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Stephen Hawking still can’t explain how something came from nothing

Even if physicists had a Grand Theory of Everything, they could not solve creation

By on Thursday, 2 September 2010

Stephen Hawking says the laws of physics do away with the need for God (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Dave Chidley)

Stephen Hawking says the laws of physics do away with the need for God (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Dave Chidley)

So that’s that then. Stephen Hawking has assured us that the laws of physics are sufficient to explain the universe we live in – and that we have no need to posit the possibility of God. His book, The Grand Design, will be published on September 9.

This is neither the time nor the place to focus on the detail of his arguments, and no doubt plenty of description will be forthcoming in the popular press and elsewhere. I want to focus initially on one remark he makes: “philosophy is dead.”

Bang goes the wisdom of two and a half millennia. But philosophy is not only not dead, it was never needed as much as it is now. One of the most important tasks in philosophy is to ensure that the right questions are asked and that the arguments which proceed stand up to rigorous examination. No wonder Hawking would like philosophy to be dead because he is wrong on both counts.

The drive of Hawking’s approach is that the theory, or rather the family of theories, he espouses leads to the possibility of 10 to the power of 500 different universes (try that on your calculator and watch it explode). Thus the extraordinary fine-tuning required for a universe which would eventually be able to support human life is not evidence for a designer God; it has in fact come about by chance. Since our universe is, by definition, the only one we can experience, we are fooled into thinking that it is the only one which exists, or has existed.

M theory, as it is known, is highly controversial within the scientific community; indeed there are eminent names who claim that it cannot properly be called a scientific theory at all. The idea of multiverses to explain the fine-tuning has been known as the “last refuge of the agnostic”. But let us assume that it is true, that there is an infinity of universes, and that our universe is an inevitable result of chance at work – where does that get us?

First, we are reminded of the theory of evolution. We have no difficulty in reconciling our belief in God as creator with evolution in which myriads of tiny chances, inevitably filtered by fitness to survive, develop into higher forms of life. God is not some sort of inventive superman who performs in the same sort of way as we do – but at an infinitely higher level. He transcends the universe; his creative action is utterly beyond our ken. If we use terms like “designer” it is only because the human mind and human vocabulary has no further reach. Our descriptions are only useful if we always bear in mind their gross inadequacy.

Similarly, if all the physical laws had been explained and proved (known as the Grand Theory of Everything) – which is a million miles from the case – our understanding of the actions of God would not be one whit greater: his existence and his actions are of a different order.

Most particularly it would not touch the question of how something existing comes out from nothing. That is a question which science cannot answer, and will never answer, because nothingness is not within its domain. Hawking apparently does not address this question – which is the true and ultimate Theory of Everything. But what philosophy can teach us is that neither he, nor you, nor I will ever explain creation, except through faith.

  • David

     So he can’t explain how the universe came about, and that somehow proves god. In no way is that true. The hypocrisy is evident though- my question is whom created god? This is whats called infinite transgression. But if you think that god created himself, then why couldn’t the universe?

  • John Gribbins

    God is something that came from nothing. Of course, God does not exist.

    My views: In the beginning, there was nothing but an infinite amount of space. Over time, a lot of energy (potential energy) built up and created what we know as the Big BANG!

    Yes, energy can be created from nothing. But there always was something…Gravity. Now, you religious freaks are mad.

  • Berry

    Still the question is CAN anything comes of Nothing?

  • Patty


  • Jp

    Cool thing none of the rebuttals to the arguments in the book or debates about’em matter at all to actual scientific knowledge.

  • Philip

    In reply to Gary of course God begs more questions than He answers. That is the nature of omnipotence.

  • Philip

    If nothing comes from nothing quite frequently then nothing is not truly nothing is it? It must merely be something than we can neither see nor perceive, but it is not the absence of anything.

    Put it this way. No something emerges from the absence of anything.

