Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow’s Inadvertent Proof for God

There’s an old saying about giving a man enough rope, and he’ll hang himself – the idea being that if someone is wrong or lying, the longer they go on, the more obvious this becomes.  Well, Bantam Books gave Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow all the rope they wanted, and the result is The Grand Design, in which they argue against the necessity (and existence) of God.  Here’s a sample of the level of argumentation we’re dealing with:

“[Just] as Darwin and Wallace explained how the apparently miraculous design of living forms could appear without intervention by a supreme being, the multiverse concept can explain the fine tuning of physical law without the need for a benevolent creator who made the Universe for our benefit. 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.”

They then explain the basic theory behind the “multiverse,” which presupposes that multiple universes exist:

“According to M-theory, ours is not the only universe. Instead M-theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god. Rather these multiple universes arise naturally from physical law.”

Let’s leave aside the absurdity of the whole “multiverse” theory, which John Haldane addresses in First Things.  Hawking and Mlodinow have done a thoroughly sufficient job of showing the stupidity of their own argument, by simply outlining the three major claims above:

  1. Claim 1: Spontaneous Creation is the reason that there is something rather than nothing, including the Universe; (“Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists).  This applies to all universes, meaning it applies to the entire multiverse.
  2. Claim 2: Spontaneous Creation requires the law of gravity; (Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing”; “Rather these multiple universes arise naturally from physical law”).
  3. Claim 3: The multitude of universes are responsible for producing fine-tuned physical laws (the multiverse concept can explain the fine tuning of physical law)
Reduced to its bare-bones, the argument looks like this:
It’s circular.  You can’t have a universe without it being created, you can’t have spontaneous creation without physical laws, and you can’t have physical laws without a universe.

As they concede, without Creation, there’s nothing.  To have anything – a universe, a multiverse, the law of gravity, “finely-tuned” physical laws, anything – you have to first have Creation.  And they’ve shown pretty effectively that “spontaneous” creation is impossible, since it requires physical laws like the law of gravity. So we’ve established that there was Creation, and that the universe/multiverse didn’t (and couldn’t) create itself. It sounds like the two possibilities are “God” or “circular irrational nonsense.”  Hawking and Mlodinow, brilliant physicists though they are, are poor philosophers and logicians, and chose the latter option. But in spelling out so clearly how they went so wrong, they show quite plainly the futility of the creation accounts of atheism.

14 Comments

  1. Another great article Joe! I sent it out via my Twitter account and posted it on my blog’s Facebook page. I’m hoping a lot of people come and read your clearly articulated piece.

  2. Mary, I like the metaphor. A lot. It’s interesting that on the one hand they “over-personify” the law of gravity in treating it as a thing capable of being a cause (even a First Cause), yet simultaneously “under-personify” it by imagining it can exist even in a state they describe as “nothing.”

    Christopher and LaSalle, thank you! I don’t do microblogging (as anyone who’s ever read this blog can attest, I’m very much a macroblogger), but Twitter seems like a good way of reaching people where they are.

  3. Wait, hold up.
    Seriously?

    I mean, yes, I agree with the general shadow of arrogance and misguided certainty and even that their attempts at answering the unanswerable question failed before they began, but the degree to which the religious commit these same sins is not even on the same scale.

    “They then explain the basic theory behind the “multiverse,” which presupposes that multiple universes exist”
    Multiverse theory has more in its arsenal than any ancient religious book. Namely, the scientific community, in which EVERY theory is ruthlessly and relentlessly tested and whose purpose is to attempt to falsify/strengthen every theory. And this theory is no exception. Can you do this with religion? No. There is no progress in religion precisely because of the supposed inerrancy of such books like the Bible and the Quran.

