God Did Not Create Universe: Stephen Hawking

The world's smartest scientist says there is no god. Or, at least, no need for one.

The world’s smartest scientist says there is no god.  Or, at least, no need for one.

God did not create the universe and the “Big Bang” was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book.

In “The Grand Design,” co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts on Thursday.

“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,” Hawking writes. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

Hawking, 68, who won global recognition with his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time,” an account of the origins of the universe, is renowned for his work on black holes, cosmology and quantum gravity. Since 1974, the scientist has worked on marrying the two cornerstones of modern physics — Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which concerns gravity and large-scale phenomena, and quantum theory, which covers subatomic particles.

His latest comments suggest he has broken away from previous views he has expressed on religion. Previously, he wrote that the laws of physics meant it was simply not necessary to believe that God had intervened in the Big Bang. He wrote in A Brief History … “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.” In his latest book, he said the 1992 discovery of a planet orbiting another star other than the Sun helped deconstruct the view of the father of physics Isaac Newton that the universe could not have arisen out of chaos but was created by God. “That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions — the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass, far less remarkable, and far less compelling evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings,” he writes.

Aside from pumping up book sales, which one presumes irrelevant to a man of Hawking’s stature, I’m not sure what purpose such declarations serve.

Now, I happen to think Hawking is right and have long thought that a creator was not only implausible but served little explanatory value.  At very least, it sparks obvious questions about how the creator came to be.  And, if one believes in an omnipresent, omnipotent one, all manner of other questions.

Still, the existence of such a being defies falsification.  Science simply can not prove that there is no god.  So, declarations by scientists that there is no such being — or statements that will be touted that way by journalists and talk show hosts — simply serve to alienate believers from science — 99.99999% of which can co-exist with religious belief without issue — or, worse, reinforce the belief that science is some sort of anti-religion with its own dogmas.

This story, and the fallout from it, will convince no one who now believes in an all-powerful Creator otherwise.  But it will convince some of those people that science is their enemy.  Why is that a good thing?

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Religion, Science & Technology,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Looking at it from Hawking’s point of view to the extent I can, I don’t think he made this declaration to join in some battle over religion vs. science. For guys like him, it’s all about cosmology rather than whether or not he’s annoying the Evangelicals in the southern United States.

    I suspect this is really just part of his forthcoming book that the media has decided to sensationalize.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    And I don’t believe Hawking exists.  Has anybody seen his birth certificate?

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    I’ve noticed Hawking has been given god like status by the media who repeat most any pronouncement he makes these days.  No God, the need to colonize other worlds, man is doomed, blah, blah, blah.  I know the guy is smart but the lazy media is more interested in making him a celebrity than keeping him a scientist.  Smart as he is does that make him smarter than, oh, let’s say 5 other scientists put together?  They might insist there is a God and there had to be for the universe to exist.
     
    The whole relationship between science and media is ruining both.  The question is will either discipline recognize the problem and do something about it.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Smart as he is does that make him smarter than, oh, let’s say 5 other scientists put together?

    Actually, yes. In terms of sheer breakthroughs in the discipline, one genius beats a dozen ordinary schmo PhDs.  But, again, only in areas where science can actually answer a question.  This ain’t one of them.   Science can explain away things previously attributable to magic or superstition.  But it can’t prove a negative.

  5. Hawking’s “god like status” is not all that different from the way Einstein was treated after he came to America (if you haven’t read the Einstein biography that came out a few years back, I recommend it). I think the media does this because they like to let people pretend they understand things that, quite honestly, even some of said geniuses contemporaries aren’t completely clear about.

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    The difference between God and Steven.  God does not think he is Steven Hawking.

  7. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Actually, yes. In terms of sheer breakthroughs in the discipline, one genius beats a dozen ordinary schmo PhDs.”

    Nailed it Jim, but I never cease to be amazed at reasoning systems of some folks. Ten hack lawyers at the public defenders office or an ambulance chasing personal injury practice in Palookasville equal the legal scholarship of Scalia or Ginsburg. Yeah right. 

  8. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Hawking’s “god like status” is not all that different from the way Einstein was treated after he came to America ”

    Doug, Hawking and Einstein in intellectual terms were/are gods. Although even gods aren’t naturally buoyant. I actually knew someone who saved Einstein from drowning after he’d gone over the side.

  9. sam says:

    @Plunk

    They might insist there is a God and there had to be for the universe to exist.

     
    Well, they might, but I’m afraid the equations don’t require Him. Even the ones reported in the papers.

  10. Matthias says:

    The “Where did God come from” always struck me as a desperately uninteresting question. The very verbiage used is dependent on the concept of chronological reality that, from a physics standpoint, is a feature of the physical universe. If God existed outside of or transcends physical reality (the Judeo-Christian view of God assumes as much), He would exist outside of time (a view that can be traced back at least to St. Augustine). This puts the question “How did God come to be?” in the same league as “what happened before the Big Bang?” or (as Hawking likes to say) “What is north of the north pole?”.
    Outside of this, Hawking’s statement about God is basically the same position he’s held for years… at least since ’88. It boils down to “We basically have no way of knowing anything before a certain point in the Big Bang because the forces involved were so massive that they would have broken down or warped the very laws of physics. I guess you could put God there if you wanted to, but I don’t really see any good reason to do so.”

  11. floyd says:

    What’s this? Hawking’s version of the “Babel fish”? [lol]

    He who says “There is no God” is a fool, but then is Hawkings actually saying this? Probably not.  Nevertheless, observe the obvious flawed logic in the following quote…

    ““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,”
     
    This is once again the result of the study of post creation clockwork. Gravity is a natural phenomenon.

  12. Tano says:

    the existence of such a being defies falsification.  Science simply can not prove that there is no god.

     
    Only because the concept of “god” is intentionally designed to avoid any serious testing. “God” is not a scientific hypothesis, not a rational hypothesis. If you try to define it, then test for its presence and fail, the believers simply modify the definition. It quickly becomes a concept that is grounded in, and restricted to that which we do not know.
     
    That conception of “god” – equal to the sum of our ignorance. would certainly be infinite and omnipresent. But it is hard to see how such a concept can be considered as a “thing” or could be responsible for creating the universe.

  13. Vast Variety says:

    God is the creation of an intelligent creature needing some way to explain that which he has yet to understand.

  14. sam says:

    @Tano

    “God” is not a scientific hypothesis, not a rational hypothesis.
     

    Oh, it’s a rational hypothesis, alright, but not, as you say, a scientific one. That’s to say, there are rational, if failing, arguments for God’s existence. I myself take a Kantian approach to God: Deny knowledge to make room for faith.
     
    It just struck me that this, in a way, parallels the argument for keeping government out of religion, e.g., governmental funding. If you take the king’s shilling, you must abide by the king’s rules. This might require the religious to cleave to rules that are contrary to their beliefs. Similarly, those who insist that there is some physical proof for God’s existence must submit that proof to the hard-edged realities of scientific verification, inevitably to the detriment of the belief. Far, far better to keep God in the realm of faith. And more philosophically sound.

  15. mantis says:

    Aside from pumping up book sales, which one presumes irrelevant to a man of Hawking’s stature, I’m not sure what purpose such declarations serve.

    Perhaps because Hawking is not a politician, and thus is not thinking “will this anger some of my constituency?”  Get away from the political thinking on this one, James.  Hawking said what he did because it is the only logical, scientific conclusion.

    So, declarations by scientists that there is no such being — or statements that will be touted that way by journalists and talk show hosts…

    Ah, so the problem isn’t what he said, but how journalists would paraphrase it?  That’s not Hawking’s problem, is it?

    — simply serve to alienate believers from science— 99.99999% of which can co-exist with religious belief without issue — or, worse, reinforce the belief that science is some sort of anti-religion with its own dogmas.

    Again, not Hawking’s problem.  If people’s religious views don’t match up to reality, it’s not scientists job to obscure reality so the people with those views don’t have to confront it.

    This story, and the fallout from it, will convince no one who now believes in an all-powerful Creator otherwise.  But it will convince some of those people that science is their enemy.

