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Has Stephen Hawking Eliminated God? Pt 2

September 12, 2011

       “Not all statements made by scientists are statements of science. And any statement made by a scientist or not should be open to logical analysis because immense prestige and authority do not compensate for faulty logic.”

  – John Lennox, Professor of mathematics at Oxford University

       Scientism and it’s stance on reality

       How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator?

Stephen Hawking states on page 5 of his book entitled, The Grand Design, “Traditionally these (questions above) are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge”.

Statements like the one above from Hawking are statements of the philosophy of scientism. Unlike the use of the scientific method as only one mode of reaching knowledge, scientism claims that science alone can render truth about the world and reality. Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth (pbs.org). I want to spend some time on scientism because prominent scientific persons with this world-view will tend to mislead people with the word ‘science’ by falsely making it synonymous with a critical, rational examination.

Here is a good example of this as quoted from University of Chicago professor Jerry Coyne. Make sure to pay attention to what he is saying referring to types of answers involving subjective taste. Coyne says, “Okay, let me get one thing clear at the outset. I do not believe, nor have I ever asserted, that science provides us with all the answers that are worth having. Some answers worth having involve subjective taste: which bistro should I eat at tonight? Should I go out with Sue or with Megan? Is Joyce’s The Dead truly the best story ever written in English? (The answer to that, by the way, is “yes”.) Why does Beethoven move me to tears while Mozart leaves me cold? And there are the moral questions, such as “Is abortion wrong?” He adds, “Richard Dawkins, too, is not immune to the blandishments of art and literature, as you can see by simply reading his books. I suspect that both Richard and I are advocates of “scientism” only to the extent that when questions are amenable to logic, reason, and empirical investigation, then we should always use those tools. If that’s ‘scientism’, then so be it”.

           Did you catch the sleight of hand? Coyne seamlessly transitioned from “logic, reason, and empirical investigation” to applied “science.”

  • Just because science entails logic, reason, and empirical investigation does not mean any decision a person makes that uses logic, reason, and empirical investigation is science based.
  •  Every person uses logic, reason, and empirical investigation in their everyday decisions and beliefs, but that does not mean that all people are doing science. 
  • This also does not mean that everyone is a scientist. Science in its truest since has its limits which gives science its power.  Science has also been since its discovery one of the most beneficial discoveries of our age. 
  • Scientism, however, takes an obvious philosophical view point that science has ALL the answers to everything that can be asked. I will not dig any deeper into this but wanted to make the reader aware that there are scientists in the world that see science as the only way to truth. This is akin to “militant atheism” and is not true science.

Was the Universe caused and is the question even necessary? 

       Imagine this scenario: Let’s say that one day you and your best friend decide to take a nature hike. Half way into your hike you both come across a translucent and glowing sphere the size of a basketball floating above the ground. Amazed by what you are seeing you say to your friend, “What is this thing and where did it come from?” What if your friend responds to you by saying, “Oh it just came from no where”! With such a statement two thoughts would probably cross your mind. Either my friend is in a major hurry and wants to get out of here or he/she is off their rocker!

       How could it come from no where?

     Lets assume that instead of a basketball sized sphere you came across a sphere the size of a car? The significance of the sphere increases naturally as we tend to put increased significance on larger objects but the questions still remains. What is it and where did it come from? What if the sphere was the size of a house? Same questions remain. What if the sphere was the size of Jupiter or even the size of the solar system? Major significance added and same questions arise. Now what if this sphere was the size of the Universe or was the Universe? Same questions remain, what is it and where did it (the Universe) come from?

            The second part of the question (Where did it come from) assumes that it (the universe) must have been caused. Otherwise you are like your unwise friend that states that the Universe is just a blatant fact and has no cause. Modern cosmology agrees that the universe was caused by the discovery of what is now known as the Big Bang.

  • The Big Bang in its simpler terms can be defined as, the dominant scientific theory that the universe began to exist sometime between 10 billion and 20 billion years ago from a cosmic explosion that hurled matter and in all directions. This cosmological discovery puts the atheist and particularly Stephen Hawking in an awkward position . This is because if the universe has a beginning, it must have been caused. Especially when considering the immense complexity of the it (universe).  
  •  If you looked into the blue daylight and saw a thick chain hanging from out of the sky would you assume that it was hanging from nothing?  Probably not because it must be hanging from something right?  Otherwise, how could it just float in the air like that?  Also, who put it there?  Why does it exist ?  The general theist answer to this question would be that it was a “miracle” and that god/God put it there.  
  • Science, although working hard in its discoveries is so far yet to discover this “agent of cause”.  Therefore they cannot answer one of the most profound philosophical questions of all; Why does anything exist at all?

          The reason I wrote this post on the “Grand Design” is because Stephen Hawking has made two astounding claims: That philosophy is dead and that gravity and M-Theory account for the creation of the universe, not God. I have already pointed out how philosophy is indeed not dead in part 1 and will now try to make understood, with logic, why gravity and M-Theory cannot account for the universe’s existence and why the god/God “theory” or theism is still very much alive.

          Hawking states on page 13 that, “Instead, M-theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god. Rather, these multiple universes arise naturally from physical law.”

  • Now God, as a supernatural being, is an agent that does something. In the case of the God of Christianity, God is a personal agent. One that reveals himself to us. 
  • Dismissing such an agent, Hawking ascribes the creation of the universe to physical law. But physical law is not an agent. It is believed that Hawking here is making a categorical mistake by confusing two entirely different kinds of entities: physical law and personal agency. In other words, Hawking leaves us as the reader with absolutely false alternatives by confusing two explanations, personal agency and physical law.

To make things a little clearer let us replace the universe with a jet engine and ask ourselves to explain it. Should we account for the creation of the jet engine to the creative ingeniousness of Sir Frank Whittle? Or should follow Hawking and dismiss personal agency by saying that it arose “naturally by physical law”? The latter sounds a bit absurd because we all know that we need both levels of explanation to account for the explanation of the jet engine: agency and law. It is also obvious that the scientific explanation neither conflicts or competes with the agent explanation but instead they compliment one another (God compliments science).

  • The laws of physics can describe how the jet engine works but not how it came to exist in the first place. In fact, the jet engine needed the intelligence and creative engineering work of Frank Whittle plus physical laws for it to exist. This is not all.
  • There also needs to be some materials (matter) subject to those laws that could be worked on by Whittle. These three together can be the only explanation for the invention of the jet engine.

        

       Science asks the how questions like ‘how does the jet engine work’? It asks the why questions like ‘why is this valve here’ or ‘why is this pump needed’? But science does not answer the why questions of purpose like ‘why the jet engine exists in the first place’?

  • To quote LaPlace, French mathematician and astronomer, on this issue, “The scientific account has no need of that hypothesis (why it exists) because of what it is”.  
  • A question that could be asked to LaPlace might be, ‘Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to deduce that Whittle did not exist’?   Surely not, because Whittle (as the agent) is the answer to why the jet engine exists in the first place.  

           In conclusion, To account for the creation of the jet engine we needed the laws of physics + the materials it is made of + Frank Whittle (the agent of cause). To account for the cause of the universe, like the creation and origin of the jet engine, I personally contend with what the Bible says. I am not alone on this as I have many other friends that feel the same.  I would also go so far as to say that many great leaders in thought of the past also shared this same belief.  This does not mean that the more that believe i God means the more true God is. It only means that intellectual, philosophical, and theological thoughts of the past on God are very important in considering His existence.    

  • The belief that Christians share is that a personal agent (God) is the cause of the universe. That, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.(John 1:1-4)

         To end I would like to say that even if Stephen Hawking is correct with his predictions on M-Theory and the Multiverse theory it still does not eliminate the need for an agent (God). In fact, it adds to His (Gods) genius and intelligence that we (man) have been discovering over the ages.  As science progresses this seems to become more and more apparent to me.

God Bless. 

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From → God and Science

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