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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe      Home login  
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 Kardinal Offishall
Joined: 2/26/2010
Msg: 1
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the UniversePage 1 of 19    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19)
“The Grand Design,” Stephen Hawking’s long awaited new book, co-written with physicist Leonard Mlodinow, has just been published. Last week the international media jumped on an excerpt of the book where Hawking declares god unnecessary to create the universe -- unnerving many creationists and theologians in the process, as one would imagine.

Of course, the ideas Hawking raises aren’t particularly new; it’s just that they’ve come to the public’s attention via the media publicity of the new book. (Given his celebrity, when Stephen Hawking talks -- especially about god -- people [and the media] pay attention.)

My question: For those creationists out there, do ideas in science such as these at all undercut or shake your belief in a god, personal or otherwise? (Honesty would be much appreciated.)

More to the point, given that we need not necessarily invoke god to explain the universe, and to the extent that one nevertheless maintains their belief in a deity, it would be interesting to know why it is that an individual would maintain that belief.


Here’s an article by Hawking about the new book that appeared in The Wall Street Journal last week:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704206804575467921609024244.html


Also, here’s a short 3-minute clip of the Caltech cosmologist Sean Carroll lucidly explaining the central point of Hawking’s argument against the necessity of invoking god:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCVqJw7T1WU
 hyoid
Joined: 5/12/2009
Msg: 2
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/7/2010 8:15:02 PM

unnerving many creationists and theologians in the process, as one would imagine.


I doubt that any, much less many people of faith are unnerved by pronouncements of this type by other people-such is the nature of faith.

More likely, their response is "He's wrong."

For the record, I agree with him. I just don't need his arguments in support.
 CallmeKen
Joined: 9/4/2009
Msg: 3
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/7/2010 9:46:06 PM
For those creationists out there, do ideas in science such as these at all undercut or shake your belief in a god, personal or otherwise?

Stephen Hawking is almost completely paralyzed, he speaks through a computer, his is eternally limp as wilted lettuce and he poops into a bag.
/
Is it any wonder that he doesn't believe in God?
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 4
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/8/2010 1:15:15 AM

Stephen Hawking is almost completely paralyzed, he speaks through a computer, his is eternally limp as wilted lettuce and he poops into a bag.
/
Is it any wonder that he doesn't believe in God?

In spite of that, he still gets more attention from the media for his opinions than you do, so you have even less reason to believe in god.
 nospeakafukanese
Joined: 8/26/2010
Msg: 5
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/8/2010 2:06:08 AM


Troll Removed
 x_file
Joined: 6/25/2006
Msg: 6
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/8/2010 2:11:48 AM

My question: For those creationists out there, do ideas in science such as these at all undercut or shake your belief in a god, personal or otherwise? (Honesty would be much appreciated.)


I'm not a creationist, but the idea presented by Hawkins is not that there is no God, but that God is not a necessary to explain the Universe and it's internals - if I could put it that way.



More to the point, given that we need not necessarily invoke god to explain the universe, and to the extent that one nevertheless maintains their belief in a deity, it would be interesting to know why it is that an individual would maintain that belief.


There is no mystery here, or much of interest. The explanation is simple: just because it is not necessary to invoke God as an explanation in science doesn't mean there is no God, hence why some individuals can, and still do maintains a belief in God.

The claim that God did not create the universe is, in my opinion, an arrogant claim, especially when it is coming from the sciences because it is not the domain of science to go beyond the empirical and the theoretical.

Science should claim "There is no evidence of (or for) God" rather than "There is no God". And frankly, right before the claim "There is no evidence of God", I'd like to see what constitutes evidence for God or else, even that claim should be taken with a grain of salt and so should the claim, "God exists".
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 7
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/8/2010 4:54:16 AM

Of course, the ideas Hawking raises aren’t particularly new; it’s just that they’ve come to the public’s attention via the media publicity of the new book. (Given his celebrity, when Stephen Hawking talks -- especially about god -- people [and the media] pay attention.)


Inasmuch as Steven Hawking being arguably one of the most brilliant people on the face of the planet, it's unlikely that his opinions or the opinions of any scientist is going to have any effect on the devoutly faithful.