    Those are the same people, and they already believe science is their enemy.  Nothing Hawking, or any other scientist, could say or refrain from saying would persuade them to think otherwise.

    Why is that a good thing?

    Because science is the quest for knowledge.  Biting your lip about scientific discoveries and theories because religious people won’t accept them is just stupid.
     

  16. floyd says:

     Tano;
         The proof of God, though obvious, is restricted to that which you do not know, having decided that all rationality is confined to science, a false notion, grounded in spiritual blindness.
    You do reveal a glimpse of truth though… “God” is not a scientific hypothesis.

  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m sitting here in Scotland, home of Hume and Locke.  With that in mind, I have this profound observation:  You can get what amounts to half a regular shot of Talisker or Macallan here for 3.40 GBP or $5.00 US.  Double that to equal a typical US bar shot and you still only have $10.  And good damn luck finding a big city US bar that’ll pour you a premium scottish whiskey for 10 bucks.  You can easily pay two, three times that.
     
    Despite this welcome discovery, there is no God.

  18. Brummagem Joe says:

    “God is the creation of an intelligent creature needing some way to explain that which he has yet to understand.”

    A good description. Did you come up with this yourself or get it out of a book? Since the God we’re referring to was invented by some wandering middle eastern tribes about 3-4000 years or so ago I’d say it was a fair summary particularly since similar  tribes, wandering or otherwise, were doing much the same thing all over the globe.  

  19. floyd says:

    Mantis;
     I would say that science is the quest for truth, presently self restricted to the natural world. The scientific method is an instrument designed for that purpose alone.
    Eventually accumulated scientific knowledge will lead to the threshold of a revelation of the truth, which also encompasses that which is outside it’s finite boundaries.

  20. mantis says:

    I would say that science is the quest for truth

    Truth is a philosophical construct.  Science is the quest for knowledge.  The word comes from the Latin scientia, which means, you guessed it, knowledge.
     

    presently self restricted to the natural world.

    There is no other observable world.  Scientific inquiry is restricted to the examination of the natural world because that’s all there is to examine.

    Eventually accumulated scientific knowledge will lead to the threshold of a revelation of the truth, which also encompasses that which is outside it’s finite boundaries.


    Religious folks always think the threshold is much closer than it is.  God of the gaps, and the gaps keep getting smaller, or disappearing altogether.

  21. Brummagem Joe says:

    floyd says:

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 17:37

    ” Eventually accumulated scientific knowledge will lead to the threshold of a revelation of the truth, which also encompasses that which is outside it’s finite boundaries.”

    Will this include communication with the dead?

  22. Franklin says:

    Nevertheless, observe the obvious flawed logic in the following quote…
    I’m in somewhat rare agreement with floyd here.  Not only with his particular point (an all-powerful God could certainly ‘create’ the law of gravity and anything else He damn pleased), but the quoted ‘explanation’ almost doesn’t contain any logic at all.
    Typically Hawking provides something in carefully worded layman’s terms, but this looks nothing more than a random quote without any context.  I generally like Hawking, but thus far in life I am not taking anyone’s final word on the existence of God.
     
     

  23. sam says:

    @floyd

    Eventually accumulated scientific knowledge will lead to the threshold of a revelation of the truth, which also encompasses that which is outside it’s finite boundaries

    Ah, no. In the event, what will be said is, We can go no further using these tools. So, leap!

  24. sam says:

    @Franklin
    “an all-powerful God could certainly ‘create’ the law of gravity and anything else He damn pleased”
    That pretty much gets it. But, you know, that, in the end, is what God is for us mortals — the explanation that’s not really an explanation to be invoked when you’ve run out of real explanations.
     

  25. Wayne says:

    The existence of science doesn’t disprove God and the existence of God doesn’t disprove science. If God created the Universe wouldn’t he have created the laws as physics as well? Wouldn’t it make sense for him to create a universe that would recreate itself?
    Personally I “believe” what is “is” and it won’t change regardless of what I or anyone else believes. People can “believe” what they want. The only issue I have is when people get up into others people face belittling others in their beliefs because they don’t agree with their own beliefs.  Discussion is one thing but belittling others is another.

  26. Herb says:

    This story, and the fallout from it, will convince no one who now believes in an all-powerful Creator otherwise.  But it will convince some of those people that science is their enemy.  Why is that a good thing?

    It’s not.  But absent a burst of syncretic ideas that these same people will resist anyway, I don’t see how it’s avoidable.  I also think that these people will be few and far between.  Most religious folks aren’t against science, per se.  They’re just doing it wrong.

  27. Brummagem Joe says:

    “People can “believe” what they want.’

    Absolutely true. My wife is a devout catholic while I think it’s all baloney but we’ve managed to coexist mainly peacefully for over forty years. 

  28. sam says:

    @Wayne

    The only issue I have is when people get up into others people face belittling others in their beliefs because they don’t agree with their own beliefs. Discussion is one thing but belittling others is another.

     
    Sure. Has any “belittling” taken place in this comment thread?

  29. floyd says:

    Joe;
     My discussion with you is “spiritual necromancy” according to your own confession.
    I assume you refer to the old saw that only the dead can know if God exists?
      I sit here amused by the implications of your question, knowing full well that the “Babel effect” of our  “common language” proves it to be not so common![lol] 
      

    Sam;
      That is a silly notion,  I suppose grounded in provocation, but I will attempt an answer….
     The most primitive comprehension of the natural world,has within it, a revelation of God.  Willfull spiritual blindness prevents that revelation. I simply maintain that continued accumulation of scientific knowledge will overcome that foolishness, and bring the obvious to those who have thus far rejected it.
     That point is open,one in which I may be in error, maybe there is no limit to man’s obstinate reprobate capacity. 
     I do not by any means maintain that the revelation mentioned can only be had after the accumulation of all natural understanding, in fact, it is already obvious to all who have not chosen to ignore it.  
     The spiritual world is not an extention of the natural world. The opposite is much closer to the truth. 
        
       

  30. sam says:

    @floyd

    The most primitive comprehension of the natural world,has within it, a revelation of God. Willfull spiritual blindness prevents that revelation.

     
    Let stop you right there, for that is the end of any kind of reasonable conversation. If you make an argument, and I counter, and you say, “Well, it’s only your spiritual blindness that leads you to say that,” you and I have really nothing further to say to one another. You’ve foreclosed the possibility of a fair exchange of views.

  31. mantis says:

    A fair exchange of views would be possible if you weren’t so willfully spiritually blind, sam.  See, it’s all your fault, really.

  32. Steve Plunk says:

    Scientists are as guilty as anyone of adjusting the science as a believer might adjust the explanation of God.  From the earth is flat scientist to the phrenologist to the yet understood world of physics science evolves and probably knows less than it thinks it does.  That’s okay but when people like Hawking make such statements they too probably know less than they think they do.
     
    Both belief in God and science take a certain amount of faith.  Believing something that cannot be readily proven.  But for some reason reason it is the people of faith who are criticized while the scientific believers are assumed to be intellectually superior.  I can’t help but think Hawking’s ego has now surpassed his intellect as he wants us to put faith in him rather than the God of our fathers.

  33. john personna says:

    I am not a theologian, but I’ve got an open comment box here, so I’ll let tear:
     
    I think some Christian sects figured this out long ago, and took the position that man comes to God by faith alone.  For those religions, you don’t need proof the big bang violates physics, or proof the earth is young, or proof that evolution doesn’t work.  You just need faith.
     
    I think some (younger?) sects staked out a different path.  For some reason, they wanted to show their flocks proofs of God in the world, and of course for that, there should be no proofs that everything works without God.
     
    From the standpoint of logic, and for the sanity of members, I like the first path.  And to me it is really old.  The words “agnostic” and “atheist” weren’t exactly coined last week, at a Hawking lecture.
     
    So if you’ve got your faith, be happy, and don’t sweat the fossil record.  Be happy, and leave the fossil diggers alone.

  34. floyd says:

    Sam;
    What you quoted was not a mere assertion.

