Is Stephen Hawking Right About God?

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Is Stephen Hawking Right About God?

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Not only is Stephen Hawking one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century, he also enjoys a mystique perhaps rivaled only by Albert Einstein. As Time once commented, “Even as he sits helpless in his wheelchair, his mind seems to soar ever more brilliantly across the vastness of space and time in order to unlock the secrets of the universe.”

Hawking’s recent comments on God have thus unleashed a torrent of attention. In his forthcoming book, The Grand Design, he comments, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason 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 and set the universe going.”

If you know Hawking’s work, these comments won’t surprise you. Of course, he does conclude his Brief History of Time with the claim that if we could discover the fundamental laws of nature, “then we should know the mind of God.” No religious faith underlies this statement, however. The book as a whole argues that God plays no essential role in understanding the physical universe.

In fact, Hawking’s recent pronouncements about God echo the famous comment by the eighteenth-century successor to Newton, Laplace. The emperor Napoleon is said to have asked him, “But where is God in your physics?” Legend has it that the physicist Laplace responded, “Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis.”

One can even find the story that explains Hawking’s attitude. At one point he was invited to Rome by the Jesuits for a conference on cosmology. In his technical paper he explained the view for which he is famous, known as the Hartle-Hawking hypothesis: although the universe has a finite age (it has not existed forever), there is no t = 0, that is, no first moment of time. If there is no “moment of creation,” there is no place for a Creator.

Shortly after delivering his talk, Hawking and the other physicists were invited to an audience with the Pope. The Pope, he reports, told them that “it was all right to study the evolution of the universe after the big bang, but we should not inquire into the big bang itself because that was the moment of Creation and therefore the work of God.” Hawking quips, “I was glad then that he did know the subject of the talk I had just given at the conference.”

It seemed to Hawking that the Pope was warning physicists away from the very questions where they could make the greatest progress. To accept that warning and to stay away from these questions would be to sell out as a scientist. It is as if, at that moment, Hawking resolved to have nothing more to do with the God idea. Or, to put it more carefully: he began to use the idea of God as shorthand for whatever would be the final physical theory about the origin of the universe.

Four Possible Answers

Now the $64,000 question: was he right? Cal Thomas gives a simple response on FOX News: scripture says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” So “if Hawking thinks it’s all foolishness, isn’t that evidence he is perishing?” For many of us, however, important questions of this sort require some rather deeper reflection. Consider the following four possibilities:

First, Richard Dawkins could be right. Shortly after Hawking’s conversations with the press, Dawkins hosted his own “webchat” on the topic. His interpretation was predictably much harsher than Hawking’s own: “Darwin kicked [God] out of biology, but physics remained more uncertain. Hawking is now administering the coup de grace.”

As always, Dawkins’ hyper-critical construal of religion brings out the offensive squad for the Religion Team. The second option is that Dawkins is totally mistaken; physics does have need of the God hypothesis. The arguments are legion: the basic physical constants are “fine-tuned” for the emergence of life, which is firm evidence of God’s providential ordering of the cosmos. The regularities of natural laws can only be explained by God’s character and purpose. The fit between human cognitive capacities and the natural world — for example, our ability to do mathematical physics — is proof God meant us to recognize Him in the natural world. In short, advocates claim, the more physics advances, the more evidence there is of the existence and providential care of God.

Hawking’s third option falls somewhere between the first two. Science can only work when no questions are off limits. The explosive advances in science over the last centuries have removed physics’ dependence on theology. In particular, cosmology supports the “weak” anthropic principle (any universe we find ourselves in must be conducive to the evolution of intelligent life) but not the “strong” anthropic principle (this universe was designed to produce us). Quantum cosmology — using quantum physics to explain the origin of the universe — eliminates the need for any external “push” to get things started. Instead, quantum fluctuations, followed by a period of extremely rapid expansion (“inflation”), might be sufficient by themselves to explain the origin of the universe. And finally, Hawking and friends maintain, if an infinite number of universes in fact compose one “multiverse,” any biophilic features we observe are merely the luck of the draw in this particular universe. No inferences can be drawn about divine creative intent.

