UPDATE: Apparently you can now participate in the Times discussion of Hawking’s article, with Richard Dawkins and two Times writers, for free. Go here. Remember, it starts at 9:30 EST, which is ten minutes from this posting.
UPDATE 2: Check out the discussion: Dawkins is making mincemeat of the Times religion editor, who’s bobbing, weaving, and ducking the hard questions. It’s a rout!
So much for physics revealing “the mind of God.” Lest anybody still think that Stephen Hawking is religious, even in a deistic sense, check out his new book, The Grand Design (coauthored with American physicist Leonard Miodinow), available in the US September 7. Here’s part of Hawkings’s precis, taken from the Amazon listing:
In The Grand Design we explain why, according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence, or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. We question the conventional concept of reality, posing instead a “model-dependent” theory of reality. We discuss how the laws of our particular universe are extraordinarily finely tuned so as to allow for our existence, and show why quantum theory predicts the multiverse–the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature. And we assess M-Theory, an explanation of the laws governing the multiverse, and the only viable candidate for a complete “theory of everything.” As we promise in our opening chapter, unlike the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life given in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the answer we provide in The Grand Design is not, simply, “42.”
The front page of today’s Times (of London) highlights the book and Hawking’s godlessness (sadly, you’ll have to subscribe if you want to read this piece and the attendant Times pieces):
From the Times piece:
Far from being a once-in-a-million event that could only be accounted for by extraordinary serendipity or a divine hand, the Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, Hawking says. “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,” he writes.
“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going,” he finds. . .
. . . Richard Dawkins, a biologist and fierce proponent of atheism, welcomed the book, describing it as Darwinism for the very fabric of Nature, not just the creatures living within it. “That’s exactly what he’s saying,” said Professor Dawkins. “I know nothing of the details of the physics but I had always assumed the same thing.”
However others, such as Professor George Ellis, an emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town and President of the International Society for Science and Religion, were less impressed. “My biggest problem with this is that it’s presenting the public with a choice: science or religion. A lot of people will say, ‘OK, I choose religion, then’ and it is science that will lose out,” he said.
Yes, let’s by all means avoid telling people what science learns about the universe lest that drive them back to the arms of Jebus.
In the obligatory defense-of-faith response, Ruth Gledhill, the Times religion correspondent, says this:
When it comes to religion, Stephen Hawking is the voice of reason. Not for him the polemical style that has propelled Richard Dawkins to the fore of national consciousness in the God debates. His argument is likely in the long term to be more dangerous to religion because it is more measured than The God Delusion.
Hawking also coined the best ever tee-shirt slogan for rationalists. Discussing the conflict between science and religion with Diane Sawyer, he claimed that “Science will win because it works.” Check it out:
Contrast this with Gledhill’s silly assertions to the contrary:
Religious belief systems, in which people attempt to shape God into a mould of their own design, will be threatened by this book. But faith will continue beyond the day that a scientist explains the root of Hawking’s “spontaneous creation”.
At the atheist summer camps supported by Dawkins, children try to show that unicorns do not exist. They learn the difficulty of finding proof for the non-existence of being.
People of faith the world over will read this book and marvel. Then they will pray, not because faith is logical, but because it works.
Works? How is that?
Today (Sept. 2) there will be a live web debate on Hawking’s book, featuring Richard Dawkins, Ruth Gledhill, and Hannah Devlin (author of the Times piece above) at 2:30 p.m. London time, 9:30 a.m. EST. Sadly, you’ll have to pay at least a pound to see it. If you wish, go here and click where it says “The God Debate with Richard Dawkins.” Maybe someone with a quid to spare can report back.
h/t: Richard Dawkins
114 thoughts on “Hawking: no God behind the Big Bang”
I’m as Gnu Atheist as they come, but Hawking’s statement by no means solves the origin problem, since it presupposes the existence of particular “laws of physics”, and gives no explanation for why those particular laws themselves exist. I’m not talking about the particular laws of each universe in the multiverse, but the laws that generate the multiverse to begin with — why are there those laws, or indeed any laws? You can’t explain the beginning of everything that is by appealing to the laws that it obeys, since that doesn’t explain the presence of the laws themselves.
(To be clear, a god is not a solution, either.)
Actually, xkcd was there first, although it’s expressed a bit more forcefully.
I don’t get the connection either. Still, the rest of his idea sounds like a decent rebuttal of the fine-tuning argument – the only serious arguing point that religious scientists currently use.
>but the laws that generate the
>multiverse to begin with — why
>are there those laws, or indeed
Because non-existence of “laws” is too restrictive. Multiverse is an exact opposite, it does not set any restrictions so any possible “lows” “exist” as soon as it is consistent; thus the consistency is the major selective factor for such M-Darwinism. The reference to Gedel is quite relevant to see why any “set” can not be complete… so the reality you exist in is so flexible once you try to dig too deep.
