September 2nd, 2010
12:18 PM ET
God didn't create universe, Stephen Hawking argues
God did not create the universe, world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book that aims to banish a divine creator from physics.
Hawking says in his book "The Grand Design" that, given the existence of gravity, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing," according to an excerpt published Thursday in The Times of London.
"Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," he writes in the excerpt.
"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going," he writes.
His book - as the title suggests - is an attempt to answer "the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything," he writes, quoting Douglas Adams' cult science fiction romp, "The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
He co-wrote the book with science writer Leonard Mlodinow.
His answer is "M-theory," which, he says, posits 11 space-time dimensions, "vibrating strings, ... point particles, two-dimensional membranes, three-dimensional blobs and other objects that are more difficult to picture and occupy even more dimensions of space."
He doesn't explain much of that in the excerpt, which is the introduction to the book.
But he says he understands the feeling of the great English scientist SIr Isaac Newton that God did "create" and "conserve" order in the universe.
It was the discovery of other solar systems outside our own, in 1992, that undercut a key idea of Newton's - that our world was so uniquely designed to be comfortable for human life that some divine creator must have been responsible.
But, Hawking argues, if there are untold numbers of planets in the galaxy, it's less remarkable that there's one with conditions for human life.
And, indeed, he argues, any form of intelligent life that evolves anywhere will automatically find that it lives somewhere suitable for it.
From there he introduces the idea of multiple universes, saying that if there are many universes, one will have laws of physics like ours - and in such a universe, something not only can, but must, arise from nothing.
Therefore, he concludes, there's no need for God to explain it.
But some of Hawking's Cambridge colleagues said the physicist has missed the point.
"The 'god' that Stephen Hawking is trying to debunk is not the creator God of the Abrahamic faiths who really is the ultimate explanation for why there is something rather than nothing," said Denis Alexander.
"Hawking's god is a god-of-the-gaps used to plug present gaps in our scientific knowledge.
"Science provides us with a wonderful narrative as to how [existence] may happen, but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative," said Alexander, director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion.
And Fraser Watts, an Anglican priest and Cambridge expert in the history of science, said that it's not the existence of the universe that proves the existence of God.
But, he said, "a creator God provides a reasonable and credible explanation of why there is a universe, and ... it is somewhat more likely that there is a God than that there is not. That view is not undermined by what Hawking has said."
Hawking's book will be published on September 7 in the United States and September 9 in the United Kingdom.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
I believe science will eventually converge with religion. I do not know which religion you are talking about, which is based on authority. But, I have read the Gita and vedanta (Hindu philosophical books about the nature and God) and it is quite harmonius with present science. It is said there science is basically studying the supreme consciousnes's impersonal Universal form, which is the material energy. The material energy follows rules (like gravity, electromagnetism etc). Our body is a Yantra (a sanskrit word which means machine) for supporting the activities of the spirit (a superior form of energy than matrerial energy), which is conscious and indestructible. We are eternallly fragmented parts of the supreme consciousness, and is equal in quality but minute in quantity. The false ego we have generates from coming in contact with the inferior energy, which is the material nature.
if the universe was created from nothing by the forces of gravity, where did gravity come from. science has yet to find the origins of this elusive force. perhaps gravity is the unseen hand of God at work creating the universe from nothing. mr. hawking may have just unwittingly proved the existence of God
Scientists are working on understanding gravity better, and some day we will have a more detailed explanation of where it "comes from." We no longer define lightening as being from Thor's hammer, or from Zeus' bolts. If we've learned anything from these other gods it's that we created them to explain an unknown, and that they were thrown out as folkish superstition once a natural answer presented itself. In the meantime, of what use is the speculation of which remaining god, spirit or mythic force is responsible? It could just as easily be Raven's eggs, or Earth Mother's embrace, or Hera's high heels that are pushing us down.
You were good until the use of the word "perhaps". You cannot use "perhaps" when trying to prove, or disprove a theory. That is called making an argument from assumption. You are attempting to attribute something that can be measured and tested (gravity) as the result of something that you have not proven to exist (your god). You must first prove that your god exists by providing verifiable evidence to support your claim that can be tested by neutral parties. Only after verification can you then use your god as a factor and constant in other theories. If, on the other hand, you are using the concept of your god and his abilities as a substitute, or "gap filler", for your understanding of a variable in a scientific theory, you are making an argument from ignorance. The lack of knowledge or understanding position has the same requirements of proof of your inserted variable or constant (your god). To sum up, you will need to provide testable, verifiable evidence of your god before you can use it in a logical debate. Or, you can just make stuff up because it makes you feel good and doesn't require as much reading.
