Here is a quote from Stephen Hawking that illustrates my point about scientists trying to supplant God with word games:
“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” Hawking and his co-author, Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow, write in “The Grand Design,” which is due to be issued next week. “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.”
What irks me is that Stephen Hawking has become somewhat of a spokesman for the human community. I can see many atheists that would applaud his statement.
However, examining this statement thoroughly reveals so many holes.
First of all, he has created a new mystical force which we are to accept as omnipotent, Spontaneous Creation. Spontaneous Creation and the Universe are “God” with a different name. Of course there is merit in explaining possible origins of the universe, but how can Hawkin not recognize that his quest for a creative force mimics a religious search, except with scientifically palatable terminology. How can one man be so smart yet so close-minded?
We can see where the atheist movement is spinning its wheels. It is now in ways as obstinate and outdated as the religions they speak out against. I see no reason to pit science vs. God (the word and notion). The same logic weaves through both.
Our God reigns. He’s not shaken by theories of people wishing not to believe the truth. They have their reasons for resisting. I feel sorry for anyone that misses an encounter with the awesome God of Heaven and Earth who loves His creation and is waiting to bless bountifully. Jesus is Lord. Thank you for your defense of the truth.
Hi Carol! Thank you for your comments.
Atheist and religious alike share the same world, oftentimes we get so caught up in the wordplay.
I can accept the existence of God but I am equally comfortable with calling it spontaneous creation, the universe, existence etc. – regardless of the term there are clearly powerful forces (or a single elegant process which subsumes said forces) greater than ourselves.
My true belief is that words cannot adequately describe life, oftentimes they are more misleading than helpful.
When the Christians say you must find God in your heart or through faith, I am of agreement. When the Buddhists say you will find enlightenment through contemplation, I am of agreement. When the existentialist says you will find truth through life experience, or truth just is, I agree.
To me it matters less that one speaks the same as I do but rather that we think the same – exhibiting our spirits as script in a book. I believe in non-violence, tolerance, justice, cooperation, fairness. I believe this is something people to unite people of all creeds, as long as we quit worrying about what seperates us from our neighbor. If we are concerned and devoted to our own moral fabric and well-being, we can serve as a light for the rest of the world to follow.
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Maybe it’s debating time again, because I think you are taking an unfair shot at science in this post. I like your comment response, but I take issue with your actual post. (BTW, I think that is a different Carol).
There are three things that I want to comment on.
1) The sentence, “he has created a new mystical force which we are to accept as omnipotent, Spontaneous Creation,” is factually incorrect and is not a fair assessment. When you say ‘mystical force… Spontaneous Creation’ I think you are misunderstanding what Hawkings is talking about. Spontaneous Creation is a real, observable phenomena, it is not simple some theory or idea invoked to replace God. It is something that happens all the time and can be observed. You are being unfair when you call it a mystical force, because in reality spontaneous creation has become fairly commonplace in science. It’s verifiability is akin to gravity, we know it happens and in fact can set up experiments to watch it happen.
2) you make the statement, “How can one man be so smart yet so close-minded? ”
I’m not sure what the point of this statement is. I’m not sure where the close-mindedness comes in. I believe that Hawkings is making conclusions based on external observations rather than internally fabricated facts. In many ways it the opposite of close mindedness. The statement is effectively, “based on evidence and observation of modern scientist, we have discovered phenomena that can explain ‘creation/existence’ without invoking an omnipotent/omniscient being. I don’t think that it is a loaded of a statement as you perceive.
3) You then say, “We can see where the atheist movement is spinning its wheels.”
This is also unfair to group atheism with science. The two are very different things that serve very different purposes. Scientific conclusions and accomplishments such as the characterization and observation of spontaneous creation are just that. In my opinion these are accomplishments worthy of praise and in a lot of ways signify progress much more so than they signify an “atheist movement spinning its wheels.” Science and atheism are different and I think that it is unfair and dangerous to suppose that because a scientist makes a statement about existence/creation that the entire atheist movement is stuck. Furthermore, you make it sound like the atheist are running up into what the religious groups knew all along. It just kind of gave me that inflammatory, ‘ha told you so’ feeling.
I’m interested to see your response.
