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Stephen Hawking’s Theory of No God

Updated on July 7, 2011

God is born of ignorance

In his book The Grand Design Stephen Hawking comments on the ignorance of our ancestors who invented Gods to explain how nature behaved. He suggests that people developed a victim mentality as a result of believing in these Gods and being at the mercy of Gods who were above question. He portrays our ancestors as backward and misguided and not until the development of scientific enquiry does the human race emerge from the darkness. He talks about the discoveries of Pythagoras and Archimedes as not real discoveries in the pure sense because these men were not using scientific enquiry as it is known today. He seems to ridicule their beliefs insisting that as they were not familiar with the scientific method so their ideas to explain the universe were not developed as a result of experimental verification and as such were not valid. He insists that their world view was flawed primarily because they had no clear distinction between human and physical laws. He balked at the notion held by great men such as the Johannes Kepler that inanimate objects such as the sun had a mind of its own which was governed by universal law.

No God in the Grand Design

He finds it incredulous how people could ever have believed in the idea that everything in the universe, not just human beings, possessed will or intention. His world view is that the only things we can be sure of are the things we can examine by observation and the rest is just mumbo jumbo. He maintains that it is only through scientific observation that we learn how the universe behaves rather than believe that the universe is endowed with some kind of supernatural intelligence. He doesn’t come outright and say that God doesn’t exist but rather diplomatically says there is no room for God in the equation that describes the universe. He is very clear in his view that science can describe the universe quite adequately without any help from God. Unlike Copernicus who also challenged the church of his time, Copernicus used science to explain God’s creation whereas Stephen Hawking is endeavouring to use science to negate the existence of God. He argues that it was too difficult for our ancestors to examine the universe scientifically because their methods of calculation were cumbersome until a convenient base ten number notation was invented by the Hindus of India around 700AD.

Superstitious Philosophers believe in God

He criticises the physics created by the Greek philosopher Aristotle as invalid because the principles upon which his explanations were based seemed to be made to fit the beliefs the great philosopher held about the way the world worked rather than on objective observation. He makes fun of Aristotle’s explanation of why a body falling to earth accelerates because it feels happier the closer it gets to its home, at rest on the ground. He seems stunned that the world accepted his ideas for almost two thousand years.

He classes Kepler as the first real Scientist to emerge and as being the only one to have any appreciation of what is meant by scientific enquiry. He then gives credit to Galileo for discovering laws which give substance to what he terms true scientific enquiry but it wasn’t until Descartes arrives on the scene does any scientific discovery worth mentioning occurs. Descartes is the first to put forward the notion that inanimate objects don’t have minds of their own but are governed by laws that are independent of location and time.

Because God can't be defined by Mathematics God cannot exist!

He defines true science as laws that are based upon observation of the regular occurrence of events that can then be predicted with accuracy and apply right across the board not just for a particular event or even a finite series of events but for all events of its kind forever. He takes pains to distinguish scientific law and generalization insisting that what we generalize is not always law. To be a law you must be able to translate it into Mathematical language and hold true without exception. He then goes on to defend why he still maintains that Newton’s Laws of motion are indeed laws even though they only do a fairly good job of describing what happens in nature.

If the world can be explained then it can be done according to laws. Then three questions would have to be answered:

1. Where do the Laws come from?

2. Are there any conditions in which the laws do not work?

3. Is there a limit to the number of possibilities of the laws?

Kepler, Galileo, Descartes and Newton all maintained that the laws came from God and the laws are suspended when divine intervention is involved. This suspension of the laws that govern the universe every time God intervened is how they explained miracles.

Scientific Determinism is all we need not God!

Stephen Hawking attributes the basis of all modern science to the formulation by Pierre – Simon, Marquis de Laplace (1749 – 1827) of what he terms scientific determinism. If you know the state of the universe at any given time then by using a set of laws you can explain its past and determine its future state. This is the principle upon which Stephen Hawking basis his argument for removing the influence of God or the supernatural from our understanding of the universe and how it works. He then connects this scientific determinism to people as well saying that if the universe is subject to scientific determinism then people too are subject to the same laws. He then tries to use this notion to systematically refute the existence of soul and enforce the idea that neuroscience explains that we are our brains. He moves from one argument to another to eventually conclude that we do not need God in the equation to explain the universe or ourselves. All we need are scientific laws based on scientific determinism.

