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Is Stephen Hawking Justified in Saying “There Is No God”
Some months ago, I discovered the Hub article “Here's Why Stephen Hawking Says There Is No God” by Catherine Giordano. Being interested in both astronomy and religion, I read it and submitted a comment: “How does Hawking explain the physical healings at Lourdes which, after thorough medical examination, are declared to be miracles?”. I was shocked by her reply: “Stephen Hawking has never tried to explain miracles. He's a scientist. He knows that there are no miracles. He has said, ‘there are no miracles, or exceptions to the laws of nature.’” So I responded: “So he won’t even look at evidence that could prove him wrong.”. She did not publish that response. Censorship. I was not impressed.
I then submitted three more comments, all on different points, two of which she also didn’t publish. More censorship. But then she published an explanation (not specifically directed at me) which reads, in part: “Comments are not a place for an extended discussion; therefore I only accept two comments from the same person. Hub Pages is open to everyone so anyone who feels the need to have their point of view heard can join (it's free) and publish their own hub.”. That is unsatisfactory. Anyone reading her article and comments gets a one-sided view: her view. That’s not how you arrive at the truth.
So here I am, writing my own Hub in response to hers. However, her article is long, and there are well over a hundred comments (including her replies), so I’m not going to attempt to reply to everything, certainly not yet. I’m going to start with just a few fundamental points and then, at a later date, I hope to add more.
How can someone who won’t even look at the evidence that can prove him wrong, be described as a scientist? That’s no better than someone who believes the earth is flat. How can we progress in knowledge if we are deliberately wearing blinders? That’s tunnel vision. Religious people at least look at all the evidence; these “scientists” only look at evidence consistent with their view.
She quotes Hawking as saying:
“There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason”, and
“it’s my view that the simplest explanation is; there is no God.”
So Hawking’s VIEW was that there is no God. He was considered one of the smartest people on Earth, and was a world famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist who had received many honors. So he was an AUTHORITY, and THAT is why we should accept his belief.
His view is based on string THEORY and M-THEORY. So it’s just those THEORIES of physics which can explain the creation of the universe. We don’t know if those theories are correct. They haven’t been proved. And his view is NOT based on OBSERVATION. Has anyone actually SEEN a universe being created?
So his argument boils down to “God doesn’t exist because I say so”.
At the risk of ruffling some feathers, this is like a religious cult, with Hawking a leader and his followers hanging onto his every word. Acceptance of his belief requires FAITH: faith in him and faith in those theories.
This cult accusation is reinforced by her devoting a section to evidence that only a tiny minority of scientists, especially top scientists, believe in God. Of what relevance is the existence or otherwise of God to most fields of science? So what would make them experts on that question? I believe that people are powerfully affected by the opinion of those around them. And we live in a secular world. One might even say aggressively secular.
She begins her article by saying: “Stephen Hawking believed that there is a ‘grand design’ to the universe, but that it has nothing to do with God. With continual breakthroughs, science is coming closer to ‘The Theory of Everything,’ and when it does, Hawking believes all of us will be able to understand and benefit from this grand design.” So his belief is based on faith.
Science can’t currently explain everything, but these scientists are confident - have faith - that science will one day be able to fill in the gaps. I have coined a term for this: “the Science of the Gaps”.
When Hawking says “Religion believes in miracles, but they are not compatible with science”, he means they are not compatible with his narrow view of science. His science deals only with the natural world. True science is open to at least the possibility that there is a supernatural world.
She states that Hawking, in his book “The Grand Design”, “takes the reader on a journey from the earliest beliefs about the creation of the universe to the cutting edge of modern cosmology”. This draws attention to the fact that previous generations of scientists got it wrong. What they told us has been discredited. For example, I’ve got a 1956 astronomy book which favors around one billion years for the age of the universe. Today, just half-a-century later, we believe the correct value is an order of magnitude higher. This is a salutary warning that we mustn’t blindly believe what scientists tell us. We can only have a limited confidence in science. And must be wary of over-confidence by scientists.
That’s a good note to end on. This is enough for now.