Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.'
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
picture courtesy of Biblical Creation & Apologetics Ministries
To reveal this in simple terms, cue Russell Grigg and Creation.com:
Published: 22 July 2012 (GMT+10)
Under the banner title of Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design, the Discovery Channel has recently shown three TV episodes,1 narrated by Hawking, and titled respectively: “Did God Create the Universe?”, “The Meaning of Life”, and “Key to the Cosmos”. These are a visual re-presentation by Stephen Hawking of much of the material in his 2010 book, The Grand Design (co-authored with Leonard Mlodinow).2
The book was thoroughly reviewed and critiqued by CMI’s Jonathan Sarfati in his article Hawking atheopathy: Famous physicist goes beyond the evidence.3 In this article we shall discuss the first two of these episodes, and then give our answer to the questions raised therein. The third episode will be the subject of another article.
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
Episode 1: “Did God Create the Universe?”
This was a re-run of the Curiosity TV program of the same title, shown in the USA and Australia in 2011, which we commented on in Curiosity: Did God create the universe? Prof. Hawking’s answer to the question in the title was:
There was no time before the big bang … for God to exist in. What happened at the beginning of the universe is the final key for removing the need of a creator of the universe. … There is no God who directs our fate. There is probably no heaven and no after-life either.Really? Although the learned professor is a perceived authority on modern physics and cosmology, this does not make him an ‘information all-rounder’, i.e. an authority on theology, providence, eschatology, and immortality. Nor yet on historical or forensic science.4 Indeed most of the elements of the big bang theory as promoted by Stephen Hawking are now being challenged by many of his fellow evolutionist professors. These challenges include:
- Hawking’s belief that everything in the universe originated from nothing, which his peers say contradicts the principle that every effect needs a cause.
- Rather than there being nothing before the big bang, as Hawking claims, many evolutionist cosmologists are now trying to fabricate ways to explain how our present universe emerged from one or more preceding universes (while at the same time avoiding saying how the first one began).
- Invoking infinity, as Hawking does in the idea that everything in the universe was once in an infinitely small point of infinite density (a singularity). This is regarded by one expert as “the same as giving up or cheating” (see Dr Param Singh, the big bounce in What happened before the big bang?)
Episode 2: “The meaning of Life”
In this program Prof. Hawking asks and then attempts to answer the question: “Is there a reason why we exist, a meaning to life?” He begins by telling us his personal axiom that everything in life is nothing more than physics.6
According to Hawking, the laws of physics not only produced the universe we live in, but also our minds.
The Game of Life
In support of the latter proposition, Hawking shows viewers a computer program called The Game of Life, invented by a John Conway in the 1970s. This is an arrangement of squares in a grid (something like a chessboard of unlimited size) that simulates a two-dimensional ‘universe’. Some squares in the grid can reproduce themselves and then amalgamate with each other, if the starting configuration has been given the right set of instructions to cause this to happen. Viewers are then told that “it is possible to imagine that something like The Game of Life, with only a few basic laws, might produce highly complex features, perhaps even intelligence.”
We suggest that this would depend very much on who was doing the imagining! This fanciful conclusion is a repeat from Hawking and Mlodinow’s book,7 in which it leads on to Hawking’s extraordinary claim that the universe created itself:
Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in Chapter 6.8 Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.9
- How can anything create itself before it exists?
- What intrinsic property does nothing have that enables it to create anything?
- Gravity is the force of attraction that arises between objects by virtue of their masses. So before any matter existed, no gravity existed. How then could it have operated before it existed?
- If any law of physics caused the universe to create itself, then that law must have existed before the universe began, i.e. before time began, and so that law must be outside of time. But how could that be?
- What (or who) created the laws of physics?
- Scientific laws do not create anything. They describe things that already exist, or processes that are observable and repeatable. They do not cause anything any more than the outline of a map causes the shape of the coastline it describes.
- Spontaneous creation … Just how do the laws of physics achieve this?
Reality—subjective or absolute?
On this subject, Hawking advances the classical evolutionist line that reality is in the mind of the beholder. To do this he shows us a girl holding a glass bowl that contains a swimming goldfish. The world that the girl sees (a market place) looks very different from the same world as seen by the goldfish through its curved glass bowl. From this, Hawking tells us that he doesn’t think that one reality is more valid than another, so to him this means that reality itself is in the mind of the beholder, i.e. reality is subjective.