God and Mystery

But there is a fourth position. The truth is, recent developments in science do make conclusions about God more difficult. But do they really render the God hypothesis superfluous?

Here I would push back against Hawking. Religion that would block or control the growth of science should be resisted. But it’s simply not true that science has dissolved any role for mystery. As it advanced, twentieth-century physics actually expanded the place for the unknown. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle expresses limits on how fully we can know both the location and momentum of a particle, and the speed of light represents an absolute limit for the speed of information exchange. Limits of knowledge are not excuses for shutting down scientific inquiry and replacing it with answers based on scriptural authority. But they are profound reminders of how much we don’t know. Amazing advances in scientific knowledge lie ahead of us. But nothing in the history of science suggests that our knowledge will be limitless. Indeed, Stephen Hawking has been one of the great voices reminding us of this fact.

Richard Dawkins may wish to use Hawking’s comments to define science as the arch-rival of religion. Returning the compliment, religious commentators proclaim death to science in the name of religion. Careful observers will note that Stephen Hawking’s language has been more irenic. Still, he continues to proclaim that progress in science rules out any notion of God.

But here the great physicist overreaches himself. When believers use claims about God to handcuff science, they act wrongly. But no such conflict is produced when we recognize that deep mysteries lie beyond the limits of scientific knowledge. Religious faith has its origins here, beyond the bounds of empirical demonstration. To declare this region empty of the divine is as much an act of faith as it is to find God here.

Note: This post was originally published at the Huffington Post.


31 Comments

Ron Krumpos

September 13, 2010at 5:10 pm

In “The Grand Design” Stephen Hawking postulates that the M-theory may be the Holy Grail of physics…the Grand Unified Theory which Einstein had tried to formulate and later abandoned. It expands on quantum mechanics and string theories.

In my e-book on comparative mysticism is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

Jon-marc Costanza

September 13, 2010at 11:53 pm

You write in such an evenhanded way. It is refreshing to read someone who is as honest about the limits of knowledge as you are. I’m a little bit puzzled by your last sentence: “To declare this region empty of the divine is as much as act of faith as to find God here.” What type of religious epistemology do you find compelling? Revelation epistemology? It seems that under your view the believer is left with pious agnosticism. Whether or not Hawking’s theories are right, the question still remains as to why anything exists at all…?

Philip Clayton

September 14, 2010at 1:24 pm

Ron, I love the quote from Einstein that you give in your response. Your last paragraph made me a bit more uncomfortable. But your insistence that it is an analogy and not a formula is helpful.

Jon, I do agree that there are further steps to be taken. Unlike many others who write in this area, I am not satisfied to leave things with mystery. Still, on the Huffington Post, the first goal is to find *some* area of common ground. There you will notice that the comments are extreme anti-religion or extreme pro-religion. My hope was that the post would identify at lease this minimal area of common ground, so that productive conversation could ensue. Judging from the first 200 comments, I am not sure that I was successful.