I don’t think so, Carroll (the cosmologist describes it as self-contained, so it likely relies on environmental selection of some form. (See my main comment; still in moderation.) Hawking seem to rely on universe tunneling (since they are zero energy) over many worlds or deep time, and that can only happen if quantum mechanics is present at the tunneling moment. So the possibility for selection is certainly there.
Vic Stenger has a similar self-contained model in “God – the failed hypothesis”. That instead relies on spontaneous symmetry breaking, which is less explicit than QM laws but happens in all physical systems we observe. Again setting up a situation of “if it can’t happen, it doesn’t happen”.
There is of course always the pathway that the inflationary multiverse is eternal, in which case there is no need for initial conditions. Here environmental selection explains why we live in the part that was sufficiently self-similar (sufficiently close to the system’s stationary point) that it would be effectively eternal.
Update: referred comment out of moderation.
All the matter in the universes as always existed, the universes probably expand and contract through the forces of gravity, the big bang was probably the start of a new universe after the old one collapsed and this process as probably gone on forever. This is more likely than the existence of an intelligent entity that existed for ever before one day deciding to create everything from nothing. It’s also more likely than everything came from nothing in a big bang.
I’m sure the first thing that a believer will ask, is “but who created gravity?” Admittedly, it made me wonder where gravity comes from too (be it without assuming a creator or lawgiver or something). I hope Hawking’s book will go into this question as well.
Yes, the old “law requires a lawmaker” argument. It is an argument from ignorance.
In the end it will be clear that Hawkings has not disproved God, but only made him redundant. Same as ever.
Laws don’t require some sky fairy in a white beard, but they do require some explanation for their existence. You can’t explain why physics exists by invoking physics.
Of course not. We have Goedels theorem saying that you cannot prove that a matematical system is provable to be correct by using the mathematics of that system. But this does not imply that you have to invent some kind of humanoid deity that created all the mathematics that has been discovered/created, and all the mathematics that we will see in the futiure.
Of course not — I didn’t say it did. My point was simply that Hawking’s “explanation” really doesn’t address the issue.
Well, we have to see it first. If it is as self-contained as suggested, he might. There are several ways, some of them applicable to his model as it has been described to me, see my comment above.
Pace Hawking AND the theists, maybe there is neither an “explanation” for conditions prior to the Big Bang nor the need for one.
Or an argument by assertion and definition:
1) Assert that each law requires a lawmaker
2) Define the lawmaker as “God”
It’s a thoroughly unconvincing argument, however you put it, but I’m afraid for many believers it will be enough to soothe their doubts.
This is not the Catholic argument. You are obviously quite ignorant on Thomistic meta physics. I maintain that much of this ignorance is willful and I’m tired of it. Repent for the Kingdom of God is suddenly upon you and yes, you do risk the fires of hell.
Law and order has been in place all along, there is no beginning and ending to that. That’s that.
If you want to question about who is the lawmaker. Instead, question where god came from. Who is the god maker. No answer. Because god is that’s that. Period.
My opinion is, the reason why people believe the beginning of god is the reason why atheist believe the existence of law and order without beginning.
Well, already Laplace did that. But he did that on Newton’s gravity for the solar system. Now it is expanded to “the universe and everything”, which until recently have been too little understood to do that.
Dawkins (IIRC) notes that biology got there first. On the other hand it is illuminating that a few years after the first cosmological standard model, it is discovered that it has the same self-reliant properties in toto.
And of course empirically the simpler model throws out the complicated that predicts the same thing. So in any case science says that religion is wrong, even if theology wouldn’t agree.
To put it another way: “Matter behaves like this. You don’t need a cause for that.” The word ‘law’ is a human construct, like ‘god’ or ‘theory’. It only serves to confuse the issue.
And why is there matter again?
Well, as you know, this is an infinitely regressive argument. I’m only trying to clarify a tiny portion of it. Of course, it only applies our section of the multiverse.
You know that, and I know that, but as reported it doesn’t appear that Hawking knows that.
“As reported”. There you go. I place the blame on poor reporting. I bet Hawking knows a lot of things that don’t get reported properly.
This shouldn’t even be news, but he has a book coming out.
But why SHOULDN’T there be matter? Behind such questions as yours, Tulse, seems to be the assumption that absolutely nothing – l’inesprimibile nulla – is more likely than something. But why should it be?
As we promise in our opening chapter, unlike the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life given in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the answer we provide in The Grand Design is not, simply, “42.”
And of course the immediate new question becomes ‘What is the ultimate question of life’?
Maybe Hawking is publishing this book to get funding for building the computer that can compute the question of Life, the Universe and Everything?
Or at least an AI that could author a book on the subject?
I’m not paying a pound to Murdoch!
Hopefully someone on the Richard Dawkins forum will record it and Youtube it for the rest of us.
Yeah, I’ll pass on paying The Times (Murdoch) anything, too.
