read Paul Burleson's latest post ... that talks about heaven being in multiple dimensions ?. Very interesting.

Bob Cleveland said...


We're debating inverse thoughts. I'm not arguing against Russell's teapot; if he wanted to tell me there was one, I'd ask him for the evidence.

Russell has no evidence for his teapot.

When someone argues against the existence of God, we have evidence showing that He does exist. My original statement has to do only with the position that God does not exist, and what they're saying they know for sure when they say it.

Byroniac said...


I think what Steven is saying is that the argument you give shows how difficult it is to prove with certainty that God does not exist. Granted. But it fails to rule out the existence of any alternative "deities" or forces as well. I could use the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) just as easily.

To believe there is no FSM, you have to know, with certainty:

A) Every form FSM could take;

B) Every place in the universe that FSM could possibly be;

C) Be able to see everywhere FSM might possibly be, in the Universe, and;

D) Be able to see them all at the same time.

The same goes for Santa Claus, Pink Unicorns, and the like. Using only this argument, I could be just as justified in believing in FSM as you do God, and for the same reasons given. I do believe in God and Jesus Christ, however, and I know FSM is intentionally fictional, but the argument itself proves nothing about the very specific existence of the Judeo-Christian God, only that proving a universal negative is extremely difficult (impossible as far as I know, but I am not a philosopher). I would say a far more convincing proof of Jesus Christ's divinity is by way of personal revelation.

Steven Stark said...

Byron describes it well.

I also agree with Byron that the best evidence for God is a personal experience. But some people do not interpret their meaningful experiences as God and that is fair enough as well.

God is an ultimate idea. We fail when we try to provide evidence for Him by appealing to SOME things (like in design arguments). These are "God of the gaps" arguments. But the idea of God is that He is the reason for ALL things. So I am not sure it is provable - rather people must rely on their intuitions.

Bob Cleveland said...

Byron & Steve:

I believe you're missing my point completely.

Enough. I give.

Byroniac said...

Bob, I don't know if I'm missing your point or not. It seems to me that the argument as you give it assumes that only the specific God of Christianity should be the context, as to whether you can prove He exists or not.

It's the same problem with Pascal's wager. Which god? Why the Christian God? Why not Zeus?

I believe that someone could claim that nature reveals the existence of God. The question then becomes, which one? And why specifically the Christian God? But, just speaking personally, the claim that nature itself reveals God seems not as airtight as a theist might hope. With enough scientific knowledge, alternatives to theistic Creationism seem less than impossible. For some, the alternatives are unlikely, rather than impossible, and for some, the alternatives are more plausible than the theistic assertion.

That is why I made the appeal to personal revelation of Jesus Christ.

r. grannemann said...

"The heavens declare the glory of God," Psalms 19:1.

This is really an argument from intuition, still valid today. It simply says what I see is too marvelous to have come about by accident and without a mind being behind it. The argument is still valid since even if evolutionary forces all the way back to the Big Bang created us, the system of laws and matter that did it seems most improbable (values of fundamental physical constants differing from what they are only slightly makes human existence impossible). If there is only one universe, then the likelihood of what we see can be argued to be infinitesimally unlikely apart from mind. If we are one of zillions of random universes, then it is possible we are a very rare random event (if things of such magnitude could actually come about spontaneously which intuition may still deem improbable). The psalmist's statement is not in essence an argument that the judeo-christian God did it, just that there is another mind out there. We can also argue that the existence of the human mind makes the existence another mind, a mind responsible for creation, more likely.

Christiane said...

Hello r. granneman,

I am glad that you shared this observation: that the Psalmist's statement referred to there being 'another Mind out there'

That perspective is important to keep.
When people get caught up in agendas and theological difference, the tendency sometimes is to turn to
'my God is better than their god',
an argument which doesn't exactly focus on the transcendent attributes of the Eternal One.

Ron Krumpos said...

In "The Grand Design" Stephen Hawking postulates that the M-theory may be the Holy Grail of physics...the Grand Unified Theory which Einstein had tried to formulate and later abandoned. It expands on quantum mechanics and string theory.

In my e-book on comparative mysticism is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (fx raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

Pastor Bob Farmer said...

Sorry Beamstalk,
the implications of my post may be seen as demeaning; however, what I recorded is well documented-just google it...or if you don't want to here is a link,,20149278,00.html

this is just one of many, and the reason I thought of it was that I remembered hearing it on the news when it happened. Take it for what its worth, but as someone who does lot of counseling, I can tell you that abuse and neglect can cause great psychological damage.