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عصير كتاب: الإله و ستيفن هوكينج لـ جون لينوكس God and Stephen Hawking

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

God and Stephen Hawking

Whose Design Is It Anyway?

By: John C. Lennox



· According to distinguished journalists John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge of The Economist, “God is Back” [God is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith is Changing the World, London, Allen Lane, 2009.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 119-122). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· “In much of the world it is exactly the sort of upwardly-mobile, educated middle classes that Marx and Weber presumed would shed such superstitions who are driving the explosion of faith.” [Op. cit. p. 18.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 122-125). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

1 The Big Questions

· Hawking’s grand conclusion is: “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.” [Op. cit. p. 180.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 180-183). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· The Grand Design opens with a list of the big questions that people have always asked: “How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a Creator?” [Op. cit. p. 5.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 190-193). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Hawking dismisses philosophy. Referring to his list of questions, he writes: “Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. It has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly in physics. As a result scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” [Op. cit. p. 5.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 198-202). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Medawar pointed out this danger long ago in his excellent book Advice to a Young Scientist, which ought to be compulsory reading for all scientists. There is no quicker way for a scientist to bring discredit upon himself and upon his profession than roundly to declare – particularly when no declaration of any kind is called for – that science knows, or soon will know, the answers to all questions worth asking, and that questions which do not admit a scientific answer are in some way non-questions or “pseudo-questions” that only simpletons ask and only the gullible profess to be able to answer. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 221-226). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· “The existence of a limit to science is, however, made clear by its inability to answer childlike elementary questions having to do with first and last things – questions such as: ‘How did everything begin?’ ‘What are we all here for?’ ‘What is the point of living?’” [Advice to a Young Scientist, London, Harper and Row, 1979, p. 31; see also his book The Limits of Science, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1984, p. 66.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 227-231). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Francis Collins is equally clear on the limitations of science: “Science is powerless to answer questions such as ‘Why did the universe come into being?’ ‘What is the meaning of human existence?’ ‘What happens after we die?’” [The Language of God, New York, The Free Press, 2006.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 232-235). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Albert Einstein saw this clearly. In a discussion on science and religion in Berlin in 1930, he said that our human sense of beauty and our religious instinct are “tributary forms in helping the reasoning faculty towards its highest achievements. You are right in speaking of the moral foundations of science, but you cannot turn round and speak of the scientific foundations of morality.” Einstein proceeded to point out that science cannot form a base for morality: “every attempt to reduce ethics to scientific formulae must fail”. [For this and Einstein’s stance on religion and science see the definitive work of Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1999. The citation here is from p. 69.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 239-244). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· He writes: “Ignorance of nature’s ways led people in ancient times to invent gods to lord it over every aspect of human life.” [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 281-282). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· “The idea arose that nature follows consistent principles that could be deciphered. And so began the long process of replacing the notion of the reign of the gods with the concept of the notion of a universe that is governed by laws of nature, and created according to a blueprint we could someday learn to read.” [Op. cit. p. 17.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 283-286). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

2 God or The Laws of Nature?

· One of the main conclusions of The Grand Design is: “Because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing.” [Op. cit. p. 180.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 366-369). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Indeed, one might add for good measure the fact that when physicists talk about “nothing”, they often appear to mean a quantum vacuum, which is manifestly not nothing. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 379-381). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· In fact, Hawking is surely alluding to this when he writes: “We are a product of quantum fluctuations in the very early universe.” [Op. cit. p. 139.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 381-383). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Hawking is echoing the language of Oxford chemist Peter Atkins (also a well-known atheist), who believes that “space-time generates its own dust in the process of its own self-assembly”. [Creation Revisited, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1994, p. 143.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 402-405). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Ward concludes: “Between the hypothesis of God and the hypothesis of a cosmic bootstrap, there is no competition. We were always right to think that persons, or universes, who seek to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps are forever doomed to failure.” [God, Chance and Necessity, Oxford, One World Publications, 1996, p. 49.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 408-411). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Here is Hawking’s definition of a law of nature: “Today most scientists would say that a law of nature is a rule that is based upon an observed regularity and provides predictions that go beyond the immediate situations upon which it is based.” [Op. cit. p. 27.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 426-430). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Hawking has three questions to ask about the laws of nature: [Op. cit. p. 29.] What is the origin of these laws? Are there any exceptions to the laws, i.e. miracles? Is there only one set of possible laws? [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 441-448). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Hawking adds: “However, this is no more than a definition of God as the embodiment of the laws of nature. Unless one endows God with some other attributes, such as being the God of the Old Testament, employing God as a response to the first question merely substitutes one mystery for another.” [Op. cit. p. 29.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 450-454). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· However, the God in whom Galileo, Kepler, Descartes and Newton believed was not merely the embodiment of the laws of nature. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 454-455). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Hawking writes: “M-theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god. Rather, these multiple universes arise naturally from physical law.” [Op. cit. pp. 8– 9.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 469-473). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? Or does it need a creator, and, if so, does he have any other effect on the universe? [Op. cit. p. 174.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 513-518). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· It is a perversion of language to assign any law as the efficient, operative cause of any thing. A law presupposes an agent; for it is only the mode, according to which an agent proceeds: it implies a power; for it is the order, according to which that power acts. Without this agent, without this power, which are both distinct from itself, the law does nothing; is nothing. [William Paley, Natural Theology, 1802, p. 7.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 529-534). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Physical laws cannot create anything. They are a description of what normally happens under certain given conditions. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 535-536). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Paul Davies: “There’s no need to invoke anything supernatural in the origins of the universe or of life. I have never liked the idea of divine tinkering: for me it is much more inspiring to believe that a set of mathematical laws can be so clever as to bring all these things into being.” [Cited by Clive Cookson, “Scientists who glimpsed God”, Financial Times, 29 April 1995, p. 20.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 546-550). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Richard Feynman, a Nobel Laureate in physics, takes the matter further: The fact that there are rules at all to be checked is a kind of miracle; that it is possible to find a rule, like the inverse square law of gravitation, is some sort of miracle. It is not understood at all, but it leads to the possibility of prediction – that means it tells you what you would expect to happen in an experiment you have not yet done. [The Meaning of It All, London, Penguin, 2007, p. 23.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 576-581). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· “Every one who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.” [Letter of 24 January 1936 to a schoolgirl, Phyllis Wright.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 583-586). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Hawking has signally failed to answer the central question: why is there something rather than nothing? He says that the existence of gravity means the creation of the universe was inevitable. But how did gravity come to exist in the first place? What was the creative force behind its birth? Who put it there, with all its properties and potential for mathematical description in terms of law? [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 587-590). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Hawking, however, contents himself with saying: According to the Old Testament, God created Adam and Eve only six days into creation. Bishop Ussher, primate of all Ireland from 1625 to 1656, placed the origin of the world even more precisely, at nine in the morning on October 27, 4004 BC. We take a different view: that humans are a recent creation but that the universe itself began much earlier, about 13.7 billion years ago. [Op. cit. p. 124.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 601-607). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