The Guardian and The Independent have articles posted, for free:
Giving money to any News International site feels like paying the wages of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin!
Hey, the webchat is free now, as Jerry updated above.
And Dawkins is tearing the godsquad apart, as one might expect.
MSNBC wins the title for most annoying headline:
Hawking says God’s not needed. So?
Yeah. You would think that the answer to a question that has intrigued people for thousands of year would elicit another response.
Of course among modern media you would be wrong.
I think the real answer is “we don’t know”. And we will likely never know how it all plays out. But yes, the whole god thing is a quaint pastime; we need to move on from that..
On this question, I’m content to say “I don’t know”, but I would couple it with “And I know that YOU don’t know either” to all those confidently asserting the existence of a deity.
Typo alert: Mlodinow
what we need more of is science
Rawk out with your Hawk out.
Welcome to the club, Hawking.
Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists
by Sean M. Carroll
Hawking replaced God with Gravity. Instead of saying ‘I believe God created’, he said “Gravity created”. Obviously there is a rational incongruence in his argument. Very funny.
Gravity wants you to send us some money. It says so right here in the Principia Mathematica!
Seriously, it’s not a replacement.
Not a replacement? Let me put it this way: I have no evidence of a God creator-or of a God for that matter-(no pun intended). Thence, I cant say : God created (and is). But I can also say: Gravity is, but I have no evidence that created all (maybe even God). Thence I cant say: Gravity created, even if it exists. The bottom line here-with creation that is- will be : something out of “nothing’. (Henning Genz 2001(?) book Nothingness adresses some relevant points) and of course JP Sartre L’etre et le neant.
Nonpersonal forces or phenomena aren’t a replacement for a “creator”, who usually gets used to prop up one oppressive system or another. No one can do that with gravity.
It’s true, AFAIK, that we haven’t yet explained “why” there’s a universe (or possibly many) or gravity or space-time or … but so what? Perhaps there’s always been a universe of some sort, which makes ultimate origin questions meaningless.
Physics has explained most of the major aspects this particular universe back to about 10^(-42) second of its existence, although of course we’ll likely be working out the details for the rest of our species’ lifetime. Maybe Jesus is hiding in that primoridial spec of Plank space-time, but I kinda doubt it.
But why assume there was a “nothing” before there was “something”? What is “nothing” anyway? Even empty space turns out to be “something”: space itself obeys cerain physical laws.
Space is “something”, not “nothing”, and those physical laws it obeys are also “something”.
good quetion, bad comment. empty space-if ‘real”…is void…
@Tulse: yes, that’s what I said, didn’t I? But empty space is as close to “nothing” as we can picture – and it’s still not “nothing”. My point is that absolute “Nothingness” may not be a meaningful concept. In everyday use “nothing” almost always refers to the absence of something specific.
@artikcat: no, empty space is not void. In general relativity, space has properties, like curvature. At the quantum-level, empty space is filled with virtual particles. It appears that “nothing” may not exist in nature.
Right, as close as we can picture. In other words, we may not be cognitively equipped to understand “nothing” in this deep sense. But that doesn’t mean the notion doesn’t make sense in an objective way, just that we can’t understand it.
Which makes the term rather meaningless.
And doesn’t this sounds exactly like how some people describe God?
To us, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have reality. There are plenty of things that spiders don’t understand but nonetheless exist (internal combustion engines, the tax system, nuclear fusion, etc. etc. etc.). We may simply be cognitively limited in a similar way. (Indeed, I’d argue it’s almost certain we are.)
I would be careful here, as we haven’t observed the putative case that we are claimed to “not understand”.
In fact precisely Sean Carroll here has made that response, we have a distribution of somethings (say, multiverse or at least a universe with potential parameter spread) so “nothing” isn’t part of that. In general “something out of nothing” is a religious description, not something that has been certified as a valid empirical concept.
@Torbjörn Larsson, OM
In general “something out of nothing” is a religious description, not something that has been certified as a valid empirical concept.
Agreed. It’s a metaphysical concept as well. The “empirical” basis most likely stems from the fact that we never see anything that cannot be traced to a beginning, which leads to viewing the cosmos in the same way that we view its individual parts.
Are you thinking of “Mr. Edmund Halley “solicitations”…? (mentioned in the Preface?)
Of all things this hilarious idea (money for gravit-as) remind me of a Jarrett Brachman, counterrorist (sic) “consultant”, article in last issue of Newsweek. According to JB ” The downfall of the KKK was sped along by “Clan of the fiery cross” a series of episodes of the 1940s radio show The adventures of superman..and damaged the KKK mystique, recrutiment cratered and affected long term viability.” (according to freakonomics).Maybe a Clans of the fiery crosses SNL shows can do more for reason and peace than currently.
That Gellhild guy is deluding himself. How many religious people refuse technology, really? Science works, religion is just a place holder at best, till we find the real reasons. Obviously all those people who pray for scientific evidence of God to be found haven’t had it work yet.