One thing I've discovered over the last while debating with people who are inclined toward certain spiritual beliefs, particularly literalist Christian creationism or more obscure spiritual beliefs, their "beliefs" are built upon a framework of equivocations and justifications that beggar even the simplest principles of logic. Even though I identify myself as agnostic, it's ironically the arguments of the believers that make me lean more toward the atheist camp.

And then there's simple denial. "Richard Dawkins? He's an idiot." I wouldn't be the least surprised to hear that statement from a Creationist about Hawking.


Stephen Hawking is almost completely paralyzed, he speaks through a computer, his is eternally limp as wilted lettuce and he poops into a bag.
/
Is it any wonder that he doesn't believe in God?


Well, that was just...ignorant.
 flyguy51
Joined: 8/11/2005
Msg: 8
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/8/2010 6:44:01 AM
I don't think much of anything will change at all, but it does show the danger and, of course, the fallacy of appeals to authority: that authority can change his mind on the subject.

I get bored with theists who predictably quote Einstein (way out of context) as a compelling reason to believe in god. It is the old, "Well he is smarter than you, so his belief is more valid than yours." Nevermind that they misinterpret his beliefs!

I have no problem believing differently than someone who might have a higher IQ because that is not how I form my beliefs.
 motown cowgirl
Joined: 6/30/2010
Msg: 9
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/9/2010 3:53:05 AM
wow, i never saw a more non-persuasive argument for nothing. the gist of that video is this: if we give typewriters to monkeys and just sit around and wait long enough, they will eventually & spontaneously type stephen hawking's book.... complete & without error... except for perhaps that slight poo stain in the margin ...according to the laws of quantum physics, of course!


so..... stephen hawking has just turned science into a religion? who knew???


My question: For those creationists out there, do ideas in science such as these at all undercut or shake your belief in a god, personal or otherwise? (Honesty would be much appreciated.)


although i wouldn't count myself among the "creationists", i'll go way out on a limb here and say i seriously doubt their beliefs are going to be undercut in the slightest by the beliefs of contrarian theoretical physicists. of course, exactly the opposite is also true.

as a matter of fact, i predict this: that each side in this tedious yet occasionally hilarious debate will find more and more evidence to support their own point of view, and then take their own personal observations as well as their own thoughts and feelings about said personal observations as proof of exactly why they are right and the other guy is wrong.... until the universe finally self-annihilates in protest. and so it goes, in a world of people with convoluted, non-sequitor ideas who refuse to agree with each other.

what else is new?


 NothingLeftToBurn
Joined: 6/11/2007
Msg: 10
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/9/2010 7:35:03 AM
Hawking is so overrated. Yawn! I agree with flyguy51 that nothing will change. I quote a favorite author, "There is no reason to expect reality to be rationally apprehendable." And I quote Zygmunt Bauman, "Rational people go meekly and quietly into a gas chamber if we allow them to believe it's a bathroom"
 Ubiquitous.
Joined: 11/7/2009
Msg: 11
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/9/2010 8:26:29 AM
"There is no reason to expect reality to be rationally apprehendable."
How ironic is it to use reason to argue that reality isn't reasonable?
 NothingLeftToBurn
Joined: 6/11/2007
Msg: 12
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/9/2010 12:31:11 PM
"There is no reason to expect reality to be rationally apprehendable."
How ironic is it to use reason to argue that reality isn't reasonable?


It's not reasonable at all, which is precisely my point!!!!!!!! That's the other intrinsic quality of reality, irony and contradiction. I don't know who it was but someone said, "The universe is a dance of opposites"
 Ubiquitous.
Joined: 11/7/2009
Msg: 13
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/9/2010 1:35:18 PM
I know that's your point.

But my point is that it is a performative contradiction to use reason to argue that reality isn't reasonable. It's similar to "Words have no meaning" or "I always lie"
 Jan Sobieski
Joined: 7/4/2008
Msg: 14
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/9/2010 3:46:26 PM
At what time was the concept of God a necessary assumption for the pursuit of science? Anyone who conceives of religion as being some type of ancient proto-science is, I feel, completely missing the point. Science is concerned with HOW the universe is, religion is concerned with WHY the universe is. To ask 'why' may be unanswerable and completely wrongheaded, but it appears to be of profound importance to a great many people. So much so, that they are prepared to affirm the most ludicrous claims in order to maintain this 'meaning'.
 Kardinal Offishall
Joined: 2/26/2010
Msg: 15
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/9/2010 5:44:56 PM
x_file:



I'm not a creationist, but the idea presented by Hawkins is not that there is no God, but that God is not a necessary to explain the Universe and it's internals - if I could put it that way.