  • Anonymous

    Here is what will boggle the theist mind.  Rejected is the stance that something can come from nothing.  First show me nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Then let’s test it to see if something can come from it.  Once again theists have the burden of proof by making the assertion that something can’t come from nothing.  Prove it.

  • Jimf8andbthere

    everything had or has a beginning . things could not exist if they they didn’t come into existence  . 
    so before something is — it is not . that pretty much is equal to nothing . all the stuff in the universe had a beginning and a time when it was not . the first thing if you could call it that is space , M T space . if that were not so there would not be a place where ya could put anything . if an area is occupied you cant put anything there . that place is already used . so we need a space ( better name is area ) to put anything that would come into existence . there has to be a order to these things . find a area and put something there . 
    i just described a area of nothing ( best i could ) . in that nothing something developed . to get the prize explain how . there had to be a time when there was nothing by definition . in the MT great void , space , area at one time it was empty . that is just uncommon cense . what triggered the formation of stuff . i dont know , im just trying to organize the evidence as it is . 
    stuff is 1 kind of form of pure energy . compacted , condensed  into the smallest area it can have . if you impacted a hugh area of energy like billions of sq miles of it into a tinny space like a particle takes up it might bond together to be solidified . holding all the energy of the original size . but in one tinny place , all locked up as the particle now . if the particle was broken it would all whoosh out like an atomic explosion to take on its original area . . so in the original area void something like this might have taken place but how ??  maybe one of the formats of void produces energy somehow . 
    if viod is supper huge formats of it might be able to preform that in the small area of a galaxy or universe could exhibit them selves that in restricted areas might be too small to measure or detect . 
    space is beyond huge !!  if an area becomes loaded with more ????? area ?? it would be in a condition of ( + ) . thereby leaving some other area with a ( – ) . now there would be  a condition to work with . conceder  these   + and – are larger than multiple universes would be . if they were wandering around and found each other  they may rush together and impact each other like 2 sides of a battery and pop a solid or mass . if you get a particle this would be a dramatic change and maybe never to go back to  MT condition . this particle would affect soundings causing more of the same because it is new and so different you get runaway condition for more of the same . i am talking analogs . no one can do more anyway . no one has the real answer and if they did , they may not know it .  the way this is it speaks to having more universes like galaxies . space is infant 
    . in my opinion the shape of space looks like swiss cheese . space ends where a solid begins . the solid resents the swiss cheese hole . with out a solid to shape it it is non ending . chicken or egg . 
    one starts where the other begins . end of story there . so there was a time when it DID begin . maybe all this dissolves to start over again ? 

  • Adam Freeman

    You are an idiot. Evolution destroyed the “random chance” argument.

  • Dax

    There are at least two things that puzzle me about the Big Bang theory of everything coming from a singularity. The first and obvious one is, where did the singularity come from?The second one is, (and I have not heard any opinions on this one), is where exactly was it? if there was no space for it to occupy prior to the Big Bang, which we’re told created space along with everything else. 

  • Regina311e

    haha.. maybe there is a creator… but is he interested in what he has created… humans?
    it seemed he left us to suffer. just got bored of what he has created

  • 1976mickd

    Yes, I think I know the
    answer to how everything got here all my idea too J This is Not a God theory, though it could
    explain how he got here too, if God exists. I am going to wash all the bs from
    your minds so get ready because I think way outside the box with things no one
    can deny.

    Without everything Nothing would exist
    and that we can see is not so. To start I would say or consider my idea similar
    to metaphysics. Ok so here we go!

