God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?

GodStephenHawkingSuggested by Brad Nelson • Lennox guides us through the key points in Hawking’s “The Grand Design” — with clear explanations of the latest scientific and philosophical methods and theories. He demonstrates that far from disproving a Creator God, they make his existence seem all the more probable.
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13 Responses to God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I haven’t actually ready this one, but it sounds like a good book by a name I hadn’t heard before: John Lennox, Oxford mathematician. He described here as:

    You couldn’t ask for a more expert “math head,” not to mention a highly endearing, funny and accessible speaker. Imagine your old Irish grandad if he was an Oxford don.

    Hawking is probably one of the more obnoxious bloviators of the Left. I look forward to reading Lennox’s relatively brief (96 pages) smack-down of this intelligent fool.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I just purchased this book. (It’s less than five dollars, although it’s only 96 pages.) So far it’s a very clear and concise rebutting of the kind of junior high school-level philosophy emanating out of many corners of our culture. It occurs to me that Hawking’s thoughts would have been interesting, maybe even profound, sitting around in the junior high school cafeteria with your buds shooting the bull. But from an adult, and one of his scientific status, it’s embarrassingly thin.

    This is becoming common these days, if only because Western Civilization is not being taught, in all its complexity. And because nature abhors a vacuum, what you tend to get is the half-baked kind of philosophy from atheists. Libertarians sounds much the same way.

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    I read the book, but it is short. Mr. Lennox has a number of books that I own. He has debated Darwin’s great frump several times and bested him, according to the audience members. Lennox is a great polymath and it shows. I would put him alongside William Lane Craig as being the best of the Christian apologists who truly understand how science and theology integrates into a singular oneness. The Great Frump backed out of his debate with Craig after watching a learned colleague of his being eviscerated by Craig’s command of his craft. I can supply the names of these books if you are interested. You can find these debates on youtube.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yeah, give me the title of ones that you think are particularly good (and that you’d recommend to others) and I’ll put up an entry for them here.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’ve had philosophy taught to me by some pretty robust minds over the years. And my general thoughts on the subject are that philosophy should be treated like A-1 Sauce. A little bit can be good. Too much and you overpower the substance of a thing.

    In his book, “The Grand Design,” Hawking declares that philosophy is dead (while, as Lennox notes, engaging in it, including making the philosophical statement that philosophy is dead). Sometimes philosophy can get too deep. My eyes tend to glaze over when trying to read philosophical treatises (Kant, whomever). As some point, it all becomes like trying to divine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    However, I think Lennox gets to the heart of it when he says:

    …one of the main tasks of philosophy is to train people in the art of definition, logical analysis, and argument.

    One may or may not believe in a God in heaven who cares for us. But before spouting atheistic gibberish, it would help to familiarize oneself with some basic logic. And Lennox takes Hawking to task for his truly sophomoric views. Here’s what Lennox says about Hawking’s idea that philosophy is dead:

    The very first thing I notice is that Hawking’s statement about philosophy is itself a philosophical statement. It is manifestly not a statement of science: it is a metaphysical statement about science. Therefore, his statement that philosophy is dead contradicts itself. It is a classic example of logical incoherence.

    This is the kind of rampant illogic that you get from atheists, as well as libertarians, in my experience. It may truly disturb one emotionally to think of a benevolent and involved Creator god. And who can blame the wheelchair-bound Hawking for taking a dim view of God? I certainly don’t. But emotions, grievances, and disappointments are not logical arguments. Lennox writes:

    Sir Peter Medawar pointed out this danger long ago in his excellent book Advice to a Young Scientist, which ought to be compulsory reading for all scientists:

    “There is no quicker way for a scientist to bring discredit upon himself and upon his profession than roundly to declare – particularly when no declaration of any kind is called for – that science knows, or soon will know, the answers to all questions worth asking, and that questions which do not admit a scientific answer are in some way non-questions or “pseudo-questions” that only simpletons ask and only the gullible profess to be able to answer.”