    So you think it is I who has foreclosed the possibility of a fair exchange of views?[lol]
     
      One last question, and then we can acquiece to futility…

     Was the following comment seriously aimed at the possibility of a fair exchange of views? I think not.

    “”IAh, no. In the event, what will be said is, We can go no further using these tools. So, leap!””

  35. Wayne says:

    Sam
    This particular thread has been pretty decent. Saying people only believe in god to explain the unexplainable or the concept of god = equal to the sum of our ignorance does belittle believers some but not grossly so. I took it more of a statement of concept than an actual accusation.
    It is a bit like saying “people believe in what Hawking says because they are ignorant and can’t think for themselves”. True for some but I suspect not for most. It is also not directly directed at another poster but some would take it personally.
    I have seen other threads and real world experiences that were much worst.

  36. sam says:

    @Plunk

    Both belief in God and science take a certain amount of faith. Believing something that cannot be readily proven

     
    One hears this refrain all the time, but all it does is evidence a lack of understanding of science and the scientific method. The essential characteristic of a scientific proposition is its in principle falsifiability. Scientists will tell you that the most important experimental result is the negative result.  The propositions of God-talk are not falsifiable. And the word ‘faith’, if it has any meaning in a scientific sense, does not mean what it does in religious discourse.

  37. john personna says:

    BTW, what I’m saying, in case it wasn’t clear, was that Hawking’s “not necessary” is both consistent with the “faith alone” path, and with agnosticism going back millennia.

  38. john personna says:

    Both belief in God and science take a certain amount of faith. Believing something that cannot be readily proven

    Science is a system of observation, conjecture, and testing.  That not only works without faith, faith messes it all up.  So no, science is not faith.  Bad science might.

    And those militant atheist scientists have their own faith.

  39. floyd says:

    One erronious  theme that has come to light in recent years is that science and faith, or a knoweldge of the natural world and of the spiritual world  are mutually exclusive.
     There is no justification for this nonsense, “observable” or simply “believed.”

  40. mantis says:

    From the earth is flat scientist to the phrenologist
    What “earth is flat scientist”?  The earth was believed to be flat because that is our perception of it due to our relative sizes (people small, Earth huge).  Science proved this to be an incorrect assumption.  Show me an actual scientist “adjusting the science” to show the Earth is flat.  Phrenology is not science at all, but pseudo-science.  To give phrenologists the title of scientist is an insult to scientists.
    to the yet understood world of physics
    What does “the yet understood world of physics” mean?  Are you claiming we don’t understand physics?
    science evolves and probably knows less than it thinks it does.
    Science doesn’t “know” anything.  Science is a method for acquiring knowledge. People “know” things, and yes, things they know from scientific inquiry can turn out to be wrong.  Know what proves them wrong?  More science.  That’s what’s so great about it.
    Both belief in God and science take a certain amount of faith.
    Yes, but one is faith in a process which has revealed a great deal of knowledge about the world around us, which we have used to foster the technological breakthroughs that shape the modern world.  The other is faith in the truth of magical occurrences thousands of years ago by a supreme being who doesn’t visit us anymore for some strange reason, written by humans, rewritten, translated, edited, and rewritten again.  One is faith in a system that self-corrects its errors over time, the other is faith in a doctrine that is never to be questioned.
    Believing something that cannot be readily proven.
    Actually, a great deal of what has been discovered through science can be readily proven.  Not so much with religion.
    But for some reason reason it is the people of faith who are criticized while the scientific believers are assumed to be intellectually superior.
    Yep, because we’re allowed and encouraged to seek new explanations of phenomena when current science doesn’t adequately explain them.
    I can’t help but think Hawking’s ego has now surpassed his intellect as he wants us to put faith in him rather than the God of our fathers.
    I’m sure Hawking couldn’t care less what you put your faith in.  He is seeking explanations of the world around us, not power over rubes.

  41. sam says:

    @floyd, quoting, and misunderstanding, me
     
    “Ah, no. In the event, what will be said is, We can go no further using these tools. So, leap!”
     
    Brush up on your Kierkegaard.

  42. john personna says:

    Phrenologists were just primitive neurobiologists.  They didn’t have access to scanners, and so they tried to model based on gross anatomy.  At some point they “should” have found their correlations failed, and that a bump “there” wasn’t “greed” or whatever … but there was no harm collecting the data.

    BTW, those of you who think Hawking just said there is no God have some missing reasoning skills.  No proof of God is not at all the same as proof of no God.

  43. mantis says:

    No proof of God is not at all the same as proof of no God.
    This is true.  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  However, what Hawking is actually saying here is a bit different.  He’s not arguing that there is no evidence of God (though he has said that before), he is saying that God is not necessary for the explanation of the origin of the universe.  It can be adequately explained as a natural phenomena, indeed an inevitability given the laws of nature.

  44. tom p says:

    I’m sitting here in Scotland, home of Hume and Locke.  With that in mind, I have this profound observation:  You can get what amounts to half a regular shot of Talisker or Macallan here for 3.40 GBP or $5.00 US.  Double that to equal a typical US bar shot and you still only have $10.  And good damn luck finding a big city US bar that’ll pour you a premium scottish whiskey for 10 bucks.  You can easily pay two, three times that.
     
    Despite this welcome discovery, there is no God.

    Michael, I read your discovery a little differently than you: There is a God and he favors the Scots.

  45. floyd says:

    “Brush up on your  Kierkegaard .”
    ”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’
    Sam;
     So…. out of embarrassment, you choose to blame someone long dead, and unable to defend himself? [LOL]  wink , wink, nod,nod

     Kierkegaard’s words were perhaps profound in his hands and in the context of their original use, but merely a “silly notion” in the hands of lesser men and irrelevant in the context in which they were used. 
    It appears you have no greater understanding of him than me? 

  46. sam says:

    Ah floyd, you looked it up, right? tsk tsk. You must have, because nobody with the slightest knowledge of his work would have failed, in that context,  to get the leap reference right away. Instead, from you, I got some off the mark response that just underscored your ignorance.

  47. G.A.Phillips says:

     
    “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,” Hawking writes. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

    lol, he comes to the conclusion that creationists have been trying to explain to the dim witted and indoctrinated for years.

     “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.

    lol, good luck on that….

    “That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions — the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass, far less remarkable, and far less compelling evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings,

    coincidences, lol…..lucky…..designed just to please us human beings…..

    ya this dude is very smart, but he sure don’t understand to much about reality or Gods word….

    Maybe you could get him to wrap his oh so powerful mind around the fact that God was not created?

    Science is a system of observation, conjecture, and testing.  That not only works without faith, faith messes it all up.  So no, science is not faith.  Bad science might.
    Then why do your scientists only use reason, art, and selective data?
    because it is a religion not science. What you are talking about is the basis to a six part religion, that can not answer any of it’s questions, the reason for all of the art and selection.

    The only thing That evolves in evolution are it’s explanations, this is highly proven, this is fact.

    A religion that started with fabricated evidence witch now relies on computer models and uncomparable scientific methods lol…..

     

  48. JKB says:

    Wait, up till now, even Stephen Hawking had to go to God to square the corners of the Big Bang theory?  Thank god gravity, he got that sorted out before going on to the great nothingness.  It is interesting to see how much effort is put by so many to prove something they don’t believe in doesn’t exist or isn’t needed.

  49. floyd says:

     Sam;
     You are correct, I am only vaguely aware of Kierkegaard and his work.
     I have not claimed otherwise.
    Will Rogers once said…
     “”There is nothing so stupid as the educated man if you get him off the thing he was educated in.””
     I’m sure your education is broader than Kierkegaard, [or would you just be stupid without him?]
     Of course, in a broader context, your knowledge of Kierkegaard will no more prove your education than it proves my ignorance.

     That brings to mind one more quote from one who esteems himself most highly…

     “”Let(me) stop you right there, for that is the end of any kind of reasonable conversation… You’ve foreclosed the possibility of a fair exchange of views.””

    Good night and may God richly bless you. 
     

  50. john personna says:

    Then why do your scientists only use reason, art, and selective data?
    because it is a religion not science. What you are talking about is the basis to a six part religion, that can not answer any of it’s questions, the reason for all of the art and selection.

