by John Tutten
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
With the release of the feature film The Theory of Everything, the famous cosmologist Stephen Hawking is back in the public eye. The movie chronicles his early life, his marriage to Jane Wilde, and his devastating battle with ALS resulting in his brilliant mind becoming increasingly isolated from physicality. It is truly a fascinating story.
Hawking, now retired from Cambridge, has advanced our understanding of the universe in many ways, most notably in the physics of black holes and he is considered the most prominent scientist of our time. He may best be known though as the author of the least read best seller of all time, A Brief History Of Time.
When last we saw Hawking in mainstream media, he was featured in the premier episode of the Discovery Channel series Curiosity which debuted a few years ago. Curiosity was intended to provide popularized and entertaining answers to the big questions science is exploring about reality, much like the recent resurrection of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. The first episode entitled “Did God Create The Universe” takes on the biggest question of all (found here: http://vimeo.com/55419263).
And who would be better than Stephen Hawking for such a presentation? He is so ravaged physically that he can only move his eyes and communicates through a specially designed optical computer system through which he can speak with an artificial voice. His condition adds strangeness to the presentation that I’m sure enhances the show’s appeal to the general audience.
The bulk of the 42 minute episode was spent switching back and forth between stunning graphics of galaxies, super novas, and nebulae and Dr. Hawking’s creepy, twitching eyes all the while pointing out how science has dispelled all of religion’s mythology about creation.
I was beginning to wonder if the show would ever provide its answer to the creation of the universe question when finally, with just a few minutes left, Hawking bestows his insight on us – God could not have created the universe since time did not come into being until the Big Bang. Huh? That’s it? I could have watched two episodes of Duck Dynasty in the time I wasted getting to this vacant conclusion.
Hawking provides no argument for why God has to exist in universal time. There was no justification for it. He just floats it out there. It’s purpose seems to be to provide an easy and simple answer atheists can use to squash their Christian acquaintances at the backyard barbeque – “Hawking says God must exist in universal time and since time was created at the Big Bang, God couldn’t have been the cause. Ha! Now, pass the potato salad!”
Well, let’s take a look at Hawking’s position. Scientists all agree that time, space, and matter/energy came into being at the Big Bang. Nobody disputes this. I do find it ironic that while the show hammers the point of how science has disproved the mythologies of the past, they somehow neglect to tell us that Genesis accurately described all along how the universe had a beginning a finite time ago. Science for many years clung to a view that the universe was eternal until the evidence dragged atheistic scientists kicking and screaming into agreement with the Bible, but please forgive me for I digress.
So everyone agrees that the universe – time, space, matter/energy, and the laws of physics came into being in one fantastic creation event. Hawking says it can’t be God, but it could be particles suddenly appearing in energy level variations in a quantum vacuum. What? Did I miss something here? Didn’t we just agree that time, space and matter/energy came into existence at the Big Bang and therefore prior to the Big Bang nothing existed? This includes quantum vacuums and energy level variations that are constituents of this physical universe.
So how can the universe essentially create itself prior to its own existence? I guess the show just sort of left that out. Too complicated for the low-brow masses perhaps?
Christian apologists use the Kalam Cosmological argument to show the necessity of a first cause that is timeless, spaceless, and immaterial (not to mention highly intelligent, highly powerful, and purposeful). The argument can be articulated as follows:
1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause
2) The universe began to exist
3) Therefore the universe has a cause.
Note statement one, everything that begins to exist has a cause. The word “begins” is the key one. The universe had a beginning. Our understanding of the Creator is that He is eternal with no beginning. And again, to create time, space, and matter/energy the cause had to be none of these, i.e., timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. The show clearly fails in providing a cogent answer to the question it poses.
And Hawking? Well, I think Einstein said it best, “The man of science makes a poor philosopher”. Looks like Albert got that right too.
John Tutten holds degrees in both engineering and business management. He is veteran of thirty-three years in the high technology business world where he spent time in development engineering and technology management predominantly in the area of custom semiconductor circuits. He recently retired to the mountains of north Georgia where he devotes his time to the study of Christian Apologetics and writing in defense of the Christian worldview.