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    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Arrow Why God Did Not Create the Universe

    Some food for thought (and perhaps Wassnerean debate? ) thanks to an interesting new read from Stephen Hawking:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...609024244.html

    And a review of same from The Independent:

    Quote Originally Posted by The Independent
    God is dead," declared Friedrich Nietzsche, but few listened or cared. "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going," announced Stephen Hawking last week, and it was picked up by the world's media. For over 20 years earlier, the world's most famous scientist had ended his phenomenal bestseller A Brief History of Time with the arresting conclusion that "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we should know the mind of God."

    Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? Why this particular set of laws and not some other? It is these "ultimate questions of life" that Hawking's now sets out to answer, with the help of the American physicist and science writer Leonard Mlodinow, in his fascinating new book The Grand Design (Bantam, £18.99). Philosophers have traditionally tackled such questions, while most physicists have stayed well clear from addressing the "why" of things and concentrated instead on the "how".

    Not any more. "To understand the universe at the deepest level," says Hawking, "we need to know not only how the universe behaves, but why." He believes that "philosophy is dead" because it failed to keep up with the latest developments, especially in physics.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-en...d-2075053.html

    Discuss.

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    I'll start by saying I'm no fan of Mr.Hawking.

    He is totally overblown and way, way overrated.
    If by explaining the Universe you do it right down to brass tacks, that is up to the Big Bang, but yet cannot explain the Universe before the Big Bang... then you have explained nothing except an event and the after effects of that event; if like God, the Universe has alway been, then there can be no purpose, no destiny, no beginning. That is what's known as a disabling contradiction. Furthermore, if the extended goal of your explanation is to answer why the Universe exists, and an even more senseless question, why we ourselves exist, then you're giving humanity an integral role in that Universe, where it simply has no place. That is what Stephen Hawking does, and that my friends, is not science.

    Hawking says: "As far as we are concerned, events before the big bang can have no consequences and so should not form part of a scientific model of the universe. We should therefore cut them out of the model and say that the big bang was the beginning of time. This means that questions such as who set up the conditions for the big bang are not questions that science addresses."
    Time has a beginning, really?.. who says so.

    Some of Hawking's views on the cosmos, and evolution and natural selection in particular, are just plain whimsical nonsense. He bestows a poetic quality to things that are unrelently real. The Universe is heartless and mindless, and evolution serves no goal under the sun, these are not purpose driven mechanisms!

    What Hawking is, I mean when you really get to his core, is an Intelligent Design freak who rarely gets called to the carpet by real scientists and physicists. Actually, he is not a covert protagonist of Intelligent Design, he is quite brazenly explicit: "... the designer was God, with a capital “G”. So, the quotation continues: “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in this way, except as an act of God who intended to create beings like us”. Elsewhere he writes: “Yet it appears that God chose to make it [the universe] evolve in a very regular way, according to certain laws”.

    Are you kidding me!.. making God the architect of the Universe!!!
    And this is somehow earthshaking stuff?
    Last edited by Sparrow; September 10th, 2010 at 08:08 AM.

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    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
    Are you kidding me!.. making God the architect of the Universe!!!
    And this is somehow earthshaking stuff?
    OK, so you definitely didn't read the articles. Or the title of this thread, for that matter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    OK, so you definitely didn't read the articles. Or the title of this thread, for that matter.

    Oh I read the article alright.

    I've also read A Brief History of Time where Mr.Hawking mentions God more often then a pastor at a church picnic. So which Hawking is it, the one who unabashedly gives God credit for the Universe, or the one who waves God off in the name of science?

    When did this change occur in Hawking?.. will the real Stephen Hawking please stand up.



    Tell me if the man who wrote this...

    “…the remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers (the size of the electric charge of the electron and ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron, for example) seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life”.

    ... believes in a God, or not.
    Last edited by Sparrow; September 11th, 2010 at 06:22 AM.

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    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
    will the real Stephen Hawking please stand up.
    I just cringed.

    I don't think science can prove there's a God, nor can God disprove science. Yes, I think Professor Hawking is an excellent scientist and one of the greatest minds of our time (not to mention a great example of how people can still be very successful and so forth despite disabilities), but I don't take what he says as gospel (pun not intended).

    I do think there's a lot of "we can't understand it", as evidenced by myths and legends, but I just can't put 100% belief in science. Nothing is impossible, just highly improbable - right? That would make my ability to communicate with others on the Internet the culmination of thousands, if not millions or billions, of highly improbable events, and I just can't wrap my brain around that.