    Congrats GA, so much psychosis in so few words.

  51. sam says:

    @floyd
    Good night and may God richly bless you.


    See, Nietzsche on Christian “love” as disguised hatred.

  52. Brummagem Joe says:

    sam says:

    Friday, September 3, 2010 at 08:22

    You obviously have some philosophic knowledge (I’ve long forgotten the little Kierkegaard I ever knew) but it intrigues me that people are willing to put so much energy into arguing about something that doesn’t exist. And even when they clearly don’t know much about it. I’ve never really been able to understand the appetite for religious disputation (maybe back in Gladstone’s and Darwin’s day when it was a somewhat greyer area) but today. What is its appeal do you think.

  53. sam says:

    @Joe

    I’ve never really been able to understand the appetite for religious disputation
     

    I used to think I understood it, then realized I really don’t. That’s why I made the claim earlier on in the thread to, in so many words, respect the imperatives of your faith yourself and give up the idea that its validation requires that it has to be proved in some way or other to anybody.
     

  54. Rodney Mathis says:

    I believe the more “education” we human’s get, the more arrogant and assuming we tend to become. Education is not neutral. As long as human beings are the scientists, science is not pure. It is full of all the vanity and dysfunction of those who practice it. Everyone is a scientist and a theologian. Does Stephen have children? Has Stephen ever loved or been loved? Forget the universe, does Stephen believe that he himself or his abilities don’t transcend basic physics? Mr. Hawking isn’t guaranteed a greater stock in the truth than any other human being. Does anyone think he should be? Why? Because he’s Stephen Hawking? For a moment, if you are an atheist or an agnostic, assume that there is a God of ultimate justice, love and truth. Do you think He should make knowledge of himself only accessible to academics? Shouldn’t he be able to have a relationship with your son or daughter, with a potato farmer in the back of beyond or with homeless man living on the street, or a young black single mother. The forest is full of trees. As much as I admire Stephen Hawking, he is only one tree.

  55. Michael says:

    I’m in somewhat rare agreement with floyd here.  Not only with his particular point (an all-powerful God could certainly ‘create’ the law of gravity and anything else He damn pleased), but the quoted ‘explanation’ almost doesn’t contain any logic at all.

    You are thinking of gravity in terms of the Newtonian, or even Relativistic theories.  What Hawking is talking about are the quantum theories of gravity, which predict the eventual creation of a universe such as ours.  Basically what he is saying is that these predictions, while still not answering the “what came before the Big Bang” question, ultimately make the answer unnecessary, as the laws of physics would have resulted in the Big Bang regardless of what came before it.

  56. Rodney Mathis says:

    With all due respect to those who feel differently, The concept of God (which I believe is reality) doesn’t need to be validated through “proving it to someone else”. The question seems to be formed under the assumption that “religious” thought is something that can or ought to be kept to oneself. That is actually not possible. The question carries the assumption that God is not a reality. If God is reality, then conversation, debate or exchange related to God cannot be compartmentalized separately from other “real” topics. Most conversation, debate and exchange is based on faith in a concept called truth. Truth is not a purely physical or simply literary concept. Without that faith all talk would be meaningless babble and there should be no hope of actual communication or understanding. But nobody lives that way except those we consider to be dangerous to the public and themselves.

    This is what we “intellectual” human beings do: Because the concept of the biblical God is inconsistent with the way we want to live and think about life and our place in it, we instinctively embark on a quest to comprehensively construct a “purely natural”, non-God theory and life perspective as much as we possibly can (even to our last breath). The problem is that none of can truly live consistently with such a theory without “dehumanizing” ourselves and other human beings. It’s been done before. Human beings didn’t just spring up yesterday. Look at the many horrors of history (yes, many were done also in the name of religion, no argument, but different discussion) eugenics, racism and others often had there base in so called “pure science”. If you wish to believe that you (man) are purely a result of random occurences between elements in a random universe, you have that choice. I can’t in good conscience ask that you live consistently with that belief. To do so would be inhumane.

  57. Michael says:

    This is what we “intellectual” human beings do: Because the concept of the biblical God is inconsistent with the way we want to live and think about life and our place in it, we instinctively embark on a quest to comprehensively construct a “purely natural”, non-God theory and life perspective as much as we possibly can (even to our last breath)

    No, intellectuals desire to form “purely natural” theories about the world around them because the “god did it” theories have zero predictive value.

    Look at the many horrors of history (yes, many were done also in the name of religion, no argument, but different discussion) eugenics, racism and others often had there base in so called “pure science”.

    Just because somebody does something “in the name of” science, doesn’t mean their actions have any actual relation to science.  Similarly, just because people claim to do something “in the name of” any particular fair, doesn’t mean that their actions have any actual relation to said faith.

    If you wish to believe that you (man) are purely a result of random occurences between elements in a random universe, you have that choice.

    That isn’t at all what science says.

  58. sam says:

    @Rodney

    The question seems to be formed under the assumption that “religious” thought is something that can or ought to be kept to oneself. That is actually not possible. The question carries the assumption that God is not a reality.

     
    I suppose, the, that this guy had it all wrong:

    Matthew 6:5
    And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you

  59. G.A.Phillips says:

    as the laws of physics would have resulted in the Big Bang regardless of what came before it. :)…….
    First perhaps these great men of science could figure out why all evidence that we have on the subject points to our moon being put were it is?

     Before going on and on about some explosion creating countless galaxies that all spin in their own directions along with their solor systems, planets and moons lol…..

    oh ya. it got lucky….laws of physics  indeed…….

    psychosis indeed…..

  60. Grewgills says:

    I believe the more “education” we human’s get, the more arrogant and assuming we tend to become.

    My experience is the opposite.  The more formal education I complete the more ignorant I feel (realize I am) and that feeling is shared by most people that I know with at least a masters degree.
    On the rest Michael and Mantis have it fairly nailed.

    If you wish to believe that you (man) are purely a result of random occurences between elements in a random universe, you have that choice. I can’t in good conscience ask that you live consistently with that belief. To do so would be inhumane.

    In addition to what Michael has pointed out science in general and cosmology particularly are not about building a moral framework, atheists and agnostics build their moral framework on a philosophy they feel comfortable with, much as religious people do.  The difference is that the philosophy that they use to build their moral framework does not rely on supernatural being(s).  Existentialism and various forms of humanism are common and do not rely on science for an ethical framework.

  61. G.A.Phillips says:

    Here lets compare brain pans, start with Hawking’s mind and we will say for poops and giggles that it is the earth, then just to give him the benefit of the doubt(because he is GOD) we will say Gods mind has yet to be found in size  shape and power amongst the uncountable stars(well uncountable to us)and watch this….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydvcVhO7sg4

     And people wonder why Glenn Beck uses blackboards, grrr,,,,,,,

  62. Michael says:

    First perhaps these great men of science could figure out why all evidence that we have on the subject points to our moon being put were it is?

    There isn’t a shred of truth in that claim and I suspect you know it.  All available evidence suggest that the “impactor” theory of the moon’s creation is correct.

  63. Franklin says:

    I’ve been out of this thread for awhile.  Have we determined whether God exists yet?

  64. mantis says:

    Have we determined whether God exists yet?
    Nope, but we’ve determined that the vocally religious people here know very little about science, though they are clearly threatened by it, and the scientific-minded people know very little about God, because it’s not really possible to know anything about God.

  65. G.A.Phillips says:

    There isn’t a shred of truth in that claim and I suspect you know it.  All available evidence suggest that the “impact” theory of the moon’s creation is correct.

     All available evidence shows that two planets rubbing together put the the moon in a perfect orbit or that something blew a chunk off(well after the curse perfect) Hardly Micheal, you must remember that I go with the explanations that make sense, not wild eyed explanations against evidence that true believers can not handle…

    There are many many credible scientist with multiple doctorates that believe as I do, and it’s kinda why we both believe what we. do but I reiterate that my beliefs are different because I am not bound evolution theory and do not base my understands off of what they preach as I once did.

