Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hawking speaks out of turn

Stephen Hawking writes that "It is not necessary to invoke God [to] set the universe going," in an excerpt from his new book, as reported in a BBC News story.

I might agree with him that far, but then he writes, "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing." This is a poor metaphysic and worse physics. Do I really have to remind one of the greatest minds of our time that if there is no universe, then there is no gravity? And if we allow him to postulate a law of gravity *outside* our universe, which makes it possible for the universe to create itself, than Hawking has merely replaced the symbol "God" with the symbol "law such as gravity" as the First Cause. It is a faith statement, not a scientifically provable (or disprovable) assertion.

Hawking is allowed to believe anything he wishes, as long as his actions do not harm others. I don't know that he is actually hurting anyone by writing this, but it certainly doesn't help. I respect him for his scienctific work; I wish he'd stick to that.


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