    "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."
    No, but it's still a possibility.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwagginz View Post
    I don't think science can prove there's a God, nor can God disprove science. Yes, I think Professor Hawking is an excellent scientist and one of the greatest minds of our time (not to mention a great example of how people can still be very successful and so forth despite disabilities), but I don't take what he says as gospel (pun not intended).

    Depends on what level of proof you require.

    By western court of law standards, 'beyond a reasonable doubt', then science fulfills that arrangement.

    Why is Stephen Hawking "one of the greatest minds of our time"?

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    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
    I've also read A Brief History of Time where Mr.Hawking mentions God more often then a pastor at a church picnic. So which Hawking is it, the one who unabashedly gives God credit for the Universe, or the one who waves God off in the name of science?
    It seems only fair assume that people -- particularly scientists -- can and should change their point of view to reflect changing circumstance. So I propose we go with the current views of Hawking, 22 years further into the future from A Brief History of Time.

    When did this change occur in Hawking?.. will the real Stephen Hawking please stand up.
    In the public record, Hawking has been known as an atheist since about 1991, 3 years from the publication of ABHoT. The question he grappled with, related to God, was of the primacy of the universe -- what caused the Big Bang in the first place (or, what created the singularity that resulted in the big bang, if you will). At that time, the various elements of today's unified theories were disparate, and QM was (all things considered) in a fledgling state. Over the past 22 years, our observations have improved our models, and the effort to unify theoretical frameworks has resulted in a set of certain broadly accepted 'facts' about the universe.

    That those facts and theories now lead to a system of understanding wherein our universe is only one of many is simply the progression of science, much like the change from the heliocentric model of the solar system.

    The fact stands that Hawking revised and retuned A Brief History of Time with the 2005 release of A Briefer History of Time, which takes into account many of the discoveries and fine-tunings of cosmological theories since the publication of the original.

    In other words, falsification in action. The Scientific Method is such that any scientific hypothesis is falsifiable. So, if Hawking proposed a hypothesis in 1988 that things were one way, and over the next 20 years certain facts and figures weaken that hypothesis, then it has been falsified. For a scientist to then adapt to that change and propose a refined, retuned, or even outright different theory is simply the normal course of science.

    So the real Stephen Hawking has been standing the whole time. You're attempting to discredit a scientist -- who works in the field of empiricism and falsification -- based on the inherent fallibility of science -- which is falsifiable.

    It seems that you're trying to discredit a scientist for doing science.

    Onward, demagogue, to the pulpit!

    Tell me if the man who wrote this...

    “…the remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers (the size of the electric charge of the electron and ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron, for example) seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life”.

    ... believes in a God, or not.
    I don't see anything inherently spiritual or deistic in that statement. It is a fact that the masses of the proton and electron, for example, rest at values that make possible the development of life. Were they different, the balance of forces would be unstable, and the likelihood that life could develop would correspondingly destabilize.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwagginz View Post
    I do think there's a lot of "we can't understand it", as evidenced by myths and legends, but I just can't put 100% belief in science. Nothing is impossible, just highly improbable - right? That would make my ability to communicate with others on the Internet the culmination of thousands, if not millions or billions, of highly improbable events, and I just can't wrap my brain around that.

    "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."
    No, but it's still a possibility.
    It seems to me that Hawking is more saying that God is not a necessary condition for the creation of a universe, given that there are multiple extant universes which arise and fall naturally and spontaneously within the broader multidimensional "super-reality" posited by String/M-theory.

    I would say that all Hawking has done is move God up the super-universal structure by one more level, though. Much the same way that the change to the heliocentric model moved God from the starry firmament wrapped around the earth to the boundary wrapped around the universe, a change from a single-universe theory to an M-theory multiverse just pushes God up from being the creator of our universe to the creator of the whole system that our universe is part of. Where did the "super-reality" come from? ends up being the next question and ends up right back at God.

    So I have to wonder if part of the wording of Hawking's Grand Design isn't designed to sound controversial and piggy-back on the recent wave of popular atheistic literature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    It seems to me that Hawking is more saying that God is not a necessary condition for the creation of a universe, given that there are multiple extant universes which arise and fall naturally and spontaneously within the broader multidimensional "super-reality" posited by String/M-theory.

    I would say that all Hawking has done is move God up the super-universal structure by one more level, though. Much the same way that the change to the heliocentric model moved God from the starry firmament wrapped around the earth to the boundary wrapped around the universe, a change from a single-universe theory to an M-theory multiverse just pushes God up from being the creator of our universe to the creator of the whole system that our universe is part of. Where did the "super-reality" come from? ends up being the next question and ends up right back at God.