— Philip

Ian Carmichael

September 14, 2010at 10:15 pm

Thanks Philip,
As usual, a fair and thoughtful article. (I’m waiting to actually read Hawking’s book – I want to be sure whether his comments are the comments of an expert physicist, or of an interested theological amateur. It makes a difference to how I listen – for example, Bertrand Russell is a philosopher worthy of immense respect, but his ‘Why I am not a Christian’ despite its many republishings is not – it displays a laughable, schoolboy ignorance of Christianity.)
And, as a side comment, lest people get the wrong idea of Laplace – he didn’t need the hypothesis of God for his ‘Celestial Mechanics’ – he did for his life. One of the criticisms of Newton’s theory of gravitation is that he thought the movements of the planets required the intervention of God, whereas the Leibnizian alternative was a perfectly ‘clockwork’ mechanism that needed no additional interventions to ‘make it go’.
And, as another side comment, I can’t see how the ‘multiverse’ can work – if there is somehow a creative event that spawns all universes (filling out every value of the constants of physical law) our thinking seems tied down to a “beginning” with Planck times of 10^(-34) etc. Why not do our control thinking with a universe where the Planck time is 1. (Aside from the need for an uncountably infinite number of universes… ) Can the other members of the multiverse develop when the internal space-time scales for each don’t mesh? I’m not a research mathematical physicist – so I can’t picture the answer. But then, as I’ve read them I’m not sure that the mathematical physicists can either, whether Thorne, or Wheeler or Greene or Hawking (but I need to read the book!)
On your main point in your comment above, though, what worries me, deeply, about the intent to find, raise, or explore common ground is the vast number of people primed to deliver their ‘potted reality’ without engagement. I’d like to see evidence that Dawkins is thinking about his viewpoint, that Ham is thinking about his, that Dembski is thinking about his, that Murphy is thinking about hers (I think she is, I was just struggling to find a woman’s name to include!) . I’d like to see evidence that they can read and reflect on contrary views.

Philip Clayton

September 15, 2010at 8:39 am

Ian, I just skimmed the 349 comments to my Hawkings blog on the Huffington Post, and they certainly seem to confirm your point that “the vast number of people [are] primed to deliver their ‘potted reality’ without engagement.”

The great Catholic historian and philosopher of science Ernan McMullin added another criticism in an email I just received. He wrote:

” An even more obvious response to Hawking, to my mind, is that in his own terms his science is suspect…. I happened to be reading a recent issue of Science News a few days ago and noticed the following passage: ‘because of quantum physics — specifically the Heisenberg principle — an utterly empty space is impermissible. Fluctuations of energy are unavoidable.’ (Science News, ‘Law and disorder’, essay by the editor, Tom Siegfried, June 19, p. 27.) Hawking really wants so badly to rule out a Creator (or to sell his book?) that he is apparently overlooking a fundamental principle in the science to which he has been such a successful contributor.”

One does wonder whether the desire to be rid of God has tipped his earlier, more balanced comments on science and religion in this new, more dismissive direction.

— Philip

Ian Carmichael

September 15, 2010at 6:03 pm

Well, the ‘quantum foam’ idea – that conservation of energy can be broken over very short periods of time relies on the ‘uncertainty principle’ but it’s not necessary that these variations occur. (The principle is an inequality – not a strict equation.) Granted that the energy fluctuations allow for the possibility of particle/antiparticle creation/annihilation, it does not mandate this. Nor do I see how this provides macroscopic quantities of matter to spontaneously arise.
Yet, even were it so – what of the equations which describe our world. Do we need to grant that space, time, matter and their behaviours just happen, and so we accept their presence without being able to ask about a before? Is their existence and behaviour somehow necessary?
(In which case, how is this structural acceptance any different from the pattern of argument about the existence of God which claims that God is eternally self-existent? I.e. the atheist argument for the self-creation of the universe is exactly the same in structure as the deist argument for the uncaused cause. Mind you, neither of these make any salvific claims, for which one really needs revelatory knowledge – or at least revelatory information. That God is may be inferred – who God is needs to be revealed – imho )

Ron Tester

September 15, 2010at 6:44 pm

You wrote, “Limits of knowledge are not excuses for shutting down scientific inquiry and replacing it with answers based on scriptural authority.” Amen. Similarly, I believe limits of knowledge are not excuses for shutting down theological inquiry and replacing it with answers based on scientific authority.

I was a big fan of the late Pope’s work in building bridges across cultural and theological lines, but that is a patently ridiculous thing to say about what scientists (or people generally) should consider appropriate areas of inquiry.

