Saturday, September 04, 2010

Hawking: God Is Not a Factor

I am a noncombatant in this battle between science and religion. As such I think I can be fair-minded and not hold a biased view in the relationship that each has to mankind.

For this reason, I am somewhat struck by Stephen Hawking’s latest assertion in a new book to be released next week, “The Grand Design,” not that God doesn’t exist, but that God was not a factor in the creation of the universe.

I guess by that line of thinking, though, one could argue that if God had nothing to do with the creation of the universe, that God is indeed not The Creator, then what role does God play in the scheme of things?

Hawking relies on a unification of four superstring theories, that they are simply dualities of each other, a theory called M-theory (the M stands for Membrane) for making his bold assertion that given the very existence of the field force known as 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. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going.”
The universe, and existence, Hawking says, are inevitable consequences of the laws of physics.

As a noncombatant I was interested to see what the religious community would say about Hawking’s assertion and they did not fail to react.

Said Fraser Watts, an Anglican priest:

“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.”
Said Denis Alexander, director of the Faraday Institute of Science and Religion:

“Science provides us with a wonderful narrative as to how [existence] may happen, but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative.”
Said Imam Ibrahim Mogra, committee chairman at the Muslim Council of Britain

“If we look at the Universe and all that has been created, it indicates that somebody has been here to bring it into existence. That somebody is the almighty conqueror.”
And finally, said Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

“Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation ... The Bible simply isn't interested in how the Universe came into being.”
Interesting, huh?

It seems that religion cedes to science every aspect of explanation but one: why do we exist? Hawking seems to be saying that there isn’t a “why.” There is no “why do we exist,” we simply are.

But really that question is one of the first ones that pops into the head of a sentient being: why am I here?

And then all of a sudden it dawned on me that religion occupies that niche rather well. The one burning question that science cannot deliver on is handled very nicely by religion thank you very much.

And then I realized that this is a matter upon which money is a huge factor. Religion in all of its incarnations is worth trillions worldwide. What Stephen Hawking seems to be saying is that all of these trillions of dollars are being mis-spent.

What a calamity. If what Stephen Hawking asserts is true, that there is no grand design and no creator, that there is no “why,” only an “is” then what are we going to do with all of those out of work clerics? What happens to all of the churches, mosques, synogogues and temples? All of the artwork? All of the literature?

That’s right. Stephen Hawking’s idea hasn’t a snowball’s chance in H-E-double-hockey-sticks of general acceptance now or in the immediate future.

It would cost too much.

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