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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.


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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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