"perhaps gravity is the unseen hand of God"
Scientists can explain what gravity does but not why gravity is. This is disturbing, but scientists live with unanswered questions. There may never be an explanation for the origin of gravity, the origin of consciousness, or the origin of the universe. Saying God created these things may erase the uneasiness of not knowing, but it is still not knowing.
When the Egyptians did not know why the sun rose and set and gave off light, they explained it by saying the sun was the god Ra. Imagine if we had called a stop to science because Ra explained everything.
You were good until the use of the word "perhaps". You cannot use "perhaps" when trying to prove, or disprove a theory. That is called making an argument from assumption. You are attempting to attribute something that can be measured and tested (gravity) as the result of something that you have not proven to exist (your god). You must first prove that your god exists by providing verifiable evidence to support your claim that can be tested by neutral parties. Only after verification can you then use your god as a factor and constant in other theories. If, on the other hand, you are using the concept of your god and his abilities as a sub, or "gap filler", for your understanding of a variable in a scientific theory, you are making an argument from ignorance. The lack of knowledge or understanding position has the same requirements of proof of your unproven variable or constant (your god). To sum up, you will need to provide testable, verifiable evidence of your god before you can use it in a logical debate. Or, you can just make stuff up because it makes you feel good and doesn't require as much reading.
Stephen Hawking – you know, I use to have a log of respect for this guy, but isn't there something in the Bible about the wisdom of man being foolishness to God...? This pretty much proves it to me! I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I just cannot grasp that Someting can come from Nothing.
So, where did God come from?
The title is contradictory. Art implies an Artist, Design a Designer, Story an Author. Seems like same old rationalist argument present from "enlightenment" until now. See history of how culture strips meaning from everything in work & life in "Professionals: Men and Women Partnering with the Trinity in Everyday Life" now available at Amazon.
I have no beliefs, I find they prevent learning. Either I know something or I do not know it. I know the universe exists, I do not know some invisible being created it (and neither do you KNOW it). Arguing about the invisible and unknowable is pointless.
Interesting comment! So everything you haven't seen doesn't exist. Sounds like you have found god, it's you!
God is something that nobody has actually seen, right?
Science is a study of environment we live in, but r things we r living in absolute? It appears so in our dimension, but is this it?No,we can't say this is it because we have a limitation, that limitation is we can never understand Infinity. If u live on a straight line, can u understand a life on a plane? NO. If u live on a plane, can u understand a 3D life?NO. So if we all live in this 4D life with boundary (we r bounded by infinity, just like a plane is an infinity to a straight line), how can we then say there's no more dimension beyond this infinity?How can we say,then,there is no God?
How very sad, Shallow, and surfaced. All this does is create more questions, then answers. No one has ever been able to PROVE that there is NO God. God is ALWAYS included, in every book of "unbelief" they never really say "this is why he's not real" it's always "He's real, maybe, but we didn't need him for EVERYTHING" We ALL know there is a god, just not everyone believes in his sovereignty over EVERYTHING. they try to make God only a part of the world, or not at all, in turn, raising us up. This man has no real knowledge, because God is knowledge. It's sad how God gave us his plan in a book, he gave us all the tools and explanations to everything, but people refuse him, and refuse his words, and turn to other PEOPLE to explain. Everyone's always trying to find other reasons, and explanations, when all you need, and all there is, is ONE. it's not that hard, it's not complicated. I'm a Protestant Reformed Christian, I believe in God's Absolute sovereignty, over everything, I give all the glory to god for the world which I live in, He created the World, myself and everything that it contains. and people hate that, they hate the fact of not having ANY control over themselves and their lives. it sickens them.
And that, is why we have this problem. and all these books, and questions. All you will do is circle in these situations, over and over again, and never come to a conclusion. Research John Calvin, read, and study, and be curious, compare, contrast, Go with only what meets the bible to a T, the rest is incorrect. And you'll find your answers there.
The reason why God cannot be totally disproven is because believers have defined God as something that cannot be disproven. Christians might as well have Webster's change it's entry for God to "The supernatural being that science cannot disprove, yet exists anyway without any evidence to support it." Science cannot disprove God's existence because God's existence as defined by believers is not testable. Science can say what is completely natural, where God is not necessary, but believers will always insist that there is an invisible realm where God hides. If you say such a place exists, then the imagination takes over, and we cross into the world of Fantasy.
