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He’s thought of as the smartest man — or at least the smartest man in theoretical physics.  Stephen Hawking, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University for 30 years, has just released his new  book — The Grand Design.  In it he  says there is no need for God, and that the universe (including you and me) have been created out of nothing.  He says he has solved the mystery of creation and believes that mankind’s salvation  will be found through time travel in the universe.  “We’re real close to understanding the theory of everything and when the scientific account is complete, theology will be unnecessary.”

What I find most fascinating about his pronouncements is that they are not scientific.  Rather they are statements of philosophy and speculative ponderings.  But most people think (and he is happy to project) the backing of the authority of science.  Here is where the Christian can be wise and expose the “bait and switch” taking place. 

As Professor Hawking makes his rounds promoting his latest book and appearing on Larry King Live and Good Morning America, et. al., people sit wrapped in awe taking his conclusions as fact.  He is certainly entitled to his opinion about God, but know what he is proclaiming is not science even though it’s portrayed as such. 

Here are six points that show his statements are non-scientific —

1. Observational science is based on corroborating evidence.  If there is any one fact of science known with certainty it is that “nothing comes from nothing.”  So why would Hawking make such an apparently ridiculous claim?  Because he can make his mathematical models say so.  You see you can play games with numbers and show practically anything you want.  You’ve heard that said about statistics; well it is just as true in physics (e.g. ponder sometime what zero divided be zero means in the physical world; or even what the physical significance of “infinity” is).  Hawking’s alleged “proofs” consist of mathematic and philosophic speculation.

2.  Hawking says life arose spontaneously on earth therefore it arose spontaneously throughout the universe.  On this one he’s way out of his field of cosmology.  The most ardent evolutionary biologists have no idea of how life arose on earth let alone on planets trillions of miles away.  They don’t know how living things came out of non-living things.  We have even less knowledge of how our own consciousness arose.  As Einstein once commented, “The only thing incomprehensible about the universe is that it is comprehensible.”  Once again Hawking is making speculative assumptions.

3.  The physics behind his conclusions stem from what is called the “Multiverse Hypothesis.”  When he says “the mystery of creation of the universe has been solved,” you are led to think that science has found an alternative to God; but that is not what he means.  What he really is saying is that he believes our universe is just one of many — perhaps an infinite number of — universes.  Ours “just happens” to be the one where our laws of physics work the way they do.  It’s like if you had an infinite number of spins on a roulette wheel — you are bound to find the winning number no matter how you defined it.  Scientifically this is a meaningless statement, as well as anti-scientific.  Hawking admits “there is no evidence for this” but  he doesn’t tell you that it is not even possible to find out anything about these supposed alternate universes.  We are locked into our own universe by our own physical laws.  Sure we can play with the mathematics and wax philosophically, but that has nothing to do with scientific reality.

4.  In Hawking’s multiverse theory there are many — even an infinite number — of possible histories and possible states.  There can even be a universe exactly like this one but where he doesn’t exist!  I know that sounds like the Twilight Zone, and is certainly fun entertainment, but it doesn’t lend much to his scientific credibility nor trusting his conclusions.

5.  He says, there is no need for God because our universe “just happens” to be the one that works.  Out of this  infinite sea of universes ours “just happens” to have the “just right” laws of physics; ” the “just right” conditions where life will spontaneously arise out of non-life; the one universe with the “just right” tuning of all possible physical laws; and the one that “just happens” to possess within itself all the answers (by unknown mechanisms) to our being conscious; having a conscience; pondering a soul; requiring  meaning and purpose, as well as the answers to our ultimate questions of “Why?”.  Where does the longing in our hearts for God and love, eternity and truth, goodness and beauty come from?  The great questions regarding our existence are the grist by which we live our daily lives, even if just by assumption.  Hawking’s answers are certainly possible but are not backed by anything scientific.

6.  Remember Carl Sagan and his Cosmos series on TV.  The show’s byline was,  “The Cosmos is all there is; all there ever was; and all there will ever be.”  For Sagan, the Cosmos was his god.  Professor Hawking has only raised the stakes.  To him, the “Universes” are all there is, all there ever was, and all there will be.  They have no beginning and no end.  But philosophic Universes and Cosmoses are only Sagan and Hawking’s conceptions of God, not scientific reality.  Hawking shows his hand when he says that “since we are part of this universe, we are in a sense lords of creation.”  That is not science — it is theological speculation.  I pray the Creator bless him in his struggle to find the true and living God.

I’m delighted Stephen Hawking has raised this question and that his book is selling well (currently #2 on NY Times Best Selling List).  It brings to attention the most basic questions we all wrestle with, but usually don’t discuss in public:  How did we get here?  Why is there something rather than nothing?  Why are we here?  Where are we going?  This is great engagement material for Christians who, unlike Hawking, have special information given by the Creator Himself. 