    As Lennox notes about Hawking’s philosophy,

    Furthermore, Hawking’s statement that “scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery” smacks of scientism – the view that science is the only way to truth. It is a conviction characteristic of that movement in secular thought known as the “New Atheism”, although its ideas are mostly only new in the aggressive way they are presented, rather than in their intellectual content.

    Conceits of superiority aside, Lennox further notes:

    Francis Collins is equally clear on the limitations of science: “Science is powerless to answer questions such as ‘Why did the universe come into being?’ ‘What is the meaning of human existence?’ ‘What happens after we die?’”12 Obviously Medawar and Collins are passionate scientists. So there is clearly no inconsistency involved in being a committed scientist at the highest level, while simultaneously recognizing that science cannot answer every kind of question, including some of the deepest questions that human beings can ask.

    Part of Hawking’s garbled views are no doubt based upon sheer prejudice, but we must not forget that what passes for an education these days on the basics is pretty spotty. Many simply don’t know the history of Western Civilization and know little about Judeo-Christian views other than the comic book versions they share among each other in their ideologic bubble.

    The conceit of Hawking and the atheistic type is that science advances, morphing myth into facts, dethroning the various gods-in-nature as lighting is said to be something other than Zeus’ anger. Lennox writes:

    That is, the idolatrous and polytheistic universe described by Homer and Hesiod was not the original world-picture of humankind. Nevertheless, this is an impression often gained from books on science and philosophy (including The Grand Design) that start with the ancient Greeks and rightly emphasize the importance of the de-deification of the universe, yet singularly fail to point out that the Hebrews had vigorously protested against idolatrous interpretations of the universe long before the time of the Greeks. This obscures the fact that polytheism arguably constitutes a perversion of an original belief in the One Creator God. It was this perversion that needed to be corrected, by recovering belief in the Creator and not by jettisoning it. The same is true today.

    Lennox gets to the heart of the philosophical and logical errors of atheists such as Hawking when he writes:

    A supernatural being or god is an agent who does something. In the case of the God of the Bible, he is a personal agent. Dismissing such an agent, Hawking ascribes creative power to physical law; but physical law is not an agent. Hawking is making a classic category mistake by confusing two entirely different kinds of entity: physical law and personal agency. The choice he sets before us is between false alternatives. He has confused two levels of explanation: agency and law. God is an explanation of the universe, but not the same type of explanation as that which is given by physics.

    Suppose, to make matters clearer, we replace the universe by a jet engine and then are asked to explain it. Shall we account for it by mentioning the personal agency of its inventor, Sir Frank Whittle? Or shall we follow Hawking: dismiss personal agency, and explain the jet engine by saying that it arose naturally from physical law?

    It is clearly nonsensical to ask people to choose between Frank Whittle and science as an explanation for the jet engine. For it is not a question of either/or. It is self-evident that we need both levels of explanation in order to give a complete description. It is also obvious that the scientific explanation neither conflicts nor competes with the agent explanation: they complement one another. It is the same with explanations of the universe: God does not conflict or compete with the laws of physics as an explanation. God is actually the ground of all explanation, in the sense that he is the cause in the first place of there being a world for the laws of physics to describe.

    I’ll admit that our knowledge of the Creator of the universe is limited and obscure. But logically the idea of a creator makes more sense then to say that the universe created itself because of it “laws.”

    The laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works, but not how it came to exist in the first place. It is self-evident that the laws of physics could not have created a jet engine on their own. That task also needed the intelligence, imagination, and scientific creativity of Whittle. Indeed, even the laws of physics plus Frank Whittle wee not sufficient to produce a jet engine. There also needed to be some material that Whittle could use. Matter may be humble stuff, but laws cannot create it.

    As Lennox notes “laws of nature” are not the same thing as bringing something into existence. “The world of strict naturalism, in which clever mathematical laws all by themselves bring the universe and life into existence, is pure (science) fiction.”