However, according to The New Oxford Dictionary of English, the primary meaning of ‘reality’ is: “The world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.” If the girl were in a similar glass bowl, and had eyes adjusted to the refractive index of water like the fish’s, then she would see the market place similarly to the way the fish sees it. And if either were blind, then they would not see the market place at all. The market place itself would not change as a result of being variously viewed, or cease to exist when not viewed at all. Nor is evidence for anything limited to sight. A market place in particular can be experienced by our other senses of smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
Hawking then introduces us to quarks as the invisible building blocks of protons, and he asks: “Are quarks a reality?” His own answer:
They exist only in so far as they are a model that works. This is called the concept of model-dependent reality. I believe this leads directly to the meaning of life.This leads to the following exegesis by Hawking:
- “The brain is responsible not only for the reality we perceive, but also for our emotions and meaning too.”
- “Love and honour, right and wrong, are part of the universe we create in our minds just as a table, a plane, and a galaxy.”
- “The meaning of life is what you choose it to be. It is not somewhere out there but right between our ears. This makes us the lords of creation.”
Hawking’s amateurish philosophizing raises the question: what happens when different brains create different ‘realities’ or have different ideas of right and wrong? They can’t all be right.
As Bible-believing Christians, we begin with the axiom that God does exist and has revealed Himself to man, and man has the ability to apprehend this revelation. This gives us different answers to the questions that puzzle Hawking.
- God, as revealed in the Bible, is the eternal uncaused first cause.
- God created the universe and everything in it.
- God chose to do this in six days about 6,000 years ago.
- God created mankind in His own image and likeness.
- There is another dimension to reality besides that which we can describe with our five senses, or in Hawking’s case assume if it substantiates a model. This is what God says exists. It includes Heaven and Hell, the Holy Spirit and Satan. And other realities include life after death and future judgment, as well as sin, forgiveness of sin, and peace with God.
- Because God created us, He had a purpose in doing so. Many parts of the Bible speak of this—our main purpose is simply to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
Jack C., Australia, 21 July 2012
Hawking is his own worst enemy. He comes with such ridiculous and impossible solutions to the origin of the Universe. He also insults people who believe in God. For example, he insulted people who believe in Heaven because they are afraid of the dark. Well, I responded back to him via email and told him I believe in Heaven but I'm not afraid of the dark. Yet another of his stupid theories bites the dust. As far as I'm concerned he's an embarrassment to both sides of the debate.
Joel T., Australia, 22 July 2012
I am shocked that Stephen Hawking has expressed such relativistic views. I knew that they were widespread, but I thought that people like him were immune to them. Most atheists I know would be deeply disappointed by his comments on the nature of reality.
josh F., Canada, 22 July 2012
The view that Hawking gives on reality is sad. If you kick a ball flat along the ground the fish would have seen the ball curve because of the curve on the glass bowl. In reality that ball went flat across the ground.
Mike J., Canada, 22 July 2012
1. 'He begins by telling us his personal axiom that everything in life is nothing more than physics.
- If that's the case, Hawking has presented us with a self-refuting argument. i.e. his statement isn't true (or false) or even meaningful... it's just matter in motion, and there's no reason to pay any attention to it. (Whatever attention is, if all is physics.}
2. Whether or not Hawking feels a need for a creator doesn't tell us anything about whether there is a creator. Everything seems like an intellectual puzzle for him, and not something objective or real. e.g. for Hawking God seems to be some kind of answer to a puzzle, rather than a real Person.
3. Reality is not the world the girl sees or the goldfish sees; but the world God sees. i.e. it's the world according to God.
Only an omniscient being could know what reality was.
michael S., United Kingdom, 22 July 2012
Science is supposed to stick to what it can tell us, facts about the natural world. So evolutionists abuse their position by voicing their anti-Theistic beliefs.
Such evolutionists are effectively saying; "I am a scientist, therefore when I tell you god doesn't exist, I am telling you as a scientist of great fame so you'd better listen to me because I am a pretty all-knowing dude."
Nothing the evolution-ilk have learnt had given them any spiritual insights, when they make comments about heaven and God, no offense to them, but they come off looking like wallies because that is not what they are qualified to tell us.
It's like a mathematician trying to explain the Mona Lisa, in terms of numbers, by telling us the picture is not art, and it actually a matter of numbers.
Mark J., Australia, 22 July 2012
Thank you for a great article. What angers me is the fact that this illogical rubbish masquerading as science is forced down the throats of an entire generation. People like Hawking and Dawkins are in a position to pressurise governments into stopping the only viable alternative (creation) being made available to students. They will pay a high price.
Anthony R., United Kingdom, 23 July 2012
I was struck by the following quote of Stephen Hawking: "What happened at the beginning of the universe is the final key for removing the need of a creator..."
The final key?! A key is something we use in order to gain access to something - in this case, the removing of God!