It’s Gledhill and she’s not a guy.
Well then, that Gledhill lady is deluding herself, then. Oops.
I would like to access the universe in which I am a werewolf. Science, make it so!
Jim, can’t you just choose to believe it? That makes it real.
Well, if you have a chance to look at the page opposite of Ruth Gledhill’s comment (faith works), you see that indeed it does (the application of Sharia law in Iran resulting in the stoning to death of so-called adulterers).
Sorry but I find Hawking’s position to be ridiculous:
“In The Grand Design we explain why, according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence, or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously”
So in other words, there is an identical universe to our own, exact in every detail except in that one, I didn’t link to this article. Everything else carries on as usual. And there are another essentially infinite number of universes where I skipped instead of walked, turned right instead of left, took one extra bite of food before swallowing (there are a lot of those universes), ad infinitum. And that’s just me! I simply hate the concept of infinite multiverses and infinite history and future. I’m not at all opposed to the multiverse hypothesis but this just turns up the volume to infinity.
I much better enjoyed Lawrence Krauss’s Origins lecture found at RDF: http://richarddawkins.net/videos/4490-39-a-universe-from-nothing-39-by-lawrence-krauss-aai-2009
Hawking may be brilliant but I find him tiresome and way late to the ‘we-don’t-need-God’ party.
Of course, you’re basing your dismissal of Hawking based on a paragraph that is a jacket blurb to his book.
Why not read the book first, then judge? I’m not saying that his book will hold water, but let’s at least not dismiss him out of hand based on 33 words.
I do agree that Krauss’ speech was aces. Although you have to really pay attention because he jumps around a lot and takes some short-cuts (due to the time constraints of the talk). It helps to have some grounding in cosmology and physics to fully “get” the talk.
BTW: The universe doesn’t care whether or not you “hate” an idea. Truth isn’t dependent on your approval or majority opinion.
I’m just sharing an opinion Chief! Let me be more exact and say: there is no evidence for the multiverse hypothesis and certainly not for infinite numbers of multiverses and all versions of history played out among them. How about this: I hate hypotheses that have no evidence posited by scientists who should A) know better and B) stop making shit up–that’s science fiction.
Naturally, I will have to read the book to properly critique it but this one paragraph seems to launch a very speculative hypothesis indeed (superstring theory anyone?).
Well, I for one would be very surprised if Stephen Hawking published a book wherein he provided no evidence for his assertions. And you appear to base the contention that he provides no evidence based on a your reading of 33 words.
I think that I will withhold judgment. I suggest you do likewise.
All of the “pre-universe” models that I’m aware of have underpinnings in particle physics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, and mathematics. What they don’t have at this moment are testable predictions. That’s not “no evidence” in my book.
There is only one model I’m aware of that doesn’t have any of that — the god hypothesis.
The playing field is not level in that regard.
You’re offering an argument from incredulity. ‘Tis a logical fallacy. And if one calls you on it, that’s not an attack, merely pointing out the fact that whether you like an idea or not, it may well turn out to be provable and proved.
On one hand, it is true that direct evidence for string/M theory is missing at this time.
On the other hand, many physicists are of opinion that it is the lead contender for a theory that will one day have to bridge the gap between general relativity and quantum mechanics.
Bottomline is: a hypothesis needing fewest assumptions/fewest phenomena not seen in the physical world is likely the accurate one.
Virtual particle arising “out of nothing” in the so called “quantum foam” is an established fact. The universe itself was a quantum particle at the time of big bang, and as such, arising as a quantum phenomenon is plausible. An invisible, undetectable sort of intellegence pulling strings on the visible universe through unexplained means and following mysterious motives (not including existence of humans) is less plausible. While both possibilities exist, the former is more likely to ultimately be proven true.
That doesn’t make empirical sense.
Even forgetting other theories, inflation has multiverses as a generic feature. What you need to do is to shwo that a) inflation doesn’t happen, or b) the generic feature is not the case.
At this point what is not needed is a positive hypothesis but a rejection of the current one, a vital part of standard cosmology. (Which looked at in isolation seem to happen but haven’t quite been tested to 3 sigma, merely rather close. The Planck probe will hopefully tie that knot.)
But that isn’t even what Hawking is using, AFAIU the description. He is relying on the many world theory of quantum mechanics, a valid, tested (survived discovery of decoherence; classic Copenhagen did not) and ironically here realistic theory. (The only known one, in fact.)
Many world theory is a pet theory of many cosmologists, it matches your description above and it certifies that the many worlds explore all possible pathways (equally, the whole distribution).
The reason he would use that specifically I think is that he wants his theory to be self-contained, so it explores variants of physics.
If not, using the physics you propose, he would still have universes tunneling into existence if he waits long enough. But it would be tied to a specific prespace. That works too, but is neither as general nor indicative of the generic pathways of quantum mechanics.
