Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stephen Hawking: God was not needed to create the Universe

The Big Bang was the result of the inevitable laws of physics and did not need God to spark the creation of the Universe, Stephen Hawking has concluded.
(Continue reading...)

And what preceded the Big Bang? Could it be a void, without form? Or was it a previous universe, fresh from the Big Crunch? Where did the laws of physics come from? Or the material for the current Universe? The laws of physics describe some of the universal mechanisms reasonably well, but they provide no existential insight.

Too bad "the hawk" decided to take the leap from science to philosophy. You can argue whether God created the universe (and with it the laws of physics), but the fact that the laws of physics can explain the Big Bang, and nearly everything else, doesn't prove or disprove the existence of God. What's more, we don't know all there is to know about physics. I believe quantum mechanics, string theory and a unified field theory are all still giving us big problems.

Someone said "you can never see the face of God". I think the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and the fact that information never can exceed the speed of light pretty much guarantees that we'll never know everything. We think we're so damn smart.


  1. There is just one problem Karl, which God or Gods are you speaking of.

    we can only see back to just after the "Big Bang", we can't see it, we can can only infer what happened, before Time and Space existed. It comes down to the very very small, quantum particles, Strings and Membranes (M-theory). Not that anyone understands any of it. It is simply unknown, so why postulate a God on to something we do not have a clue about. The is the Science of it all.

    Now, if you need the warm and fuzzy aspect of it, then choose a religion and simply believe. No evidence needed, choose your God and close your eye and pray.

  2. For the sake of this argument, I do not postulate a God. I'm just saying that science and religion are orthogonal. They address different truth-claims. Maybe Stephen Hawking is saying the same thing, in which case, I'll lighten up a bit.

    Science tells us the implementation details, and how to get what we want (if we establish enough repeatable knowledge to exploit that knowledge), whereas religion tells us what we ought to want. It has nothing to do with science. I wrote an article about it.

  3. From Einstein: "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."

    I'm not arguing for the existence of God. But (as we don't know what is further back) I don't think He should be dismissed, as a Creator, with such a cavalier attitude.

    Again, from Einstein (who called himself an unbeliever of religions): "I want to know God's thoughts...the rest is details."

  4. Many years ago, I read Hawking's "A Brief History of Time". While I found the subject matter interesting and challenging, I was put off by the smugness of it all. The conviction that we would soon know all there is to know. That the answers are "just around the corner".

    But I found no existential answers there. Only mechanistic observations and descriptions. We could have a Universe going through repetitive Big Bangs and Big Crunches off into eternity in both positive and negative time. We happen to measure time with zero located at the Big Bang, but that's as arbitrary as Year One, or 1970 (for UNIX and other operating systems).

    What's outside the Universe (who cares if it's curved or cartesian)? What's before and after the Universe? Why are we here? What created the materials for the Big Bang (whether from a previous Big Crunch or not)? Some of these answers may be answerable by physicists, eventually. But not all.

    I came away from most of Hawking's pronouncements with the feeling "for all we know, and as complicated as it gets, we don't know diddly". At least Newton and Einstein were elegant -- although Einstein stepped in it too.

    Today's physics research is so convoluted and arbitrary that it seems obvious that we're following the pied piper off in the wrong direction.


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