There is no mystery here, or much of interest. The explanation is simple: just because it is not necessary to invoke God as an explanation in science doesn't mean there is no God, hence why some individuals can, and still do maintains a belief in God.


Yes, that’s correct.



The claim that God did not create the universe is, in my opinion, an arrogant claim, especially when it is coming from the sciences because it is not the domain of science to go beyond the empirical and the theoretical.


But that’s exactly it. Hawking is using the “empirical and the theoretical” to arrive at his conclusion that god isn’t necessary to create the universe. He certainly didn’t just dream up his conclusion. I don’t see why that would be arrogant.



Science should claim "There is no evidence of (or for) God" rather than "There is no God". And frankly, right before the claim "There is no evidence of God", I'd like to see what constitutes evidence for God or else, even that claim should be taken with a grain of salt and so should the claim, "God exists".


Hawking isn’t saying there is no god. Rather, like that (apocryphal?) saying of Pierre-Simon Laplace, he “has no need of that hypothesis” in his explanation of cosmic origins.
 Kardinal Offishall
Joined: 2/26/2010
Msg: 16
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/9/2010 5:55:42 PM
motown_cowgirl:


If you’re referring to the Sean Carroll clip, what he’s saying with respect to quantum mechanics isn’t far-fetched. After all, we should be reminded that quantum mechanics is one of the main pillars of modern physics.

And I certainly wouldn’t go as far as to say Hawking has turned science into a "religion." His point is that, so far as the question of cosmic origins is concerned, science has reached a point where it’s no longer necessary to invoke a creator deity as the cause of the universe.

In other words, god is no longer an ineluctable posit, something we absolutely need to explain the creation of our universe, an external agency required "to light the blue touch paper," as Hawking puts it.

As the Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg has tersely said, "Science does not make it impossible to believe in God, but it does make it possible to not believe in God."



although i wouldn't count myself among the "creationists", i'll go way out on a limb here and say i seriously doubt their beliefs are going to be undercut in the slightest by the beliefs of contrarian theoretical physicists. of course, exactly the opposite is also true.


I agree, from what I’ve seen. My perusal of the the web demonstrates quite clearly that creationists have mainly responded by churning out ad hominem attacks (e.g. CallmeKen), arguments from incredulity, the usual scripture quoting, misrepresentations, irrational arguments to the contrary, etc.

I’ve come across the usual William Lane Craig aficionados that have attempted to engage directly with the matter, but they seem to be in the minority so far as religious folk are concerned (sadly as per usual).
 NothingLeftToBurn
Joined: 6/11/2007
Msg: 17
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/9/2010 9:15:24 PM

I know that's your point.

But my point is that it is a performative contradiction to use reason to argue that reality isn't reasonable. It's similar to "Words have no meaning" or "I always lie"


I get what you're saying. It's a conflicting event from which there is no escape. I mean, deep down I know that truth is a pathless land, but I still argue that many things are true. Life is a paradox bro, but the show must go on.
 x_file
Joined: 6/25/2006
Msg: 18
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/10/2010 9:35:50 PM

But that’s exactly it. Hawking is using the “empirical and the theoretical” to arrive at his conclusion that god isn’t necessary to create the universe.


Sure.

God isn't necessary to create the universe... meaning the equations of mathematics/physics gives us a sufficient explanation of "how" the universe was created - and by created we don't mean "brought into existence" but rather how the universe expanded to its current state.

In other words, if the universe was a cake, we know the recipe (or think we do). Even if we don't know who made the eggs, the cholocate, etc., given the elements and the recipe we know how to "create" a cake. The word "create" is used in the practical sense - as one would expect.

Perhaps if Hawking used the word "made" rather than "created" there would be less confusion.




Hawking isn’t saying there is no god. Rather, like that (apocryphal?) saying of Pierre-Simon Laplace, he “has no need of that hypothesis” in his explanation of cosmic origins.


