Stephen Hawking: A Creator Isn't Necessary for Creation


julie marsh
Julie Marsh
Stephen Hawking
, the eminent physicist, professor, and author, published his latest work (along with co-author Leonard Mlodinow) last week. The Grand Design explores "two questions. Where did the universe come from and why are the laws of the universe so finely tuned to allow our existence." Hawking and Mlodinow conclude: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing ... It is not necessary to invoke God to ... set the Universe going.”

Unsurprisingly, such an assertion has resonated with some people, but it has driven others to discount science and reaffirm their faith. If it's a choice between entertaining Hawking's conclusions or believing God created the universe, they'll take God.

What happens, though, when Hawking's work is eventually included in the public school curriculum, like Darwin's Theory of Evolution?

The first court case that involved the teaching of evolution was the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 -- a lawsuit brought by the state of Tennessee against high school biology teacher John Scopes, who dared to teach Darwin's theory in spite of the state's anti-evolution statute. In fact, "there have been 16 fully adjudicated federal court cases involving evolution and the First Amendment of the US Constitution," with the most recent case in 2005. Resistance to evolution has spanned decades in spite of widespread acceptance of Darwin's theory as scientific fact.

Meanwhile, evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins told The Times UK: "Darwinism kicked God out of biology but physics remained more uncertain. Hawking is now administering the coup de grace."

I may agree with Dawkins, but plenty of people do not. It's been over 150 years since Darwin introduced the Theory of Evolution to the masses, and yet people still argue against it. Will Hawking's and Mlodinow's conclusions in the realm of physics be hotly debated over the next century, particularly in terms of what ought to be taught in public schools?

Given that creationists have gotten creative with the dispersal of their message (to wit, the Texas State Board of Education's efforts to include the teaching of intelligent design in public schools), I certainly don't expect they'll sit by quietly and allow the concepts of spontaneous creation and alternate universes to be taught to their children.

Mlodinow cautions that The Grand Design's conclusions do not preclude a god, simply that physics makes it possible for the universe to be created without the benefit of a creator. However, in the eyes of creationists, such an assertion nonetheless diminishes the central, all-important, and all-powerful role of God. It follows that they will (and already have) denied Hawking's and Mlodinow's conclusions out of hand.

Which is fine, on an individual basis. If you want to believe that dinosaurs and people lived at the same time, if you want to believe that the Bible should be interpreted literally (you know, except for all those pesky internal discrepancies and the parts you don't like), if you want to put a ridiculous magnetic "Truth" fish eating a "Darwin" fish on the back of your pickup truck -- have at it.

But don't try dressing it up as science and teaching it to my kids in place of Darwin and Hawking, because I'll be glad to make a federal case out of it.


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nonmember avatar SKL

Wow, the way you are talking about Hawking, he sounds almost God-like . . . .

nonmember avatar Basel Abu Ali

To Hawking and Mlodinow: you are WRONG!! Try for once to ready the Holy Quran, understand it well, match and relate between its facts and your universe scientific views, then you will find the missing gaps! :)

KatieP. KatieP.

I will definitly read this. I loved his brief history of time. I am actually currently reading the elegant universe (which its been on my bookshelf for so long I think its outdated lol) I have always asked how did it get here? and god is a cop out. I mean religion aside - and trust me I do not want to start a religous debate- where did god come from. I have heard every single explanation from every single religious person out there so I am NOT asking for any ones elses view - trust me I have heard them all. And the big bang is unsatisfactory to me too. I mean ok it was a collasped previous universe? where did that come From?? where did that single condensed "infinite weight particle" come from??

nonmember avatar JW

There is no way to ever answer the question of "how did something come from nothing". It is is scientifically impossible. Something always had to exist. It could have been a force, a God, who knows scientifically speaking. Whatever it was, it doesn't make a lot of sense that it was just some random force / particle that was then capable of spawning the rest. This leads to some form of intelligent design. It does not however lead to a 6 day creation or a benevloent or even interested God but it does lead to at least some sort of being that had a lot more power than us.

The rest is for people to figure out for themselves and everyone has their opinion and many religions are based on these opinions. No scitentific fact(s) will ever disprove the existence of this more powerful being and similarly no single fact(s) will ever prove it. The only way either happens is if the person doing the investigation wanted one or the other conclusion to begin with.

What I would encourage each person to do is to research, study, think, and try different ways of living and see what ends up making you the happiest. Religion is not a set of made up rules by man but instead man's quest to understand his existence and how best to live that existence. Whatever the truth is, seek it honestly, dilligently, and with an open mind and you will more than likely find it. This is expecially true if there is an interested benevolent God there to help you.

29again 29again

Actually, the Founding Fathers WANTED Religion taught in the schools.  Also, many states had their own churches, as in a state church!  But yet, y'all keep screaming about separation of church & state!  Gee, how to reconcile those two concepts to fit the separatists notion about how this country used to be?  (Like when the school house doubled as a church on Sunday morning?  Wonder how that would work out in these days!)


I think that people who do not believe in God, Allah, or whatever you want to call him, have not been in enough trouble to need him yet.  Frankly, I have had my fill of these supposed "smart people" who think they can "prove" that God doesn't exist.  There is a lot of science in the Bible, once you start looking.  And to be honest, I don't understand how someone can look at this world, at how finely tuned everything is and NOT see the Hand of God at work!!!

LoveF... LoveFaithPeace

I agree with this one! It's perfect.
Nonmember comment from JW,
Sep 13, 2010 at 4:00 PM    

nonmember avatar ARL

JW wrote:
"'how did something come from nothing'. It is is scientifically impossible."

No it's not. The best explanation I have read is that:

Looking for the start of the universe is like looking for the start of a sphere.

Our experience of time is linear. Time itself is not necessarily linear.

Stephen Anstey

@JW: Actually, physics has many explanations for something appearing from nothing. Virtual particles are continuously spontaneously being created and annihilating themselves in a matter-antimatter reaction. Hawking's eponymous radiation is an example (although not yet verified observationally) of this process in action.

And while I hate to drag up this old chestnut, you're unwilling to consider the formation of simple, sub-atomic particles from nothing, but a complex creator being appearing from nothing is perfectly alright? Doesn't seem like a consistent worldview to me.

John Inglis

Actually, the Texas Board of Education has not made any effort to include or require the teaching of intelligent design in its public schools. Hence your statement in that regard is factually incorrect.

nonmember avatar Whit

The 'something can't come from nothing, so God did it!" line doesn't work, because then where did God come from? Magic? The watchmaker/watch is simply a logical infinite chain of increasing complexity, who made the watch, the watchmaker, the god, the god of god.. which does nothing to tell us about the true beginning.

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