Stephen Hawking has defied odds in many ways. Bound to a wheelchair and a voice box synthesizer – he cannot speak and is now virtually paralyzed. Hawking has managed to emerge as arguably the most prominent face and force in modern physics since Albert Einstein introduced the world to relativity. ALS has plagued Hawking since he was 21 (1963) and doctors said he wouldn’t survive more than two to three years upon diagnosis. Hawking acclaimed pop-fame in 1988 when “A Brief History of Time” was first published. The text is a user-friendly guide which dumbs down complex esoteric topics such as space-time, and black holes for the average non-science reader.
Up until last week, Hawking has used the term God metaphorically. While never proclaiming to be religious, he identified that God could be used as a catalyst to make the necessary conditions for the creation of the universe – aka the big bang. In his latest work, “The Grand Design”, Hawking states
“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. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”
Hawking merely asserts that physics can account for the creation of the universe without God. He doesn’t say that God doesn’t exist or that God couldn’t have played a role in the origins of the cosmos. I see nothing wrong with accepting his premise: that mathematics, the calculus or general science alone could account for the big-bang singularity. Yet many religious leaders are in an uproar. Had Hawking proclaimed that God positively had nothing to do with the creation of the universe, well then I think Hawking would be acting like God. In all fairness he didn’t make such a statement. I truly believe that the media is making a mountain out of a mole hill – trying to sensationalize a simple nonthreatening comment and taking it out of context. Hawking clearly has few days left on this planet, and I believe the media is doing nothing shy of trying to glean any “new” news before one of our most prominent minds of the last century passes on.
The head of the Human Genome Project and director of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, also a staff member at the University of Michigan (Go Blue), published a wonderful book titled “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidience for Belief.” I read his work, and the implications, if nothing else, are very thought provoking.
I had the privilege of going to the Albert Einstein exhibit at OMSI a couple of weeks back and highly recommend it to anyone interested in modern physics. Einstein as a scientist, a Zionist, a father and his political prowess has amazed me since I was a young boy. I will publish my thoughts on him and the exhibit in a later blog entry. As always, thanks for stopping by.