    And you know that I am more trying to get people to look this up for themselves then trying mandate my beliefs on anything that one would hold to be certain. 

  66. mannning says:

    @ Michael

     “Basically what he is saying is that these predictions, while still not answering the “what came before the Big Bang” question, ultimately make the answer unnecessary, as the laws of physics would have resulted in the Big Bang regardless of what came before it.”

    Makes the answer unnecessary to whom? But the question remains there still, glaring at us: What came before the Big Bang? Where did the laws of physics come from? If the answer is from “nothing”, was “nothing” a created condition? Where did it all begin? What created spontaneous generation? The answers seem to lead to an infinite regression… or nothing.  Futile!

  67. mantis says:

    Too bad your beliefs don’t include a commitment to comprehensible thought and writing.

  68. G.A.Phillips says:

    Nope, but we’ve determined that the vocally religious people here know very little about science, though they are clearly threatened by it, and the scientific-minded people know very little about God, because it’s not really possible to know anything about God. lol…….Rules for ah the heck with it…………………It’s like talking to myself when I was like 13……….

  69. mantis says:

    The answers seem to lead to an infinite regression… or nothing.
    Well sure, when you invent the answers yourself without understanding what you’re talking about.
    Makes the answer unnecessary to whom?
    To scientists trying to figure out how the universe came to be.
    Here is the section of the book that has people so upset:
    “Some would claim the answer to these questions is that there is a God who chose to create the universe that way. It is reasonable to ask who or what created the universe, but if the answer is God, then the question has merely been deflected to that of who created God. In this view it is accepted that some entity exists that needs no creator, and that entity is called God. This is known as the first-cause argument for the existence of God. We claim, however, that it is possible to answer these questions purely within the realm of science, and without invoking any divine beings.
    All he is saying is we don’t need to invoke God to explain the universe.  He is not saying that the answer to your questions is “nothing.”  You want to know what came before the Big Bang?  So do we.  But, as Hawking states above, if your answer is God, then what came before God?  A question, unlike the ones you pose, with no possibility of an answer.  An excuse to stop seeking answers.  Not science, but unquestioning faith.  If that’s your attitude, leave science to the scientists.

  70. Michael says:

    There are many many credible scientist with multiple doctorates that believe as I do

    There are indeed many credible scientists that believe in God.  There aren’t any that believe he placed the moon in orbit.

    but I reiterate that my beliefs are different because I am not bound evolution theory and do not base my understands off of what they preach as I once did.

    Evolution and Cosmology have about as much to do with one another as Anthropology and Nuclear Physics do.

  71. Michael says:

    Makes the answer unnecessary to whom? But the question remains there still, glaring at us: What came before the Big Bang? Where did the laws of physics come from? If the answer is from “nothing”, was “nothing” a created condition? Where did it all begin? What created spontaneous generation? The answers seem to lead to an infinite regression… or nothing.  Futile!

    It becomes unnecessary for everybody.  Once we know that the universe as we know it would have been created, then we’ve answered the only question that knowing what came before the big bang would have been useful in predicting.  Essentially it means we can understand everything about our universe based solely on what we can observe in our universe.

  72. Rodney says:

    I don’t think that character assassination or condescension is a good quality for a “scientist”. No human being is completely objective. I don’t claim to be. But who said that one has to be, to know truth.

    Again, the humandiscipline of science is no more objective than the individual practicing it. Obviously we don’t have to be objective to do so, or to benefit from and enjoy the fruits of it.

    Interesting turn Sam. No I don’t believe Jesus had it wrong. What you referenced pertained to prayer which is generally understood to be a personal communication between a person and God. What I was referring to was that whatever a person believes (about God, life and their place in it) cannot be separated from the expression of themselves in life. There is no true compartmentalization like that because we all live what we believe.

    What you said in response to my post Grewgills does sound like humility, which I believe one should increase in as they increase in knowledge. I was being a bit sarcastic with my original statement. One doesn’t need a Master’s degree to be humble. Or is it really humility? Perhaps it’s an honest admission that the increase of their chosen field of learning has not produced anymore certainty of what is true than when they began it. That. to me, would be tragic, but not surprising.

    I don’t believe so much in religion, but I do believe in a dimension of reality beyond the physical. I don’t believe in the random universe theory, but I do believe in an “idea, action, result” universe. It’s how we as humans live and conduct our lives and it’s how we engage the physical universe around us. We build everything from spacecrafts to cheesecakes on it. If you try to live some other way you’re liable to get locked up (and for good reason). 

    Science, which should be based on a belief in and a pursuit of truth, is not simply the realm of the “degreed”. No disrespect intended to all the great academics that modern science has benefited from, but that knowledge doesn’t necessarily make them a better human being or a truly wiser person than someone who hasn’t finished high school. That, to me, is the beginning of genuine intellectual humility.

  73. Michael says:

    Again, the humandiscipline of science is no more objective than the individual practicing it.

    Perform this experiment: http://tolweb.org/onlinecontributors/app;jsessionid=B697FE1BB9F55FABFE33209BA0BB9763?page=PortfolioViewPage&service=external&sp=4002&sp=0&sp=3762
     
    Your results will be the same, whether you believe in Evolution or not.  Q.E.D., science is objective.
     

  74. Rodney says:

    Michael said: “Your results will be the same, whether you believe in Evolution or not.  Q.E.D., science is objective.”

    You are absolutely correct Michael. That’s why I made a distinction of “human discipline”. The physical results will be the same as long as the laws of physics are the same, but human interpretation of their meaning is where the subjectivity comes into play. The physical universe is what it is. The systematic study of it, which is the human discipline called science, is a human system which isn’t created, pursued, or interpreted by machines, but by human beings who have hopes, fears, motives, aspirations, dreams, delusions, vices and other qualities through which information is filtered.

    That doesn’t, by the way, mean that scientific rigor is fruitless. It means that when you think about the implications of scientific theory you have to also consider the very powerful and not always benevolent human element within the theorist. That’s all.

  75. Michael says:

    The physical results will be the same as long as the laws of physics are the same, but human interpretation of their meaning is where the subjectivity comes into play.

    You still don’t seem to understand the point.  In science, even the interpretations are put through the process.  You may start with a human interpretation of the results, but then you built a hypothesis around that interpretation, devise a way to test it, perform the test and then see if your results confirm or refute your interpretation.  Best of all, someone who disagreed with your interpretation can run the same test, and they will get the same confirmation or refutation.

  76. Rodney says:

    Actually, I do see your point. But I do think you are looking at science in a vacuum. Science, nor you, exist in a vacuum. Sure, we try to make the environment of scientific study as sterile as possible. Great. Test and retest.

    We should start with a question, gather available data related to the subject, develop a hypothesis, put it to the test and document the results. That part is fine, but because we don’t live in a test tube, the implication or understanding of what those results mean is a different subject.

    When I say “interpretation” I mean the formulation of what the results of scientific experiments mean. That includes what it means for man, society, life, etc., on every level, whether personal, private or public.

    You seem to be trying to use science to “filter out” the human element. Yes, you may do that on paper or in physical experiments but that’s not where the purpose of science ends. Not in your life or that of anyone you know. Scientific discipline doesn’t produce saints. Although some seem to think it does. For them science has become their religion and objectivity, their god I suppose. Every religion has its priests and disciples.

    Scientific testing, results and confirmations are not life. Science is a tool, but it’s still wielded, applied and processed by human beings. When you find a scientist or anyone who is full of pure virtue and unblemished by human vice and therefore absolutely trustworthy, you let me know. There’s only one person I believe can wear that mantle.

    Thanks for the exchange of ideas. I wish you the best.

  77. mannning says:

    Well, I am asking the question once more.  Where did the laws of physics come from? Out of nothing? When did they become relevant? If at the instant of the BB, then you have lots to explain, since it has been stated that the laws were not in force–could not be in force—at that instant.  If afterwards, however slightly, then where did they come from?

  78. mannning says:

    Obviously, we can work forward in time from the BB. Fine and dandy, and our laws work.  The question still lingers though. What was there before the BB? What caused the BB? If there is no answer to these questions, then we have reached one of the hard limits to science.