Finally, thanks for the Dawkins update. He is, imho, presenting his case in such a way that, with perhaps a few exceptions, only those who are already true (non)believers can tolerate his nauseatingly smug disseminations. I have read many of his works, and find him to be quite insightful and often quite brilliant, but he seems to be on some sort of quest to destroy belief in God, and has made himself and his message as appealing as Fred Phelps and his message.

Benjamin J. Chicka

September 15, 2010at 8:07 pm

Philip, I’m curious where you would locate yourself, if at all, among the reactions I reported on when I tackled Hawking a few months ago (I was using older work, but it is the same theory with the same supposed theological implications, perhaps supported by more theory now, in my view):

I’d post the links to all stories, but your website told me I was spam when I tried. They can all be found after some clicking from here
http://www.patheos.com/community/mainlineportal/2010/06/03/our-god-is-a-chaotic-god/

John King

September 30, 2010at 7:27 am

I am sitting on the ground in the middle of an open meadow. It’s night. The dinner fire has gone out. The air is cool and it is dark. Looking up into the sky, the stars fill the night. They are shining bright and seem so close that I could reach up and grab one. The feeling of awe and wonder pour over me, lift me up, and all of the stars speak to me. They ask me, “Who are you to ask?” But I have to ask anyway. From where do you come? Why are you there? What are you? I ask all of these questions of the stars, and they ask the same questions back to me. Some say that all of the answers are unreasonable. But I wonder if the questions are reasonable. I think they are. However, this night is not about reason. The stars are speaking and I am flying across the heavens. Flying on the overwhelming feeling of awe, peculiarity, hope…….feelings that have no words……flying without wings. When I land, I am back in the meadow, sitting on the ground. The stars keep asking, but give no answers. It is I that must give the answers…..answers of gratitude, wonder, acceptance, generosity, peace, love. I can’t fly anymore. I have to accept the answers as gifts of wisdom and make the answers work here and in all the places beyond my meadow where God has found me..

DAVE PHILLIPS in Parowan, UT

October 27, 2010at 11:23 am

Dr. HAWKING and “M-theory” is a recent re-working of a “Grand Theory” whose advocates are littering the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla – for several prior decades IMHO!

MOST OF THOSE ADVOCATES ARE EMERITUS FACULTY – with ‘delusions of relevance’ even today!

Where their views fall apart is this – They tend to go ‘crazy – literally – trying to fit their all encompassing theory of everything as ‘new scientific evidence evolves’

There’s another possible ‘motive’ for Stephen Hawking’s “anti-God stance” – Since the new ‘coalition government’ has taken hold in Great Britain, Hawking admits to finding his research “being somewhat under-funded” — while making some ‘noises’ about moving to – perhaps – even Canada ‘for better funding’!

{The Canadians are not terribly keen on Hawking moving there, and are – by their silence from in-migration offices at Ottawa – quite happy with Hawking ‘staying put’ in a university setting outside London for the present and then beyond)!. 😉

It has been my observation for the past five plus decades that the more science learns, the more ‘religious’ as God believers its scientists have become over time.

One classic example of scientists evolving into mental illness is semanticist ALFRED KORZYBKI’s “Science and Sanity” tone — the result of which found him in mental health institutions as a result of his research.

[Korzybski would be later ‘popularized’ by S. I. Hayakawa in the United States – before Hayakawa was a San Francisco State College professor & president (cum: San Francisco State University) – then at about time of the Reagan presidency: A United States Senator from California].

“LESSON LEARNED” = Korzybski just ‘forget” to await “God’s time table” – wait on the Lord – , rather than a driven effort – of primarily or solely ‘self reliance’ – upon his own time line!

Perhaps Phil Clayton’s science & philosophy of religion seminars add some here.

DAVE PHILLIPS in Parowan, UT

October 27, 2010at 11:31 am

PHIL, my dear ‘former mentor’ =

From five or more years ago on a ‘transient visit through Claremont in search of a doctoral degree / systematic theology program – without success – WHY ARE YOU “lowering yourself” to reading “The HUFFINGTON POST”?

A person [viz. MYSELF] – from a distance – who still respects your views & an extra-ordinary NORTH-SOUTH / EAST-WEST travel commutes inquires with curiosity! 😉

DAVE PHILLIPS in Parowan, UT

October 27, 2010at 11:35 am

HAVING SEEN Arianna Huffington on PBS-tv = “The CHARLIE ROSE Program” – this past Monday, October 25th — more insights can be found @ Wiki-Pedia web site IMHO!

Ian Carmichael

October 29, 2010at 6:58 pm

I’m halfway through Mlodinow and Hawking. That may be as far as I go, since so far I’ve seen assertion without argument, sweeping statement without substantiation, selective reading without justification.
But, by golly, does the book flow. It’s smooth reading, nicely paced, and got some nice science snippets in it. What I’m sure of at this point, however, is that the non-necessity of a creator will be asserted and not established, and therefore Philip the answer to your question for this piece “Is Stephen Hawking Right about God?” is “Perhaps, but this book doesn’t substantiate Hawking’s claim!”

And, here’s an interesting thought. (At least, I thought so, as I hacked out the above…) Has anyone explored the possibilities of a contingent creator? I know that our classic systematic theologies want God in God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience and aseity. But, if one takes the Biblical source data carefully, and in some way epistemologically privileged, God need not be framed by that quartet of Greek philosophical qualities. IF we were to grant that God need not exist, that doesn’t actually preclude God’s existence, nor does it eradicate the possibility that God IS creator – even if the universe COULD have been self-starting.
It would seem to me that all that potentially suffers on this line of argument is Ockham’s Razor – and whilst that’s a nice critical-thinking precept, it hardly has the force of a Euclidean demonstration: more likely the force of a Euclidean axiom. (And, as Mlodinow himself suggested – in Euclid’s Window – some of our great scientific thinking advances came through pondering alternative axioms.)

Nathanael

November 4, 2010at 3:07 am

I’m trying to understand what it could possibly mean to say that “the Universe can and will create itself from nothing”, but the more I think about it, the more it sounds like utter nonsense. Am I missing something? How can ANYTHING create itself? Doesn’t the very idea of creation presuppose a creator that pre-exists the creation?

Ashwini Kumar Lal

November 8, 2010at 10:50 am

I beg to differ with Stephen Hawking’s unfounded remarks about absence of God’s role in creation of the universe.The learned scientist’s pronouncement results from his myopic vision about the origins (of life and the universe). He is under false impression that the current knowledge of quantum physics and general theory of relativity alone was sufficient to unearth the mystery regarding origin of life, whereas fact of the matter is, study of origin of life is a multi-disciplinary pursuit involving good understanding of diverse subjects such as such as molecular biology, genetics, and astrobiology besides cosmology. It is ironic that despite considerable advancements in the above cited fields in recent years, science hitherto remains clueless about origin of life. My disagreement with the learned scientist’s claim is further substantiated by the fact that given any number of combinations of the basic building blocks of life viz., amino acids, nucleotide bases, sugar,and phosphate,etc., life has never been created in any of the laboratories the worldover. Life has never emerged from non-life (inanimate matter). This is very much suggestive of the evolution of life having bearing on the existence of some supernatural force, whom we rever as ‘Almighty’ or as ‘God’. Readers may like to refer to the review article “Origin of Life” published in the peer-reviewed European journal, ‘Astrophysics & Space Science’ (2008, Volume 317, Issue 3-4, pp. 267-278), e-print of which is archived at arXiv as http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0907/0907.3552.pdf ,for the latest update on the current status of scientific research in the inter-disciplinary field of ‘origin of life’.