Exactly. Posing God as a hypothesis doesn't give you anything extra - the hypothesis has as much or less explanatory power than the laws of physics (or certain equations) so why bother with God when physics/mathematics is just as good... which is another way of saying what Hawking is saying... again keeping in mind that science is concerned with the "practical" or "how" rather than "Why" or "Who".
 late™
Joined: 2/1/2010
Msg: 19
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/11/2010 1:21:33 AM

In other words


Ahhh... let's violate the law of parsimony...


if the universe was a cake


The "cake-o-verse"!

....never mind.
 motown cowgirl
Joined: 6/30/2010
Msg: 20
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/11/2010 4:04:56 AM
If you’re referring to the Sean Carroll clip, what he’s saying with respect to quantum mechanics isn’t far-fetched. After all, we should be reminded that quantum mechanics is one of the main pillars of modern physics.


kardinal, yes that's the clip i'm referring to. i'm familiar with the most basic concepts of quantum physics and consider myself a "fan". well, not that quantum physics can have fans like mother mary and the saints can have fans, but you see what i'm saying. i just found that video clip to be a ridiculous non-sequitor. because if his premise is true, then so is mine. which is why i made the sarcastic comment about hawking turning science into a religion. it's not that i necessarily think that's what he's done (i didn't read the book), but i do think that's the spin that sean carroll is putting on hawking's book.


As the Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg has tersely said, "Science does not make it impossible to believe in God, but it does make it possible to not believe in God."


now *that*, i have no argument with whatsoever! maybe sean carroll should have cut to the chase instead of clouding his promotion with the rest of his crap about calling quantum phyiscs into play and then waiting "X" years to explain "the entire universe" :) what can i say, the guy irked me.
 Kardinal Offishall
Joined: 2/26/2010
Msg: 21
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/13/2010 6:52:41 PM
x file:



In other words, if the universe was a cake, we know the recipe (or think we do). Even if we don't know who made the eggs, the cholocate, etc., given the elements and the recipe we know how to "create" a cake. The word "create" is used in the practical sense - as one would expect.

Perhaps if Hawking used the word "made" rather than "created" there would be less confusion.

Exactly. Posing God as a hypothesis doesn't give you anything extra - the hypothesis has as much or less explanatory power than the laws of physics (or certain equations) so why bother with God when physics/mathematics is just as good... which is another way of saying what Hawking is saying... again keeping in mind that science is concerned with the "practical" or "how" rather than "Why" or "Who".


I see what you’re getting at. But we should realize that asking even this “why” or “who” question about who created what exists or why it exists in the first place is begging the question. It presupposes at the outset that the question is even a valid one.

The preeminent philosopher Adolf Grunbaum actually published a very good paper on this topic recently, regarding what he calls the “Primordial Existential Question.” For Grunbaum, the question in its most classic formulation is due to Leibniz.

There’s a good chance that, to the extent that we take the question “Why is there something at all, rather than nothing?” as valid, we do so as a result (at least partly) of our inheriting directly either an Abrahamic religion like Christianity or Islam, or indirectly through the cultural zeitgeist and pre-reflective philosophical intuition that we imbibe either wittingly or unwittingly from our Abrahamic-molded societies.

Either way, most historical cultures prior to Christianity did not think the question needed an answer -- they simply thought reality could exist, period.

Thus I think it’s entirely an open question as to whether question "Why is there something, rather than nothing?" is in fact a valid one, and I side with Grunbaum in thinking it’s a pseudo-question. That is to say, I agree with Grunbaum that things can just exist, and that there need not be an explanation for that fact.

Here’s the paper in case you’re curious:

http://www.ontologia.net/studies/2009/gruenbaum_2009.pdf
 Kardinal Offishall
Joined: 2/26/2010
Msg: 22
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/13/2010 7:09:17 PM
motown cowgirl:


I think your analogy between the monkeys on the typewriter and quantum mechanics might not hold, strictly speaking. (It would depend on what’s implicit in your premise.)

As Carroll stated, quantum mechanics under Hawking’s proposal would, in effect, search the space of all possibilities, since time would either be eternal or cease to even have meaning under these conditions.

The monkey analogy can work, but only if you build in to the premise that the monkeys don’t have, say, a letter or two that they don’t like, for whatever idiosyncratic reason -- which would mean they would never hit the “C” or “S” button on the typewriter, for example -- and which would therefore preclude them from typing out Hawking’s book, since it features the letters C and S, after all.