    “Let’s leave aside the absurdity of the whole “multiverse” theory”
    Why is this absurd? What faulty assumptions does the authors and the entire scientific community make when they look at the M-theory? I read John Haldane’s article and credentials. It seems that you’ve fallen victim to a fallacy known as an appeal to authority. John Haldane is a professor of philosophy. Therefore, to base your physical argument on his authority is like taking surfing lessons from Albert Einstein (though, some still fail to see the fallacy even when it’s laid out as such).

    “Spontaneous Creation is the reason that there is something rather than nothing, including the Universe”
    Not completely false, although creation out of nothing is the definition, rather than the result, of spontaneous creation.

    And it’s curious that you squint at the splinters of circular reasoning in the eyes of Hawking and Mlodinow.

    1. You essentially use argument from authority to say that argument from authority is wrong (“scientific community” as opposed to “any ancient religious book” – which seems to my suspicious mind to be a bland chronological snobbery tied with an assumption that a majority of physicists have actual scientific reasons for believing in a multiverse.) Now, I admit that my knowledge on the topic is scant, but as far as I understand, the multiverse posits an untestable hypothesis of effectively infinite number of entities; and this seems to me a flagrant violation of the Razor and purely a philosophic or mathematical question, and not in the purview of astrophysicists. Heck, you should know from history (oh, yes, that troublesome discipline) that the consensus of a scientific community hostile to “religious texts” is hardly infallible; such as the discovery of the expanding universe, which atheists vigorously denied for a long time because it implied the creation of the world.

      Also, you disparage Theologians for not testing and arguing their theology, which indicates you simply do not know what the Church is like at all. Every doctrine is rigorously cross-tested and checked for rational consistency, and to deny this is ignorance or base libel. Please desist from distracting falsehoods; and if you wish to assault his assertions for supposedly being unsupported, please be courteous enough not to do the same thing which you accuse him of.

  4. Man, this is seriously bugging me. I can’t focus on what I’m supposed to be doing. Hopefully ranting will help. And, hey, I’m helping the number of comments you get, right? You did have valid points, but I feel like you misunderstand my thesis and science in general. OK, I’ll give you a detailed response when I have time.

  5. By the way, I read the article about the denied request of the Christian couple to adopt. Do you think, if this were strictly a result of the concern for the child’s freedom of sexual preference, it was right to deny their request?

  6. Ian,

    No.

    (1) Encouraging kids to embrace their sexual orientation by exploring or acting upon those preferences is morally and psychologically wrong, particularly in the case of childhood homosexual tendencies; (this is a different question than acknowledging that these tendencies exist – that sort of honesty is healthy).

    (2) Even if you or the British State disagree with (1), it’s absolutely not the place of the State to order every parent of a homosexual child to raise their kid in a way that a large number of parents think damages that kid. This is the nanny state taken to the n-th degree.

    (3) The exclusion wasn’t just that the parents wouldn’t be given a homosexually-oriented child, but that they were denied the right to adopt, period!

    (4) This exclusion effectively disenfranchises (nearly) all religious Christian and Muslim parents in the UK, unless they’re willing to lie.

    (5) What makes this more incredible yet is that, on paper, the UK is an officially-religious nation, with the Queen as head of the Anglican Church. But even if this weren’t the case, the decision is absurdly unjust.

    In other words, it’s the State mandating the only acceptable view one can have on homosexual activities even within one’s own family. That’s simply stunning.

  7. TORTOISE (Hinduism) and DRAGON (Taoism) are symbols for ENERGY or WAVE, both are analog with MAGEN DAVID (Judaism). “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is the metaphor, also Thawaf seven times circling around the Ka’ba and Sa’i oscillating along “the sinus” Marwah-Shafa during rituals of the Hajj (Abraham).
    “A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME – From the Big Bang to Black Hole” by Stephen W. Hawking is the best scientific interpretation of AL QUR’AN by a non believer. It is also a “genuine bridge stone” for comprehensive study of Theology. Surprise, this paradox is a miracle and blessing in disguise as well. So, it should be very wise and challenging for Moslem scholars to verify my discovery.
    NeoSUFI visionary strategic thinking.

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