Stephen Hawking, arguably the greatest physicist the planet has yet known, has published a new book, The Grand Design. In it Hawking has made his strongest-ever assertion against the theistic worldview, by describing the universe as, by definition, not requiring a deity to create it. This closes another gap within which God could hide.
It was the discovery of other solar systems outside our own, in 1992, that undercut a key idea of Newton’s — that our world was so uniquely designed to be comfortable for human life that some divine creator must have been responsible.
But, Hawking argues, if there are untold numbers of planets in the galaxy, it’s less remarkable that there’s one with conditions for human life.
And, indeed, he argues, any form of intelligent life that evolves anywhere will automatically find that it lives somewhere suitable for it.
From there he introduces the idea of multiple universes, saying that if there are many universes, one will have laws of physics like ours — and in such a universe, something not only can, but must, arise from nothing.
Therefore, he concludes, there’s no need for God to explain it.
This is the anthropic principle — the only reason we recognize this universe as existing, is because it exists in such a way that intelligent life can form. The “god hypothesis” is unnecessary to explain why we’re here, given the possibility of multiple such universes in multiple dimensions.
Naturally, people are aghast, pulling out all the old fallacies to fight back against this assertion. A quick glance at the comments field on ABC’s coverage and you will notice an argumentum ad populum, references to more popular celebrities than Hawking that believe in Christianity, inversion of the burden of proof, and all sorts of special pleading.
As always, in the CNN article, the faithful get a shout-out and the last word is by an Anglican preacher who claims Hawking is not arguing against the Abrahamic God; never mentioned is the fact that he’s arguing against all gods. It’s funny how the evidence points in one direction, and the faithful get the last word despite having nothing but faith in their particular stories to point in the other.
Reminds me of that one time I argued against the concept of astrology, and astrologers complained that I didn’t argue about their specific methods. Good times, good times.