Spontaneous Creation?

Stephen Hawking is indisputably one of the greatest scientists of this generation.  His latest book, “The Grand Design,” aims at shooting down the Intelligent Design and theism.  The media and news outlets all love spreading quotes like this (from Hawking):

“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.” (taken from “God did not create the universe, Hawking says.”)

“Spontaneous Design?”  It seems Hawking’s scientific answer to creation is “it just happened on it’s own.”  This thinking reminds me of some lyrics of the song “Roll the Bones” by Rush, “Why are we here?  Because we’re here…”  There’s no answer to these big questions (“Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” “Where are we going?”) without belief in God.  The Guardian (from the UK) has a great article entitled, “Stephen Hawking can’t use physics to answer why we’re here.” It doesn’t seem that the author is a Christian, which demonstrates that any honest thinker can read Hawking’s writings and have serious problems with his philosophical conclusions.

My goal in writing today isn’t to give some well-written treatise with the goal of convincing atheists to believe in God: I think that’s a far bigger project than this blog post aims at.  Rather, my hope is that Christians might be encouraged to really THINK.  When we’re honest, Christians really are lazy thinkers much of the time.  Most of the greatest scientists throughout history have been Christians who were doing research which was sponsored by the Church in order that we might understand more of God’s wonderful creation.  We do not honor our Creator and Savior by being lazy thinkers and being disengaged from difficult and heavy matters.

My other goal is for those who do not believe in God: I want to humbly encourage you to really ask whether or not Hawking’s theory of “Spontaneous Creation” really makes sense.  I’ve found that much of the time when I need to do mental gymnastics to rationalize something all I’m really doing is justifying whatever I want to believe (rather than admitting what’s true).  Please don’t take that as me saying “It’s easier to believe in God, so there!” because that’s clearly not what I mean (re-read the previous paragraph calling Christians to really think hard about these issues).

Finally, I’d like to apologize on behalf of Christians who are mean-hearted and hate-filled who reply online to articles like the one linked above.  It saddens me more than you’d believe to read how Christians respond on discussion boards over the internet.  Many of them are simply cowards who would never say such things to one’s face, but the anonymity provided by the internet makes them feel bold.  This is not the type of boldness God calls us to through Scripture.  We are told “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. BUT DO SO WITH GENTLENESS AND RESPECT” (1 Pet. 3:15).  We often neglect the latter half of this verse, and I sincerely apologize to those who have been our “victims.”

15 thoughts on “Spontaneous Creation?

    • ebccrosswalk September 3, 2010 / 10:02 am

      Thanks for the links, especially to the Guardian article, I’m going to add that link into the post.

  1. diane m. September 3, 2010 / 10:33 am

    Thanks P. Mike! My response to that yahoo article yesterday was to pray for Mr. Hawking. He’s so in need of our loving savior! The truth is that there’s no explanation for creation and our being here other than God. No scientist can explain how first life began or the complex structure of a DNA strand…God is so obviously the Grand Inventor. I just don’t understand why so many brilliant people spend so much time trying to take away from that which the Bible, the greatest authority and history book ever, explains for us.

  2. Jim O September 3, 2010 / 4:49 pm

    One of the reasons I choose not to use the term believe is that once you do you are then forced to defend that belief and it tends to close one’s mind. That being said the idea of creation being spontaneous without a Universal force or mind sounds pretty juvine to me. Yes all my bills get paid each month without me making money or sending the checks!!Spontaneously!

  3. Ron Krumpos September 5, 2010 / 10:25 pm

    In “The Grand Design” Stephen Hawking postulates that the M-theory may be the Holy Grail of physics…the Grand Unified Theory which Einstein had tried to formulate and later abandoned. It expands on quantum mechanics and string theories.

    In my e-book on comparative mysticism is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

    Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (fx raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

  4. Nick January 31, 2011 / 11:04 pm

    Before claiming that someone as brilliant as Steven Hawkings doesn’t know what hes talking about, you need to understand that the quote you posted was a “dumbed down” version – or so to speak – of Spontaneous Creation, which is ultimately based on EXTREMELY complicated mathematics. But, please know that I did take the time to read your entire article, and will take your advice given above and ask you a simple question: Being that you are not well versed in the mathematics that define Hawkings theory (I assume that you are not), why are you so quick denounce them.