Moreover, Hawking appears to have wrongly referred to the ‘Big Bang Model’ as viable explanation for origin of the universe in his latest book, ‘The Grand Design’. The said model suffers from numerous inconsistencies.The review paper titled “Big Bang Model? A Critical Review” published in the peer-reviewed US journal, ‘Journal of Cosmology’, modified version of which is posted at the website: http://vixra.org/pdf/1005.0051v8.pdf ,has detailed prominent inconsistencies with the said model. The persisting redshift controversy that has direct bearing on the expanse and age of the universe as pinpointed by several cosmologists from time to time, presence of full-bloomed galaxies with higher metallicity in the very early epoch of the universe, and the presence of superclusters of galaxies and supervoids in the cosmos are some of the unsolved mysteries that remain inexplicable by the Big Bang model. It is ironic that instead of addressing the existing anomalies with the said model, the mainstream cosmologists have taken it to be a prestige issue by perpetuating the status quo. Ironically, Hawking’s immense popularity as a popular science writer hinges on success of Hawking’s widely popular book, ‘A Brief History of Time’ which is all about the origin of the universe. Authencity of the information contained in his book depends on the validity of the ‘Big Bang Model’.When the said model itself in mired in deep controversy, what Hawking has been preaching to the world so far is mere a gossip without any iota of truth.

Ashwini Kumar Lal

November 14, 2010at 1:23 pm

Notwithstanding the fact that diferent theories under the proposed M-theory in Hawking’s latest book represent different facets of the same underlying theory i.e., ‘Theory of Everything’, its viability as mathematical formulism for unification of fundamental forces in nature is highly speculative, with very remote possibility of its being verified expermentally. It may not be out of place to mention that the ‘Big Bang Model’ has alredy failed one of the crucial acid test for its survival that relates to detection of remnant of gravity waves from the earliest epoch of the universe. Existence of gravitational – wave background, predicted by Einstein in 1916 in his general theory of relativity, is expected from the violent early moments of the Big Bang much like the cosmic microwave background that fills the sky with radio waves from the early universe. While the microwave background originated 380,000 years after the Big Bang, gravitational – wave background purportedly come directly from events in the first minute after the Big Bang. As per Einstein’s prediction, the cataclysmic Big Bang is believed to have created a flood of gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of space-time that still fill the universe, albeit at a very feeble strength to be discernible by the conventional astronomical tools, and carry information about the universe as it was in the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang. Ironically, the much publicized LIGO experiments, undertaken at whopping sum of over $365 million, for probe of remnant of the gravity waves from the earliest epoch of the universe have so far yielded nothing.

Ashwini Kumar Lal

November 16, 2010at 10:51 am

The inflationary concept (in the Inflationary Big Bang Model), supporting a vacuum-dominated universe (arising out of quantum fluctuations) during phase transition in the early history of the universe was evolved by some cosmologists (Guth 1981; Linde 1982) to circumvent problems of ‘flatness’, ‘horizon’ and the ‘primordial magnetic monopole’ associated with the Big Bang model. The hypothetical inflation field giving rise to inflation, however, is very speculative lacking sound scientific explanation.There is no general consensus among cosmologists regarding the timing of the beginning and end of the inflationary epoch. In Linde’s ‘chaotic inflation’, inflation starts at the Planck time ,10 -43 sec when the temperature was 10 32 K, whereas in other models, inflation starts when the temperature falls to the point (10 -35 sec after Big Bang when the temperature was ~10 28 K) at which the symmetry of the Grand Unified Theory (GUT) is spontaneously broken.

Element of arbitrariness is also quite prominent in regard to interpretation of the cosmological costant in Einstein’s equations of general relativity. Some cosmologists have related the cosmological cosnstant to the dark energy following observations in 1998 of very distant galaxies that were suggestive of accelerating expannsion of the universe. Ironically, the true nature of the 73% dark energy and 23% dark matter ( as per the latest WMAP intertretations) pervading the universe hitherto remains elusive.