    So I have to wonder if part of the wording of Hawking's Grand Design isn't designed to sound controversial and piggy-back on the recent wave of popular atheistic literature.
    My brain just exploded :P So basically he's saying there is room for God (or gods) to exist, but science is saying that he could have created the multiverse rather than just our universe (and before that, the Earth)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    I would say that all Hawking has done is move God up the super-universal structure by one more level, though. Much the same way that the change to the heliocentric model moved God from the starry firmament wrapped around the earth to the boundary wrapped around the universe, a change from a single-universe theory to an M-theory multiverse just pushes God up from being the creator of our universe to the creator of the whole system that our universe is part of. Where did the "super-reality" come from? ends up being the next question and ends up right back at God.
    Mr. Fung, may I call you Koo?

    Excellent point. I have always maintained that religious faith and acceptance of modern scientifc discoveries about the origin of life and the universe are compatible. Also I'm reminded of a conversation some friends of mine in college and I were having one day about proofs of the existence of God. Thomas Aquinas maintained, among other things, that a Creator is necessary because without a Creator, there would have to be an infinite regress of previous causes for every effect. One of the three of us countered that by saying, "Why can't you have an infinite regress?"

    All 3 of us believed in God. The questioner, however, was skeptical about whether reason could prove anything about God.

    As Kung Foo points out, all attempts to explain the origin of the universe are excercises in infinite regress. They merely push God further back in the chain of causation.

    I would say that there probably are some things about the nature of the universe, including its origin, that will always be beyond our comprehension. This still leaves plenty of room for scientific inquiry in the universe as we experience it.

    Betty Cross

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    It seems to me that Hawking is more saying that God is not a necessary condition for the creation of a universe, given that there are multiple extant universes which arise and fall naturally and spontaneously within the broader multidimensional "super-reality" posited by String/M-theory.

    I would say that all Hawking has done is move God up the super-universal structure by one more level, though. Much the same way that the change to the heliocentric model moved God from the starry firmament wrapped around the earth to the boundary wrapped around the universe, a change from a single-universe theory to an M-theory multiverse just pushes God up from being the creator of our universe to the creator of the whole system that our universe is part of. Where did the "super-reality" come from? ends up being the next question and ends up right back at God.

    So I have to wonder if part of the wording of Hawking's Grand Design isn't designed to sound controversial and piggy-back on the recent wave of popular atheistic literature.

    Bull.

    His journey to a Universe in which God is not necessary was an emotional one... and probably not even a sincere journey. I think he just throws these headlines out there to sell books. String Theory, or whatever hybrid we're currently on, is becoming less fashionable these days. Thank goodness there have been some who call it into question...

    One of the co-founders of the original string concept, Leonard Susskind, wrote in the epilogue of his book, The Cosmic Landscape, that was published in 2006, “I often joke that if the best theories are the ones with the minimum number of defining equations and principles, String Theory is by far the best – no one has ever found even a single defining equation or principle! String theory gives every indication of being a very elegant mathematical structure with a degree of consistency far beyond any other physical theory. But nobody knows what its defining rules are, nor does anyone know what the basic ‘building blocks’ are.”
    Leonard Susskind is questioning that which he once championed.

    I've noticed over the last five or so years that I'm coming across more science stories taking String Theory to task.
    String Theory has been just about the only show in town for two decades now; in the field of Particle Physics it is still very intoxicating... for those who need more grant money and government funding.

    Do you know what the term "not even wrong" means?


    I personally do not believe String Theory (you go ahead and pick the one you like best) is even the correct model of the Universe. M-Theory will, after much funding, fall by the way. The multiverse concept is a cop out, a kind of halfway house where pseudo-scientific theories find comfort, sober up, take a warm shower, and are finally sent packing.


    Either way, Hawking did not formulate String Theory. Even in its ultimate wrongness there is brilliance, and Hawking lacks brilliance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwagginz View Post
    My brain just exploded :P So basically he's saying there is room for God (or gods) to exist, but science is saying that he could have created the multiverse rather than just our universe (and before that, the Earth)?
    In a sense... The focus isn't on explaining God, but on explaining that life can arise spontaneously based on the laws of a universe. That the laws of our universe themselves allow for the spontaneous generation of life without requiring an act of creation by the/a God.

    But he's a little more dismissive of the notion of God than that, if I'm reading him right. Somewhere he says, "you can call the laws 'God,' if you like."

    Quote Originally Posted by BettyCross View Post
    Mr. Fung, may I call you Koo?
    Flattery will get you everywhere

    One of the three of us countered that by saying, "Why can't you have an infinite regress?"

