Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hawking an Atheist!!


According to the Telegraph, Stephen Hawking still doesn't believe in God and states in his recent book The Grand Design, “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.”

I suppose I'm being ignorant, but it seems odd that nothing should create something. For that matter, how could a law like gravity exist when there isn't anything existent -- gravity included. Is Hawking saying that something very like nothing existed and out of that came everything else?

Perhaps; Hawking goes on to say, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.” Who did? The "laws of science", which we can call 'God' if we like, but beware, "it wouldn't be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions."

Fine, but by way of warning, surely it's the case that people come to resemble the various 'gods' they believe in. Given that, what would the impersonal law god of science look like?

Still grounded from gun & horse -- annoying.

LSP

12 comments:

bluesun said...

I wonder if you've ever seen "The Truth Project"? It's a video series/class that covers a lot of stuff like this. I've watched it a couple times, and thought it was pretty good.

LSP said...

I'll give it a gaze.

Bob Qat said...

Touchpaper is an very old name for nitrated paper used for making combustible cartridges. Touchpaper is usually faintly yellow or white. Flashpaper is a synonym.

What does your phrase "light the blue (why blue?) touchpaper" mean? Do you mean Creation is ephemeral, like a flash?

It sounds like such high poetry, I had to ask.

Rick Kratzke said...

Everything has to and had to come from something. It is in our nature to always question what we do not understand.

Whitetail Woods Blog / Blackpowder Shooting

LSP said...

Thanks for the touchpaper point, Bob Qat -- interesting.

Do note that "light the blue touchpaper" is Hawking's phrase. I think he means that the universe is like a firework; in England these used, and may still be, lit by a small piece of blue paper that sticks out of the bottom of the novelty explosive.

I remember these being called "touchpapers" and we were warned to "stand well back when (they were) lit."

So, I'd wager that the Hawking universe is more prosaic than you suggest -- a sort of very large Roman Candle, rather than an ephemeral flash. Still, the former's not without its poetry...

LSP said...

Rick, I totally agree. I'd also say that something can't come out of nothing...

All Seeing Eye said...

When I was doing my physics degree and then postgrad many years ago I was struck by how exposure to scary levels of science didn't, as you'd think, always drive people away from God (with the view that everything could be explained with an equation) but instead it polarised belief.

Plenty of top scientists had a faith to challenge that of a priest and it's only really fair to say that agnostics were thin on the ground.

I haven't read his reasoning and won't bother (I have a collection of his technical papers but none of his coffee table stuff) but for a primer of his reasoning I expect he's taking the literal interpretation of the Weak rather than the Strong Anthropic Principle.

Plus he wants to sell his new book.

LSP said...

Thanks for the Anthropic tip, ASE. My guess, and it's not desperately well informed, is that he opts for the universe as "self-explained causal loop." Thomists argue that such a thing still demands a necessary being.

You might be interested in Maritain's discussion of metaphysics and scientific/mathematical method, in God and Science.

And for sure, he's doubtless keen to sell the book...

darlin said...

My question for Stephen Hawking is when he has something to be grateful for in his life, who does he thank?

I hope you're up and about soon LSP, take care and my suggestion is try to make the best of you situation, this too shall pass.

LSP said...

That, Darlin, is a very good question.

God bless.

Silverfiddle said...

I found Hawking's comment interesting as well. He still doesn't explain how it all got started from nothing.

William Briggs, Statistician to the stars, has a good discussion of this topic here

Julie said...

Sorry to hear about the grounding .. hope you're back on the horse soon!