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The Grand Design

Stephen Hawking, co-author of The Grand Design with Leonard Mlodinow, is a contender for the dual monikers “smartest man in the world”, and “greatest scientist since Einstein.” His new book asserts that our universe – as well as others – could have come into existence spontaneously from nothing, without any help from God. Many other scientists who have come before him have also tried to remove God from the origins equation.

The authors start out this book by saying that while the big existential questions used to be left to philosophers, philosophy is now dead, because it hasn’t kept up with modern science, which is a very bold and controversial statement to say the least. Some might say that the authors haven’t kept up with philosophy!

The authors insist that any ideas that are incompatible with modern physics must be wrong, yet they ignore the historical track record of science’s iterative process, rife with errors and misconceptions, followed by corrections and paradigm shifts.

The Scientific Method never proves anything: we’re just looking for the best explanation given the evidence that we have so far, all the while realizing that new evidence could show up tomorrow that would turn what we think we know on its head.

He also neatly brushes aside the uncertainty introduced by the very quantum physics he needs for M-theory. Hawking paints a picture of a purely materialistic cosmos, where cause and effect determinism rules, and there is no room for free will. So, the big deal of this new book is that Hawking proclaims that “the laws of physics allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing”. Well, we already see that God works through the processes and physical laws that he’s established, and that only adds to our wonder and awe of Him. But, the thinking person’s first response should be, “Why are there laws of physics, and where did they come from? And why these particularly special laws that supposedly allow universes to appear from nothing?”

The only “explanation” Hawking gives is that these are the specific laws that must exist in order to get our universe, which is merely a tautology, or truism, not an actual explanation of the reason that these laws came to be. So, Hawking does nothing to address the cosmological questions of “Why is there something rather than nothing?” and “Why is there order rather than chaos?” for these laws of physics. He simply states that there must be a law like gravity in order to have a universe with mass in it… He does not address the question of why there are any laws at all!

Neither does he address any of the other classical arguments for belief in God, such as:

  • the ontological argument of where man’s God-consciousness comes from;
  • nor the anthropological question, of where man’s moral conscience and religious experiences originate;
  • nor the teleological argument from design and purpose;
  • etc…

Also, let’s not forget the Principle of Logic that says you can’t prove a negative: thus, it’s impossible to prove the non-existence of God.

All Hawking is really doing is simply promoting a materialistic worldview that attempts to make it easier for a physicist to discount God… There’s nothing substantially new here: it’s just re-packaged “Naturalism.” And to be fair, he does admit at the end of the book that his theory is yet to be confirmed by observation.

As Carlin Romano from The Chronicle Review concludes:

“Many (scientific cosmologists) would rather be bound, gagged, and abandoned in a rundown multiverse than take nonscientific cosmology seriously, or admit that some matters, if not matter itself, fall outside their expertise.”

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