I know it's in the bible, but we don't ALL know there is a God. Even you don't know it. You believe it because you have faith. Others don't have your faith, so they don't believe in God. Simple as that. In a similar way some people are convinced there are space aliens. These believers may have seen UFOs for themselves, or experienced a close encounter, or a visitation in their home, or some other experience comparable to a Christian's conversion story or their personal experience that Jesus has touched their lives. To the rest of us they just sound bonkers and delusional, but we never had their experience. Still, they should accept that their story sounds completely outlandish to somebody who hasn't. Christians really should accept that anyone who hasn't had a "life altering experience with the Lord" like they have really has no reason to believe there is a God.
You said "Research John Calvin, read, and study, and be curious, compare, contrast, Go with only what meets the bible to a T, the rest is incorrect. And you'll find your answers there." So, "read, and study, and be curious, compare, contrast" but only accept that which agrees with the bible. Not exactly appealing to an unbiased approach, are you?
This seems like such an obvious question, but I seemed to be the only teenager who thought of it. How many of us devout Christians would be devout Muslims if we were born in a Muslim country? Judging from the number of Christians in Muslim countries, I would say we are devout in our belief because we are taught to believe before we are able to fully reason. Once we are able to fully reason, we almost universally see the errors in every other belief but our own, no matter which our own belief is.
I now believe in only the natural world, including our natural tendency to be fettered by imprints upon the developing mind.
Nature vs nurture?
Maybe I am missing a 'critical distinction/s' somewhere in your post, but geography and the culture therein quite often do have a dramatic effect and determine in most, their religious beliefs, especially at a young age.
Of course, God could exist, but by that same argument millions of other gods could exist, right? You cannot logically make a special case for one god being the exception to the rule. So, if God could exist, so too could Thor, El, Baal, Apollo, Ra, and any of the others. Accept that likelihood and you have to compound your fear of offending one of them in favor of another.
A being so powerful as to appear to be God could also possibly exist, but the likelihood that it does lessens when you insist on adding that it was the god of Abraham and Moses, was fond of burnt offerings, was also Jesus' father, also made an appearance to Muhammad, is oddly interested in human mating, etc... ( I only have 6 hours charge on my laptop, so I'll cut it short here, but I could drain the battery and still not be finished by a long shot) and, as you add more religious layers to this being the likelihood of it being our God character approaches nil. Why live your life in fear of something so remotely possible?
So, I say: Being that could be mistaken for God, yes.
God of the bible, Calvin's God, definitely no! Too impossible, too illogical to possibly believe in.
Technically speaking, "you shall have no other Gods before me" implicitly acknowledges the existence of other Gods – it just says you're not supposed to worship any of them. For some reason Christians always seem to object to having that pointed out.
I'm sure they would suggest that such gods were merely idols and not actual beings like God. Ever read Karen Armstrong's History of God? Nice summary of the evolution of the character from his humble roots as a tribal deity to what(ever) we have today.
I haven't, but I'll add it to my "if I ever find time" list.
I have my own thoughts on the subject of that particular quote and what it might have referred to, but they're too complicated for this site's comments system. Suffice to say that sectarianism isn't relegated to history, or one faith.
Not Stephen Hawking or any other human being has the answer for existence. Scientific observation is limited to our human senses and there is clearly more to the story than we can perceive. But not knowing the answer does not imply by default there must be a creator, some all-knowing entity pulling the strings, which is a pretty simplistic notion. Perhaps we won't find the answers until we know the right questions. The questions "why?" and "how?" serve humans in a practical day to day reality but don't necessarily have anything to do with the deeper reality within existence. Perhaps asking questions has nothing to do with perceiving the truth at all. I suspect we have only just touched the tiniest tip of the iceberg and are far from the ability to fully comprehend. Anyone who says they have the answer is lying to themselves. And you can't open paths toward the answers if your convinced you already know. Further, we must take care to not be so fixated on obtaining an answer that we grow blind, manufacturing lies simply to satisfy our thirst.
David....read this and see if it helps answer any of your questions. http://www.epm.org/resources/2009/Dec/17/IGIG-Chapter-Summaries/
Sometimes we make the foolish assumption that our heavenly Father has no right to insist that we trust him unless he makes his infinite wisdom completely understandable to us. This lays an impossible demand upon God, not because of his limitations, but because of ours. A physicist father bears no blame because he can’t explain quantum mechanics to his three-year-old.
