In August 2011 the Discovery Channel offered a new series called Curiosity. The first episode was labeled simply, Did God Create the Universe and featured Stephen Hawking who announced “… there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate.”
Stephen Hawking is a renowned cosmologist, physicist, and a self proclaimed dreamer. When a person of his stature chooses to reject the concept of a Creator, his words deserve our attention and a critical review with an open mind. That is the purpose of this writing. The review has been approached from the standpoint of logic and reason, and sets aside popular religious considerations. Because this paper is devoted to a “critical” evaluation of Stephen Hawking’s finding, little is said about that large portion of the program which I found to be accurate, valuable, interesting, and very professionally presented.
The program touches on the issue of whether God controls the universe. Creation of the universe and control of the universe are really two separate questions. Few scientific facts are available to support a discussion of the latter issue and it is not the primary topic in the Curiosity episode. In this paper I have chosen to simply not address the issue. The focus of this discussion is limited to the question of divine involvement in the creation of the universe. The answer to the question “Is God still alive and does he care?” is not to be found here.
Our scientists continue to make remarkable progress in the exploration and understanding of the universe. Respective of such discoveries Stephen Hawking offers: “Each new discovery further removes the need for a God.” In the eyes of others, each new discovery provides man with another glimpse into the mind of the Creator as man searches for a greater understanding as to the origin and design of the Universe and mankind’s role in it (if any).
“Stephen Hawking’s Cosmic Cookbook”
In an extraordinary oversimplification the viewer is presented with a cookbook for creating a universe. Amidst a thick book of empty pages one finds only three entries, i.e., energy, matter, and space. Then, by reference to Einstein’s famous discovery, matter is merged into energy which leaves us with only two ingredients for the universe, i.e., energy and space.
If the cookbook is to reflect a reasonably complete recipe for making a universe, it is missing a few things, for example, A] one additional essential ingredient (and greater specificity with respect to the others), B] preparation instructions, and C] serving instructions. An outline follows:
• Space – number of dimensions and size
• Time (the aforementioned missing ingredient) – beginning and end
• Energy – electrical, thermal, nuclear, kinetic, gravitational, chemical, biological, magnetic, gas, oil, coal, wind, waves, etc.
• Matter – atomic elements, sub atomic elements, molecules, mixtures and properties of materials as listed below:
o mass o opacity
o conductivity o color
o states, e.g., solid, gas, liquid o density
o viscosity o tensile strength
o shear strength o hardness
o magnetic o etc.
[A more complete discussion of the properties of materials appears in the book, In Search of the Creator by A.J. Marcout, an e book available from Amazon and Mobipocket. This book includes the argument that the Creator anticipated the presence of intelligent beings on Earth as evidenced by an analysis of the properties assigned by the Creator to various types of matter.]
• Electromagnetic Radiation Forms
o radio o microwave
o infrared o visibility
o ultraviolet o x-rays
o gamma rays
• Laws of Nature
o Combined Law of Thermodynamics o Faraday’s Law of Induction
o centripetal force o Gauss Law of Electricity
o Law of Reflection o Ideal Gas Law
o Snell’s Law o Coulomb’s Law
o Kepler’s Law of Periods o Barometric Law
o Plank’s Radiation Formulas o Ohm’s Law
o Ampere’s Law o First Law of Thermodynamics
o Newton’s Laws o Etc.
B. Preparation Instructions
Cook books usually provide preparation instructions immediately following the list of ingredients. Think about the beginning of the Universe. It would seem to me that the making of a universe would first require the introduction of space since nothing of substance can exist without space in which to reside. Time seems like a sensible second step because nothing can exist, move, or change without time in which to be. Time is so essential that perhaps it is indeed a fourth and integral dimension of space. If things are to exist in space without chaos then controlling laws and forces must be established next. We often refer to these as the rules or laws of nature. With the scene properly established, energy and matter in a variety of useful types could be brought into the universe. While scientists may poke fun at the simplicity of this version of how the universe could be launched, a stronger and more technically defined scenario would only strengthen the point that only an entity of the greatest talent and power could provide the ingenuity of thought and intense planning that would have to precede the physical creation of a universe.
C. Serving Instructions
In culinary circles, a meal as magnificent as the universe should not be served by throwing it upon the table. Planning is needed to determine goals and make arrangements for the orderly and effective distribution of elements. In the instance of the universe our theories of the designer’s objectives are few and emanate from discoveries made mostly within our solar system. We know for a fact that the Earth is unique as compared to other nearby heavenly bodies such as the Sun, other planets, moons, meteors, asteroids, etc. Earth, unlike the other objects, has all of the items in the periodic table of natural atomic elements. We also know that the Earth has enjoyed a position of hospitality for living things in terms of temperature and atmosphere. We estimate that materials have been provided in sufficient quantities to fulfill the needs of life on the planet. As a practical matter we know our portion of the universe is not the product of a random distribution like that which would occur from an explosion. There are no known laws of nature that would have assured the existence of planet Earth 8 billion years following the Big Bang. Only an unreasonable dreamer would offer the explanation that, given the infinite size of the universe, the planet Earth was an inevitable product of randomness.
Renaming the Cookbook
Given the amount of new material required to complete the cookbook, it would be appropriate to give credit where credit is due, to both parties, and rename the book to:
Stephen Hawking and the Creator”
This writer believes there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that an intelligent and powerful Creator deserves credit for the intricate design of the laws of nature, the definition and production of different forms of matter, energy, inherent forces, and the properties of materials. It comes as a great surprise and disappointment that a brilliant scientist could ignore the presence of this evidence and proclaim to the world the non existence of a Creator.
Perhaps as a Freudian slip or as an intentional test of our powers of observation, Stephen Hawking added the ultimate bit of curiosity to the program with the closing sentence, “We have this one life to appreciate the grand design [emphasis added] of the universe…..and for that I am extremely grateful.” On this point we are in full agreement.