Ditto for any other quirk the monkeys, in being sentient agents, might possess that would delimit what they could produce on the typewriter. So indeed it’s questionable that the monkey example is analogous, in the fullest sense.

The quantum process that Carroll was spelling out doesn’t have these shortcomings. Given eternity or no time at all, it will search out the space of all physical possibilities.

The stuff about monkeys at the typewriter vaguely reminds me of something called a “Boltzmann brain.” (Basically, some people have suggested that a brain has a greater probability of forming as a result of a thermal fluctuation than our universe does.) Carroll himself recently published a book called “From Eternity to Here,” which is about entropy and the arrow of time -- and it especially asks why our universe started off in such a low entropy initial state.
 x_file
Joined: 6/25/2006
Msg: 23
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/13/2010 8:50:17 PM

But we should realize that asking even this “why” or “who” question about who created what exists or why it exists in the first place is begging the question.


Of course. The next logical question is "Who created the creator?" and/or "Why?"

There is no end to this type of regressive reasoning.



It presupposes at the outset that the question is even a valid one.


Certainly. This is true for most if not all questions.



Thus I think it’s entirely an open question as to whether question "Why is there something, rather than nothing?" is in fact a valid one, and I side with Grunbaum in thinking it’s a pseudo-question.


I agree. For me, and most philosophers there is no beginning or end of existence/reality - it has always been. Therefore if the universe is all there is, then it has always been. If not, it must owe it's beginning, directly, or indirectly, to that which has always been. In either case, we know the answer.

This is why many scientist are not concerned about the "true origin" of the universe, but rather its "practical origin" - meaning "how it expanded".



That is to say, I agree with Grunbaum that things can just exist, and that there need not be an explanation for that fact.


I agree with the base idea.

I disagree with the idea that things can't just exists. For me only one thing can "just exist" - thought I wouldn't call it "a thing", and I wouldn't say "it exists".
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 24
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Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/14/2010 1:37:04 AM
Thanks for the article and video. It left me with lots more questions than I had to begin with. But I love to learn new things.

My question: For those creationists out there,
I do believe in G-d, and that G-d created the universe. But I do not share the views of the stereotypes painted about those people who are called "creationists" in these forums. So bear in mind, that you simply cannot work out my views from reading what has been written or told to you about "creationists".

do ideas in science such as these at all undercut or shake your belief in a god, personal or otherwise? (Honesty would be much appreciated.)
They CAN. I often find myself questioning my beliefs, when I consider arguments against my theistic beliefs. I had such a moment yesterday. If I really found arguments that were stronger in logic and reason than my personal reasons for believing in G-d, and that G-d created the universe, then I would change my beliefs.

So far, I haven't found such proof. I've found a lot of people who CLAIMED they had such proof. But when I analyse their arguments, in the same ways as I analyse everything in my life, then I find problems in their proofs.

I also analysed the article, and the video, and found problems with both.
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 25
Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe
Posted: 9/14/2010 7:00:14 AM

Thus I think it’s entirely an open question as to whether question "Why is there something, rather than nothing?" is in fact a valid one, and I side with Grunbaum in thinking it’s a pseudo-question. That is to say, I agree with Grunbaum that things can just exist, and that there need not be an explanation for that fact.


On that one, I'm afraid I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. Of course, much of my reaction to this kind of reasoning is visceral in that to say that something like the universe can simply exist because it exists just doesn't "feel" right. It offends that innate understanding instilled by millions of years of evolution that effect must follow cause.

I think, however, that to characterize it as a "pseudo-question" is also incorrect in a very real sense in that it is dismissive of a legitimate course of investigation. Indeed, the only difference in the Creationist approach is that, rather than just saying that everything is because "it is," Creationists go a little further to say that everything is "because of God."

Cosmologists are actively involved in the search to find evidence of "preconditions" to the big bang. Though there is no predicting the result of any scientific endeavour, it is at least plausible to suggest that the results of such an investigation might well result in some particularly profound findings of what we term "reality," although I am far less inclined to impose my particular biases on what constitutes "ultimate reality" than our mutual friend App seems to be.
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