We lack God’s omniscience, omnipotence, wisdom, holiness, justice, and goodness. If we insist we have the right, or even assume we have the capacity, to understand the hidden purposes of God, we forfeit the comfort and perspective we could have had in kneeling before his vastly superior wisdom.
He is infinite; we are finite. He is the Creator; we’re the creatures. Shouldn’t that say it all?
(Please read the articles on the link I posted)
I think that as man came down thru time, his brain enlarged. Back then, he may not have developed what was needed to produce medicines that would fight those diseases.
On another note, why can't the most brillant of scientists not figure out what produced the sudden light explosion that caused the universe to exist?
Because they do not know, and cannot test it against anything, how can they say then, that God did not create that burst of light?
I know a few atheists, interesting, they have two common thoughts ~ There is no god, and I hate him! Confusing.
More like, there is no god, and it's frustrating when people try to argue logically that there is one.
Can't hate something that isn't there. See, logic.
I REALLY CAN'T PROVE ANYTHING to say that this is Gods Word...you are right. BUT, NEITHER have the SKEPTICS who say it isn't... IF the BIBLE WERE TO BE AS FALSE AS YOU SAY, WHY is it still up for debate after hundreds of years?..why is it that the Bible is the MOST scrutinized book on earth and STILL it is debated...still no PROOF of any kind that it is not Gods Word...still only skeptics..and, STILL BELIEVERS...
I do know this, that in my own life I have been able to believe in the GOD of the Bible and all He says about Himself because I have had the privilege of having a personal relationship with HIM..He has changed my life, His promises ???, I experienced to be true..He is all that HE says HE is, I can trust HIM with my LIFE...that's all the proof I need. I also found FORGIVENESS, which I longed for, didn't know it at the time, but, Gods Word pointed that out to me...because of my SIN. I found that in my acknowledgment of being a sinner and believing that Jesus paid the price for those sins...and asking for HIS forgiveness, I found PEACE..release from that darkness I was carrying around...all this I found as I read Gods Word...It has given me a freedom nothing else can or ever did before. Now, you can POO POO what I just said...or ...take the time to look again at the BOOK of John and really listen to what GOD is saying in it. He answers every mans spiritual longing...and QUEST...
OR, you can still say to yourself, I'm happy...I'm o.k....this is hogwash...it's all up to you...BUT, GOD is waiting, will always wait to receive you as HIS child...no matter what you say about HIM. He always did and will love you..
That is something else I found in Gods Word...I believe it...I also believe HE is the creator of all things . I believe that only HE has the answers we are looking for...Life makes sense with HIM in my life...Do I have problems? YEP!! Is my life perfect...NOPE...but...Gods Word never promised a perfect life...He came to SAVE US from HELL...if HE did nothing else for us, I owe HIM everything for that alone....but, HE is with me, there are blessing now that HE gives me . that makes a BIG difference in my life...God Bless all of you!!
This spontaneity that Stephen Hawking mentions, must be an act, that is, again by his apparent tongue-in-cheek, 'Postulation', that caused some 'Blue Touch Paper' to be lit, from which then I would presume, the 'Big Bang' resulted.
My problem with all this, is that from 'Nothing', a Spontaneous Act occurs, Not Deliberate, but Spontaneously initiated by Science. If I am not misunderstanding Stephen Hawking's Construct, Science, existing though, pre-Big Bang, decided Spontaneously, to maybe have a Happy Hour Drink, maybe someplace like 'Sardis', & says to itself (Science) "This could be the Start of something Big", & proceeds to put 'Spark to the Blue Touch Paper'. And now Q.E.D., 'God had nothing to do with this'.
I can fly with this, but I don't understand then why God is mentioned at all, unless the basis of his, Stephen Hawking's, (for the want of a better phrase), Argument, is to do with two presumed competing Theories, Whether God or Science, lit the 'Fuse'.
I see Quantum Mechanics being referenced here, apparently in support of Stephen Hawking's 'Postulation'. I have to guess that Quantum Mechanics also 'Existed' before the 'Big-Bang'. I had, until now, always thought that Quantum Mechanics was a 'Scientific Discipline, used as a sort of 'Autopsy' & or 'Post-Mortem' of the effects of the 'Big -Bang'. I now stand Corrected, as it it appears that it also had something to do with 'Initiating' the 'Big Bang'.
I wish someone would tell me & or write out the Address of 'Sardis', because I'm in the mood to start something Big.These 'Random Spontaneous Acts' really have me jest champing at the bit, to do my bit.
I am late on commenting. I do not know much about this subject. I can accept the power of gravity, but still have the question as to how DNA got written.