1.) I hear what you’re saying but can’t really accept because “spontaneous creation is the reason that something can exist out of nothing,” God is obviated. The first sentence is almost nonsensical, if anything it posits a new God “spontaneous creation” that possess the same powers as God, namely, the ability to create something out of nothing. And do experiments truly exist that create “something out of nothing?” That is a pretty bold discovery. In a sense I create something out of nothing when I pull these words from my brain and type them down. This is what I mean by “word games” and Hawkin is getting all sorts of concepts and turns of speech all mixed up; in my opinion on purpose exactly because people want to hear that there is no God, especially from someone of his stature.
2.) I call him close-minded because he refuses to consider that what Spontaneous Creation/A universe that can create itself using the laws of physics has in common with God greatly outweights what differentiates it, the simple terminology. It fits in with everyone’s desire to stand on one side or the other, we can’t accept that God and a self-generating Universe are pretty much identical and require both imagination beyond our limited scope and acceptance that we will never be able to fundamentally explain either comprehensively, it is like a slope that continues to erode the closer we get to the edge.
3.) I am not the one equating atheism with science, Hawking does and as he is one of the most prominent scientists alive I think it is not completely unfair of me to stick with the comparison. Scientific observation is probably the most convincing evidence against the bible and I think that because the bible is 2,000 years outdated and the cult of religion so strong people feel the need to take a stand against the word “God.” Interestingly though, Hawking when he tries to disavow “God” must fill the void with a force with the qualities necessary to create this world. So…isn’t that God, in a sense, isn’t God the forces of creation, existence? Kierkegaard believed that God’s work was transparent, he would probably say that science is evidence of God, as would perhaps Newton, Leibniz and Descartes. They saw no contradiction between the two spheres.
Truly, don’t you think Hawking is the inflammatory “I told you so” guy – the one so supposedly tapped into modern theory that he can declare there is “no need for a God.”
He is the one making headlines to sell books.
1) No way! Hawking’s says NOTHING about PROVING or DISPROVING. He merely states that the phenomena of spontaneous creation means that, “It is not necessary to invoke God.” This does not prove or disprove anything it just says that “God” isn’t necessary, not that it doesn’t exist. Similarly you can say that 1 + 1 = 2, but that doesn’t mean that 5 doesn’t exist just because it wasn’t necessary. You also talk about spontaneous creation like it is a being. This is incorrect it is a phenomena that happens constantly. See the Wikipedia article on vaccuum state, “According to quantum mechanics, the vacuum state is not truly empty but instead contains fleeting electromagnetic waves and particles that pop into and out of existence.” (With three citation two peer reviewed papers.) This just means that as far as we can tell things are constantly ‘popping in and out of existence.’ Furthermore it appears that there is no rhyme or reason to this happening it just happens.
2) No! I think you are mistaken, this is not just a terminology debate. If the phenomena exists, the label/name is irrelevant, just because the terminology sounds like it could be religious means nothing. It could easily be named after somebody or could be called ‘typical vacuum state behavior.’ Furthermore, I think the statement, if it is anything like what you perceive, is not ‘God or no God.’ It’s more along the lines of the way that the God described in scripture is not necessary to explain existence. In reality, I think your extremely well developed understanding of God and existence is throwing you off the actual topic of conversation. There is a difference between the God that exists in the form of spontaneous creation and the God that is posited to exist through the teachings of the Bible (for example). I think it VERY important to completely and clearly define which one you are referring to. You, I think, are referring the former, while the vast majority of folks out there refer to the latter.
3) I’m still not convinced. This is an important question and I think that it takes some of the best minds in the history of humanity to even take a stab at it. But again, I think you are mixing definitions of the word God. And in text it can sound like you are a fervent defender/believer of a the SCRIPTURE GOD. I, personally think that taking a stand against the word “God” is a good thing. This is because if you continue to use the same word that most associate with the scripture God, then you are (or at least sound like you are) leaving yourself open to having people like Carol Ann Hoel, say divisive things like, “I feel sorry for anyone that misses an encounter with the awesome God of Heaven and Earth who loves His creation and is waiting to bless bountifully. Jesus is Lord. Thank you for your defense of the truth.” I was upset by that comment, because it basically says to me, “I know that I am right, because I believe in Jesus (from the Bible) and I pity all those who don’t agree with my version of the ‘truth.'” If I have learned anything from this blog, it is that this type of mentality is harmful and divides us more than it should.
