Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Part 2: Why SH is my second favorite atheist/agnostic

I decided to split these two posts because I felt they may be too long as one post. Also, if you read the first and had no desire to continue, then you could skip this one. =) How nice!

As a way of transition I thought I'd give a brief summary of the previous post. Stephen Hawking, the eminent British physicist, has come out with a new book stating that physics does not need a God to answer the question of why there is something rather than nothing. I, on the other hand, found the newspaper article from The Times written by Hannah Devlin, and excerpts from the accompanying free magazine, Eureka, to be an exhilarating testimony to God as Creator.

When I saw how the magazine had headlined the Hawking book (i.e. "The End of the Universe by Stephen Hawking."), I knew this was going to have something to do with multiverse vs. universe. Now from the beginning I do not claim to understand even most of this stuff. Maybe that discredits my opinion. And maybe that accounts for my perceived "naive" continued faith in God as Creator. If so, I hope to always remain a simpleton.

The idea that there are possible innumerable universes out there is a profound and awesome idea. If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, it shows me how incredible the creative power of my God is. I mean, he created this universe and then some?!!! WOW. We do not even know all there is to know about this universe, much less what is going on way out there somewhere in space. How then can we know the mind of God? We can't even know what we know exists in our own universe, let alone know things outside our reality. If there is anything I like about postmodern philosophy, it's this. The idea of multiverse instead of a universe. At first I thought this was where Hawking was going with his support of the M-theory. I thought he was going to be the poster child of postmodern science. However, I can't decide if he is or not.

"Just as Darwinism removed the need for a creator in the sphere of biology,... [SH] renders redundant the role of a creator for the Universe." ("Hawking"...Devlin, here on referred to as HD) So how does he do it?

Hawking postulates that "the Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics." (HD). Gravity can cause spontaneous creation. Therefore, if gravity can cause spontaneous creation, then our universe could be the product of that event. This would also explain the rise of numerous other universes out there. "...M-theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing...Each universe has many possible histories and many possible states at later times, that is, at times like the present, long after their creation...Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist."(Eureka excerpt of Grand Design, afterward referred to as EGD)

Isn't that incredible!! There are possibly tons of things God has created that we have yet to even discover. Of course, SH did not say this, I did. This proves what I have long thought about God as Creator. He was creating worlds before ours and possible has been creating worlds after ours. He IS Creator, not he WAS Creator. God is creative, and it's his nature to create. He has not stopped on day 7. He may have begun something else on day 8. How marvelous!!

SH goes on to say, "Newton believed that our strangely habitable solar system did not 'arise out of chaos by the mere laws of nature.' Instead, he maintained, the order in the Universe was 'created by God at first and conserved by him to this Day in the same state and condition.'" All Newton was doing was showing the grandeur of God as Creator. For those faith filled scientists, like Newton, God will be behind everything explainable and non-explainable. They will see breakthroughs in understanding the natural and physical world as gifts of enlightenment from God to mankind. Maybe even grace. But God is not demoted when he allows the scientist to understand the world He created. In fact as we find out more about the world, universe, multiverse that we are a small part of, God becomes even more glorious.

But if you are predisposed to non-belief, as Hawking now is, God gets smaller at every discovery until He disappears or as Nietzsche put it "dies." He gets smaller because he is no longer needed. What was a mystery is now formulated. By concluding that spontaneous creation due to the laws of gravity is the reason we are here, the one with no faith convinces himself/herself that they have less of a need to continue to look for something (as a God) as the first cause of the world. They have something, in their minds, more real than a spiritual being. This being acts almost like an excuse for mankind's ignorance. (and BTW I'm not necessarily arguing for the First Cause Theory either). So, as humans begin to understand more and more they become more and more enlightened and think they can afford to "kill off" God. They believe they are emerging ever so slowly from the dark into the light. In other words, it's just the next step in proper evolutionary development of the human.

But it isn't just the non-believers. We all put ourselves on the throne as King instead of submitting to God as King.

So, why does Hawking not see spontaneous creationism as simply a means used by God to eventually create us here, as the defenders of the Intelligent Design Theory would conclude as they have in the theistic evolution debate? Hawking says that the discovery of a planet orbiting a star other than the one in our Milky Way, "...makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions--the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass--far less remarkable and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings." (EGD) First, I was unaware that God creates for our pleasure. I figured he created because he's king and wants to. Do not we exist because of his pleasure not ours? No kid ever born was asked if they wanted to exist. They exist because God wanted them to. Secondly, I'm too dull to understand how discovering other planets orbiting around other stars diminishes the idea of God as Creator. To me it only enhances it.