               Scientists are always looking for
    the start in time by looking for the smallest thing in existence to explain how
    everything got here, but they only look for things we can see that are
    physical, we don’t have microscopes that go to infinity so it will never be
    found physically, we haven’t even seen dark matter in a microscope. And if we
    do we will see that there is another space where dark matter resides. And time
    is an illusion it only works on Earth to plan out our daily deeds and it can be
    used for finding a measurement when distance or speed is not present.
    “Time is only relative to where you are.” If I go to Mars it would be
    more than 24hrs a day there and in order to get 24hrs a day on Mars you would
    have to speed the clock up to twice the speed it is now. We can make time or 1
    minute any speed we want; we just chose to follow the sun for an exact
    measurement. There would be no use for time or a clock in outer space. We would
    have to follow the rotation of the Universe to get what time it is and that
    would just be our Universe not everything’s time. Time is not in frames per
    second like a cartoon where you can just capture it and go back and forth in.
    Time is constant it is infinite. We use more than physical things to do what we
    do, we use thought as well. Do not forget everything matters including the
    non-physical (which might I add takes up very little space if any. The
    non-physical (ideas) is what starts the creation of everything we make. You
    know how we look at the animals or nature for ideas in our inventions? Like an
    airplane we looked at birds and figured to fly we should have wings on the
    planes and it works. Well just look at what we do every day we think of
    something and then we create it or do it. So instead of looking for the answer
    to how everything got here by looking at animals or what is around us we should
    look at ourselves for this one. We should look inside for this one, as I did. I
    noticed that we create things with ideas first so the Universe must do the
    same. I also realized that everything I think of has already been created in
    logic before I could think it or else I couldn’t think it. Like a program
    nothing happens that wasn’t programmed. Just you try it. Make a new color up
    and don’t use any of the ones you know like green or red ect., come up with a
    totally new color. Now if you do, do you think you created that color or was it
    already here before you thought of it. That’s right it has always been here,
    every single idea you can think of is here before you can think it but before
    it’s your idea it is first in the form of LOGIC. And not the logic you’re
    thinking either a whole other kind of Logic. To me Logic is a law it is the way
    things are no matter what, it is the truth in all things, it is why things stay
    together, and is why all things have answers, including the existence of
    everything. I do not believe that a God created anything because you have to
    ask yourself what created him. And if God does exist he didn’t create Logic it
    created him. I will prove it too. For God the one of all Good would have no
    choice but create Bad because without bad we would not know what good was, we
    would have no comparison to explain what good means so both must exist together
    or neither would that is Logic. Now I will explain how “Nothing” has created
    everything in existence. And remember this is not a God theory.

    Above is a taste of what
    I’m talking about, below is a small write on most of what I mentioned above.


               Consider nothing the first thing in
    existence just for a second. Think of Nothing not existing, what would there
    be; take Nothing away what would be left. That’s right, still nothing and an
    infinite amount of it. Or if you think logically if you take nothing away you will
    still have something left. I mean why at all is anything even here, even
    nothing? Reason, because even if you take all of it away including nothing
    there is still NOTHING. Now think of what nothing is made of. It is not
    something you can touch, or really even see because there is always a something
    to see where nothing is or something was, always, even if it is just darkness.
    So as we can see nothing can only be made of “Logic” an idea of something that
    is not there, something that was there, or something that can be there. And you
    think logic is the same as an idea, wrong. Ideas are individual, logic is for
    all. Think about every invention created on the planet was first in the form of
    logic then idea (and ideas are from the mind, no mind, no idea, but the logic
    of it will always be) then we use substances/atoms to create it. If I die my
    ideas die with, if they haven’t been told but the logic of it will always be
    there for anyone to pick up from anywhere to become their idea. That is the
    difference in logic’s and ideas to me.