First, Hawkings is for all effective purposes stating that there isn’t a God. The way the book is being marketed makes that clear. It is an oversimplification of his ideas obviously since the book is a lot of thick physics but this oversimplification is clearly calculated to garner controversy and attention.
The whole big deal is that he is reversing his position in 1988’s Being and Time where he stated that the universe and God aren’t irreconconcilable.
Obviously I am not talking about the God of scripture almost 200 years after Darwin sailed to the Galapagos but I am talking about the Abrahamic God who can create something out of nothing, just like the Tao.
If he is merely trying to say that the God in the bible that cares exclusively about mankind and wants us to bomb abortion clinics doesn’t exist, I don’t see how that is not spinning wheels. I don’t need Stephen Hawking to know that maybe the a text which was rewritten or reinterpreted by whoever wanted to manipulate it since it’s conception isn’t 100% correct.
Taking a stand against the word God is a good thing? I’m not so sure and I don’t know why you are so convinced of this. Can’t knock it till you try it!
Maybe it could be a good thing to use the word God, just as African Americans appropriated nigger. Take it back from the hypocrites. Build a bridge to those in the middle.
You simulataneously say that religious folks are divisive and yet we shouldn’t use the same language and ought go out of our way to avoid the word God. To me that’s silly.
I can see why you got so upset by Carol’s comment, but my point is that the devout follower and the avowed atheist are certain, concerned with what the “believer” or “nonbeliever” thinks. Yet we all seek a creation myth, a philosophy to explain our condition, even if is merely that “things just are.”
Hawking had it right the first time in Being and Time. This new book will in the end probably barely touch on God – I truly believe he only does so to create interest just to sell some books that otherwise would not get much attention. To be divisive to make a buck, I think that is worse than whatever blog post I wrote in response.
I am trying to take the divisive air out of “God” and by abhoring it so vehemently and unquestioningly I feel atheists give it strength, like swear words. I am inspired by Ghandi on this, as always, he was the one that taught me it’s ok to use the word God to justify your cause. It’s like that post “Boiling spirits.” If your audience believes in spirits, and you need to convince them to start boiling their water, then evoke spirits in your plea. If your audience believes in God, and you need them to stop electing psychopaths…
I have to say, I used to feel more like you did, I was more anti-God, whenever I read Benjamin Franklin or Emerson reference about God I cringed, but after reading “All Men Are Brothers,” combined with Wittgenstein, who was also a Christian – albeit a very non-conventional one – I began to question.
It’s like Inception, once an idea is planted it can’t go away. I can’t seem to stray away from the fact that God exists, I wanted to write that “God is” but it looked strange. If God is the entirety of everything, all that can and can’t be explained – then I can totally buy into that. Life and destiny are difficult to be explained, but they are amazing, and even if there is no intelligent designer, the design in itself is intelligent.
Life itself is one big contradiction (as anyone who has ever taken hallucinogens knows our logic really doesn’t even have to be followed very far for some serious holes to arise and the only solution is to laugh) so I see no problem with saying I believe in God in one second and then saying I don’t believe in God the next – being dead honest both times. The meaning of the word shifts, I am using it as I can to try and descibe that which does not seem to fit into words. But at times words surprise and seem to capture perfectly.
Wittgenstein once used the example of a ghost. Although one may not believe in ghosts, by talking about one he proves its existence, for it is within the grammer of the word, its concept exists at the very least, and within the realm of language and rationality concepts are all we have to piece together and organize data.
One may not believe in God, but God is contained within the meaning of the word. It doesn’t matter what it means except that we know how to use it. It’s meanings are myriad and any statement trying to encompass it inevitably falls short.
I keep tripping over the word God – I am not clinging to it, but I am not trying to ignore it. I understand what it means to worship God. To me it is roughtly having a peaceful moment and taking in the world, taking deep breaths and letting go of my pitiful problems because I know that there are unfathomable forces that surround me and run through me.
I think if we were all to do this a bit more and learn to value experience we would in turn value our world and fellow man.