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Stephen Hawking's did god Create the Universe discovery documentary

  1. May 13, 2012 #1
    I just saw Stephen Hawking's Did a creator create the Universe documentary on the discovery channel:


    This really is one of the best documentaries I have seen on creation event cosmology.
    Stephen says that a creator is not necessary at any stage of creation or even before the big bang. It is a zero sum game, positive energy in matter is balanced by negative energy in space itself.
    Also Time slows down to zero and actually begins at the big bang singularity (as I suspected and asked here) and this breaks the cause and effect cycle that I personally have never been able to get past.
    It means there was no time in which a creator could exist and no time for a creation to occur and the Universe was just a quantum size spontaneous creation event. Presumably such events cannot occur inside a Universe that has already began?

    I am not saying that I believe all of Stephen's interpretations, I need time to think, but I am grateful to find that someone is asking and answering the good questions that I have also asked here.

    In this documentary he doesnt mention the multiverse at all. It is hard to believe that this one universe event is the only one. I interpret it to mean that this Universe is not cause and effect connected in any way to any other universe in the multiverse that he mentioned in his recent book.
    Last edited: May 13, 2012
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  3. May 13, 2012 #2


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    I don't think one can hold a "god" to the laws of the universe, for they must surely exist outside of it to be able to create it. At least in some interpretations of a "god".

    As for the "universe", we have defined the universe to be EVERYTHING that exists. All that there is and ever will be. In such a definition there is no such thing as a "multiverse". However, if one takes the view that the "universe" is nothing more than what WE can interact with and that there are others out there that we cannot get to at the moment, that is a different story. We have zero evidence that there is anything other than our one universe, so I wouldn't trust so much in the multiverse idea just yet.
  4. May 13, 2012 #3
    I get nervous when scientists start talking theology.

    Stephen Hawking is a brilliant theorist, but his thoughts on the nature of God are no better than yours or mine. When talking about events at t=0, it's all speculation.

    If you want another viewpoint, read something by Robert Jastrow. If you talk to a number of different theoretical astrophysicists about the nature of God, you'll find quite a bit of variation in what people believe. It's worth listening to Hawking's opinions on the topic, but one thing that you must not do is to assume that anything he says represents some sort of scientific consensus on the topic.
  5. May 14, 2012 #4
    thanks for replies. I mention the Multiverse because Hawking mentions it himself as another possible alternative to a grand design goldilocks universe we appear to have here at this stage in in its development.

    I was actually more intrigued by the notion that there may have been no creation event at all for our universe, so no creator needed, intelligent or not.
  6. May 15, 2012 #5
    Ask a believer:
    Where is it that God resides?

    Some may point to the sky or simply say 'Heaven', but if you press most people you will quickly decide that Heaven is outside our universe (which makes universe not mean what you think it means).

    It is I think the only thing theology has right, there is an 'outside' to the universe (or many).
  7. May 15, 2012 #6
    Depends. Personally, I believe that God is in front of you, and if you can't see God in front of you, then looking for God at the Big Bang isn't going to help. It's strange because one reason I *don't* have that much interest in the Big Bang is that I happen to think that people who are looking for God there are looking in the wrong place.

    Buddhists believe that God is inside of you.

    "God of the gaps" doesn't work for me.

    Again, I think it's interesting to hear what Stephen Hawking thinks about God, as long as you realize that he isn't talking science. I get annoyed when young earth creationists mess with the boundaries between science and religion, but lately I've gotten equally (if not more annoyed) when scientists do the same thing. If Hawking wants to present his views on theology, that's fine, but if he wants to argue that his views are somehow *scientific* then he isn't any better than a lot of creationists.

    Now Hawking hasn't done this, but Richard Dawkins has, and recently I've found this is bizarre but I've been siding with young earth creationists on some issues. I was actually rather shocked to find that Dawkins has the beliefs that he does.

    In any case, I try to avoid talking about religion on science forums, but I don't want people to get the impression that there is scientific consensus that "God didn't create the universe." There isn't.

    And it's not something I spend much time thinking about, because I'm going be told the answer in a few decades anyway.....