               Nothing the opposite of everything,
    any possible or impossible thing logical and physical you can and can’t see,
    touch, think of, ect, ect. Nothing can be ANYTHING missing, nothing of this,
    and nothing of that. As something comes from the nothing, that something is
    also a logic, and always. Ok, you now wonder. How does it become physical?
    Imagine all the things that can be or are meant to be physical like your body,
    a rock, an animal, a computer, a TV, a watch. These things are in logic to be
    as physical things so they are. They are, and are in the form of atoms. Even
    nothing is in the form of atoms, microscopic atoms, actually beyond nano size
    atoms infinitely small a black hole is I think the smallest we know of. Think of
    splitting a hair in half, then split that half of hair in half, keep doing this
    and that hair becomes nothing it becomes logic of what it can be, or was, or
    is. A hair is a bunch of atoms. Atoms are the physical things of logic. Now
    imagine things that can’t be physical only logical. Love, hate, wisdom, good,
    evil, time, speed and many more. These things are as logic because they were
    not meant to be physical. Here is the funny thing, all things have always
    existed so nothing was never first, nothing is just why something like
    everything we know and see can and must exist. Nothing is the true miracle of
    all existence including a God if there is one. Nothing is the cause of
    something, nothing is logic that is the uncaused cause, and nothing is the
    inevitable. Nothing can’t exist without something here to say there is nothing
    there, this is the alpha-omega. Logic is our creator and the logic behind
    nothing is why. God is not a being, God is everything Logical and Physical
    including you that is the real meaning of God. God cannot do anything for you
    because God has already done everything; God is everything, unless you help
    yourself or others do that is all the help you get from God because everything
    is God including the others of course. And I mean God is all the Logical and
    the Physical things around you. There is no end, and there is no beginning only
    transformation of the atoms in the present, time is an illusion. Oh and we are
    all logic, logic is like an idea, idea’s never die, so we are eternal we will be
    back, we are logical ideas that if ever known to be created will always be,
    have always been, and also haven’t been, but Never won’t be. The transformation
    is the unknown as we use science we will find more but never all.

    God did not create
    anything, God is EVERYTHING.

               One thing I must mention that isn’t
    above about time. How it is not catchable, and how it is infinite. Think of
    logic, time, and being in existence to be the same as an infinite number. Time
    Travel I think is impossible because you can’t be in the same place at the same
    time. You can’t go faster than yourself before you existed or after either. To
    go through time is to just be in existence and to be apart from things. Like I
    said think of time as an infinite number, each time you add a zero to that
    number there is always another zero ahead of you to write. This is free will
    explained. Time, logic, and your future existence is the same, they are always
    staying ahead of you. No matter how fast you write a zero on a number logic has
    already created it before you could write it. It’s not like when you get to
    100000000000000000 and went to write another zero the Universe said “no you
    can’t write another zero because, it doesn’t exist”. So no matter how fast you
    write that number you can’t write it before you wrote it. I do know if you go
    480mph you will go 1 mile in 0 seconds so if you go 481mph you will go what,
    negative, no you will just go past your destination of a mile traveling in a
    teleportation like way, and would look like we were phasing to different places
    to the naked eye. Unless you could get a video camera to take pictures at 480
    frames per second then we could see ourselves moving like normal. Now think
    about this. We follow a clock for time that is set at 1 min is 60sec and that
    60sec == 100 milliseconds. Those milliseconds are set to a certain speed that
    we made up. That is why it would seem that we went 1 mile at 480mph in 0
    seconds but if we speed the speed of our milliseconds to twice as fast, we
    didn’t go 1 mile in 0 seconds we actually would be going 240mph again which
    would be more like it because to go from one place to another in zero seconds
    would mean you didn’t move at all. We count time the speed we created, a time
    that is not exact, it is just a piece chopped out of the real thing. Like we
    took a 10ft ruler and started at 1ft. then went to 3ft for the 2ft that we
    needed. Remember time is only relative to where you are, it only matters to how
    far you are from something and only you and the object or destination you are
    trying to get to. My math might be wrong but I think or hope you get the point.
    So basically what I’m saying is you could never beat time it would be like
    trying to write a zero before it existed when in logic it has always existed in
    the NOW. You can’t catch it.

    Oh and remember that old
    saying? I think it goes like this. “The biggest idea is one that comes to
    life.” Never realized it was that literal.

    I plan to write a book
    but would love some comments to help me write it all in a way anyone can understand.