Friday, September 3, 2010

Hawking's Blunder

Recently, Stephen Hawking, the world's most famous living physicist, announced that God was not needed to create the universe. This caused an immediate reaction from both the religious and scientific community. Many were disappointed in him and many rightly criticized his statement. Science simply cannot explain how physical laws came into existence.

But I am not writing to add my two cents to this discussion. Rather, I want to focus on why I think that this is surprising coming from Hawking.

Now it is well known that many scientists are atheists and find no place for God in their science. What is less well known is that it very much depends on their field of expertise. Biologists are the most likely to be atheists, but physicists are the least likely. Astrophysicists in particular are the most likely to believe in God and many are becoming Christians.

Let's examine why this is so: Biologists examine earth's living things and try to understand how they function both separately and in ecological systems. They have a overarching hypothesis, called Evolution, which for them ties all things together. In defense of this hypothesis (it is technically a hypothesis and not a scientific theory) biologists have opposed Creation Science and Intelligent Design which see the need of a Creator. So there is an animosity that has developed between many biologists and Christians who are scientists. (Ever since Mary Baker Eddy it is awkward to use the term Christian Science in a way that would actually make sense.)

In Astrophysics, there is no such animosity. More importantly, they have the Big Bang Theory (once again a hypothesis) that most physicists use to account for the existence of our universe. The 'Big Bang' states that the universe has a beginning. This means that both time and matter had a beginning. It also means that matter is not eternal which is what atheists have always insisted on.

If something happened that brought matter and time into existence, it logically follows that whatever was the cause of the Big Bang must have certain properties. It must not be subject to time and space limitations (ie., it must be eternal and omnipresent). It also must be supremely knowledgeable and intelligent (ie., omniscient and omnicompetent). And it must be more powerful than what it created (omnipotent). Does this sound like anyone you know?
It's a description of the God of the Bible.

No wonder that so many astrophysicists believe in God. To me this is what makes Hawking's statement so amazing. He seems to be ignoring what other physicists see very clearly. Not just that it is likely that Someone is behind the wonderful order of this vast universe, but that physics practically falls apart without Him.

I am not surprised that an evolutionary biologist like Richard Dawkins is an atheist since God may seem to him to be a threat to the reigning hypothesis of his field. Hawking, however, seems to be ignoring the logical conclusion of the main hypothesis in his own field.

I understand while Christians have reacted negatively to Hawking's statement. But I must remind us all that Hawking is not speaking in his area of expertise and that we should, perhaps, ignore all famous people who offer their opinions on things that actually know little about.

Personally, I turn off anybody, no matter how famous, who "speaks out" on a matter that they may firmly believe in, yet cannot be considered an expert on in any way. (All of us, of course, may express our beliefs and opinions, and God requires us to preach the gospel to everyone, but that is far from acting like an expert in a field in which we are untrained.) I am amused when actors will testify in Congress about some issue that they know little about, though they pretend they do. And their political views I generally find both ridiculous and out of touch with what normal people think.

In the same way, we should be wary when someone who is expert in some area speaks about things in another area. Why should the average person be interested in Hawkin's view of anything but physics?

He committed two blunders. First, he rejects the very idea of a Creator, and that is sad enough in itself. Second, he thinks that he is qualified to make public declarations beyond his area of expertise. This is almost as disappointing.

So, let's pray for him and others who think that the knowledge that they have replaces their need to believe in the living God and in His Son, Jesus Christ.

By the way, I do not want to discourage any Christian from sharing the gospel because he or she is not an 'expert' on the faith. No, your experience of being born-again and personally knowing and walking with God makes you more of an expert than mere academic learning could ever make you.

No comments:

Post a Comment