To Buy The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking & Leonard Mlodinow

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The Grand Design is a great read. It explains the universe in simple terms that everyone can understand. Stephen Hawking gets us thinking and questioning our beliefs and this is the sign of a great author.

Channel 4 News - Stephen Hawking - No Need For God

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    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 

      7 years ago from Palm Springs


      For those of us who believe in Divine Intervention, miracles are never magic and vice versa. The laws of nature ruling the cosmos notwithstanding, it is entirely conceivable that whoever initiated, formulated and put into effect those laws, could also suspend those laws and make them inoperative at some point in our daily lives.

    • rjbatty profile image


      7 years ago from Irvine

      A. Villarasa: Don't despair. If there is a god who is to say that he doesn't work his magic through the intricacies of such things as quantum mechanics.

    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 

      7 years ago from Palm Springs

      I was totally mesmerized when I read Hawking's book on The Grand Design... developed quite an unrelenting headache trying to follow the intricacies, complexities, and perplexities of quantum mechanics... but in the end sustained a concussion when I fell to earth after reading the last chapter. It was, to say the least, the most ego bruising experience of my life to be told by Hawking that Homo Sapiens ( a specie that I am a member in good standing) was never meant or intended to be by any supernatural being but rather that man was created via the non-purposeful, happenstance mixing of atoms millions of years ago.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile imageAUTHOR

      Xavier Nathan 

      7 years ago from Isle of Man

      Thank you for such a well thought out and intelligent response to this hub about Stephen Hawking's book The Grand Design. How can I not follow you after this? I look forward to reading your hubs now.

    • rjbatty profile image


      7 years ago from Irvine

      Nice synopsis of Hawking's book. The problem between science and religion is that science may be able to explain the mechanics of the universe but it can't say much about how to live moral lives. In this sense, religion is still relevant -- even though Hawking may be entirely correct that God is a man-made creation, designed to give us some kind of moral direction. The fact that so many people do believe in a God (or Gods) suggests that man needs more than a user manual about how the universe behaves. Mankind really needs a field manual about how to get through life -- something that teaches us in simple terms the difference between right and wrong behavior. Even if an individual looks at world religions as symbolic of our own psychological needs, we cannot discount the enormity of this emptiness and the desire to have the gulf filled with something with which human beings can identify on a personal level. So much of science is based on high-level abstrations, pure theory and mathamatics -- all of which is well and good, yet it doesn't address fundamentals like how to be a good parent, how to treat your neighbor, how to be a decent citizen of the planet. I think Hawking wold agree that man still requires a blueprint that can help us balance a world that is both balanced and chaotic. I also think this gap is where people become defensive about religion vs. science. There are points where they cross over, but there is a tremendously huge and complicated realm that psychology is attempting to explain, but this field of science is still in its infancy. Until psychology makes giant leaps forward and assists us in understanding the symbolism, instinct and survival mechanisms that may be the root of what we can now only refer to as the "supernatural," the split (and antagonism) between science and religion will remain. In Hawking's book I do not believe that his intention is to loosen the underpinnings of what binds us to a belief in God -- not on a moral level anyway. Until science can address such profound questions such as why do we exist, is there an afterlife, why is there so much "evil" in the world, then we can only turn to religious instruction or that of the Eastern philosophies.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile imageAUTHOR

      Xavier Nathan 

      7 years ago from Isle of Man

      Thank you prisana for visiting but I am not sure what you mean. This hub is meant to be a review of his book and in which he tries to convince the world that God does not exist or that God is superfluous because we now have science. Of God's existence I have never been in any doubt.

    • Prisana profile image

      Prisana Nuechterlein 

      7 years ago from Thailand and Colorado

      Interesting that Hawkins convinced you that God does exist. Excellent review! Kindest Regards, God (:-)

    • Spirit Whisperer profile imageAUTHOR

      Xavier Nathan 

      7 years ago from Isle of Man

      Thank you Tato Sugiarto for taking the time to visit and comment.

    • profile image

      Tato Sugiarto 

      7 years ago

      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.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile imageAUTHOR

      Xavier Nathan 

      8 years ago from Isle of Man

      Thank you Harlan. It is great quality for a man to be able to entertain other's beliefs and opinions without being offended. I myself enjoyed the book they I would enjoy a good novel. Stephen Hawking has not convinced me of his theory of no God in fact the book does quite the opposite for me.