    ...all attempts to explain the origin of the universe are excercises in infinite regress. They merely push God further back in the chain of causation.
    Now here's a mind-bender -- Goedel's Incompleteness Theorems. In a nutshell, any defined system of logic/rules relies on a "higher" defined system of logic/rules. In other words, all systems of logic are infinitely regressive. All systems of logic are contextualized as subsets of systems of logic, which themselves are contextualized as subsets of systems of logic, etc.

    As a general question, one would wonder if that's a limitation of our particular universe or a fact of existence, period. Certainly if we can push God up the causal chain infinitely through observing the universe, and we also find that all evident systems of logic flow up the causal chain infinitely, then we also kinda have to wonder if infinite regress isn't actually the nature of the entire, infinite system.

    That, to me, is the sticking point. Without infinite regress, then the universe becomes a finite, linear equation. And as such, it becomes deterministic. I take free will as an article of faith (the article of faith, IMO), and a finite, linear universe, no matter how complex, ultimately precludes free will.

    So in that sense, I think Hawking is wrong to say that philosophy has been outmoded by science. One simply has to know more science to sufficiently grapple with the big philosophical questions. After all, the goal of science and philosophy are both (loosely) to understand the nature of existence.

    I would say that there probably are some things about the nature of the universe, including its origin, that will always be beyond our comprehension.
    ...unless we dismiss the notion of "origin" outright. Even God ends up subject to infinite regression if we stick to the concept of "origin," does he not?

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    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
    I personally do not believe String Theory (you go ahead and pick the one you like best) is even the correct model of the Universe. M-Theory will, after much funding, fall by the way. The multiverse concept is a cop out, a kind of halfway house where pseudo-scientific theories find comfort, sober up, take a warm shower, and are finally sent packing.
    Is there another theoretical approach you think is a better way to go?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    Is there another theoretical approach you think is a better way to go?

    I can't say for sure, except that whatever the better way to go is, it won't be blazed by Stephen Hawking.

    I will agree with Hawking on one such thing, philosophy is not near as important in understanding things as Science is. You can however have a nice balance between Philosophy and Science, they coexist rather well I think.
    Science and Religion cannot coexist as equals. You must choose one over the other.

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    4/25/11 published!!!! expatrie's Avatar
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    Post Well....

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
    Science and Religion cannot coexist as equals. You must choose one over the other.
    Well, that's pretty dismissive. Science is about causes, religion is about faith. While I may not believe in God, I'm not exactly happy about it, considering it might give me some solace in the long reaches of the night and other dark spots, but I just don't.

    As to the supremacy of Science or Religion, while Science has a lot to do with daily life and various improvements since the Middle Ages, Religion can be nice to people who run that way, and it's been there the whole time.

    As to the "current trend of popular atheist literature," don't make me laugh. That may be so in the UK, where 80% aren't actively in church, but here in the U.S? What is the percentage here? 10%, that are brave enough to admit it? We have one representative in Congress who's an atheist. Muslims outnumber them in Congress.

    Anyway, while it's nice (can't think of a better adjective) to expect Science may one day trump Religion and disprove the existence of god, that will probably do nothing for the folks who actually enjoy religion. And seriously, what evidence can I point at that religion isn't real? My lack of faith is as much a leap of faith as other's faith. I can't prove God doesn't exist, it just doesn't seem thermodynamically required, hence Occam's razor says probably not, and that's just my hand-waving for how I actually feel. I just don't feel a divine presence. Others do. Who am I to say who is right?

    But seriously, Science and Religion are like food and water. They don't have much to do with each other and both work fine on the psychological dinner plate of humanity.

    On the other hand, I tuned back into this thread thinking it would be an array of ad hominems on Hawking or back and forth name-calling, and congratulations on not dropping to that level yet.

    As to String Theory, I'm not arrogant enough to dismiss it without studying it, and I've not the time to attend graduate level Physics courses to learn. Thus, I have no opinion. Well, no knowledge based opinion. My understanding is that the "funding" complaints from everyone is that you need a big collider to get to the energy levels where string theory will have testable results. As such, there's a lot of funding needed, etc. etc, etc. But without funding it, there's no way to disprove it. Once the LHC and others are done in about ten years and we start analyzing results as to Higg's Boson or not, supersymmetry or not, dark matter or not, if the data fits, well, then the theory's pretty credible. If not, time for a new theory and more experiments. Remember that Standard Physics clunked along just fine making automobiles and radios and such thus until nagging little details on the edges (the photoelectric effect, for example) started building doubt that eventually led to the death of classical physics and the rise of quantum mechanics. Relativity was a whole other deal, but as I understand it, Mercury's orbit has some relativistic effects that contributed to support for Relativity.

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