    Yet, something came from nothing. Spontaneously! This smacks of ghosts, and ethereal beings, and religious claptrap wrapped up in scientific clothing. What caused spontaneous creation? Next we will hear about M-Branes and collisions and such…speculation!  Indeed!

  79. mannning says:

    “It becomes unnecessary for everybody.  Once we know that the universe as we know it would have been created, then we’ve answered the only question that knowing what came before the big bang would have been useful in predicting.” 

    This I can understand from a “let’s stop worrying about before the BB” point of view.  A sort of sweeping the problem under the rug. And it certainly avoids any need to mention God in the process in any way, which is clearly a useful goal for scientists. Not, of course, a useful goal for quite a few other people. 

    But, why was the Universe created? Does it have a purpose for being, or is it purely mechanistic and coldly purposeless? Is God in the equation or has He been spontaneously deconstructed? Spontaneous Materialism! 

    Since none of you scientists can tell me the how and why of it, except by evoking a word–spontaneity–to describe creation from nothing, I believe that you are just as religious and ethereal as the next person, but hide it very well indeed with elaborate dodges. One man’s First Cause is another’s Spontaneous Creation. One makes as much sense as the other.

  80. Michael says:

    Well, I am asking the question once more.  Where did the laws of physics come from?

    I’m by no means an expert in this field, but my understanding is that the laws exist independently of the dimensions, matter and energy created in the big bang.

    The question still lingers though. What was there before the BB? What caused the BB? If there is no answer to these questions, then we have reached one of the hard limits to science.

    As has been stated already, asking what came before the big bang is like asking what is north of the north pole, the question itself has no meaning.

    This I can understand from a “let’s stop worrying about before the BB” point of view.  A sort of sweeping the problem under the rug

    Nobody is sweeping it under the rug, Hawking is merely stating that we don’t need to know that answer in order to explain how the universe came into being.

    Since none of you scientists can tell me the how and why of it, except by evoking a word–spontaneity–to describe creation from nothing

    “creation from nothing” is not at all what spontaneous means.

  81. Ole_Sarge says:

    “Science can explain away things previously attributable to magic or superstition.  But it can’t prove a negative.”
    Amen

  82. john personna says:

    Well, I am asking the question once more.  Where did the laws of physics come from? Out of nothing? When did they become relevant? If at the instant of the BB, then you have lots to explain, since it has been stated that the laws were not in force–could not be in force—at that instant.  If afterwards, however slightly, then where did they come from?

    I’m surprised that “civilians” would worry about this.  It is advanced physics and/or advanced theology.  Either way, I’d think it is not terribly critical to the life of the believer, the agnostic, or even the atheist.

    But then, I come from one of those religions that doesn’t look for proofs of God in the world.  It’s about faith.  And as I say, you can have big bangs, old earths, and evolution, with faith.  Millions of people (and many scientists) find those ideas compatible.

    Anti-science religions are a subset of religions, just as anti-religion scientists are a subset of scientists.  Concentrate on the fringes and you miss the middle.

  83. john personna says:

    BTW, if you missed my meaning, anti-science becomes psychosis when you start believing all scientists are deceivers:
     

    “Then why do your scientists only use reason, art, and selective data?”

    “your scientists” “only use” “selective data”?
     

  84. mannning says:

    “I’m by no means an expert in this field, but my understanding is that the laws exist independently of the dimensions, matter and energy created in the big bang.”

    Among the attempts to avoid God, some physicists proposed a multiverse with continuous generation of universes without end. In some of these multiverses a few scientists proposed that there is a universe for each and every alternative decision at every level of being, and that there must be universes that have entirely different physical laws in operation.

    Thus laws of physics in this instance at least would be, ah, malliable, to fit the universes as needed. Hawking was in the middle of this one too. So is a physical law the property of the universe it is in, or do such sets of laws float around somehow waiting for its universe to appear? If it is a property of the specific universe, such as ours, then they had to be created to fit along with their universe. Yet, the laws are inoperative at creation time, and do not appear in operation until a very short time after the BB. How are these laws, and we might as well throw in their associated constants, created?  We are now in the time frame after the BB, so the question pertains to the created universe.
    Your answer implies that the laws are independent of Space-Time and Matter. Where did they come from? In your lexicon they simply exist.  Do they exist in other forms for use in other universes? I simply do not understand where these laws and constants come from, even as I use or observe ours at all times.

     
    “As has been stated already, asking what came before the big bang is like asking what is north of the north pole, the question itself has no meaning.”

    This to me is. frankly, a copout answer.  If you have no cogent answer, define the question to be meaningless, and all is well. So we have now thrown the multiverse idea out the window as meaningless too, since we cannot peer outside of our universe? Good plan. We now have a single universe to deal with, and it appears to be totally self-contained, and nothing lies without?   It arose spontaneously somehow from somewhere, 

    Ok, from a QM view, why did it form? How did it form? Why did it form as it did? Could it have formed in other ways, statistically? Spontaneous magic, is it?
    Once we get to spontaneous magic, we are back to Belief Systems, not science. That is, unless there is a full description of how spontaneous creation took place. Is there one?

  85. G.A.Phillips says:

    But then, I come from one of those religions that doesn’t look for proofs of God in the world.  It’s about faith.  And as I say, you can have big bangs, old earths, and evolution, with faith.  Millions of people (and many scientists) find those ideas compatible.

    I am sorry to break this to everyone but you cannot be a Christian and not believe in the first book of the bible this is an absolute truth.

    “your scientists” “only use” “selective data”?

    To justify their theory and for the theory to justify their conclusions….

    BTW, if you missed my meaning, anti-science becomes psychosis when you start believing all scientists are deceivers:

    Believing in creation is not anti-science, and yes all scientists that base their science from the the foolish, unexplained and incomparable diatribes of the big bang are  deceivers and are in total conflict with a theory that their faith has proven to them with  zero comparable, repeatable evidence, or documented evidence that can be studied, it is speculation, art of reason.

    Blind faith that is taught as fact, better yet it is taught as absolute truth by those who absolutely do not believe in such reality as absolute truth.

    And please stop trying to slip creation into  big bang nonsense. time, chance and luck,  are your building blocks…..please stop rewriting history, we see where that has gone on so many tragic levels, enough already…
    I’m surprised that “civilians” would worry about this.  It is advanced physics and/or advanced theology.  Either way, I’d think it is not terribly critical to the life of the believer, the agnostic, or even the atheist.

    I say it is the most critical to all three in the fact that the  faith of all three comes directly from its argument.

  86. mannning says:

    @John

    I agree with your statements above. Yes, there are some advanced ideas in the thread, and our faith is something rather removed from them. My interest, you might say, is in trying to see whether my God still stands in the face of some of these ideas. My faith says He will. I believe that science runs out of theoretical explanations and proofs at some point, while God was there all along.

  87. Michael says:

    Among the attempts to avoid God, some physicists proposed a multiverse with continuous generation of universes without end.

    That’s not at all why they proposed a multi-verse.

    a few scientists proposed that there is a universe for each and every alternative decision at every level of being

    This actually arises from an interesting phenomenon where a single particle will appear to traverse every path of equal probability, thus being in two places at once.  This is not a proposal, but a very real and measurable aspect of the universe.

    and that there must be universes that have entirely different physical laws in operation

    I have seen this proposed as a hypothesis, but I’m not aware of any theory based on it, not tests to measure it.

    So is a physical law the property of the universe it is in, or do such sets of laws float around somehow waiting for its universe to appear?

    It is my understanding that the laws exist independent of the universe, but the dimensions and forces that are constrained to our universe arose from the effect of those laws on the universe.

    Yet, the laws are inoperative at creation time, and do not appear in operation until a very short time after the BB.

    It’s very common to hear people say that the laws of physics “break down”, but what they mean by that isn’t that they did not exist, but rather that our current understanding of them isn’t accurate enough to cover that specific situation, much like how Newtonian physics “breaks down” at very high speeds by being less accurate than Relativistic physics.

    Where did they come from? In your lexicon they simply exist.

