With a series of conceptual confusions, many inherited from his predecessors but some completely original, Stephen Hawking has revealed his stunning lack of philosophical subtlety. His latest contribution is to challenge the validity of proofs for the existence of God but the bizarre argumentation and obvious misunderstandings severely damage his credibility as a cosmologist.
Opening my inbox on the 2nd September I was greeted with the following:
“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”
In this quote the reference to “why there is something rather than nothing”, alludes to Leibniz’s version of the cosmological argument for the existence of God. In this small paragraph are a number of confusions and questionable inferences including the following:
Hawking added to his confusion with the following:
"it is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going"
This argument confuses the one, true Creator with the mere creature known as the God of the Gaps. This creature was invoked by Newtonians to explain all the physical phenomena unexplained by current science. This idea is very much like the ancients, who would envoke dieties to explain lightening, volcanoes and other natural phenomena. Such a being has been called a demiurge and is simply another creature. The demiurge is not God. God is the creator not just another physical cause.
With this quote Hawking reveals just how little he knows about the theistic tradition and the real insights contained in the Cosmological argument and other philosophical and theological thesis.
Hawking may have rational grounds for not believing in God. I am not privy to his private thoughts, I don't know what he has read, what he has been taught nor what insights he has had. But the reasoning, as presented to us, is confused at best and is well below the standards appropriate for a former Cambridge professor.
Simon Rowney is a CathNews reader who blogs from Corrimal, NSW..
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