Hypothetical question to the believers. What if he is right? What if we had all the evidence to prove how the universe came into existence and it turns out to be just what Hawking described? Would you think less of your god because it was not responsible for the creation of the universe? I guess my question is this... If you believe in a god despite the fact that you cannot prove it exists, why is it important to you when it is proved that it had nothing to do with something?
Hello Neuman! (I mean Eric G), So does Hawking have it all figured out? 1 + 1 = 3. Period. Am I supposed to go 'aw geez, might as well throw my Bible away' and tell the last person out of the church to turn the lights out? The Great and Powerful Oz (I mean Hawking) has spoken! I think not. By the way, did you get a chance to review the Bible prophecy on Tyre?
Hawking's book will be tossed on the ash-heap of secular garbage and the Bible will still remain. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Don't wait, because it will be too late for you if you do.
I sense great anger and fear inside you. Beware the power of the Dark Side.
You wrote; “Religion *proves* nothing at all......”
neither do you and God doesn’t have to.
It seems to me that Hawkings is just paraphrasing Laplace's opinon.
Laplace was asked why he had not mentioned 'the creator' when describing the universe.
He replied: "I had no need of that hypothesis."
It's 'Hawking.' Not Hawkings.....
I am surprised that I only made 1 typo!
p.s. It is 3 full stops for an elipsis, not 5. 🙂
No problem on the typo. Thanks for the heads up on # of stop on the elipsis......... I just like to get creative..:-)
Peace to you.....
I will say this..I'm not a fan of most of the organized denominations that exist to teach Christianity, but I throughly hold to and believe in the Bible.
At the end of the day, its utterly absurd to ask for proof of the Bibles claims totally overlooking the fact that most of the writers claims in thier writings is that thier documentation is based on eye witness accounts.
But then, you will believe all other documented history that you weren't there to witness as if those people had no reason to lie..lol.
And for the gentlemen who stated that the Disciples financially benefited from the Bible..Please explain how that was exactly considering all but John were put to death and all were poor. Paul didn't take money, he says no himself in the NT. He worked as a tent maker.
@USN Athiest..Its amazing that a person can write in the Bible that they were an eye witness to an event and someone would still say they made it up..On what basis? Because it couldn't have possibly happened as you put it..lol..
It takes a larger leap of faith to believe that the complexity and ordered nature of creation just randomly happen, then to believe that it was intelligent design.
Something can't come from nothing and Earth just sits suspended in space in the middle of nothing by its own merit..smh..and I'm the one that delusional.
I'm glad to see someone admitting that they are delusional for once. Thanks.
And.... Your understanding of Quantum Mechanics is staggering..... Why is it that you fundies always have to believe that 'something came from nothing' nonsense = god....?
I don't think that Professor Hawking is trying to disprove the Abrahamic god or any other specifically named god. It seems that he is trying to argue that it is no longer necessary, or reasonable, to invoke a "god of the gaps" argument in order to answer why there is something rather than noting. Maybe some creative entity did create the universe, however it is unreasonable to assume this conclusion without a shred of verifiable evidence. Until we (humanity in general) have a good reason to assume a claim is true , we should continue to investigate if such a claim could be proven true.
Personally, I see the entire why should something exist over nothing as an ultimately meaningless question.
No one in our lifetime will solve the mystery of existence – That could be compared to successfully teaching a snail, to understand Astrophysics. Human minds can not comprehend the infinite knowledge of our creator but because they don’t understand, some do not believe.
Science proves or disproves nothing about God. Science is important but it’s not the most important concept. It is an empty, sad and pointless existence, when knowledge and pride are even more important than Love, faith and hope.
Religion *proves* nothing at all......
"teaching a snail, to understand Astrophysics" Honestly, where do you guys get these analogies, and why do you folks underestimate the human capacity to understand so completely? We're pretty intelligent beings, in case you haven't noticed, and we already know quite a bit about the origins of the universe. If you were home-schooled you may not have seen a real science book before, but pick one up and give it a try. You'll likely find that Hawking isn't as difficult to understand as you imagine.
"It is an empty, sad and pointless existence, when knowledge and pride are even more important than Love, faith and hope."
Amazing how much prejudicial assumption are happening this sentence. In my opinion, the only way to love and hope is through knowledge. Pride, if you are using the derogatory connotation, as opposed to getting pleasure and acknowledgment from a job well done, seem to require things like faith, i.e. baseless claims about the state of the world and where one fits within it.