Renowned astrophysicist and Jesuit, Father Manuel Carreira spoke out Nov. 23, noting that British scientist Stephen Hawking's theory that the universe created itself from nothing lacks “scientific rigor and validity.”
Fr. Carreira said Hawking’s theory is “unscientific” because it contradicts the laws of physics and provides no proof for its claims, according to AVAN news agency. The priest's comments came during a conference in Valencia, Spain titled, “Dialogue with Stephen Hawking on Creation.”
Fr. Carreira said Hawking’s theory “does not contribute to knowledge in any way.” While he praised the British scientist for his determination in battling his physical limitations, he said Hawking’s new book is “a highly revealing description of what 20th century science has accomplished and what remains to be done.” But, he added, the book “does not offer anything new.”
The book is only “original” in its illogical denial of human freedom in chapter one and its claims in the final chapter that “through the force of gravity, a universe created itself from nothing.” “Nothingness does not have any force or properties,” Fr. Carreira noted. It is “purely the absence of all reality.” What is evident, he continued, is that “gravity is the result of mass,” such that “since nothingness has no mass, it cannot have gravity either. It would be like saying from zero you could get a bank account.”
Fr. Carreira also noted the “compatibility” of science, philosophy and theology in discovering truth. “They are all partial ways of understanding a reality that is very rich and that cannot be known by just one methodology.” All three can “complement each other in bringing about the development of human knowledge,” he added.
Science “only speaks of how matter acts,” but it “cannot give a reason” for why that matter exists. The question of the meaning of the universe or of life “is outside the bounds of science and one must seek an answer in another order of reasoning,” the priest said.
Thus science is “a way of knowing what is observable and subject to experimentation, but it cannot be asked to speak of what it cannot prove,” such as “the desire to know, freedom, finality, ethics, art, family or social relations,” he stated. For this reason, “reducing human reality to the four forces of matter is a totally unscientific claim that goes against our experience,” Fr. Carreira explained.
Fr. Carreira is a doctor in physics and professor of philosophy at the Comillas University in Spain. He is also a member of the Vatican Observatory.