We are all struggling to know the answers to the great questions.  Hawking’s book provides a wonderful opportunity  for us to put forth our biblical worldview.  But we must be prepared to understand the Grand Design arguments and be able to show why they aren’t so grand after all.  Understanding the six points above will help you show why the Grand Design isn’t fact, even if it comes from the mind of the smartest man in the world.

Please leave you comments and join in on the discussion.

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6 Comments

    • Stephen D. Bennett
    • Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:44 am
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    As gleaned from a radio interview with William Lane Craig, Hawking’s book:
    1. proclaims “philosophy is dead” and then proceeds to devote most of its words to philosophical speculation
    2. claims our universe arose spontaneously out of nothing, but such “nothing” was actually an eternally existing quantum vacuum, which is something.
    3. appeals to quantum indeterminacy as the creative “agent” in universe generation but also asserts a strict physical determinism.
    4. determinism, which holds that ALL events are the products of prior physical events, precludes mind and free will; yet Hawking asserts that his own conclusions are based on rational investigation.
    Conclusion: This book is evidence for Einstein’s observation scientists make for poor philosophers.

  1. I read this with a profound sadness for this very deluded man. The above points only illustrate how far one will go in order to eliminate God from everything. Whatever happened to him when he was younger has left a bitter hatred toward the idea of a creator in his mind and heart. He needs much prayer to lift this ugly passion from his heart and mind.

    What is equally saddening is all of the people and students who will read this book and believe his twisted thinking. Already Larry King was hanging on every word out of his mouth when he interviewed him about the book. But then poor Larry King is also trying with everything within him to discredit the Bible and the Christian message.

    We have much work to do troops, lets all pray for both Steven Hawking and Larry King that both of them find the true truth!

    Thanks Stuart for researching this and informing all of us, your heart and passion for proclaiming truth is a beacon for us all. God bless, SM

  2. Stephen Hawking is a very smart man. He is also a very popular man. He talks out of a voice box and people find that fascinating. The fact that Hawking has a way of putting really complicated scientific principles in layman’s terms definitely helps his likability too, because it makes the mysterious universe around us more accessible.
    But, again, to repeat: Stephen Hawking is a man. Men change their mind. When you or I do this, there’s no major hooplah, but Hawking is a celebrity. When he changes his mind, the media jump on it and the rest of us involved (Dr. Peter Baofu has written a rather interesting article on Hawkings’s mind-changes through the years). When he came out in favor of God in his A Brief History of Time, all the Christians said, “yay Hawking is our side. We now have a scientist in our arsenal to overcome the enemy with.” Now that he is out of favor with God, all the Christians demonize him because we feel we’ve lost our ally.
    I would love Stephen Hawking to change his mind again and turn his heart to God, but that’s his personal journey. We can and should pray for him, not so that we can acquire a new shiny weapon against the unbeliever but so that we can have another brother in the family of Christ, who saved us by grace, not works, so that none can boast.

    That said, thank you Stu for taking the time to do research into Hawking’s book and providing counter-points to points made therein. Christians are not only ones riled up by media hype and it would be good to be able to provide food-for-thought to anyone hungry for a pro-God reply to the book… Apparently, Hawking is not the only one able to make science accessible to the layman =)

  3. I believe that Professor Hawking is selling out in an attempt to salvage what’s left of his career & legacy!
    He was spot-on over 30-years ago, when he proposed his Information Paradox!
    This explains why Science is filled with so many pitfalls & shortcomings!
    Science can help us to understand many things about ourselves & our Universe … but Atheistic Scientists want us to believe that Science holds ALL of the answers … which makes them gods!
    If you want to know about Hawking’s career in a nutshell … then watch the following program on Youtube:

    Bret*

  4. The “multiverse” concept essentially posits that every change in the physical universe causes the universe to split off another (potential) universe, so that an infinity of universes “exist” (mathematically speaking) while we can experience only our universe and mistakenly believe that we are unique and designed. The multiverse theory violates the fundamental principles of Einstein’s proof that time and space, with matter and energy, compose a single whole which may be without a boundary, like a sphere or a torus, but is not infinite and cannot be infinite because matter is not infinite and cannot be infinite. Hawking treats these imaginary 10-dimensional universe as if enough matter existed for these infinite universes to actually exist, but while infinite space and time may be imagined (incorrectly), infinite matter and energy cannot, and there is no evidence that the matter in our universe is being used simultaneously in other-dimensional universes, as Hawking’s theory would require. As with macro-evolution, Hawking’s theory might eliminate the need for God, if the theory were proved true, but even if the theory were supported by the evidence it would not disprove the existence of God, only the necessity for God’s existence, and all of the evidence contradicts the theory.

    • Reply to Bret and David —

      All this energy by smart people to try to rid themselves of the “the God Thing.”  I think of Christopher Hitchens dying as the Stoic saying that if he ever repents on his deathbed it is proof that the cancer reached his brain!  I can only thank God that He dragged me into His family.


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