Stephen Hawking is doubtless a very intelligent man, but in his most recent book The Grand Design (surely a title that is supposed to be ironic) he has shown that even the most intelligent of scientists can write like a fool, and this monograph will become a classic for that very reason. He followed up his inanities in an interview on Larry King Live on September 10, 2010. It is now evident to all (if anyone was hitherto in any doubt) that Hawking’s brilliance is in a very narrow field indeed, apart from which he gropes and stumbles like a drunken man. Early in his book he announces
Philosophy is dead. It has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly in physics. As a result scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.
As William Lane Craig has remarked, such a verdict is
not merely condescending, but also…outrageously naïve. The man who claims to have no need of philosophy is the one most apt to be fooled by it.
Indeed, Hawking and his sidekick Mlodinow proceed to show just how ignorant they are of philosophy, theology, the philosophy of science, the history of philosophy, the history of science, and general science itself. In the Larry King Live show Hawking was asked who his hero was, and why, to which he responded:
Galileo, the first modern scientist who realized the importance of observation.
Well, you can have who you like as your hero, of course, but the historical claim about Galileo is utter rot. He couldn’t hold a candle to the likes of Kepler, for one. Galileo was a second-rate scientist in the main, who continued to his dying day to deny gravitational force as constraining bodies to rotate around the sun, clinging to an Aristotelian idea that celestial bodies ‘naturally’ moved in ‘perfect’ circles because they were not acted upon by a centripetal force, and he refused to accept Kepler’s careful observations and tabulated data that planets were subject to gravitational pull and moved in ellipses. He likewise refused to believe that the sun and moon caused the tides, as Kepler showed, because he denied extraterrestrial gravity. Apart from his last work, under house arrest, on mechanics, the myth of Galileo’s supposed greatness is the deliberate invention of atheists, communists and other anti-Christians, who have cunningly warped history since the nineteenth century to promote a ‘conflict thesis’. Mighty interesting that Hawking, who has built his reputation on pushing cosmic gravity into the absurd, without observational corroboration, should have as his hero one who denied extraterrestrial gravity and who often espoused dogma over meticulous observation.
But if philosophy is dead, it is dead only in the mind of Stephen Hawking, where it was delivered stillborn, or smothered at birth. As someone has said, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And if ‘scientific’ conjecture is all Hawking has by way of explanation, it does the crudest of jobs, riding roughshod over and mangling all understanding, rationality and logic, so that he ends up making puerile statements unworthy of an intelligent man. Just as, by definition, ‘Intelligent Design’ is not a scientific hypothesis because it deals with causes outside the realm on natural science, likewise a physical explanation cannot be an explanation for a metaphysical problem.
For example, Hawking states
Spontaneous creation is the reason [why] there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.
What an utterly crass statement. There are effectively three deep questions here:
Why is there something rather than nothing?
Why does this universe exist?
Why does mankind exist?
Note that these are ‘why’ questions, which can only be answered by invoking purpose (as in theology, and Intelligent Design) or at the very least function. There is no sloppy mistake here – on the Larry King Live show King attempts some clarification between the ‘how’ and the ‘why’:
One of your colleagues out of Cambridge says that science provides us with a narrative as to how existence may happen [the ‘how’], but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative [the ‘why’]. How do you respond to that?
The scientific account is complete. Theology is unnecessary.
That’s clear, then. Hawking really is claiming to answer the ‘why’ questions. In his previous book, A Brief History of Time, he had mentioned these ultimate ‘why’ questions and concluded the work with the words
Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.
All very tongue-in-cheek: there was a cynical reason for including the reference to God, as he later admitted:
In the proof stage I nearly cut the last sentence in the book… Had I done so, the sales might have been halved.
Prof. Jacob Bekenstein, a leading theoretical physicist, whose work on black hole thermodynamics influenced Hawking, declared
He is a known atheist, from the time I first met him in the 1970s…His care is very expensive, so he lives from his books and other projects. It’s not hard for him to get attention and publish.
Now he is just playing to the atheist gallery to keep the revenue stream flowing, as Richard Dawkins did with The God Delusion.
