I'm sure by now many of you will have heard of the recent news articles reporting statements by Stephen Hawking that God was not necessary for the creation of our universe (if you're not familiar with Hawking's comments, here is a link that you can follow to read about it). As you may know, Stephen Hawking is considered to be one of the world's leading theoretical physicists and is the author of "A Brief History of Time", one of the most popular books on cosmology ever published.
Because of Hawking's fame, and the fact that he's considered to be one of the leading physicists living and working today, his new book, "The Grand Design", naturally carries a great deal of weight in the scientific community. This is why Hawking's statements in the book are so important for Christians to be aware of and to understand. Briefly, the following quote (drawn from the linked news article above), summarizes the importance of what Hawking is saying:
"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. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."
Is Hawking correct in his view? Is God truly not necessary for the creation of the universe? Briefly, imagine what he's saying. He is claiming that the existence of the law of gravity was enough to cause the universe to come into existence spontaneously. But then one must ask "where did the law of gravity come from?". And this is only one question out many that can be asked. Another that immediately comes to mind is "how can a law which is part of the universe be the cause of the universe to which it belongs?". In other words, how can something create itself out of nothing?
In response to Hawking's statement, Dr. John Lennox (Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford) has offered a provisional response. His response is provisional because Hawking's book has not yet been released as of this writing. However, the comments are quite valid responses to the material which has so far been published.
Lennox, a Christian scholar, gives scientific reasons why Hawking's conclusions are incorrect. Below, I've provided two links. The first is Lennox's written response and the second is his video recorded shortly after Hawking's comments were made public:
- Stephen Hawking is Wrong (written)
- Stephen Hawking and God: A Response (video)
As Christians, we shouldn't become anxious when people make claims as Dr. Hawking has. People have been trying to disprove God's existence for thousands of years. Instead, we should have the courage and the curiosity to examine their claims in order to better understand them and be able to respond to them when we're asked by our friends.
Any close study of natural theology will lead to the inescapable conclusion that God exists. So when we encounter someone saying things like Dr. Hawking has, all that we need do is have the confidence to take a closer look. For me, I am confident that we'll come out at the other end better informed and with a stronger faith in a living God who made the universe and sustains it moment to moment.
Posted on Sat, September 11, 2010