    There are actually two theological experiments that I plan on doing....

    1) I've decided that I'll do the "quantum suicide" experience at age 120. If "quantum suicide" is correct, then as I get older, more and more bizarre things will happen to me. I figure out age 120, that will be old enough so that I'll do the actual experiment.

    2) there is the reading test. If I ever have a near death experience, and find myself in what looks to be like the gates of heaven (or hell). I'll ask for a magazine. One thing about the human brain is that it's apparently impossible to read in a hallucination or dream. If someone gives me a magazine, and the letters aren't "stable" that means that my brain has about six minutes of oxygen left before everything goes black. If someone gives me a magazine, and the words are "stable" that means that it's not a hallucination.
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  8. May 15, 2012 #7


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    Hawking's arguments merely restate the long held theological assertion that an omnipotent 'god' is unbounded by human logic.
  9. May 15, 2012 #8
    One other thing to point out is that Hawking is talking speculating about the science. We don't have any observations for what happens before the Big Bang, and what he has been saying is that "if the universe evolves in the way that I think it does then there isn't a need for a Creator."

    The problem is that without too much trouble, I can come up with an alternate scenario in which we end up proving the existence of God. You do it by calculating the number of computations per second. I'm pretty sure that the cup in front of me isn't sentient, because there are no computations per second. You can take a look at my brain and compute the number of effective computations per second (and I think someone has done that).

    Now it's quite possible that if you calculate the number of computations per second toward the early universe that it goes off the charts indicating that there was some sort of intelligence, there.

    Or not. I'm making this stuff up. But so is Hawking.
  10. May 15, 2012 #9
    But one thing that I think is pretty funny.

    Most religions now hold that the existence of God cannot be scientifically or mathematically proven. Religions hold this belief because some very smart people spent several hundred years trying to scientifically or mathematically prove the existence of God before giving up.

    So you are a medieval scholar circa 1200. It's not obvious that you *can't* prove the God exists. So you try. By 1600, it becomes more and more obvious that it's not going anywhere, at which point you start having religions that turn a bug into a feature and argue that the fact that the existence of God *can't* be logically proved is a matter of "faith."

    That sets up a nice division between science and religion.

    However, it's pretty clear to me that Richard Dawkins is trying to break (and perhaps Hawkings is also). Dawkins seems to believe that you can scientifically demonstrate the God doesn't exist.
  11. May 15, 2012 #10
    I think dawkings knows that you can't scientifically test a supernatural hypothesis. What he wants to make clear is that a said event claimed as a supernatural event(ex. miracle etc.) since it occurs in our physical world can be scientifically tested.
  12. May 15, 2012 #11


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    I think most of us are ultimately forced to admit, at least at some level, neither science or theology is absolutely right or wrong. Kind of reminds me of GR and quantum physics.
  13. May 15, 2012 #12
    I think he is going *waaayyyyy* beyond that statement. The argument he seems to be making (and I don't want to put words in his mouth or set up strawmen) is that "God" as defined by most major religions can be scientifically tested to be false, and therefore people that believe in God are delusional.

    And then you get into the definition of supernatural. Suppose time travelers from 3000 A.D. go back to ancient Judea and use their resurrection rays. Would that be natural or supernatural? I can state that as a general principle, people don't rise from the dead, but if you try to advance that to an iron law of nature, you run into some well known philosophical issues.

    This comes into conflict with Stephen Jay Gould's ideas on the topic


    One thing that I do like about Dawkin's is that he is blunt. In arguments like these, one often tries to find a compromise by softening the claims or by redefining the terms or by agreeing to disagree. Dawkins is in a "take no prisoners, make no compromises" mood so, he isn't interested in this sort of thing.
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  14. May 15, 2012 #13
    Then again maybe not. How do we *know* that science isn't absolutely wrong or theology isn't absolutely right? For that matter, what is "science" anyway?

    Something about Dawkins and people interested in intelligent design is that they just won't make the problem go away. There was a compromise reached. Stephen Jay Gould talks about the compromise, but Dawkins is interested in burning down the compromise.
  15. May 15, 2012 #14
    Hawking makes a useful thing, because the problem with creationism thus can be resolved.
    Simply put, the current interpretation of the Creator (creationism), in general has nothing to do with reality.

