Sunday, September 30, 2012
Has Hawking killed God?
Stephen Hawking is, without question, one of the greatest British scientists to have ever lived but, I think he may have over-reached himself. In the final programme of a recent 3-part Grand Design television series (broadcast in the UK on the Discovery Channel recently), Hawking posed the question "Did God Create the Universe?" There was very little I had not already heard in this programme; and I felt that the way in which the whole 'God of the Gaps' meme was dramatised was a bit lame: Hawking politely (but very firmly) placed God in a box marked “superseded and unnecessary superstition”. However, one thing was new; the bluntness of Hawking’s ultimate conclusion that – because both space and time did not exist before the Big Bang and quantum mechanics makes the spontaneous creation of energy possible – there is no need for God to exist and no time for him to have existed. Unfortunately, this is not proof that God does not exist. Indeed the existence of God is no less plausible than multiple universes; 22 dimensions of space-time; or the supposition that we are all in The Matrix-like virtual reality of a superior race. However, I was left with two concerns: A seriously disabled but brilliant scientist like Hawking would not want God to exist because ultimately (1) his chronic disability would seem ‘unfair’; and (2) his life’s work would seem ‘pointless’ (i.e. “God did it!” is not a scientific explanation). Therefore, whilst I appreciate his predicament, I am inclined to think that scientific attempts to explain the existence of the Universe and/or dismiss the existence of God are unwise. As it happens, however, I completely refuted the entire premise of Hawking’s third and final programme several years ago (see 'A Brief History of Science' below). This may have only been posted here four years ago; but the final paragraph was actually first written down by me over 25 years ago when I was an undergraduate geology student. Nevertheless, for those pushed for time (ha ha), the essence of my argument is this: The human mind is incapable of comprehending either infinity or eternity (i.e. an absence of time) but that does not mean they do not exist. On the contrary, science tells us that at least one of them is a reality and, therefore, the same could be said of God. For those that take the time to read the rest of this "blog", you will discover that I am not a fan of Richard Dawkins either; as I think it is intellectually dishonest to claim there are no questions science cannot answer. People like
Stephen Hawking, George Smoot (Wrinkles in Time) and Paul Davies (The Mind of God) do not do this. However, if you want a really interesting read, I would recommend Oracles of Science: Celebrity Scientists versus God and Religion (2007), by Karl Giberson and Mariano Artigas. If you follow this link (to amazon.co.uk) you will even find a review of the book I recently submitted.