October 28th, 2010
04:22 PM ET
Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday - God did create the universe.
The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme being to have brought the world into existence.
In fact, Benedict specifically praised - and blessed - science and scientists in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
But he also made clear that part of the role of science is to reveal God in the universe.
"Scientists do not create the world; they learn about it and attempt to imitate it," he said.
"The scientist's experience as a human being is therefore that of perceiving a constant, a law ... that he has not created but that he has instead observed," the pope said.
That perception, in turn, "leads us to admit the existence of an all-powerful Reason, which is other than that of man, and which sustains the world," he said.
Hawking says in his book, "The Grand Design," that, given the existence of gravity, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing."
"Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," he writes in the introduction.
"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going," he writes.
Benedict was enthusiastic about science in his speech Thursday, even as he set the Catholic Church's marker firmly in place on the existence of God.
"The developments of science have been both uplifting, as when the complexity of nature and its phenomena were discovered, exceeding our expectations, and humbling, as when some of the theories we thought might have explained those phenomena once and for all proved only partial," he said.
And he said the conference he was attending was "proof of the church's esteem for ongoing scientific research and of her gratitude for scientific endeavor, which she both encourages and benefits from."
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