    Talk about God can not be an affirmative way. Physics has a certain limit - such as issues within the plank sizes - behind is everything is based on speculation, metaphysics, and freedom of interpretation, but it's all within a some kind of religion.

    I only hope that Hawking would not become like the creationists and try to prove something about God. It is good that such an approach assessing the question of God is shown as worthless.
  16. May 15, 2012 #15
    I agree. Creationism being similar to "Last Thursdayism," (though less ridiculous-sounding to the average person) there's no way to disprove anything based on it, so trying to disprove it is pointless. Showing, though, that it's outside of the realm of science should be a good argument against calling it a science.
  17. May 15, 2012 #16
    That's where knowing theology is useful. One advantage that I have in arguing with young earth creationists is that I grew up a Southern Baptist so I know the theology from Sunday School. You can come up with extremely strong theological arguments against young earth creationism.

    One interesting thing is that it's hard to come up with a scientific argument against "Last Thursdayism" but Decartes came up with a theological one. I can't (easily) scientifically prove that Last Thursday existed, but I can argue that God just wouldn't create a universe that's overly deceptive.

    Coming up with a philosophical argument that the universe exists Last Thursday turns out to be tricky. The closest thing that I've been able to come up with is that since I memory Last Thursday, it must exist, if only as a memory. The other thing that I've been thinking a lot about is what can I do *now* so that I can prove to myself in two weeks that now existed.

    One other point is that our ideas of what constitutes "proof" come from logical positivism and that only came about in the 1920's. It's hardly the last word on the topic.

    But what exactly is the realm of science. Richard Dawkins and I obviously seem to disagree on this point.

    One problem with this disagree is that it kills "social theories of science." There is an idea that "science is what scientists do". If scientists come to an agreement as to what science is, then we don't have a problem. We can look at the definition and "reverse engineer" it. But if there is any *fundamental* disagreement, then we have a problem.
  18. May 15, 2012 #17
    I would discuss religion a bit more, but that's what I would view as digressing from the original topic.

    My view on what science is is that, at a bare minimum, it is rejecting any theories that go against observation, coming up with explanations on what the Universe tells us instead of us telling the Universe what to do and getting mad at it if it tells us otherwise. :smile: Consequently, to get any actual learning done, one must test any theories one has come up with to attempt to disprove them. There is no way to disprove a God, therefore, whether or not one exists is outside the realm of science.

    This may seem like avoiding the question, but I view it as a logical implication of the nature of science.
  19. May 15, 2012 #18
    I agree. I dont want the thread shut down prematurely so lets leave God out of it and discuss whether anything, which is not a part of this Universe, and not a part of the laws of this Universe, is necessary to explain the fact that this Universe came into existance and exists now.

    A God of unlimted power could have created this Universe exactly as is just 1 millisecond ago, or any other time, and put in place all the processes that are currently in progress including our own memories and observations. We choose not to accept this because it is not necessary to invent such supernatural forces when simpler natural explanations and alternatives are known to exist.

    I believe Cosmologists can now explain all the way back to the very start of the BB and the quantum singularity with natural scientific explanations. However, since we dont have a theory of quantum gravity and an understanding of singularities, I suspect that we are rapidly reaching the point where theories at the first instant are almost as fanciful as alternative supernatural explanations.

    Again the question of what is "the first thing" in the cause and effect cycle comes to mind, and whether it is necessary for the BB singularity event to have actually been created at all, or caused from something else? If the BB singularity is created from something else then is this something else outside of our Universe?
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  20. May 15, 2012 #19
    That thing should be left to metaphysics, while physics should be interested only for methods that give results. So the story, such as Hawking's or creationists', have no purpose - are completely barren.

    Discoveries in physics should produce concrete results to the progress of humanity - energy, technologically, etc. And does not need to tackle the issues of God's existence or nonexistence.
  21. May 15, 2012 #20
    I am not trying to prove/disprove Gods existence, just whether something unexplicable was required to produce the BB. No more mention of God please for reasons given. thanks.
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