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.


Rich G. said...

I was wondering. Taking down the post didn't also remove the references to the comments, which is a bit confusing.

"But his search for natural laws keep leading him to rely less and less on science that appears to demand such a Creator."

Can "science demand...a Creator"? Wouldn't that place "science" in the authoritative position of making the demands? I think of "science" simply being a tool for mankind, a systematic method that is used by people exploring just how this creation works. Science can neither demand that a Creator exists, nor prove non-existence of one that would, by definition exist 'outside' of our dimensions.

Cliff Martin said...


Yes, the "recent comments" feature is a third-party widget, and it is not editable as far as I can tell. We just have to keep piling on new comments to purge those non-existent ones.

Tom said...

Here is a recent article by Hawking.

Cliff Martin said...

Thanks Tom.

What did you think of that article? Is the headline, Why God Did Not Create the Universe supported in the text?

Hawking's quite tentative and suppositional statements, such as,

“Our universe seems to be one of many ...”
“As recent advances in cosmology suggest ...”

led to his conclusion,

“It is not necessary to invoke God ....”

How do we get from there to "God Did Not Create the Universe."

A bit overreaching, wouldn't you say?

Does it strike you, as it does me, that there are certain folks primed and ready to jump on any bit of science that supports their foregone conclusion and hyperbolize it all of proportion?

No doubt, this tendency exists on every side of every debate. It is blatant in the many press releases I've seen about Hawking's new book.

Todd said...

Pretty decent response here on confusing "temporal beginnings with origins" -