    Concepts like “where” and “when” lose their meaning outside of the contexts of space and time.

    This to me is. frankly, a copout answer.  If you have no cogent answer, define the question to be meaningless, and all is well.

    Expanding on my previous comment, the question is asking for the value of a property that doesn’t exist.  It’s akin to asking how much the color green weighs, or what is north of the north pole.  If you believe my answer is a copout, then please answer these.

    Ok, from a QM view, why did it form? How did it form? Why did it form as it did? Could it have formed in other ways, statistically?

    Those are all questions that have multiple theories, none of which has been testable to my knowledge.  We are at an interesting point in our knowledge of physics where we are able to devise tests that we don’t yet have the technology to conduct, either because we cannot achieve the necessary level of precision or we cannot harness the necessary about of energy.  But with experiments that will soon be conducted at the LHC, we will hopefully begin testing some of those in the very near future.  Remember that in science, “I don’t know” doesn’t always mean “I can’t explain it”, sometimes it just means “I can’t determine which explanation is most correct”.

  88. Michael says:

    @G.A.Phillips:
    I don’t really feel like picking all your irrational ideas apart, so this will have to serve to refute your entire argument: http://xkcd.com/54/
     

  89. Michael says:

    My interest, you might say, is in trying to see whether my God still stands in the face of some of these ideas.

    Of course he will, because as Tano so eloquently put it, you fill the void left my your ignorance* with God, this as long as there is something you do not know, there will be a place for your God to stand.  You will notice that your faith always places the actions of God one step removed from the actions you can explain through science.  Whenever something you previously attributed to God is explained through science, you seek the next step remove and place God there.

    * Please note that I use “ignorance” in it’s proper definition meaning a lack of knowledge, not in any way as an insult.

  90. mannning says:

    @Michael

    Well, no, my God is always there, I cannot move Him at all.  Turn this around, and you have Science struggling to comprehend and verify what God has constructed, so that each positive step science makes is one more area of illumination of God’s work.  It is science showing gaps of knowledge, not God! LOL. He is always on top, and way ahead of us! 

    At the singularity, space and time do not exist, so drop out all references to dimension and time in the laws. Planck’s time constant does not yet exist, or is not yet in force. The four forces are apparently not operating. In fact, we know next to nothing about T(0) through T(0) + one tick, (let my tick equal 10 exp-26 sec) and I seriously doubt that we will ever be able to observe any events in that region! No elements exist at T(0), it is pure energy, apparently. So what got it started creating?  Why did a dense ball of energy concentrate itself in nothingness?

    OK, which way is up? 

    Maybe we can observe the Higgs Boson or its effects at some point in LHC experimentation, and maybe not. Maybe the Higgs Ocean is real, and maybe not, but again, we will have merely pushed the unknowns back a few steps, but there will still be unknowns there right up to and beyond the limits of our ability to observe, theorize and test. Maybe we can create little black holes in profusion, too. That would be fun!

    From your last post, Michael, I did not see any comment regarding spontaneous creation. This is key to Hawking’s proposal, and I do confess that I have no idea what this is about in Hawkings comcept. Can anyone describe this event called spontaneous creation of a Universe? Is this a huge leap from the double slit experimental results to the creation of a universe? My mind boggles at the thought.

    You are quite right that lack of an explanation is not necessarily a deficiency of theories, and of course, experimentation to test the various hypotheses is called for, if you can create the right test gear. LHC is one big piece of test gear! 

    Thank you for your courtesy   
     

  91. john personna says:

    But then, I come from one of those religions that doesn’t look for proofs of God in the world.  It’s about faith.  And as I say, you can have big bangs, old earths, and evolution, with faith.  Millions of people (and many scientists) find those ideas compatible.
    I am sorry to break this to everyone but you cannot be a Christian and not believe in the first book of the bible this is an absolute truth.
     

    Your long post seems to be on this same theme, so let me ask you, are the Catholics considered Christians these days?
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution

  92. john personna says:

    BTW, a good summary of this Hawking thing and “God of the gaps” is here:
     
    http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2010/09/stephen-hawkings-big-bang-gaps.html

  93. john personna says:

    I guess I’ll answer this one, because it is kind of central:
     

    I’m surprised that “civilians” would worry about this.  It is advanced physics and/or advanced theology.  Either way, I’d think it is not terribly critical to the life of the believer, the agnostic, or even the atheist.
    I say it is the most critical to all three in the fact that the  faith of all three comes directly from its argument.


     
    But that’s not what “faith” is.  Faith is belief without evidence.  It comes from the spirit.  When you have proof, you don’t need faith.  You don’t need to look within.

  94. mannning says:

    @John

    Thanks for the reference, the article by Paul Davies runs essentially down the same trail that I have been going here, including the probing of laws and meta-laws! No answers that I can chew on, but conformation that I have not been blowing smoke. I still do not have a handle on Hawking’s Spontaneous Creation.

  95. Michael says:

    Well, no, my God is always there, I cannot move Him at all.

    Sorry, I wasn’t trying to make any claims about your God, I was merely pointing out that you only ever put him one step removed from your current knowledge, never two.  You are implying now that God may not have created the universe, but he did create the laws that did.  Why not suppose that God created something else that then created those laws?  Why not put him 2 or 3 or 100 steps removed from creating those laws?  Because you’re not comfortable being separated from your God’s actions by the unknown.

    At the singularity, space and time do not exist, so drop out all references to dimension and time in the laws.

    That’s not entirely accurate, as every that exists now existed then, just in a different form.  At the energies and densities of the singularity, the dimensions themselves were part of this undifferentiated object of energy.

    Why did a dense ball of energy concentrate itself in nothingness?

    That question assumes two things, that there was a “before”, and that our universe was less dense then.  Neither of those are part of our current theories.

    we will have merely pushed the unknowns back a few steps, but there will still be unknowns there right up to and beyond the limits of our ability to observe, theorize and test

    And it will likely always be that way.  But rather than crediting God for every event we don’t understand, we should just accept that we don’t currently understand it, and also that in the future we likely will.  We don’t credit God for the events we currently understand, so why credit him now for events we will understand in the future?

    From your last post, Michael, I did not see any comment regarding spontaneous creation. This is key to Hawking’s proposal, and I do confess that I have no idea what this is about in Hawkings comcept

    You keep talking about spontaneity as if it means it happened without cause or source, but that’s not at all what it means.  Think back to chemistry, where a spontaneous reaction (say, between potassium and water) wasn’t without cause or source, it merely contained within itself everything necessary to cause the reaction.  Sure, you can say it was necessary that something bring the ingredients together, but you don’t need to know what did that in order to understand why the reaction happens.  That’s all Hawking is saying, we can understand how the universe was created based on the “ingredients” we have in the universe.  How those ingredients came to be together isn’t something we have to account for in our study of the universe itself.  That’s not to say those answers are unimportant to science, just that they’re unimportant to theories predicting how the universe works, just as it’s not necessary to understand why humans mix potassium and water in order to predict how they will react once together.

  96. john personna says:

    I agree with much (maybe all) of what you say Michael, and I understand that you use the word “likely” here, but:
     

    And it will likely always be that way.  But rather than crediting God for every event we don’t understand, we should just accept that we don’t currently understand it, and also that in the future we likely will.

    I think it’s an interesting possibility that physics and cosmology could have a complexity that exceeds human capacity.  In a sense they already to.  I mean, we aren’t that smart in general, and have long relied on random savants to push the frontiers.  Frontiers that most of us can’t really understand.

  97. Michael says:

    I mean, we aren’t that smart in general, and have long relied on random savants to push the frontiers.  Frontiers that most of us can’t really understand.

    True enough, but even still the lay person today understand more about Relativity than the greatest minds of the 19th century.  Few may know the specifics, but the average understanding of the basic principles of physics has certainly increased.