Ashwini Kumar Lal

November 28, 2010at 12:09 pm

Every variant of cosmological model, be it inflationary or cyclic, predicts possible detection of the primordial gravitational waves created in the immediate aftermath of the cataclysmic Big Bang (the latest in the present universe as per the cyclic model). Futile experiments undertaken by the LIGO (Laser Interferometry Gravitational Wave Observatory) project since 2002, and by the Virgo interferometer since 2007 are suggestive of the fact that we are still far from finding tangible clues regarding the origin of the universe.

Philip Clayton

November 28, 2010at 3:40 pm

Friends, thank you for your posts and responses. I take Dr. Ashwini Kumar Lal in particular for his four posts. Many are criticizing Hawking for his abrupt dismissal of God. But core problems with the Big Bang model need to be addressed as well.

I apologize for the long silence — I completed a new book on religion and science for Routledge yesterday, and it has taken me offline for a few weeks. Another book, co-authored with Steven Knapp, is in the final phase of revision and goes into Oxford Univ. Press on 17 December (The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy, Faith). After that I look forward to resuming my online dialogue with you all.

— Philip Clayton

Ian Carmichael

November 29, 2010at 5:27 am

Thanks Philip,
Looking forward to the new books. All the best with them.

Alex

November 30, 2010at 3:02 pm

I am also eagerly awaiting the new books.

Philip, are you able to share any details on them at this time?

John King

December 1, 2010at 2:50 pm

Your last line “Religious faith has its origins here, beyond the bounds of empirical demonstration. To declare this region empty of the divine is as much an act of faith as it is to find God here.”

Does this mean that if science did explain everything, that God would be disproved?

Ashwini Kumar Lal

December 4, 2010at 3:28 pm

Koteche, realization of supernatural force commanding this universe is very much evident from the knowledge of quantum physics itself. The incidence of electron not collapsing into the nucleus despite the electron gradually losing its energy during its orbit around the nucleus on account of emission of radiation resulting from its motion in the electric field, is a glaring example of presence of supernatural force at micro level. There is always a minimum energy level for the electron in its orbit around the nucleus beyond which trespassing is not permissible. And then, quantum tunnelling and quantum fluctuations are the other bizarre natural phenomena that appear to be regulated at Almighty’s behest alone.

Ashwini Kumar Lal

December 4, 2010at 3:30 pm

Realization of the supernatural force commanding this universe is very much evident from the knowledge of quantum physics itself. The incidence of electron not collapsing into the nucleus despite the electron gradually losing its energy during its orbit around the nucleus on account of emission of radiation resulting from its motion in the electric field, is a glaring example of presence of supernatural force at micro level. There is always a minimum energy level for the electron in its orbit around the nucleus beyond which trespassing is not permissible. And then, quantum tunnelling and quantum fluctuations are the other bizarre natural phenomena that appear to be regulated at Almighty’s behest alone.

Ashwini Kumar Lal

December 17, 2010at 2:31 am

In the context of the ongoing debate on Stephen Hawking’s observations in his latest book, ‘The Grand Design’, I must mention Einstein’s famous words :
” Science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind “.

Ashwini Kumar Lal

December 17, 2010at 1:31 pm

I have gone through three books titled, ‘ A Brief History of Time’, ‘ The Theory of Everything’, and ‘ The Grand Design’ – all authored by the celebrated scientist, Stephen Hawking. I find content of all his books to be more or less the same with minor variation here and there. I fail to comprehend why Hawking has been repeating the same thing again and again. Repeated mention of the Big Bang Model as viable explanation for the origin of the universe does not convince intelligent readers about its validity in the light of several unattended inconsistencies with the said model.

Clyde Christofferson

January 8, 2011at 6:29 pm

Philip,

I much enjoyed your interview with Michael Dowd in the “Evolutionary Christianity” series. Emergence is not only a constructive and dynamic analytical concept but gives breathtaking meaning to the notion of a “living God.”

At the end of the interview (which I just finished listening to, from a download) you pointed to your blog at this site, which is why I am here.