But, having explicitly eliminated God and theology from his purview to please his atheist constituency, Hawking’s answer to all three questions is just another ‘miserable refuge’ – spontaneous creation. An uncaused cause. And that is supposed to be the ‘ultimate triumph of human reason’?!! Creation, of course, implies a creator, and the uncaused cause has traditionally been identified with deity, but Hawking will have none of that. As a native English writer, he could have chosen the more neutral term ‘spontaneous generation’; but as an atheist he delights in purloining words from the vocabulary of theists, such as ‘creation’. Not only is this creation spontaneous, but the universe creates itself – it is its own creator, self-creating, self-organizing. Its purpose and function and meaning is to create itself.
Hawking thus denies the necessity for primary causation:
It is not necessary to invoke God to…set the universe going
No, the universe brought itself into existence because that’s the sort of thing universes do all the time. Stuck for a physical and scientific explanation for a finite universe with a defined stating point in time (as Hawking holds), then the universe has to be the cause of itself. This brings us back to where we started in Part I. If you insist on a scientific explanation for an event that is caused by primary causation, or for which a scientific explanation cannot be found, then you will end up with a very silly one, as Hawking’s hypothesis exemplifies. He would have done better to keep his inanities to himself, but he makes himself a laughingstock by parading this nonsense so publicly. Richard Dawkins thinks that just as he himself pretends to have eliminated God from biology, so Hawking has delivered the coup de grace and eliminated God from physics as well. Indeed not, though – all he has done is make the atheist position look ever more ridiculous and untenable.
So, let’s try to apply a How question, which should be more amenable to science – how could the universe possibly create itself ex nihilo?
Because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing.
Gravity and quantum theory cause universes to be created spontaneously out of nothing [Larry King Live show]
Note carefully: the universe does not come into existence contingently, but it necessarily and infallibly comes into existence ex nihilo because of the ‘law of gravity’. Quantum theory ’causes’ universes to be created spontaneously. Note also that Hawking appears to be saying that it is gravity itself that causes the spontaneous generation, for which gravity would have to be a property of pre-existent material, which by definition cannot exist. Charitably, we must surely take it that he means the ‘theory’ or ‘law’ of gravity itself, but who knows? What an amazing ‘Just So’, Porquoi story. All part and parcel of atheist mythology, as we’ve come to expect.
Asked by Larry King
You write that because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Will you tell me how that law came into existence?
Gravity is a consequence of “M” theory, which is the only possible unified theory.
To assert that gravity, a property, is a consequence of a theory is plain nutty. And don’t fail to spot the ultimate unscientific hubris: that M-theory, a speculative unfalsifiable and untestable string theory is ‘the only possible unified theory’. History is littered with such stupid claims by scientists to have attained the ultimate and only possible theory. M-Theory is nothing more than a candidate for a unified theory, and these string theories are in a state of flux all the time.
There are breathtaking logical fallacies here. Firstly, Hawking is effectively saying that the law of gravity applies when there is ‘nothing’; that X creates X; and that ‘nothing’ becomes something. But a physical law is not a physical thing, it is merely a description of properties and behaviours of something that already exists. Laws have no power over anything, they do not control, regulate, create, explain or cause. They produce no events, they merely describe patterns to which events conform; they have no causative or sustaining power. No snooker balls ever moved on green baize because of Newton’s laws of motion or as a consequence of any theories, their motion has only ever been described in accordance with Newton’s laws and physical theories. And for causation one would have to look elsewhere.
But there can be no laws of motion without motion, no laws of gravity without gravity etc because the laws are merely the descriptions of the properties of the things themselves. ‘Laws of nature’ do not have any real and independent existence apart from the properties and phenomena they describe – except in the mind of God, which Hawking now disavows.
