Stephen Hawking has recently been quoted as saying that God did not create the universe and, as I understand it, he gives a fuller explanation about this assertion in his upcoming book. However, I must say that I do not follow his logic.
Quoting from that article, Hawking says:
“What could define God … as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God,” “They made a humanlike being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible.”
Interesting. However, I do not think one ought to define God as the “embodiment of the laws of nature” but rather the creator of the laws of nature. Creation would be the embodiment of the laws of nature; the thing that exists by virtue of and gives concrete form to the laws. I do not believe we say that God exists to give concrete form to the laws of nature. As far as Christianity goes, I believe it is reasonable to assert that we say God came as Emanuel–God with us–in human form–because he is not a human and we (not God) required the human for relationship and, ultimately, redemption. I would also contend that just because it “seems most impossible” that there is a God who cares for every iota of creation including humans simply because of the scale of the universe itself does not mean it is impossible. Not at all! Science has proven repeatedly that there are countless things that were once thought, by reason and observation, to be impossible and are, in point of fact, not only possible but reasonable and important.
Additionally, as an aside, not all religions perceive God as “a humanlike being with whom one can have a personal relationship”. But that is for those in that category to deal with and not me.
In the same article, Hawking also says:
“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists why we exist. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going,”
Ah! The universe is an ordered, reasonable place with logical reactions following actions and predictable outcomes abound! Why it is utter proof that a master Clockmaker must have made the whole thing to work perfectly together and, therefore, because one cannot prove that there is a Clockmaker at all, a Clockmaker must not exist because the ordered and beautiful clock proves the maker’s existence. Poof! The Clockmaker disappears in a puff of logic! Because the Universe contains certain laws of nature which work so well, there could be no other result than the spontaneous creation of all things. The clock works so well there certainly could be no clockmaker because there’s just no use for him. He is redundant.
Indeed, that could be true if the Clockmaker were nothing more than a clockwork man, made up of the clock parts. If God were nothing more than the “embodiment of the laws of nature”, it is possible that Hawking’s assertions (that the laws of nature are the setting or instigators for spontaneous creation rather than the “embodiment of the laws of nature” being the catalyst for the universe) could be true. Though I am still not convinced because if the laws of nature provide the environment for “spontaneous creation” and if the whole of the universe is, as I assert, the “embodiment of the laws of nature”, then he just proved that the universe doesn’t exist and, by reason and observation, we can see that is a false outcome.
I confess that, in that last bit, I am being unfair to a man who is far more brilliant than I. However, it does seem that Hawking has merely proven that a god in which I do not believe–a limited, humanly created golden-calf-type-god merely made up of the stuff I could feebly cobble together out of my own imagination as a finite earthy creature–does not exist. Well done, indeed! I concur! Though I do not think that is what he meant at all.
And lastly, from the same article, he says, “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.” And yet, science (as though it were some singular, monolithic thing, which is no more accurate than to say ‘religion’ as though it were a neat little category either) does indeed base itself on authority as Hawking, at least in this article, invokes laws of nature repeatedly. A law is, after all, an authority even if it is not a personified one. Observation and reason, too, are given positions of authority as well. Ultimately, though, how sad it is to see science and religion as adversaries! And what a shame that such a brilliant man (and he is that, even if I do not agree with him) sees them as such!
Hawking has said that he wants to know why “there is something rather than nothing”. He wants to know why the universe exists. The quest for such truths is, indeed, a noble and worthy one and I, along with countless others, join him on that quest. It seems that he has come to the solution that the reason and why is simply because it is so. The Universe exists because it exists. It is my deepest hope that he does not feel satisfied with that answer.