  98. G.A.Phillips says:

    Irrational, lolI don’t believe in the Bing bang, I don’t believe in cosmic soup, I don’t believe in earth worms turning into donkeys, and I don’t believe crap that is explained away buy time and chance, but I’m irrational 🙂

    And it will likely always be that way.  But rather than crediting God for every event we don’t understand, we should just accept that we don’t currently understand it, and also that in the future we likely will.
    lol……oh the arrogance, oh the delusion………
    Hope and change, time and chance, hmmmmmm…….

  99. john personna says:

    True enough, but even still the lay person today understand more about Relativity than the greatest minds of the 19th century.  Few may know the specifics, but the average understanding of the basic principles of physics has certainly increased.

    Right, but that understanding is partial, and based on a trust that the savants have it right.  GA sees this trust as equivalent to faith, but I don’t of course, because it doesn’t come from within.  It is not spiritual.  It is akin to trusting the DOT when they tell you your car has 5 safety stars.

  100. Michael says:

    Right, but that understanding is partial, and based on a trust that the savants have it right.

    Not exactly trust that they have it right, but rather trust that they know it better than ourselves, and are therefore more likely to be right that we are.  It’s akin to asking locals where the good restaurants are.

  101. mannning says:

    @Michael

    Minor comment: In the case of your spontaneous combustion reaction example, such a reaction has a forcing function; that is, some person or some external force placed potassium in the water, or vice versa.  What is the forcing function in the case of the BB? 

    Minor comment: Things don’t add up here for me, if there is no singular point for the BB to take place, and there is no such thing as nothingness before the BB event. What was there at the BB point before the BB event?  There seems to be an evasion of this question, and the ff question, taking place somehow. 

    It is as if we agree to ignore all aspects of the situation prior to the BB(assign it to a spontaneous reaction of unknown cause, but between known, unstated contributors), and simply concentrate on working out the rest of the trajectories and reactions in the Universe afterwards (assign the question of “before” to==> there was no before)!

    Your idea is that all reality is what science says it is, and we Christians simply assign anything beyond your reality to a God.  Is this about right?

    My own take is that I assign the entire reality to God, and cheer when science has nailed down some of the parts of God’s reality that we can understand and use. I do believe that Hawking has decided that the laws of physics (including meta-laws) are God or act like God in creating the Universe. God exists, and then God’s Universe exists, and then
    Science’s Universe exists within God’s Universe. This implies to me that science faces ultimate limits to what it can tease out of God’s Universe. Perhaps the other side of creation is one of them.

    Still, no one has posted an explanation of Hawking’s spontaneous creation.  Argument by analogy fails to satisfy me, at least.
      

    Comment:

  102. Michael says:

    Minor comment: In the case of your spontaneous combustion reaction example, such a reaction has a forcing function; that is, some person or some external force placed potassium in the water, or vice versa.  What is the forcing function in the case of the BB?

    When you studied this reaction in chemistry, did part of that study involve figuring out what put those ingredients together in the first place, or just on the ingredients themselves and the reaction they produced?  At no point was the study of human psychology necessary to explain and predict the reaction of potassium.  Likewise, the study of a similar “force function” with regard to the universe is not necessary to explain and predict the nature of the universe.  This is what Hawking was saying.

    Minor comment: Things don’t add up here for me, if there is no singular point for the BB to take place, and there is no such thing as nothingness before the BB event.

    This is where some of those multi-verse theories come into play, as well as some other highly theoretical ideas.  As none of them have put forward any testable predictions, I don’t give any of them much credit at this point.  At a minimum I think we can say that without the familiar constructs of space and time, we’re going to first have to come up with an entirely new context of thought.  You call it an “evasion”, but Hawking merely says it’s not a necessary part of a complete theory of the universe.

    It is as if we agree to ignore all aspects of the situation prior to the BB(assign it to a spontaneous reaction of unknown cause, but between known, unstated contributors), and simply concentrate on working out the rest of the trajectories and reactions in the Universe afterwards (assign the question of “before” to==> there was no before)!

    That exact it, and we do so for 2 reason: 1) Because any information that exists outside of our universe of “before” the BB is observable or influential in our universe and 2) Because we can adequately explain every aspect of our universe by what actually is observable and influential in our universe.

    Your idea is that all reality is what science says it is, and we Christians simply assign anything beyond your reality to a God.  Is this about right?

    My idea is that science explains reality, while God comforts our fears.  I’m not singling out Christians in this either.  “God did it” is never an explanation for reality, because it can never yield information that gives us a better understanding of that reality.  I don’t have a problem with people believing in God, and I certainly don’t look down on them for it, I just don’t accept faith as a substitute for knowledge.

    My own take is that I assign the entire reality to God, and cheer when science has nailed down some of the parts of God’s reality that we can understand and use.

    But you still impart some amount of mysticism into God’s role in anything beyond your current knowledge, and take away that mysticism as soon as you gain scientific knowledge about it.  You don’t “cheer for God” when your lights come on at the flick of a switch, because you have a knowledge of why it happens that doesn’t involve God.  To me, this doesn’t feel like consistent faith, but rather convenient faith.

    This implies to me that science faces ultimate limits to what it can tease out of God’s Universe. Perhaps the other side of creation is one of them.

    This, to me, is nothing more than injecting mysticism into our  ignorance.  We have no reason to believe that science will ever be unable to explain reality, but you still feel a need to fill the current void of the unknown with some explanation.  And when we do fill that void with actual knowledge,  you will find the next void, and inject mysticism into that.

    Still, no one has posted an explanation of Hawking’s spontaneous creation.  Argument by analogy fails to satisfy me, at least.

    Then perhaps I’m just not up to the task of explaining it in a way that you can understand.

  103. mannning says:

    @Michael

    Fair enough.  I am curious about this still, and hope that some further explanations will be coming out in the literature soon.  I really didn’t expect to entertain a fullblown theological debate here either; one liners simply don’t cut it generally. As to your light switch example, at least once in the rush of life one stands there at the switch in great wonder at the number of inventions and developments that had to take place to provide electric lighting at command, and then wonder further at the things God provides for us to discover and develop in the future that will help us cope.

    Have a good Labor Day!

  104. john personna says:

    Not exactly trust that they have it right, but rather trust that they know it better than ourselves, and are therefore more likely to be right that we are.  It’s akin to asking locals where the good restaurants are.

    I like my DOT/crash example because it has the concept of expertise, and hierarchy.  We can certainly ask a local for a restaurant, but after eating there we are going to have no compunction about making our own valuation.

    I, at least, don’t defer to Yelp the same way I do National Academies.

  105. john personna says:

    first paragraph above should have been quoted

  106. mannning says:

    I do have another question. Given that we wall off all before the BB from consideration of internals to our universe, and we happily proceed to develop the total picture of this, the only universe we will ever know, then there are the rest of the universes or multiverses  to consider, somehow.  Is the Higgs Ocean concept part of this, where all multiverses are emmeshed in it, and respond through the HO, say, by way of gravity waves, to create the conditions for a BB? 

    Can any action external to our universe from these other universes or their constituents impinge on us? For example, could there be another BB within the space-time of our universe? There are those who’d like to know! 

    Both possible answers are of interest; yes, has serious implications; and no asks for a why not and a how do we know? I suppose “don’t know” is a rational answer, too!

  107. david says:

    I love these discussion.  What state would Jesus be from, a Red or Blue state?

  108. david says:

    A great way to test the God belief idea, have random sampling of people take a lie detector test.  I bet the percent of believers comes down dramatically when not asked openly.  I bet the clergy would not stand for such a test.

  109. david says:

    The real question is where on our evolutionary journey in life did the psychological forces force the development of this need for immortality, or ever lasting life?  That will mark the pinnacle of our existence, from there we have gone down hill as a species.  Me thinks it was close to discovery of fire.  I will write a song about it.  Long live George Carlin.

  110. Bxiii says:

    Nietzche spent a lot of time teaching his readers this: that whenever there was a metaphysical statement at hand, a true philologist had to look not at "what was being said", but at "the disabilities that were saying this, trying to find a justification". In certain cases, for example, in the case of the secret disease that was eating up Socrates and leading him to say the things he said, the diagnostic can be quite complex. According to Nietzche, it took him his own entire life to unmask that disease.

    In other cases, it’s embarassingly straightforward.