As 2011 winds down, I have decided to reblog some of my favorite posts from this past year. In this post, I take issue with a couple of philosophical ideas expressed by Stephen Hawking. Originally published August 8.
Brilliant British cosmologist Stephen Hawking was the premier of a new Discovery Channel series called “Curiosity” last night. Part of his focus was why God is not necessary for the existence of the universe.
The existence of God is either the most important thing in the universe, or is wholly insignificant. God necessarily possibly exists. It is logically impossible for God to be impossible. The last statement doesn’t prove that God does exist, but it states that proof that God does not exist is impossible to attain.
It is impossible because to know that God does not exist would require a perfect knowledge of the universe and to possess such a knowledge would require one to be all knowing. Therefore to actually know that an all knowing being did not exist, one would have to be all knowing. Therefore, God possibly exists.
If God cannot be proven scientifically, is this a reason not to believe in God?
What is science? Can the validity of the scientific method itself be proven scientifically? It cannot, the scientific method is based on reason and logic.
Demanding scientific proof of the divine as the only justifiable reason for belief is putting faith in a philosophy.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument:
1. It is true that whatever begins to exist has a cause. This is logically and metaphysically necessary.
2. The universe began to exist. There is an abundance of evidence for this in physics, in the fact that galaxies are moving apart from each other, in the expansion of the universe. It’s also logically necessary that the universe had a finite beginning in time.
The idea of an infinitely old universe is logically contradictory, because if the universe were infinitely old, an infinite amount of time would have needed to have passed to get to the present.
3. Given that whatever begins to exist has a cause and that the universe began to exist, it logically follows that the universe has a cause.
This causes would need to be self-existent, non-physical (to be physical is to exist in time as physicality necessitates potential motion and motion presupposes time), powerful, and removed from time.
Hawking can point to vague ideas in theoretical physics to explain what could have caused this expansion, or a reasonable person can acknowledge that a transcendent God fits all of the aforementioned criteria.
I understand that this is not objective proof that God does exist, but belief is reasonable.
The fact that the most logical explanation may very well be a Creator God, and given that God cannot logically be proven to be impossible, it is something worth exploring. A blind assumption that God does not exist is not intellectual, it’s pride.
1. The Kalam argument in the form given was originated by Al-Ghazali
2. Some of the supplemental rationale for the Kalam argument has been used by William Lane Craig