Search This Blog

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stephen Hawking says "God not needed to create the Universe"

An article in the The Telegraph today by Laura Roberts reports that renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has now concluded that no supernatual agent was necessary for our universe to come to be.

In his latest book, The Grand Design, an extract of which is published in Eureka magazine in The Times, Hawking said: “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.” He added: “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”

Commenting on Hawking's position, Richard Dawkins said:
[T]he new Darwinism in the sense that it finishes off God. Darwin kicked him out of biology, but physics remained more uncertain. Hawking is now administering the coup de grace.

I think it is important to note that Hawking is not saying that he has proven that a god or gods do not exist. He is saying that is it not necessary to postulate one in order to explain the origin of the universe. As the English would say, he has made God "redundant."


  1. Oh, FFS, comparing Hawking to Darwin? Give me a break, Dickie Dawkins.

  2. Yes, much more appropriate to compare Hawking to Einstein or Newton or... Copernicus!

  3. Hawking is Awesome!
    D.M. think you have enough links posted

    Ken I am going to star reading your posts on the atonement being a former hard core Calvinist I think it would be of great interest to me. Thank You for dealing with the doctrine. Most idiodic mainstream Christians can tell you who Joel Osteen or Rick Waren is, but they don't have a clue about the atonement let alone John Owen.

    I have been reading allot on your blog and John Loftus also. It so so refreshing to know that there are fellow people in the world with seminary educations that are now former Christians. Of course they tell us we never believed in the first place. Is that a crock of shit or what?
    Take care

  4. I wonder how Christians will react to Hawking's book. My guess is that they'll try to paint him as some sort of fringe whack job whose views are not agreed upon by other physicists. Or something.

    Hawking's statement shouldn't be surprising to anyone who has either read his previous work or subscribes to Scientific American and keeps up with cosmology. God's been unnecessary for a long time. Unfortunately, theists insist that the Big Bang is the finite beginning of the universe, despite this being struck down decades ago. Ugh.

  5. I wonder how Christians will react to Hawking's book.

    Look here on Yahoo. Forty-three thousand comments so far, most (apparently) from Christians telling him he's going to burn in hell - along with, of course, the requisite atrocious spelling and grammar and EVERYTHING IN CAPS.

    Just fills one with hope for the future.

  6. Exreformed,

    There are actually LOTS of us around (seminary-educated former Evangelicals and such). The other encouraging thing is that either a large minority or perhaps a majority of young Christians with conservative upbringing see through much of the silly dogma and question it constantly, either re-working to more "liberal" positions or leaving the fold entirely. The "Emerging Church" is just one expression of this.

    Re. Hawking: Does anyone know if he also is including a negation of the necessity (so contended by many pantheists or panentheists like me) of consciousness outside of and beyond the mere physical lifespans of humans (or other animals)?

    Actually, I don't deem it a "necessity" philosophically but as evident from observation of the full range of phenomena not explainable otherwise. Many physicists and other scientists who are not theists take this kind of position and their number seems rapidly growing.

  7. Howard
    Ware did you go to seminary?

    The Emerging Church is an excellent example of the point you raised. Of course in my former circles we trashed the Emergent Church and many a book have been written by evangelical critiquing that movement.

  8. Rowan Williams, who is not a renowned physicist but an archbishop, responded to Hawking's ideas yesterday in the London Times:

    Belief in God is not about plugging a gap in explaining how one thing relates to another within the universe... It is the belief that there is an intelligent, living agent on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence. Physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing.

    What arrogant presumption that Christians see the default position on this issue as involving their God! It is no more logical to claim he made 'something out of nothing' than to argue that because there is an Athens there must be a Zeus, or that the existence of tea-shops proves Bertrand Russell's celestial teapot must really be orbiting the earth.

  9. Exreformed,

    I first attended Talbot School of Theology for an M.Div. after a B.A. (1972) that included Greek and lots of Bible classes, at umbrella school, Biola Univ. (then college). Talbot was often called the "Dallas" (seminary) of the West, as it was (and seemingly still is) very Dispensational, and tended to knock Covenant/Reformed theology. They HAVE moved some re. that, and may be more interdenominational now than even then (never Baptist or any denom. but probably more Baptist-influenced than others).

    But personally, I studied and moved toward Covenant theology before eventually leaving the fold about 1995. And from 1990-94 I completed the PhD coursework (and ended "all-but-comps-and-dissertation) in an interdisciplinary program of psych, thelogy and education at the progressive Claremont School of Theology. Very interesting and enriching experience there... it is the home/center for "Process Studies"-- Process Theology particularly, which is closer (in my view) to pantheism than theism, and likes the label "panentheism." I'm even less Christian than that seminary now, but find compatibility on most things with the perspective of Process, and its values, etc. It is the other major "game" in theology besides traditional orthodoxy (whether Dispensational, Covenant, Catholic, Lutheran) and its nemesis, "liberalism." Old-line liberalism is largely gone -- dispersed into various streams of greater nuance -- but conservatives hardly realize this and the most publicly noisy/noticed NT scholars waste everybody's time and attention with all the "historical Jesus" stuff. Yes, it is an important part of the larger issues, but should be more of a minor "by the way" kind of issue, not front-and-center... sorry I bounced from one thing to another with way more than you asked... hopefully informative to you or someone.

    The point of the rant about "historical Jesus" issues is this: What is more important, and largely passed over, is an exploration and increased understanding of the earliest Jesus followers, and their mythologizing process. Fascinating stuff going on there, that we can learn from. Only some of them became "Christians" and none of them had anything even close to the orthodoxy that developed gradually, painfully by the 4th century.

    Per Ken's many posts on PST, that theology was getting created by the more philosophical/theological element, including Paul and later "John" (not the apostle), but not solidified or agreed upon by the end of NT writings, say 100 to 120 or so. There WAS no "faith once for all delivered...." That was and is a convenient fantasy.

  10. And Vilenkin's proof of an absolute finiteness of time? Surely that applies to the Multiverse.

  11. "The Grand Design"...

    So design comes from non-design?

    The universe can 'create' us, and we can understand the universe, but the universe cannot understand us?

    The effect is greater than the cause?

  12. TORTOISE (Hinduism) and DRAGON (Taoism) are symbols for ENERGY or WAVE, both are analog with MAGEN DAVID (Judaism). "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is the metaphor, also seven times circling around the Ka'ba and oscillating in the Sa'i during the Hajj.
    "A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME - From the Big Bang to Black Hole" by Stephen W. Hawking is the best scientific interpretation of AL QUR'AN by a non believer. It is also a “genuine bridge stone” for comprehensive study of Theology. Surprise, this paradox is a miracle and blessing in disguise as well. So, it should be very wise and challenging for Moslem scholars to verify my discovery.
    NeoSUFI visionary strategic thinking.