Also, check out Victor Stenger’s God: The Failed Hypothesis on why cosmology has ruled out a creator or interventionist “god”.
Sorry Jerry and the rest of you atheists: here is PROOF on how wrong you and Stephen Hawking are:
Let’s see your differential manifold/tensor analysis answer this!
ps: for those who don’t know me, I am joking.
(It is hard to tell at times)
Yep, it’s called Poe’s law 😀
It’s astonishing to see this lunacy repeated. How would that work, exactly? Are religious people, whose families are as afflicted by disease as the rest of us, going to ask their Representatives to push for a cut in the NIH budget?
This is just like the reaction to Seeing and Believing. It doesn’t matter how eloquent and graceful you are, you just can’t say that science is incompatible with religions. You just can’t. This is intellectually dishonest.
I’m experiencing cognitive dissonance at this point. I don’t see why you can’t say that, say in the sense Coyne insists.
But that societal practices makes that socially moot in some cases, and cognitive dissonance personally moot. I.e. freedom of religion guarantees you can continue worship in private, and self-delusion guarantees some will always do so.
Poor Ruth! Dawkins made her think and she’s certainly not used to that activity!
The tsunami argument was great. What’s the porpoise of a tsunami? With science you could describe the mechanism that causes a tsunami and there would be general agreement.
Ruth’s position, regarding her personal religious belief as applied to the tsunami problem, would be that tsunamis are caused by porpoises.
Unlike a scientific analysis of tsunamis, Ruth’s personal belief did not require any proof, analysis or consensus at all.
I don’t think she realized that she just validated Hawking’s position!
That is great! But it is also easy to answer: the porpoise of a tsunami is the squid pro quo of thermal energy.
Oops, tsunami, not cyclone – that is equilibration of gravitational energy. Sorry about that.
The most important verse for many Bible-believers is John 3:16. The most important verse for people talking to Bible-believers is 1 Peter 3:15 which commands believers to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for the hope [they] have.”
Ruth Gledhill tried to give reasons, but she didn’t do a very good job at it.
Her reasoning in this short chat consisted of the following:
1. The universe needs a purpose, therefore God.
2. The physical laws need a higher explanation, therefore God.
3. The universe seems intelligible, therefore God.
4. I have subjective experiences with God, therefore God.
5. Faith helps me be balanced and live a good life, therefore God.
6. God is “right” for or “works for” me, therefore God.
When Dawkins confronted her, stating that one could have delusions of being Napoleon and that it could “feel right” and “work for” that person, she said the following:
“Oh dear. I wondered if doing this debate might be a mistake. My answer to such challenges is usually this: ‘The only thing I know for certain about God is that I am not it.’ The same could be said for Napoleon I suppose….”
What an utter evasion. Dawkins was, of course, not suggesting that she might think she was either God or Napoleon. He was emphasizing that unprovable beliefs can “feel right” to certain people, but that has nothing to do with the facts. Dawkins criticized her about relying too much on what she “feels” and she, essentially, responded with “well, I feel that what I feel is not mistaken.” And this is from a Times religion editor? Really?
Heh. In my experience, the religion editor of a newspaper gets that job because they are singularly bad at every other job at the paper, but have too much tenure to just be kicked to the curb and/or are friends with the boss.
Religion editors of my acquaintance (and I worked in newspapers for 20-or-so years) tend to be slightly daffy.
Mostly, the job’s making sure the church announcements don’t have typos in them.
They do not need to have any theological training or underpinnings. They do not think deep thoughts.
That makes sense. Someone was either delusional or mean when they asked her to be the one defending religion in this debate. Victories that are that easy are no fun.
“”Richard, are you saying that the only questions worth answering are scientific ones?” No, not at all. But questions that begin “What is the purpose of . . .” require the existence of a purposeful agent.”
Dawkins really knows how to reason 🙂
The idea that contraditory truths can not simutaneously coixist seems to force most, including Mr. Hawkins, to choose one to the exclusion of the other. The evidence indicates that both do exist. Determinism (evolution)only works so far as a premise can be established. So, we create a beginning like the big bang without any explanation of what came before. The concept of infinity (in both time and space) doesn’t fit with a premise based argument for determinism any more than it does for creationism. AND, infinity does fit with both determinism and creationism. Perhaps, God is simply infinity.
Another consideration we should embrace is how or why (or even if) we evolved to have faith. The truth is: faith exists. Hell, even the belief in atheism is a faith of sorts. Let’s not forget that the grandest examples of God-banned societies have not resulted in creating a lifestyle most would want.
One might think that logically knowing there is no God is not compatible with believing there is–one would be wrong-I have such an understanding, and I have encountered a few others that understand the same.
The truth is “and” not “or.” Sometimes, when we speak the truth, our words have changed that which was true before we spoke into a lie. So be careful, Mr. Hawkins, and remember EVERYTHING has consequences, right?
