Loading
Hawking's new book does not dismiss the real God from creation, Jesuit scholars say
Dr. Stephen Hawking, Br. Guy Consolmagno and Fr. Robert Spitzer
Dr. Stephen Hawking, Br. Guy Consolmagno and Fr. Robert Spitzer

.- Dr. Stephen Hawking's new book, “The Grand Design,” makes the bold claim that the universe “created itself from nothing” based on physical laws such as gravity, making God unnecessary for a self-created and self-unfolding model of the universe. However, two Catholic scholars trained in physics say his remarks misconstrue the real relationship between God and creation.

A Jesuit priest and scholar, former president of Gongaza University Fr. Robert Spitzer, says that Hawking's dismissal of God in favor of physics reflects fundamental confusions about the Christian concept of God, as the creator of all that exists-- both the physical universe, and the laws of physics which apply to it.

When this is understood, Fr. Spitzer said, Hawking's basic confusion becomes clear. Although Hawking talks about the universe “creating itself from nothing,” he is presupposing that this “nothing” somehow involved gravity and other fundamental laws of physics, Fr. Spitzer explained.

But principles such as gravity are not irreducible or self-evident axioms. Rather, they are non-physical laws which govern the ordinary operations of the physical world. Thus, the Jesuit priest stated, there is no comparison between a creation which unfolds and develops according to laws followed by matter, and Hawking's proposal of “spontaneous creation” from “nothing.”

“Let’s take the law mentioned by Dr. Hawking above – the law of gravity,” Spitzer wrote. “It has a specific constant associated with it and specific characteristics, and it has specific effects on mass-energy and even on space-time itself. This is a very curious definition of 'nothing'.”

“Now,” he continued, “if we rephrase Dr. Hawking’s statement in the above fashion, then he has clearly not explained why there is something rather than nothing. He has only explained that something comes from something,” by describing the development of a functioning universe on the basis of laws such as gravity.

Historically, many Christian theologians, as well as non-Christian philosophers, have argued precisely the opposite of Hawking's point: namely, that the laws of physics can only be ascribed to an infinite, intelligent and non-physical creator.

Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, explained to CNA on Friday how the preconditions for the universe's unfolding and operations were not a form of “nothing,” as Hawking considers them to be. Rather, he said, they are the conditions created by God for the ordering of the world.

“God is the reason why space and time and the laws of nature can be present for the forces to operate that Stephen Hawking is talking about,” he told CNA.

Hawking's dismissal of God, Br. Consolmagno said, was based not only on his incorrect designation of physical laws as “nothing,” but also on a failure to grasp the notion of God's transcendence. As such, he concluded, Hawking was really dismissing a kind of “god” in which Christians do not believe.

“The 'god' that Stephen Hawking doesn’t believe in, is one I don’t believe in either. God is not just another force in the Universe, alongside gravity or electricity. God is not a force to be invoked to . . . 'start a scene or two' and fill the momentary gaps in our knowledge.”

Rather, Br. Consolmagno said, “God is the reason why existence itself exists.”

This profound mystery, Fr. Spitzer said, was one which Professor Hawking was actually indicating, at the very same time he was attempting to dismiss it.

“In my view,” he concluded, “Dr. Hawking has not yet shown the non-necessity of this reality. Indeed, he implies it by assuming the existence of a beginning in his assertion about the universe coming from nothing.”


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
20

Liturgical Calendar

April 20, 2014

EASTER SUNDAY OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 24:13-35

Gospel
Date
04/20/14
04/19/14
04/18/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Second Reading:: Col 3:1-4
Gospel:: Jn 20:1-9

Homily of the Day

Lk 24:13-35

Homily
Date
04/20/14
04/19/14
04/18/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: