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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 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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    >:|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=Fung Koo;597100]Well, propose something -- anything -- or else all you're relying on is defamation and slander. "Not even wrong" indeed.

    I have no responsibility, nor interest in, proposing what the unifying theory of the universe might be. As for defaming and slandering Mr.Hawking; he is a hack and publicity whore, and who should not be confused with the real giants in the field.



    So, science as faith.
    No, not quite, Science as arbiter suits me better.



    ...but that you're making that statement an absolute truth, despite lack of objective evidence for or against your assertion. While it's fair to say that you are sufficiently convinced that science has disproved the existence of God, the fact remains that that is your personal conviction and not an absolute, objectively verifiable truth.
    It's also my personal conviction that unicorn farts are not the cause of rainbows. I have no way to fully verify that statement other than to relate how rainbows are formed. Unicorns may, or may not exist, but they do not have anything to do with rainbows. Such is God.

    It is a lie in your opinion. While I'm not so lame as to think all opinions are equal, two equally informed and differing opinions can (and do) arise from the same sets of evidence. Your criticism of Hawking is basically that he's dabbling in theory and inferential science, and not applied, deductive science -- so too is the "scientific" assertion that science disproves God. It's inferential, not empirical. Theory.
    Science does disprove God, at least the God we've been sold on. They claim God has infinite power, but that cannot be. Einstein proved it with E=MC2. Everything there is, everything, is either energy or mass. There is no other option. Unless you believe in some sort of transcendental realm with physical laws very different than our own, and that exists beyond our senses, then you can't have a God that deals in the infinite.

    "The word 'god' is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive, legends, which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can for me change this." -Albert Einstein

    Imagine that, you read all the holy books of all the world's religions and you won't be nearer the clear picture of what the universe is really like than with one simple equation, E=MC2.


    Take, for example, the shape of new radio antennas in cell phones. Instead of a linear arrangement, changing the shape to a fractal design in 4 dimensions improves cell phone reception dramatically -- to the point that instead of requiring a 6 inch long pole, a die smaller in area than your pinkie fingernail produces multiple-times improved reception.
    There you have empirical evidence of a dimension beyond our own which influences and is part of our own. So the question, then, is how you split the difference between a "supernatural" realm and an "extranatural" realm. Unload the term "supernatural" of its cultural connotations (as you suggest expatrie's argument relies on them) and take it at face value to mean "above natural" -- categorically, is there a difference? Is there, or is there not, empirical evidence in support of a realm above/beyond our own?
    Any supernatural realm, or whatever you want to call it, or anything outside our rather narrow spectrum, that somehow effects our reality must at some point intersect. You can't apply force with no force.


    The only question from there is whether or not life is possible in dimensions outside of our own, given that it is possible within our own. If so, then you have super/extranatural beings.
    Define Life.
    What if any meaning does the word "outside" have when taking into account other dimensions?


    I find it contradictory to allow multidimensional theory in one breath and disallow near-identical religio-mythological concepts in the next.
    Because the one extrapolates from scientific data, and the other is based on bullshit.


    If I'm reading you correctly, the jury is in. There's nothing supernatural, ergo there's no possible truth to String Theory.
    String Theory hasn't been confirmed, not even close.
    What it may have to do with a cosmic dimension where dead people walk on streets made of gold I can not tell.



    Which is precisely what Hawking's book, the subject of this thread, is attempting to do -- to provide an internally consistent description of a non-creation event within a grander scheme (hence the title, The Grand Design) including what came before the Big Ban.

    Shoot the messenger all you want, but don't forget to read the message!
    In his previous work Hawking said that what came before the Big Bang was irrelevant. I'm glad he's changed his mind on that.
    Does he actually have any original ideas on this grand design, or like usual does he fashion other people's theories into a hodgepodge?
    Last edited by Sparrow; September 14th, 2010 at 04:43 AM.

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    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Sparrow, can you tone it down, please? Fung Koo is right - Without any sources or evidence for your claims, all you're doing is slandering Professor Hawking. He might be a fraud for all I know, but claiming so without proving it is nothing more than slander.

    Either way, throughout the history of science, it's never been the work of one great mind. Isaac Newton, often said to be one of the greatest scientists of his time, is believed to have stolen (or borrowed heavily) from the work of his fellow scientists, with Robert Hooke being a prime example. If Professor Hawking is guilty of this himself, then it's nothing new. It's happened before, and it'll happen again.

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    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Ah, religion!