    – By the way, in the last sentence of the third paragraph you described hawkings statements as ” philosophical conclusions”, which is not accurate because they are not a “philosophy”

    please feel free to reply or email me

    • ebccrosswalk February 1, 2011 / 10:10 am

      Hi Nick, thanks for your comment and expressing respectful disagreement. By no means would I accuse him of shoddy scholarship or trite philosophizing, but I simply and wholeheartedly disagree with his conclusions. Admittedly, I am no mathematician and haven’t read Hawking’s writings first-hand (I simply don’t have the time and feel that my reading time and studies are better spent elsewhere), but I base my strong disagreement with him from interviews I have watched on YouTube and different articles I have read about his theories of creation.

      If I walked into the woods and found a teepee I wouldn’t conclude that it happened naturally because it’s surrounded by trees and the necessary natural materials used for its construction. I likewise find it hard to believe that the intricacies of the human body and the precision fine-tuning of all creation is simply the result of “gravity” and can be scientifically explained by mathematics, thus making a Creator obsolete. As I learn more about our world and our bodies in particular, I continue to be astounded by just how exact everything needs to be for it to “work.”

      Finally, I do consider Hawkings a philosopher to some degree, since his conclusions end in metaphysics.

      • Anonymous August 16, 2014 / 3:16 pm

        The basic idea of spontaneous creation is the universe creates itself. Right? That is ontologically absurd. To be a creator, one must first be. If the universe was not in a state of being, it could not act. Spontaneous self creation fails of it’s own weight. Thus, Hawkings argument is absurd that the universe created itself no matter how complex the mathematics behind the simplified and dumbed down it’s said. An actor or force outside the created universe is required. Ex nihilo nihil fit

  5. David March 1, 2011 / 9:47 pm

    I’ve started doing research on this very thing. I cannot say for sure, but I have found this quote everyone online and I think that it is not representative of what Hawkings is trying to say.

    I think we likely need an understanding of where he is coming from, which we wont get through this sentence, to understand if we have anything to disagree with.

    Let me start by saying I’m not a christian. But I am not an angry athiest either. I want christianity to be real, I want it to make sense, I want churches and christianity to get over themselves so that they can be a force that can really bring peace. I want to have someone to pray to; but until it makes sense, I will not do these acts of faith until I can believe them.

    So lets get back to Hawking. What this article says – http://articles.cnn.com/2010-09-02/world/hawking.god.universe_1_universe-abrahamic-faiths-divine-creator?_s=PM:WORLD is that what Hawking is really talking about is that, we shouldn’t use God as a “gap filler.” And I agree. If science proves somethnig about our natural world, we are at a point as a speciese where we need to stop using religion to explain it. Usually what we find is that science does not debunk religion (or faith), and that the two are equal but separate. So stop using god to fill the holes.

    With the framework, Hawking is not saying the abrahamic God is not real or needed, he is saying that God should not be the answere to the gaps.

    • ebccrosswalk March 2, 2011 / 2:53 pm

      Hey David, I really appreciate your comment here. I’d encourage you to keep digging into this stuff in an effort to learn as much as possible about the created order. It’s nice to hear from someone who’s not an “angry atheist,” since I periodically hear from people who would fit that category.

      Insofar as the “God of the gaps” theory goes, I totally agree that many Christians seems to be lazy thinkers and use God as a pacifier to soothe them from having to think too hard. That being said I need to confess that I simply don’t have time myself to study everything to the depth that I wish I could.

      I myself work to wrestle deeply with issues, because I don’t believe that reason and faith are opposed to each other. That being said, everyone gives either reason or faith greater weight, don’t they? I love what Saint Augustine said way back in the 5th Century, “I believe in order that I may understand.” We, as Christians, must not check our brains at the door when we come to church or open our Bibles. God has given us the wonderfully complex gift of science and reason, and He desires for us to use them in order to worship Him by growing in our knowledge about what He has made.

      Eventually, though, we all need to come to the point where we realize that we will not understand everything we want to. There are things we simply were not make to fully comprehend and understand, and therefore science does have it’s limits (maybe that’s why God made space so big, as an example of how much more infinite He is than our understanding can every fully comprehend).

      In your searching, I’d like to encourage you to ask, “What would it take for me to believe in God?” I think a lot of people have never actually asked themselves that question. At what point do we read and study and conclude that we have enough confidence to either believe or disbelieve God?