    • Harlan Colt profile image

      Harlan Colt 

      8 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

      What a great hub, this is very well written. I am inspired to read to book, however, as a Christian, I am sure I will read it with my own biases.

      Great Work SW.

      - Harlan

    • Spirit Whisperer profile imageAUTHOR

      Xavier Nathan 

      8 years ago from Isle of Man

      Slarty I agree with you completely and I was kind to a man who had the courage the speak his truth. Stephen is a man with a great mind but this has never made a man exempt from the trappings of ego. It is not in Stephen Hawkings interests to support our spiritual nature because then he would have to take responsibility for the life he and all of us create on a minute by minute basis.I find it funny that he criticises the thinking of people like Aristotle when he himself has almost come full circle to supporting the ancient view. I love reading about the way these people think and it stimulates our own thinking. In the end Stephen has spent a life time in pursuit of an illusion outside of himself in the stars when all along the truth lies within like a for all of us.Thank you for your insightful comments and I I wrote a review of this book because it does stimulate such creative thinking and that is a good thing.

    • Slarty O'Brian profile image

      Ron Hooft 

      8 years ago from Ottawa

      Science is a wonderful tool. We can base our thinking on it's principals, integrating logic and rationality with the scientific method.

      One of the basis of science, as you well know, is skepticism. But more than that it is taking a wait and see attitude toward what observations we record may mean. There is always room for new evidence which will alter the old, and shed new light on the subject.

      We depart science and go into philosophy the moment we interpret observation.

      This is why even though I love what science has discovered and what facts it has unraveled, I can not invest belief in any of the interpretations of them.

      For example, the big bang is a wonderful model. But it is a model, not the last word.

      You were kind to Stephan in your review. He uses string theory combined with quantum fluctuation and Feynman's "History if all possible universes" equations to make his points. All of which, apart from quantum fluctuation, are unproven models.

      String theory, to my regret, is a dead end. It is as if at the end of it's life he is trying to revive it just before it's last breath. "history of all possible universes" equations are a result of Feynman's idea that there is no wave particle duality. That in fact in the double slit experiment the particle takes all possible routs to get through both slits and causes a wavelike interference pattern.

      It has never been shown to be the case and is not used in QM.

      String theory through Hawking and others has become not the theory of everything as was hoped, but the theory of anything. As Laurence Krauss says, a theory of anything, is no longer science.

      Hawking may be right, but I wouldn't bet on it. We will see. But to sell his book as a new discovery was not on.

      What really gets to me is that the last time I tried to ask him his stance on god he said he didn't want to get in to the discussion as if it was beneath him. And now he's telling the world he's proven no god exists, and has done no such thing.

      I must tell you I'm an atheist. But I don't like it when people say they have proven something when they clearly didn't. Particularly not someone with Hawking's mind.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile imageAUTHOR

      Xavier Nathan 

      8 years ago from Isle of Man

      Thank you Green Wasabi for your comment and your support. Your comments are greatly appreciated Garry. I agree with you. I too love reading scientists like Hawking who have tired of explaining the science and have moved to the next level of trying to use their knowledge to explain life.

      I am reading a couple of great books at the moment:

      Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed by jim Al-Khalili

      Big Bang by Simon Singh

      If you haven't read them I highly recommend them. Very easy to follow and in a way that captivates the mind.

      Thank you for your continued support.

    • profile image

      Garry Bannister 

      8 years ago

      An excellent review.. I love your style. You tell us what you're thinking by saying nothing and yet telling us everything. Personally I find it fun to read scientists like Hawking and Dawkins speaking with such certainty about things that lie far beyond what any language or any maths could ever define, let alone explain. I suppose it sells books and makes money.. Well done, Xavier, neat job. Have a look at this.. this is a man who really knows what he's talking about...

    • Green Wasabi profile image

      Green Wasabi 

      8 years ago

      I don't think it is possible to prove existence or nonexistence of God scientifically. Every time scientists come up with The Big Bang theory or something like that, Church will say, that it was designed by God. Anyway, great author, really enjoyed his "Universe in a nutshell". Thanks for your review!


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