Now, a law describing a property that is uninstantiated (i.e. no examples found) is known as a vacuous law, and we can all make up any number of them covering the properties of things that do not exist, and never be able to prove whether such laws do or don’t apply because there are no examples to examine. Quite apart from the fact that you can’t have physical laws if you have ‘nothing’, physical laws don’t and can’t do anything with ‘something’, never mind with ‘nothing’. Hawking has the whole thing round the wrong way: physical laws don’t make things happen, or ensure that things happen, or prevent things from happening: they are merely abstract descriptions of the things that actually do happen.
But Hawking thinks that there exist not only this universe of ours, which appears to be designed, and which is in fact extremely fine-tuned, but many other universes as well:
Our universe and its laws appear to have a design that…is tailor-made to support us…That is not easily explained and raises the natural question of why it is that way… The discovery relatively recently of the extreme fine-tuning of so many of the laws of nature could lead at least some of us back to the old idea that this grand design is the work of some grand designer….That is not the answer of modern science…our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws.
Oh, here we go again, just as with Richard Dawkins, that tired old despicable ‘multiverse’ argument and the anthropic principle get trotted out, that miserable refuge that if there are trillions upon trillions of universes with all sorts of different laws, surely one of them is going to come up trumps as a good one, like the one we are in. That atheistic admixture of Micawberism and the best of all possible worlds of Dr Pangloss. As Hawking stated on Larry King Live:
Our presence selects out from this vast array only these universes that are compatible with our existence.
‘Our presence’ selects some universes fitted to our existence! But as theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne has noted:
Let us recognise these speculations for what they are. They are not physics, but in the strictest sense, metaphysics. There is no purely scientific reason to believe in an ensemble of universes. By construction these other worlds are unknowable by us.
There’s not a shred of evidence for such a multiverse, anyway, so when Hawkins says that our universe ‘seems to be one of many’ he is, of course, lying. And how does he suppose these multiple universes come into existence?
“M” theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing…multiple universes arise naturally from physical law. They are a prediction of science.
Oh yes, of course, I forgot, they are spontaneously created from ‘physical law’. They just pop into existence by spontaneous creation all the time because that’s what universes do. So, it’s worth asking the question, what is this almighty ‘physical law’ that genders these imagined quadrillions of universes? Is it a physical thing? No, it is not, it is an entirely abstract concept about the physical: it is not matter or energy, you cannot measure it, contain it, or transport it, it exerts no force; it creates nothing, sustains nothing, determines nothing; you can’t increase it or decrease it, have more of it or less or it. It is not an entity that can be studied (no branch of science studies entities called ‘laws’; ‘laws’ are the convenient fictions we construct to describe patterns of behaviour of the physical things that we do actually study). ‘Physical law’ is not a physical thing at all, any more than environmental law is an environment, or property law is a property, and therefore it cannot be invoked as a scientific explanation.
Hawking foolishly believes that there are well nigh an infinite number of universes that have arisen ‘naturally’ from this abstraction he calls ‘physical law’. This is a huge category error – it is like saying that the law of marriage naturally begets children, or Gresham’s Law of economics naturally produces money. To invoke a ‘law of nature’, some kind of eternal and unchangeable non-corporeal and non-physical entity, as an explanation for the existence of the universe is not a scientific hypothesis. It is, to quote Adelard of Bath “an example of a miserable refuge from a real philosophic explanation”. Sure, it is a fanciful hypothesis, an atheist myth, but there is a better known name for an eternal and unchangeable non-corporeal and non-physical entity which created the whole universe from nothing:
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me…I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things…Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?…I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded…For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
Given the hypothesis that Almighty God created the universe ex nihilo with a purpose, or the alternative hypothesis that something abstract, impersonal, immaterial, and impotent, which cannot control or regulate, and which has no causative or sustaining power is the reason for the emergence of the universe ex nihilo as some kind of cosmic accident or necessity, I don’t think there’s much competition. Hawking is now firmly in the camp of those for whom it is said that they
became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools
We should cease being in awe of this increasingly silly man. If Hawking is so deluded as to think that scientists are now the torchbearers in the discovery of truth, then as a supposed exemplar of modern science we can see that he has certainly soon stumbled and dropped the torch he snatched, and, with this latest publication, torched his own reputation to boot.