      Finally, I’d encourage you to get yourself a Bible that’s readable (like the NIV translation) and read that too. If you’re willing to read Hawking, why not read the Bible and give that a shot too… you might be surprised by what you read (Start off with reading the Genesis and then hop to the New Testament). I’d love to hear what you think if you take up this encouragement.

      • David March 2, 2011 / 7:48 pm

        Thanks for the reply. I actually have (and do read the bible). I know a bit of hebrew, so sometimes I will cross check with the original scripture. But either way if I’m working with the old testament the translation I use is the JPS translation (Jewish Publication Society). I actually love reading the old testament for the use of very complex imagery and poetic devices, just not seen or wrestled with in modern texts. Primarily the first book of the bible. I find the poetry of genesis to be both beautiful and moving as well as complicated, but I also don’t think it’s meant to be literal.

        My favorite new testament book of the bible is James, or romans.

        I know all of this stuff because I was raised in a christian home. It is not understanding of christian or jewish theology that I lack. My main problem with christianity is christians.

        With that said, science is also a motivator for my dis-beliefe. For instance, evolution makes sense for an amazing ammount of reasons, it’s mind boggling. I’m not saying that evolution disproves God by any means, but if it’s proveable (granted it’s not yet), understanding of it, and beliefe in it, shouldn’t be feared. I feel like religion pits people against science when it shouldn’t.

        In this way I agree with Hawking. If science disproves what we believe about God, beyond reasonable doubt, than we should re-evaluate our view of reality without fear.

        But I think that’s an excellent question you have posed for me, “what would it take for me to believe in God?” And I haven’t given that as much thought as to the many reasons I don’t believe in God, which framed this way, now seems kind of silly. For me, I think it would have to be a very real, personal miracle, that I could latch onto. It needs to go beyond feelings and raised hands, and bowed heads for me. I need to know that I believe, without doubt, that what I am praying to and raising hands to is real. So a personal miracle, either in-tangible, or tangible is what I need.

    • susan January 2, 2012 / 3:22 pm

      I feel the same way you do about religion.

      As brillaint as some individuals are we are probably “trapped” in many of our beliefs by our inability to, as yet, concieve of a larger/different reality.

      We will continue piecemealling through as we have for much of written history.

      I deal with my frustration of knowing “nothing” by researching what we have thus far found, and reading the predictions of great minds.

      A belief in a religion would sure answer a lot of questions ( sort of )
      but i’m afraid this mind cannot accept those answers.

      • Pastor Mike January 6, 2012 / 3:27 pm

        Hi Susan, thanks for taking the time to read the blog, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

        You write that “I’m afraid this mind cannot accept those answers,” and I’m just curious to know what it would take for you to accept Theism, or Christian in particular? As a Christian I need to admit there are many mysteries in life that remain unsolved and confusing… but that doesn’t mean that ALL things are mysteries and unknowable. I’m curious to know what makes religion so implausible and unbelievable to you?

  6. joe bondeson April 17, 2011 / 1:45 am

    to me, “because there is a LAW such as gravity”, says it all.

    we live in a world where everything is relative.

    no one can prove anything to anyone, you can only prove something to yourself, and this always starts with faith.

    yet there are still universal laws, and they can only come from one place.

  7. John May 16, 2011 / 6:44 pm

    Does anyone really believe that we are all descendants of Adam & Eve in some sort of unspoken (incestous) way and that folks of other races and religions are distant cousins? Then there is ratification or at least acceptance of slavery in the Bible. Or an eye for an eye? You kill my child I get to kill yours? Date the earth was created(8,000 or so BC)and duration (6 days) of creation. Immaculate conception abounds when hubby’s are off to war. A belief in God makes one wonder what created Him and what about that God’s Creator and so on. Each potential creator is surely more complex and intelligent than the last. The theory of evolution, E=MCsq, discovery of subatomic particles makes more sense but is less entertaining than our belief in magic and fairy tales. If God truly existed and there is eternal paradise why were willing to invade Vietnam on a ridiculous “Theory of Dominos” which proved to be wrong. Christians are slave keepers and murdering vigilantes(Vietnam, Mai Lai,Native American Indians). Most Christians are sociopath’s who feel no remorse. If there is eternal paradise worshipers in all the current and prior religions are evil doers (“GWG”) who will not find everlasting peace unless they tuly repent. But no they just go about kiling over a hunch of what may happen if they don’t. Risking eternal paradise over the possibility of not taking action does not appear to be an option for most. Because they only say they believe in order to trick themselves.

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