What a load of crap.
I’m glad to see a response and disapointed you couldn’t site exactly what is “crap.” Is there something I wrote that is not true, or is it simply that you don’t agree? Change my mind….
I infer from your statement, “there is such a resistance to the idea that the universe simply existed and did not need to be created by a deity” that you think the Universe has always existed. If so, then at least on that, we agree. Apparently, you are far from believing in God (or god, as you will have it)in any form or with any definition. I simply offer a definition of God/god that I find hard to refute, crap or not, even by one who has spent his/her entire adult life in the academic/proof-driven environment.
So please, go ahead–pick me apart–I can take it. I am OPEN to learning.
Your argument must first be coherent before we can pick it apart.
And that evidence is…
All of science is consistent with no god. So you better have some good evidence.
Perhaps, God is simply infinity.
This is most definitely the “God” must theists believe in.
So be careful, Mr. Hawkins,
I presume you meant Hawking?
Another consideration we should embrace is how or why (or even if) we evolved to have faith.
This question has been explored by many. The primary argument seems to be that almost every human culture develops religious beliefs. But obviously, all those cultures developed different beliefs in the supernatural, so that the content of religious belief can be ruled out, and the usual question is, does religiosity, i.e. the tendency to develop religious belief, have evolutionary value?
There are competing hypotheses, such as that religiosity does not have evolutionary benefit, but is brought about by some other trait which does; or that it is parasitic. The topic is much to broad to cover in depth here.
Hell, even the belief in atheism is a faith of sorts.
Let’s not forget that the grandest examples of God-banned societies have not resulted in creating a lifestyle most would want.
One might think that logically knowing there is no God is not compatible with believing there is–one would be wrong-I have such an understanding, and I have encountered a few others that understand the same.
Congratulations on your ability to compartmentalise.
Oops. “This is most definitely NOT the “God” must theists believe in.”
I’m the first to admit that there is no singular “Truth”, but various (often axiomatic) truth systems that don’t need to be globally consistent. (Even in cases of the same area, as per Gödel.)
However, empiricism (“evolution”) guarantees there are singular observable facts.
But that there is fact doesn’t mean there is “Fact”. Empiricism, say evolution, works so far it works. More precisely, it gives predictions to check, and there are obviously no premises that are safe from evaluation.
Evolution is not a deterministic process btw, it has well known stochastic elements. Why would you visit a blog of a biology specialist in evolution and so blatantly misrepresent the science?
(Later I see that you ask what is crap. These 3 points are recognizable misrepresentations AKA crap. Also crap is that the “argument” (?) isn’t coherent, as mentioned. For example, you go from biology (“evolution”) to cosmology (big bang)(!), and seem to have the notion one area is indicative of the other (“premise”). If so, add it to the crap.
What would you have us do with it? If the “argument” can’t be followed, even less can it be answered.)
Cosmology is bizarre to me – and I’m currently surrounded by cosmologists, some of whom are well known around the globe. I don’t know if any of them deal with the particular issue of the origin of the universe and multiple universes though, so I doubt I can ask someone to explain it to a chemist.
Religion of course wants things to be wrong and right at the same time. Religions claim that there is a god (or that there are multiple gods). In the Abrahamic line, nobody had to create those deities – they always existed, and yet there is such a resistance to the idea that the universe simply existed and did not need to be created by a deity. Now the god which the bible claims cannot exist, and yet people insist that there must be a god anyway and it’s the god they worship and that it really is the god described in the bible. Still others say they agree that the description of a god in the bible must be wrong – and yet they fantasize about a deity creating the universe then abandoning it (which sounds more to me like the Hindu stories of creation). So even though I don’t know what these multiverse ideas are, god is simply not needed nor are there any observations which might even suggest a god.
gut gott – that Gledhill is such an airhead!
Dawkins says the question “what is the purpose of the universe” is silly (meaningless) and Gledhill then jumps to “all questions must be silly”. I wonder who changes her diapers for her. Reading the transcript is painful – the stupid is unbearable!
As for “faith works”, one self-consistent interpretation of that is “look at how much money the televangelists rake in”. My poor brain can’t even come up with a second self-consistent interpretation of that stupid claim.
Hmm … Dawkins gets some things not in his domain very wrong. Science has an awful lot to say of history and aesthetics. The archaeologists, paleontologists, and others have verified and rejected many claims based on science. As for aesthetics, many aesthetic issues have been studied. Many decades ago there was a huge international effort which resulted in the CIE color chart. A lot of money has been spent on learning how to encourage people to buy something (even if it is not an essential item). Various people have studied music and come up with ideas about what makes something “sound good” and what is perceived as dissonant and “noisy”. And the list goes on. Master painters over the years have independently come up with similar technical schemes in their work. Aesthetics is not random even though things are not necessarily easily modeled.
Madscientist says: “The archaeologists, paleontologists, and others have verified and rejected many claims based on science.”
