In “Review of Discovery Channel’s “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” ( Reason and Revelation, Volume 31, #10), Jeff Miller notes the shell game around the notion that the universe could come into existence from nothing:
Quantum Mechanics and Universe Generation
Though Hawking does not enter into a discussion of the topic, a review of the scientific literature on the idea of quantum vacuum fluctuations accounting for the creation of the Universe reveals that such a theory does not actually start with nothing and end with something—which is what Hawking needs in order to eliminate the necessity of a higher being. In keeping with the First Law of Thermodynamics, quantum theories start with something and end with something. So, quantum mechanics does not provide an answer as to where the original “something” came from. Prominent humanist mathematician and science writer, Martin Gardner, wrote: “It is fashionable now to conjecture that the big bang was caused by a random quantum fluctuation in a vacuum devoid of space and time. But of course such a vacuum is a far cry from nothing” (2000, p. 303, emp. added). Philip Yam of Scientific American wrote: “Energy in the vacuum, though, is very much real. According to modern physics, a vacuum isn’t a pocket of nothingness. It churns with unseen activity” (1997, p. 82, emp. added).
In this context, a proposal that the universe was created from empty space is no more fundamental than a proposal that the universe was spawned by a piece of rubber. It might be true, but one would still want to ask where the piece of rubber came from. – Alan Guth
Edward Tryon, professor of physics at Hunter College in Manhattan, proposed the idea that the Universe could be the result of a large-scale vacuum energy fluctuation (1973). Alan Guth, professor of physics at M.I.T., wrote in response: “In this context, a proposal that the universe was created from empty space is no more fundamental than a proposal that the universe was spawned by a piece of rubber. It might be true, but one would still want to ask where the piece of rubber came from” (1997, p. 273). Theoretical physicist Alexander Vilenkin, a professor of physics and director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University, while explaining the problems inherent in Tryon’s work, said:
A more fundamental problem is that Tryon’s scenario does not really explain the origin of the universe. A quantum fluctuation of the vacuum assumes that there was a vacuum of some pre-existing space. And we now know that “vacuum” is very different from “nothing.” Vacuum, or empty space, has energy and tension, it can bend and warp, so it is unquestionably something (2006, p. 185, ital. in orig.).
Vilenkin went on to propose that quantum tunneling could be the answer to the creation of the Universe out of nothing. However, quantum tunneling starts with something and ends with something as well. Particles that can jump or tunnel through barriers still must initially exist to do so. So, the problem remains. There must be an ultimate Cause of the Universe. According to Hawking, in order to create a Universe, “you need” energy and space (“Curiosity…”). Though he boldly claims his theory provides these entities, his claims fall quite short of the truth. His needs simply remain unmet—without a Creator.
Actually, in our view, Hawking’s problem isn’t that he tried to do without God but that he tried to do without God and philosophy at the same time.
He thinks he can somehow keep the science, but at that point, science turns into hocus pocus.
See also: Hawking out of his depth in Discovery Channel show