Stephen Hawking Speaks

Here’s an excellent video (43:39) inspired by Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design. It’s quite approachable, but it does get into some apologetics-relevant topics like, Does the Big Bang demand a Creator? and Can something come from nothing?

Hawking says that it doesn’t and it can.

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13 thoughts on “Stephen Hawking Speaks

    • To most people, they’re very different words. But since faith = trust in your mind, I suggest, as an exercise in eliminating ambiguity, you replace every use of the word “faith” by “trust.”

      After a week or two, tell us how it worked out. In particular, tell us how it worked out within your church circle.

    • I just came across an interesting take on faith. This is from Douglas Adams.

      “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”

      That sounds like the attitude Christians imagine God having. What do you think?

  1. Well I suffered through that very slow video just to see if there was anything there. Nothing worth watching, except to wonder how they got it so wrong as to say that a clock falling into a black hole would stop. To an observer far away from the black hole, It would appear to go slower and slower and to stop in the limit, but to an observer traveling with the clock, it would appear to operate as normally as it could at those tidal forces.

    Theologically, Hawking suffers from several misconceptions. First is to confuse the medieval Catholic Church with what it says in the BIble. The CC has always been quite clear that it is not bound by the BIble. So claims about the CC to an Evangelical Christian are quite irrelevant, except as historical events. The more serious misconception is that Hawking imagines God to exist within time. From that he concludes that since there was not time before the Big Bang then that can’t be a God. But all the major religions are quite clear that God transcends time, because otherwise it makes no sense, even if this only occurred to Hawking fairly recently.

    The video also doesn’t explain where the laws of nature come from. This is like an art student looking at a painting and discovering in it all kinds of patterns, and then declaring that there was no artist because the patterns explain it all.

    Some scientists at the end of the 19th century made basically the same mistake as Hawking, to think that they had it all figured out except for a few details. Looking back we can see that they didn’t even understand the basic facts of everyday life, such as why objects have the color or other properties that they do. Science did learn that through quantum mechanics, but only by giving up some of the ideas they held very firmly.

    • About God existing inside time or not, I wonder if there’s a summary of God’s properties taken just from the Bible. Because I’m sure that this question of time isn’t covered.

      How far can Christians go in making God, like they would make a clay figure? Science rests on its evidence and theories, and beyond that point, it says, “I don’t know.” But Christianity seems quite comfortable extrapolating far beyond the bounds of the precise properties of God as defined in the Bible. When does this go too far?

  2. There of course is no summary of God’s properties in the Bible. God’s instructions to us are to meditate on his word day and night, and so it is meant to be a starting point from which understanding of him will grow. Jesus also clearly stated that Scripture is meant not to be understood by people who do not believe.

    The fact that he acted before the creation can be deduced from verses such as:

    “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17:5) (In this verse Jesus is praying.)

    “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4). (Paul speaking about believers.)

    These verses show that God was making decisions somehow logically prior to the creation, which according the BB means it is outside of time.

    This is also an interesting passage from Job 38:33 (God speaking)

    Do you know the laws of the heavens?
    Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

    Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible. An interesting place to see the laws of the heavens being discussed.

    • But we agree on the problem, right? The Christian view of God has to be grounded. I think that the Bible is no grounding at all, but from the Christian view, it has to at least be that. For Christians to go off, making up hypotheticals here and patching holes with quick fixes there, gives a God that’s very little grounded in the Bible.

      Jesus also clearly stated that Scripture is meant not to be understood by people who do not believe.

      Nor, apparently, is it understood by those who do believe. There are “34,000 separate faith groups in the world that consider themselves to be Christian” (Source: David Barrett’s World Christian Encyclopedia, 2001). And Christianity is fragmenting more and more all the time.

      Yes, I know a bit about Job. This is where God, in effect, says, “I made the world and I’ll do what I feel like. Deal with it.” A rather unloving portrait of God, IMO.

      • Most Protestants go church shopping based on how formal they like there service, the type of music and so on. There are of course disagreements over various positions such as the authority of Scripture, just as there was among the Jews during Jesus’ lifetime. Within the RCC there are a number of differences also, but with a hierarchical system those get standardized.

        The situation among scientists is similar. Some study various versions of string theory while others study loop quantum gravity, etc. None of those have any evidence. That’s not very grounded either is it?

      • Surely you’re not saying that science is built on evidence to no greater extent than religion.

        If scientists come up with a theory with no testable claims, then that’s not particularly effective science. When a theory becomes the consensus at some point in the future, I suspect that it will be sufficiently science-y for any critic. Looking at its track record for discovering reality, it’s hard to complain about science.

        By contrast, religion has nothing in this department, which gets back to my first point.

  3. “By contrast, religion has nothing in this department, which gets back to my first point.”

    Clearly religion by itself is not a good basis to science, but then I would also claim that science is not a good basis from which to do what religion is primarily aimed at: to tell us what is right to do from a moral basis.

    • Religion does tell us what to do, but I question its authority. If you reject the moral dictates of non-Christian religions that conflict with Christian dictates, why should we imagine Christianity is the one with the correct story?

      Science nicely explains much of morality (or it’s beginning to, at least). The natural explanation, though it’s evolving, seems to not leave anything out IMO. I’m not sure what is left that demands a supernatural explanation.

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