Reactions to "The Grand Design"
|Book of Nature||Go Back|
Reactions to "The Grand Design"
"He asks us to choose between God and the laws of physics, as if they were necessarily in mutual conflict."
"But contrary to what Hawking claims, physical laws can never provide a complete explanation of the universe. Laws themselves do not create anything, they are merely a description of what happens under certain conditions. What Hawking appears to have done is to confuse law with agency. His call on us to choose between God and physics is a bit like someone demanding that we choose between aeronautical engineer Sir Frank Whittle and the laws of physics to explain the jet engine."Reference
Stephen M. Barr:
The idea that Hawking is now touting is not new—in fact, within the fast-moving world of modern physics it is fairly old. My first introduction to it was reading a very elegant theoretical paper entitled “Creation of Universes from Nothing,” written in 1982 by the noted cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin, who argued that our universe might have arisen by a “quantum fluctuation.”
This idea is sometimes referred to as the quantum creation of the universe. There are different variants, but the basic idea is well-known among particle physicists and cosmologists.
Right up front, it must be noted that this idea is extremely speculative, has not yet been formulated in a mathematically rigorous way, and is unable at this point to make any testable predictions. Indeed, it is very hard to imagine how it could ever be tested. It would be more accurate to call these “scenarios” than theories. It would be a mistake, however, for religious believers to dismiss these scenarios as mere fanciful conjecture or as motivated merely by atheist ideology. Based on a plausible analogy with the experimentally observed and well-understood phenomenon of the quantum creation of particles, the idea of quantum creation of universes is not without merit.
The highly speculative idea is that these ways of thinking can be applied to entire universes, which is what Hawking (and many others) have tried to do.
There are two answers to the question: “Why does anything exist rather than nothing at all?” The atheist answers, “There is no explanation.” The theist replies, God. An intelligent case can be made for either answer. But to say that the laws of physics alone answer it is the purest nonsense—as Hawking himself once realized.
In the old days, before philosophy had expired (at least for Hawking and Molodinow), this used to be called a contradiction. You cannot use what you deny, to affirm something else. If you can't, on principle, have a comprehensive theory of everything in physics, then you can't use a theory as if it were comprehensive to declare that God doesn't exist. Or, to take their confusion from another angle, you can't claim that theories of physics are subjective and that a particular theory objectively disproves the need for God.
It's a short, splashy, breezy ride through contemporary physics, and as with so many other such popularizing works, it plays fast and loose with highly-speculative aspects of contemporary theoretical cosmology, pushing hypotheses as indubitably verified rather than largely untested (or, as with the case of the Multi-verse theory, completely untestable). It is a book exceedingly well-crafted by the marketing-savvy to sell, and that alone should give us considerable pause as we measure its heady claim to give God the pink slip.
If science accepts that there are many versions of reality and a multiplicity of histories of the universe, science actually loses its ability to tell us anything useful about the world. Science has been successful because, in the main, it is able to tell us the truth about the world we live in. It tells us how things work, what they’re made of, and why things happen as they do, and to a certain extent how things got to be how they are today. But if there is no definite reality and no definite history, then science can no longer be a guide to truth. At this point it departs into speculation, and so has no more claim to truth than religion or philosophy.
In 1966, Stephen Hawking published his first — completely valid — proof for the existence of God. Over the next seven years, he followed this with even more powerful valid theorems proving God’s existence.
So how did Hawking, who successfully proved God’s existence, remain an atheist? Simple. He simply denied that the assumptions he used in his proofs were true. As a matter of logic, if the assumptions in a proof are not true, then the conclusions need not be true. What assumptions did the young Hawking make? He assumed that the laws of physics, mainly Einstein’s theory of gravity, were true. In the summary of his early research, namely his book The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, Hawking wrote:
It seems to be a good principle that the prediction of [God] by a physical theory indicates that the theory has broken down, i.e. it no longer provides a correct description of observations.
Hawking then began working on quantum gravity, in hopes that God would be at last eliminated from the equations. Alas, it was not to be: God was even more prominent — and unavoidable — in quantum gravity than in Einstein’s theory of gravity. In his latest book, The Grand Design, Hawking has pinned his hope of eliminating God on M-theory, a theory with no experimental support whatsoever, hence not a theory of physics at all. Nor has it been proven that M-theory is mathematically consistent. Nor has it been proven that God has been eliminated from M-theory. There are disquieting signs (for Hawking and company) that He is also unavoidable in M-theory, as He is in Einstein’s gravity, and in quantum gravity.
In spite of what the atheist press is telling you, it’s looking bad for atheism today. And it is extraordinary the lengths an atheist like Hawking will go to avoid the obvious: God exists.
|Book of Nature||Go Back|