    Citing a couple superior minds, he writes:

    Theories and laws do not bring matter/energy into existence. The view that nevertheless they somehow have that capacity seems a rather desperate refuge from the alternative possibility implied by Hawking’s question cited above: “Or does it need a Creator?” If Hawking were not as dismissive of philosophy he might have come across the Wittgenstein statement that the “deception of modernism” is the idea that the laws of nature explain the world to us, when all they do is describe structural regularities. Richard Feynman, a Nobel Laureate in physics, takes the matter further: The fact that there are rules at all to be checked is a kind of miracle; that it is possible to find a rule, like the inverse square law of gravitation, is some sort of miracle. It is not understood at all, but it leads to the possibility of prediction – that means it tells you what you would expect to happen in an experiment you have not yet done.35

    Hawking falls prey to the kind of vapid philosophy that delves into “How many angels can dance on the had of a pin?” Lennox writes:

    What Hawking says is: “The laws of M-theory allow for different universes with different apparent laws.” “Allow for” is one thing, “create” is something completely different. A theory that allows for many universes is not the same as an agent who designed them, or a mechanism that produces them.

    Tim Radford puts the final arrow into the sophomoric philosophy of Hawking and his ilk:

    Tim Radford captures this very cleverly in his review of The Grand Design: “In this very brief history of modern cosmological physics, the laws of quantum and relativistic physics represent things to be wondered at but widely accepted: just like biblical miracles. M-theory invokes something different: a prime mover, a begetter, a creative force that is everywhere and nowhere. This force cannot be identified by instruments or examined by comprehensible mathematical prediction, and yet it contains all possibilities. It incorporates omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence, and it’s a big mystery. Remind you of Anybody?”

    Lennox further notes:

    Comparing these criteria with the comments about M-theory above, it is unclear why M-theory is the good model that Hawking appears to think it is. Accounting for the fine-tuning of the cosmos by postulating one intelligent Creator seems much more elegant and economical than postulating 10500 different universes that are unobservable by us, and is surely a much better “model”.

    One may not believe in this kind of God rather than that kind of God. Who describes the “real” Creator, Judeo-Christianity, Hinduism, or Buddhism? (And if God is a deranged butcher, then Islam obviously does.) Those questions are legitimate. To acknowledge the obvious sophomoric logic of atheism is not to say that this religion is correct or that one is correct. But to state that “the laws of nature” are enough to produce existence is indeed to make a prime categorical error. Laws describe, they do not create.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Lennox notes that Hawking’s epistemology seems to be represented by something called “Representative Theory of Perception.” Lennox writes:

    Hawking’s view of reality is derived from what he thinks about human perception. He says that perception is “not direct, but rather is shaped by a kind of lens, the interpretive structure of our human brains”.

    This epistemology relates to Hawking’s view of the supremacy of scientific models. The following is from “The Grand Design”:

    There is no picture- or theory-independent concept of reality. Instead we will adopt a view that we will call model-dependent realism: the idea that a physical theory or world picture is a model (generally of a mathematical nature) and a set of rules that connect the elements of the model to observations … According to model-dependent realism, it is pointless to ask whether a model is real, only whether it agrees with observations.

    Lennox gives a very interesting discussion of this sort of philosophical idealism of Hawking.

    I think the following is like sticking a sharp knife into the balloon of Hawking’s argument and twisting the knife skillfully

    Finally, if we cannot directly perceive that Hawking and Mlodinow are objectively real people who have written a book called The Grand Design, which makes certain truth claims about the universe, then one would wonder why they bothered to write it in the first place. And that is just the interesting thing about those who espouse various kinds of relativism: they all seem to end up by saying, essentially, that truth, perception, etc. are relative, except of course the truth they are passionately trying to get us to perceive. That is, they fail to apply their own relativism to themselves.

  6. Glenn Fairman says:

    And he’s down…….1…….2……3……4……..

  7. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Does anyone take this man seriously anymore?


    This article quotes Hawking saying mankind is doomed because of:

    1. Global warming
    2. Over-population
    3. An asteroid striking earth

    He throws in depletion of natural resources for good measure.

    Let me think out loud about Hawking’s points.

    1. If the weather is going to destroy mankind on earth, how much more so on places like the moon and Mars, which are much more hostile environments?

    2. If over population and depletion of natural resources is going to get us, perhaps a lot of people will die or mankind’s living standard will be lowered to match the resources. I thought this is what the Left wanted. And one should consider the enormous amount of resources which would be consumed moving a few people to a few neighboring spheres.