    One of SFFWorld's favourite topics, one guaranteed to bring out the passionate, the good and the bad....

    Sparrow: yes, you have been round here a while, and we appreciate it. However, I will also point out to all here that these debates are more fun when the combatants - sorry, discussers - keep it civil and less ranty.

    If we get to a point where we find members taking personal potshots at others then the thread gets closed and we find the staff have to get nasty.

    One of the key aspects of SFFWorld is that we like members to have different opinions, but that the respect for other members is paramount throughout - otherwise discussion is limited. Which negates the need for a discussion thread.

    Mark
    Mark

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    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Gee, Hobbit, you scared em all away!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
    I have no responsibility, nor interest in, proposing what the unifying theory of the universe might be. As for defaming and slandering Mr.Hawking; he is a hack and publicity whore, and who should not be confused with the real giants in the field.
    That's what I'm asking for -- your list of the real giants and their theories, coupled with your interpretation, as counter-argument to Hawking's recent assertions.

    Unicorns may, or may not exist, but they do not have anything to do with rainbows. Such is God.
    Just so we're clear, your analogy is: God may or may not exist, but does not have anything to do with creation?



    Science does disprove God, at least the God we've been sold on. They claim God has infinite power, but that cannot be. Einstein proved it with E=MC2.
    I would strongly recommend that you read "Is The Universe Leaking Energy?" from July 2010's SciAm. It discusses in very lucid terms the fundamental contradiction of the Law of Conservation of Energy, an infinite universe, and evident energy loss in the universe due to things like observable red shift.

    A fundamental aspect of the issue is the discrepancy between the law of conservation of energy (that energy can neither be created nor destroyed -- is therefore a constant in the universe) and an infinite universe. An infinite universe would have to have infinite energy, so the notion of a constant, conserved, fixed value of energy in the universe is therefore fundamentally contradictory.

    Einstein did not, in any way, prove that God cannot have infinite power. Your interpretation of e=mc2 leaves me a little baffled. It is not a mathematical statement that mass and energy is all there is. It's simply the equation that defines the proportional relationship between mass and energy -- mass:energy equivalence. In that sense, it's not an either/or -- it's two forms of one thing.

    The current issue is, loosely: if mass and energy are equivalent, how does energy acquire/lose mass?

    In other words, how was our physical universe formed from energy? And, where does energy come from?

    Any supernatural realm, or whatever you want to call it, or anything outside our rather narrow spectrum, that somehow effects our reality must at some point intersect. You can't apply force with no force.
    Right -- for which I just provided an example. At least one dimension beyond our own set has empirical evidence. I'm not sure you've answered the question: does this not support a factual plane/sphere/realm of existence that is beyond our own?

    Define Life.
    An assemblage of material and energy capable of acting on its environment with a degree of freedom from a cause:effect relationship.

    What if any meaning does the word "outside" have when taking into account other dimensions?
    Our universe is composed of 4 dimensions. Variations of string theory posit anywhere from 10 or 11 or 26, or even more. Many of those dimensions are spatial dimensions, including the dimensions that make up our universe (and who is to say our dimensions are hierarchically 1, 2, and 3? We might be 7, 2, and 11!). Something "outside" of our particular combination of dimensions would be spatially separate at the least.

    From there, it's an open question as to whether or not dimensions that intersect with our own and give rise to/define elements of our universe, but do not constitute its dimensionality, are "part of" our universe or not.

    In his previous work Hawking said that what came before the Big Bang was irrelevant. I'm glad he's changed his mind on that.

    Does he actually have any original ideas on this grand design, or like usual does he fashion other people's theories into a hodgepodge?
    Again, criticizing a scientist for doing science! In the history of science, every idea is predicated on a hodgepodge of previous ideas. The Scientific Method is a communal philosophy, hence the Scientific Community. By freely and openly sharing ones methods, data, and conclusions for peer-review and replication, the entirety of humanity stands to benefit from the accumulated hodgepodge of knowledge. The hodgepodge is the whole point!

    He's presenting a compendium of knowledge, thought, and inference from the Scientific Community, influenced by his own specialized work (don't forget that scientists specialize). It is openly acknowledged that all of the thought is not his own.

    And let's not forget that this current book (and the last one) was co-authored. So it's not even like Hawking alone is presenting these ideas. What about Mlodinow?

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    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    And we continue to provoke whenever we mention god. sorry, 'God'. Why is that, do you think? Because faith is not based upon fact but upon belief? And when beliefs cannot be proven, yet they are passionate, to challenge then is an emotional blow.

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