I don’t understand your remark. Aren’t archaeologists and palaeontologists not scientists? A lot of articles on the these subjects appear in Science Magazine, for example. And scientists continuously correct their ideas, for example a lot of assumptions were revised with the introduction of carbon dating.
One last comment – about god bringing up more questions than are answered. I see this a different way. God kills all further exploration because he is the ultimate answer, whereas science slowly exposes more of what we do not understand and eventually we do understand more because of that. God is inimical to knowledge because he’s the ultimate lame excuse. We have seen this throughout history. God is loving, blah blah, but god sent that tsunami to teach some people a lesson. Oh sure, those eggheads know that the tsunami was caused by a large and sudden movement of some of the earth’s plates, but they don’t understand that goddidit. He has a plan which we don’t and can’t understand. See – god is by his very nature the acme of ignorance and its greatest champion too.
I asked a question about that during the chat session, but it didn’t make it through moderation. I asked something along the lines of: “Isn’t the difference between God bringing up more questions, and science bringing up more questions with a new discovery, that in the latter case the scientists have an idea in what direction to look for answers?”
Agreed. Bringing questions is a good thing.
(That is what science do so well that it can stay alive and healthy to boot.)
It seems that Hawking is wrong, according to cosmology expert Ray Comfort (aka the banana man)
Oh the wonder of wordpress!
Ah these serious scientists who have so much free time to discuss ‘humanoid deities’ and other silly ideas?
God, if he/she/it exists, is probably not a being of any sort but existence itself. Dawkins protesteth too much.
Darwin (and the well known Christian Mendel) are of course right and evolution (whether by natural selection or otherwise) is as fact as fact can be but neither this nor Hawkin’s cosmology really have anything meaningful to say about God or religion.
Contrasting the polemical atheism of Dawkins (a pseudo-science of religion) with the crazy beliefs of American nutter ‘Christians’ serves no useful purpose.
So many millions of words, millions of people and thousands of years of history of ‘God’ mean something – the question is what? The references to Hinduism are interesting as Hindu cosmology (hundreds of years BC at least) seems remarkably close at times to modern physics. Only 14 billion years old? – are you sure?
And yes, ‘why’, what happened before the big bang (1 second, 7 days, another 14 billion years?) are meaningful questions. Whether they need a ‘God’ or not is unknown but a god defined into existence as the ultimate cause with or without a purpose is not sooo bloody unreasonable! (The layman, that’s me, will never understand relativity let alone the maths of M-verses or string theory so why does Dawkins or Hawkins (sorry!)need to eliminate God?)
God may be quite unnecessary but there might be something else, something beyond, something unknowable and sometimes people ‘know’ there is and maybe call this ‘god’ or ‘spirit’ or whatever.
Read Karen Armstrong (no old men with white beards required)or ‘Mister God, this is Anna’ if short of time.
Only in America (or the Muslim world of fanatics?) could anyone get so worked up about nothing – oh dear, Dawkins and Hawkins (like myself) are Brits!!
Nothing? Why has a judge in the US banned government funding of embryonic stem cell research? Superstition. Why was Alan Turing condemned as a criminal, and submitted to inhumane treatments. Superstition! Why are women in Iran stoned to death: because of superstition. All these ideas and laws are consequences of superstitious beliefs. Why are perhaps millions of people in Africa dying of AIDS. Because superstition taught them that using condoms was bad. And there you have a rabbi saying that morality can only come from religion. He should wake up and look around.
Cosmology has nothing to say about the god of religion? I guess neuology has nothing to say about demonic possessions causing seizures either, right? What physics, does it have something to say about lightning being caused by Thor?
I know you have too many lofty concerns on your mind to worry about trivial matters such as the existence of god. And a nice historical amnesia to boot, allowing you to forget the carnage caused by religion in England during and after the Reformation. Unfortunately, those are not luxuries eveyone can afford. For example, the victims of “honor killing”, which does happen in Europe.
Well, if anyone doth “protesteth too much”, it is the religious when Hawking points out that gods are no longer necessary for an explanation of “the universe and everything”.
I don’t think your comment did anything else than to point that out.
Aren’t you on the wrong end of that claim, by your own words? Because it is a fact that scientists have started to research that area.
Currently the end of inflation is the start of our observations. But observations now gives us a possibility to eventually reject theories of inflation. (See for example the WMAP results, that discuss this in detail.)
So we are looking, in a meaningful (i.e. empirical) way on this, what happened before the start of our observable universe.
News flash; THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT OF THIS THREAD: IT IS KNOWN THAT THIS AREA DOES NOT NEED “a ‘God'”.
Hawking’s pathway isn’t the only reasonable such one. But it underscores this point greatly by adding to the set.
Another interesting claim where you seem to place yourself at the wrong end.
Pseudo-sciences in general is easy to recognize, they wrap themselves in the shroud of science while doing nothing of the sort. Parapsychology is a famous example.
