Stephen Hawking, perhaps the best known theoretical physicist and cosmologist of our time, proposes, in his new book ‘The Grand Design’, that the ‘God hypothesis’ is superfluous at best. He writes:
“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.”
This is not a new argument at all. It’s an old trick, made to look up-to-date, that tries to escape the infinite regress rut — albeit, un-convincingly — in a way that only the prime mover hypothesis has the ability to do. It’s the ‘steady-state’ hypothesis all over again. Only, dressed in different garb.
“the universe can and will create itself from nothing [without God]” because of gravity? Well that just begs the question: is gravity (gasp!) “nothing”? That just replaces the question doesn’t it; who created gravity? And who created that thingy that created gravity? And that thingy that created the thingy that created gravity? And then who… well, you know an infinite regress is in train there. Without a prime-mover, it’s turtles all the way down.
Hawking bandies about M-theory, which is undergirded by string-theory, to prove his point. But it, unfortunately, completely misses the point. Forget about the fact that the validity of M-theory is a completely contentious topic among theoretical physicists. Forget about M-theory being unable to combine quantum mechanics and gravity –which was what it was supposed to do in the first place, for it to be able to persuasively lay claim as the ‘theory of everything’. Forget about those completely un-observable extra dimensions that M-theory pre-supposes. Fact of the matter is, the argument is that whatever begins to exist must have a cause for it’s existence. And gravity can do some really neat things! However, Hawking will have to posit that gravity always existed –which seems rather ludicrous, and ‘steady-state’-ish.
And then, Stephen somehow alludes to the ‘multi-verse theory’ as a means to escape the ‘fine-tuning’ argument. Hmm.. I just don’t have enough faith to believe in that claptrap — to echo an overly used, theistic, retaliatory cliche.
Renowned Physicist Frank Tipler weighs in on Hawking’s latest book:
“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.”
I guess the sensationalism did work to Hawking’s advantage though, as he obviously must have expected it to. I’ve no doubt that book will be a best-seller.