In this one sentence Hawking betrays all his prejudicial desire to remove God from his own life and the lives of others. It is no wonder he does not 'believe' in God, if he does not want Him around!
So, like so many others who reject Christ, the argument is being put into service after the conclusion has been chosen, and it is no wonder that the argument is as empty as your article has shown it to be.
Al M., United States, 23 July 2012
It certainly sounds more like fantasy than science. Basically, the idea is that "everything is a figment of your own imagination." And that is scientific, or based on reality HOW? It's so ridiculous, how is this an acceptable explanation for the universe? The lengths gone to deny the obvious...
Jesse M., United States, 23 July 2012
Hawking said “There was no time before the big bang … for God to exist in." Dude, God is not bound by time; He is self-existing and created time. What a ridiculous argument! This goes to show that intelligence does not equal wisdom.
john C., United States, 23 July 2012
As the universe exists now, matter and energy cannot be created from nothing. But if there was a time when there literally was nothing that existed then the rules that apply now would probably be very different and that matter and energy could possibly be created from nothing.
But created by whom or what? Even if there was a different set of rules from which something arose, rules are not 'nothing'. Self-evidently, nothing can arise from nothing, in fact, provided nothing is given its proper meaning.
Anton D., Namibia, 23 July 2012
It is indeed sad that a person with mental acumen (to use your appropriate phrase) of such stature missed such obvious flaws in his thinking.
A very clear question that most people tend to miss (when trying to find a way "around God"), is that we try to interpret and explain our environment - and particularly the 'higher order" things - from our limited perspective and understanding.
How can a rock explain (to another rock) organic life in a tree from its limited (non-organic) personal experience/existence?
How can a clever rock explain biological organic life in an animal?
How can an very clever rock explain human life to another rock? etc...
Regardless of who we are - our limitations are real, and must be admitted. By this I do not AT ALL suggest that we stop our investigations - it was (part of) the first and most core of our commands from God (to rule - and we cannot do so without knowing).
It is - admittedly - VERY frustrating to have to admit that we simply do not (and often cannot - as a result of our limited ability) know some things (yet). The result is that we then end up concocting our own little theories to fill the gaps in our understanding (of which so many of the "-isms" are evidence). The worst part is when we start selling these (often esoteric) theories as "the truth".
I so often fall into the same trap, and must constantly remind myself that I'm the proverbial dog, tree or rock...
Jeff M., United Kingdom, 23 July 2012
I wonder if I might ask a couple of questions?
1. God is eternal. If we, for example, take a very small chunk of that eternity - before He created the World - let's say a mere twenty thousand billion years - a twinkling of an eye to Him, isn't a period of 6,000 years (plus the next 300 years before the Rapture)not worth bothering with?
2. I refer to an earlier article of yours about Adam's sin. God knew billions of years before He created Adam that he would do so and that Adam would sin. He knew how and when Adam would sin. It was in effect pre-ordained, so how did poor Adam have a chance? If he hadn't taken the apple, God couldn't be omniscient?
Yours puzzledly (as usual)
1. Your problem is in equating eternity with time. As hard as it is for us timebound mortals to understand, God exists outside the flow of time. So the idea that eternity is 'a long time' is meaningless, as is the notion that one can see any time 'x' as a small fraction of that time.
Miki T., Tanzania, United Republic of, 23 July 2012Dr Kwame Nkrumah says in his Consciencism, 1964 that "neurotic insistence on the cause of the cause of.." must of necessity stop somewhere.
- In July 2012 in Australia. Return to text.
- Hawking, S., & Mlodinow, L, The Grand Design, Bantam Press, London, 2010. Return to text.
- Also in Journal of Creation 25(1):25–29, 2011. Return to text.
- Conducting experiments to observe effects is called operational science, whereas hypotheses about the unobserved and unobservable past involve historical or forensic science. Return to text.
- Nietzsche, F., Twilight of the Idols, Chapter 6, The Four Great Errors, section 8, trans. by R.J. Hollingdale. Return to text.
- An axiom is an assumption made without proof for the purpose of argument. Return to text.
- Ref. 2, p. 225. Return to text.
- Chapter 6 of The Grand Design book deals principally with Hubble’s concept of an expanding universe that was smaller in the past, Eddington’s concept of this as a bubble, Friedmann’s concept of inflation proceeding at greater than the speed of light, and the claimed uniform cosmic background radiation. Return to text.
- Ref. 2, p. 227. Return to text.
There is meaning to life, yes! Trying to find meaning within the words of Hawking? Not so much! Much like Lewis Carroll. Hawking may like chasing rabbits rather than dealing with evidence but you will be responsible for yourself...God or Hawking?
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.