One great thing Hawking does for me is give credence to the idea that we are in fact situated at the perfect distance from the Sun to exist and that if nature were off by just a smidge we'd all cease to exist. "But in the case of the events resulting in the evolution of the Universe, such developments were governed by the balance of the fundamental forces of nature, and it is those whose interplay had to be just right in order for us to exist."(EDG emphasis mine)

Hawking continues, "Many people would like us to use these coincidences as evidence of the work of God. The idea that the Universe was designed to accommodate mankind appears in theologies and mythologies dating from thousands of years ago right up to the present...[This] could lead at least some of us back to the old idea that this grand design is the work of some grand designer...God." (EDG)

Or I guess it could lead some us further away from God. But how? Frank Close, who does not believe Hawking's endorsement of the M-theory adds one thing pro or con to the God debate, does think that "it may raise questions about God's efficiency...[in that] God's efficiency may be called into question: if the sole aim was to create you, me, Stephen Hawking, would not one solar system have been enough?" And Hawking sees that, "if God's intention was to create mankind, then these many untouchable worlds would surely be redundant." (HD)

Again, I won't even pretend to understand this argument. But in my attempt to understand, they both seem to say that the reality of other planets orbiting other stars suggests that God wasted "space and time" (for I can't think of what else to call it). If he was so good at creating, then why are there other systems? He could have "gotten it right" with Earth. Well, I would say that maybe he got it right with Earth and got it right with every multiverse out there! I mean He is eternal and spiritual so he has a lot of time and space on his hands. Do we think God has so much to worry about here on Earth, and that he's too small to keep creating and deal with stuff on other planes too?

What would happen if one went outside and counted the stars of sky or even tried the same feat with the most powerful instrument we have? Well, God counts the number of the stars; he names all of them. (NET Psalm 147:4) To say that the discovery of planets orbiting suns somehow makes the idea of God as Creator "redundant," or "inefficient," does not seem to be a real argument. In fact, I would hope we WOULD find more stars (and what difference does it make if planets are floating around them). There is compatibility with believing in a Creator God and the science of physics, biology, and astronomy.

Since Hawking does not simply attribute the laws of physics and all that may result from their "interplay," to God, I will. His research and work makes him my second favorite atheist (agnostic) out there. And I am so thankful to God for letting Hawking discover our multiverse.

Do you expect anything less from an agnostic?

It has taken awhile for me to get to this.

And it all started with a coupon at Tescos. Lady R gets these coupons in the mail on various things at the store. She had gotten one that gives you a certain number of points on the Tesco card if you buy a magazine or newspaper. So, I was given the choice. It was September 2, 2010.

I decided on a newspaper that came with a free magazine. I figured I was getting the most for my money. The Times front cover article with the headline, "Hawking: God did not create Universe," was about the new book by the renowned British scientist Stephen Hawking. The article summarized his theories, his agreement with the M-theory, and his conclusion that it is unnecessary for "God," to be Creator.

Was this it? Had science actually proven the non-existence of God? I mean this is Stephen Hawking, who previously had suggested that religion and science were compatible in the sense of God as Creator ("Hawking: God did not create Universe" by Hannah Devlin). And now he has changed his mind and is convinced that "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing." (Hawking, Grand Design, as quoted in Eureka magazine)

I read the newspaper article and the magazine excerpts from the book. When I got through, I actually felt I had just read about God. Have you ever read Phillip Yancey's Finding God in Unexpected Places? For me it was just that. And what was really good and serendipitous was that morning before I started in on the Hawking reading I had read Psalm 95 and Isaiah 40. So for me, no, SH had not discredited my belief in God. He enhanced it.

(As a parenthesis as I was reading my mind kept going back to the two above mentioned passages. "In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care." Awe inspiring. And then, "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?" From the deepest depths to the highest peaks, it all is in his anthropomorphic hands. He made it all!! And consulted no one and was taught by no one. He is the Creator of all that is or ever will be. This is my God. Let us worship him and him alone!)

However, if you are already predisposed to non-belief, Hawking brings an electron microscopic peace (oops piece) to you. You can bank on his intelligence to satisfy your soul and mind that there is no God and no consequence for such "belief." Nothing I can say from this point forward will convince you otherwise. And frankly, if it is left to me to convince you, you will never be convinced. But even though I'll never be as intelligent as SH, I know that God will say something to you one day, if he has not already, and if you have ears to hear, you will hear his voice. What harm would it do to listen?