Atheism has nothing of that, it relies on the results of science. Hawkings is a good example, now we know that gods aren’t necessary to explain universes and what they contain.
Religion on the other hand rejects facts that doesn’t suit. That is expressly not how atheism works, since most atheists are prepared to accept religion in case it is correct. Something that is exceedingly unlikely, but as in all matter empirical, reversals can’t be excluded.
Dawkins atheism is therefore best characterized as empirical atheism. His book “The God Delusion” underscores that amply, since it rely on and discuss the evidence (against “the God hypothesis”).
“Polemical” can be a value or a strategy based on the value. Certainly Dawkins would like religion criticized as much as possible. As would we all! 😀
Ah, I didn’t know this:
“A polemic is a form of dispute, wherein the main efforts of the disputing parties are aimed at establishing the superiority of their own points of view regarding an issue. [Wikipedia]”
I thought it was criticism by another word.
Then no, Dawkins is not polemical. It is science itself that has been established, by its success, that it works in empirical areas and is the best to do so. (I would call that “scientism”.)
In fact, Hawking is discussing that too in the post!
So the scientism of science transfers to empirical atheism such as Dawkins/most atheists, and not the other way around.
Specifically, Dawkins isn’t “polemical” by strategy but by the inherent characteristics of subject area. That is, if he was a theologian making religious claims, he would be polemical if he reject facts in the process. (So many or most theologians are polemical!? The things you learn.)
I dont think he’s completely throwing out creationism, he’s merely asserting that reality as we’ve come to know it can be sufficiently explained by current theories.
One of the things I like about Dawkins is that I rarely hear him complain about the things that get said about him, the hate mail, etc., though no doubt there’s plenty he could cite. I expect he well appreciates that he’s injected himself into a public debate on a sensitive subject, and a few epithets are expected to come his way.
Compare that to Gledhill, who early on in the discussion — and apropos of nothing — whines that “Out there in the blogosphere and on The Times website I am being called a number of names – ‘silly’ foremost but plenty of others too.”
It’s always a bad sign when someone is so quick to reach for the “tone” card. Why not just defend your arguments and show that they’re not silly?
I take credit for calling her “silly”!
Why, you incivil, strident, militant dick! Namecalling is wrong, don’t you know?
Although I feel that George Ellis’s argument is wrong and certainly gives too much to accommodation, I can see the point he’s making – I believe that we’re still too much in the infancy of a stunted (and so far disappointing) enlightenment era. For most people believing in God or science comes down to the same thing – faith that something they don’t understand is correct. Religion wins that argument hands down simply because it’s been around longer and fed into most people since before they could spell their own name. Of course if you through it down like George suggests, the scientifically ignorant will disregard it. However, this is a silly way of looking at it – if we are to progress, we need to educate. You cannot tell people that science has some strong foundation because without being informed, science is as magical as Jebus.
Ruth Gledhill must be an idiot. Personally I found the God Delusion one of the most measured atheist books that I’ve read. Dawkin’s completely deconstructs the religious morality myth and correctly addresses the absurdity that I imagine many of us felt when we were tykes in Sunday school. He does with in a mild and well informed method – I believe his arguments will stick around.
As for, “…they will pray, not because faith is logical, but because it works.”
I’m sure I’m not the only one here that laughed when they read that… Faith isn’t logical nor is the assumption that praying works.
There is a nice walk through of Hawking’s model @ Cosmic Variance by cosmologist Sean Carroll.
It is self-contained and do one better than similar models based on string theory or inflation; many world (or equivalently deep time) quantum mechanic must tunnel universes out of nothing all by themselves. I assume that Hawking have those that do not do so not having quantum mechanics, so there is an environmental selection for very simple laws.
Like in the no cloning theorem of quantum mechanics?
It is hard to tell that religious express a brain, yet deep phylogeny tells us vertebrates and invertebrates share the originating structure by an ancestor some 600 My ago. Fancy that!
It seems to me all this “God debate” is a footnote. More than twenty years ago, Professor Hawking wrote in “A Brief History of Time” that “the quantum theory of gravity has opened up a new possibility” in which one would have no need “to appeal to God or some new law” to explain the existence of the universe. (p. 136). Is what he is saying now merely an update on what new possibilities seem most likely to be correct or is he making some new breakthrough or can anyone tell from the blurb?
Opps. I didn’t see the previous post with the Carroll link. Never mind.
Why has it taken so long for Prof Hawkins to come to this sensible conclusion?
At the age of 90 years, I could have enlightened him donkeys years ago.
No doubt at all that Man-made Gods are but invisible & silent entities, dreamt up & blessed with existence only by Charlatans who have long preyed on the naivety of the credulous.
Forget about ‘M’ theory. For our purposes, it’s merely a matter of plain commom sense!
So where are the observations confirming the predicton of multi-verses?