Sunday, September 12, 2010

Where did the Stephen Hawking post go?

... I took it down.

Yesterday, I posted a short piece on Stephen Hawking which included this quote from A Brief History of Time:
"It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us."
I am embarrassed to acknowledge my quote mining error, the very sort of quote mining so often used by the Creationist camp (I should have been tipped off by the frequent siting of this sentence in Creationist literature.) No one pointed this out to me. I merely reread the paragraph. I'm glad I did.

When Hawking wrote the words "in just this way", he was referring to one of the problems with early Big Bang cosmology, and its inability to account for such things as the evenly distributed microwave background radiation (the "echo" of the Big Bang) which we observe today, without the imposition of a Creator. He goes on in the same paragraph to explain how the problems have been solved by more recent understandings in cosmology which allow the possibility of various nonuniform initial conditions.

When Big Bang cosmology first came on the scene in the 1920s, it was viewed as a bane on cosmology and physics by many scientists who concluded that such a "start" would almost certainly necessitate a Creator. Various work-arounds have since surfaced which make it possible for science to conceive of a cosmic beginning moment sans an almighty hand at work. Hawking was merely referring to this development of science.

It will appear to some that science is constantly "running for shelter" from a God. And that may well be the case for some. From what I have read of Hawking, I do not believe he is doing this at all. He readily allows the possibility of a Creator. But his search for natural laws keep leading him to rely less and less on science that appears to demand such a Creator.