    3. Is the moon or Mars any less likely to be hit by an asteroid? I understand Hawking is thinking humanity would increase its odds of survival if we were located on a number of different plants, but talk about costs.

    Who knows what will happen in the future, but it seems to me that Hawking and other astrophysicists are mainly trying to keep themselves important and raise funds for research.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      You’re talking about Pope Francis, of course, the head of the other big religion.

      The man really is a kook. Here’s what I say, Mr. Kung:

      1) It matters that we don’t exploit people and that we do have a sense of integrity.

      2) Well, there is no point #2. Point #1 says it all.

      I couldn’t consciously exploit “the masses” like that. There’s little doubt that Hawking doesn’t believe any of this but thinks it will play well with the masses who have bought their Chicken Little ideology, at least up until now. Please, let there be men (or women) who will speak out against this nonsense.

      All your points are good, Mr. Kung, especially #1.

      Hawking is a man of low or no integrity. Unfortunately, these High Priests of Leftism make a lot of money and get a lot of exposure from stating such nonsense.

      The only practical plan I’ve heard for building a base on the moon is building a telescope on the permanent dark side of the moon which blocks out most of earth’s electromagnetic noise. Other than that, I can’t think of a practical reason. Exploration for the sake of exploration is a good reason as well. But I’m one of the few who thinks the International Kumbaya Station is a gigantic waste of money. We’re building this crap now for purely Utopia reasons….or stupid reasons, such as Hawking is suggesting.

      We just had a president who said NASA’s goal should be to assuage the self-esteem of Muslims and make them no feel so bad for being so backward. Not his exact words, but that is the essence of it. Our leaders are increasingly crazy and science (like everything else touched by Leftism) is denuded. Anyone who is a parishioner in the Church of Leftism is faced with having nonsense become commonplace until you can’t tell up from down or the charlatans from people with integrity — assuming there are any remaining.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Identity politics renders liberals functionally insane by forcing them to embrace idiotic notions.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Here’s what I think on the subject, Timothy, and it contains some radical notions:

          It’s okay to think for yourself. It’s okay to hold an opinion different from that of the crowd.

          Geez, I hope you were sitting down first before reading that. Remember when Apple Computer had the big marketing campaign (and a quite successful one) whose slogan was “Think Different”? All the liberals and Apple aficionados (generally one and the same, although I own a Mac) nearly fell to the ground due to weak knees because of multiple Gorbasms (although I don’t think Mikhail ever appeared on one of those pretentious billboards ).

          Do we actually see a culture that admires that? No, we don’t. Orthodox liberal thinking is required…or else. And the “or elses” can be very harsh indeed.

          I’ve always thought Hawking can be forgiven for being an atheist. If I had his condition I wouldn’t be so touchy-feely about the idea of a benevolent God (or any god) either. Still, is it really required then to be a prostitute for junk science and a demagogue for stupid Progressive ideas? Whatever happened to, “Wouldn’t it be cool to build a colony on Mars?” But, no, even the motivation for mankind’s search for meaning and quest for adventure has to be reduced and run through this small-minded lens of Chicken Little.

          Do you see, my friends, why I say that one reason the arts suffer so much is because mankind has shaken all the grandness out of himself? The Progressives may dream Utopian visions but these visions are small and generally quite selfish. (I want free health care and I want the rich to pay for it. Oh…and I want to save the planet as well.) One reason I hang out with you folk is because your minds and spirits have not yet been reduced to the chronically mundane and vulgar. I mean, even if the health care was free, would you want to live in a world controlled and populated by these artless and chronically bitter men and women? Not me, I can tell ya.

    • pstmct says:

      It is what the left wants Mr. Zu. They, the left, think that the poor earth can only maintain 500 million people. So somehow they will need to get rid of about 7 out of 8 people alive today. Good for them lefties suck at math, (not counting Hawkins). If they could handle basic math, they would see that there is not 80+% conservatives on the planet, so a whole lot of leftist will need to be taken out, and physically defective folks like Hawkins, will be first on the list. So will he sign up to be first?

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