Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

The Universe Hawking Created from Nothing

arroba Email

We’ve recently noted with sadness the passing of Dr. Stephen Hawking, noted theoretical physicist and cosmologist, and one of the most well-known authors and speakers on these subjects in our lifetime.

Over at Evolution News, David Klinghoffer points us to an interview of Professor John Lennox by Dr. Jay Richards regarding some of the things Hawking said in his noted 2010 book, The Grand Design. This interview is from several years ago, not long after Lennox published his response to Hawking’s book, but is well worth revisiting in light of recent events as we remember and evaluate Hawking’s life and contributions.

In the interview, Lennox and Richards discuss such head-scratchers as Hawking’s claim that “the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”

Pause and let that sink in for a moment . . .

One of the things that happens when great figures, like Hawking, make absurd pronouncements, is that many people tend to be intimidated by the figure and think they have to set aside their own logic and reason and go along with the pronouncement. “Well, that doesn’t seem to make any sense, but, hey, it is Hawking who is saying it and he’s smarter than I am, so I guess I’d better go along.”

Lennox’ analysis of Hawking’s absurd pronouncement isn’t Earth-shattering or particularly difficult to grasp in its own right. Indeed, it is the first impression many of us would have and is the conclusion that every highschooler enrolled in a basic logic course would come to. That is, if not for the fact that it was Hawking who made the absurd pronouncement.

As popular king of the theoretical physics and cosmology world, Hawking could make all manner of absurd pronouncements and expect the subjects of the realm to just go along with it. Everyone sensed the pronouncements were nonsense. No great analysis or logical cunning were needed for that. But what was needed was courage, like the small boy, to stand up and shout, “The Emperor has no clothes!”

Lennox deserves much credit for taking on Hawking in this regard. As he wryly notes in the podcast, “Nonsense remains nonsense, even with a famous scientist talking.”

Check out Klinghoffer’s brief writeup here and the podcast here. Well worth the few minutes to revisit this important issue.

Thanks, chris. Like, I said, some of Hawking's nonsense was readily visible. The thing I appreciated about Lennox' efforts in this particular case was his willingness to speak up and challenge a fellow academic, and the fact that he took time to write a short book publicly addressing the issues. I don't feel a particular need to throw Hawking under the bus as to his career generally -- certainly he has accomplished more of notoriety than I ever will, and under much more dificult circumstances. But I also don't feel at all obliged to genuflect to his every utterance because he was a famous scientist. And specific instances of nonsense (some of which you listed) are absolutely fair game for critique and, if warranted, even some ridicule. Eric Anderson
Come now. You don't need to be a brilliant Irishman to be a counterweight to either Dr Hawking or Dr Dawkins. Any average Joe will do. Even me. Dr. Hawking's useful Scientific work, his insight that black holes have entropy and therefore temperature, was over 40 years ago. After that he became sloppy and its been downhill since. When he made his claim about a universe out of nothing, he made a fool of himself by failing to think about what nothing is. His claim that time would run backwards if the universe began to contract was widely laughed at. 25 years ago we didn't know that the universe isn't contracting, but we did know that time wasn't running backwards. Recently he has become an ardent proponent of the Multiverse, a theory without empirical evidence and no hope of finding any. But he embraced it as an Atheist, as its their last hope for a Non Creationist explanation for Fine Tuning. As for Dr Dawkins, he attempted to justify the mass killing of innocent human beings, (and even genocide in the extermination of Down Syndrome people) by claiming that "an adult pig is more human than any unborn baby", thus showing he lacks the basic knowledge of DNA taught in 10th grade. chris haynes
Good post. The brilliant Irishman John Lennox has proved to be a very effective counterweight to England's Dawkins and Hawking. C.S. Lewis would be proud! Truth Will Set You Free

Leave a Reply