I have not yet finished Stephen Hawking’s “The Grand Design”, but in what I have read so far he seems rather a reductionist. For him, it’s all about physics.

I can add to your reference about his meeting with the Pope, because he mentions it in a six hour video series broadcast on PBS in the late 90s. Actually, there were two meetings, the first to receive recognition from Paul VI, and then with John Paul II in 1981 during a cosmological conference. It was at this second meeting that the Pope made his comment suggesting it would not be appropriate to inquire behind the Big Bang because “this was the handiwork of God”. Hawking responded “while science and religion may be at one with regard to the moment of creation they still do not see eye to eye.”

I agree with Hawking on this point, and think the Pope was reverting (perhaps understandably) to a notion of sacred and untouchable space going back to ancient times.

Viewing reality as one, and seeing what is emerging from and through the cosmos as an unfolding that has everything to do with a loving God sharing existence with the likes of us (and sentient civilizations likely numbering in the tens or hundreds of billions throughout what is now understood as a cosmos that is isotropic on large scales), the primary evidence of what is being shared is the small kindnesses that resonate in our hearts.

But it seems to me that something else is being shared. We are able not only to love one another but also to comprehend this unfolding existence, and these aspects together — love and comprehension — make us in God’s image. Quite an awesome God.

Thanks again for your work in this area.

Clyde Christofferson

Mickey R Mullen

March 27, 2011at 12:34 pm

12/1/1968 at 9pm after going to a protestant church and going to the Alter after I left the church I was saved at a gasoline service station or born again. Thirty days later I received the Holy Ghost which is the other half of the salvation plan. It is obvious that Mr Hawking has not received this physical experience so he knows nothing about living in the kingdom of God when he dies. KJV of the Bible of 1611 has in it exactly what happened to me physically. Ezekiel 36:26-25-27 Jesus spoke in parables which is no help.

nexus8

May 25, 2011at 3:00 pm

No one is right about God as no one knows nothing about God

Tato Sugiarto

August 24, 2011at 5:50 am

TORTOISE (Hinduism) and DRAGON (Taoism) are symbols for ENERGY or WAVE, both are analog with MAGEN DAVID (Judaism). “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is the metaphor, also Thawaf seven times circling around the Ka’ba and Sa’i oscillating along “the sinus” Marwah-Shafa during rituals of the Hajj (Abraham).
“A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME – From the Big Bang to Black Hole” by Stephen W. Hawking is the best scientific interpretation of AL QUR’AN by a non believer. It is also a “genuine bridge stone” for comprehensive study of Theology. Surprise, this paradox is a miracle and blessing in disguise as well. So, it should be very wise and challenging for Moslem scholars to verify my discovery.
NeoSUFI visionary strategic thinking.

Huseyn Qurbanov

March 6, 2016at 9:48 am

Logically complete cosmological concept. /due to lack of knowledge of the English language was not able to correct the translation Implemented by Google/

In order to present the unlimited space originally:
1. homogeneous – enough to postulate the presence in it of two elements with Simple and Complex /closed systematically/
2. heterogeneous – enough to postulate the presence in it of one more element – the Most High and Almighty God – with open systematically.
It is easy to assume that even at the lowest possible deployment of the intangible component of the essence of God – the Spirit of God – for the level of the original downwardly directed the permanent deployment of the material component of the essence of God, there is a curtailment of Simple and Complex /i.e.. It is their decay due to blocking of origin upwardly directed constantly deploy intangible components of the entity / as much as possible heterogeneous to God’s essence minimum possible number of cell uniformity (1H), and God on the basis of the material components of the 1H deploys the minimum possible heterogeneous to its essence as possible numerically elemental homogeneity (2H). Coagulation process will begin in 2H known God start time since the completion of its deployment. curtailment of the Spirit of God to the level of initial deployment again unfolds 1H – God potential for transformation 1H into 2H and 1H into 2H limitless!

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