3 God or The Multiverse?

· The idea of a Grand Designer is certainly old, but the important question to ask is whether or not it is true. Simply to say it is old can give the erroneous impression that what is old is necessarily false and has been superseded. Secondly, it can give the further incorrect impression that no one holds it today. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 640-643). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Don Page, a theoretical physicist from the University of Alberta, who is a former student of Hawking and has co-authored eight papers with him, says: “I certainly would agree that even if M-theory were a fully formulated theory (which it isn’t yet) and were correct (which of course we don’t know), that would not imply that God did not create the universe.” [Private communication, reproduced with permission.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 692-696). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· M-theory invokes something different: a prime mover, a begetter, a creative force that is everywhere and nowhere. This force cannot be identified by instruments or examined by comprehensible mathematical prediction, and yet it contains all possibilities. It incorporates omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence, and it’s a big mystery. Remind you of Anybody? [Tim Radford, The Guardian, 18 September 2010.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 712-716). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· In Hawking’s view, a model is a good model if it: is elegant; contains few arbitrary or adjustable elements; agrees with and explains all existing observations; makes detailed predictions about future observations that can disprove or falsify the model if they are not borne out. [Op. cit. p. 51.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 765-772). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· In his review [in Financial Times, 4 September 2010.] of The Grand Design he records his antipathy to subjectivity: Among Einstein’s difficulties with current quantum mechanics was its leading to subjective pictures of physical reality – as abhorrent to him as to me. The viewpoint of “theory-dependent realism” being espoused in this book appears to be a kind of half-way house, objective reality being not fully abandoned, but taking different forms depending upon the particular theoretical perspective it is viewed from, enabling the possibility of equivalence between black and white holes. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 793-798). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Penrose then comments on the “goldfish bowl”: An illustrative example the authors provide involves goldfish trying to formulate a theory of the physical space outside their spherical goldfish bowl. The external room appears to them to have curved walls, despite being regarded as rectilinear by its human inhabitants. Yet the goldfish’s and human’s viewpoints are equally consistent, providing identical predictions for those physical actions accessible to both life forms at once. Neither viewpoint is more real than the other, being equivalent for making predictions. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 798-803). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· As physicist Paul Davies says: Of course, science has a cultural aspect; but if I say that the planets moving around the sun obey an inverse-square law of gravitation and I give a precise mathematical meaning to that, I think it is really the case. I don’t think it is a cultural construct – it’s not something we have invented or imagined just for convenience of description – I think it’s a fact. And the same for the other basic laws of physics. [“Found in space?” Interview with Paul Davies, Third Way, July 1999.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 909-914). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

4 Whose Design Is It Anyway?

· Hawking will counter: “It is reasonable to ask who or what created the universe, but if the answer is God, then the question has merely been deflected to that of who created God.” [Op. cit. p. 172.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 945-948). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· To ask the question who created God logically presupposes that God is a created entity. That is certainly not the Christian – nor, indeed, the Jewish or Muslim – concept of God. God is eternal; he is the ultimate reality, the ultimate fact. To ask who created him is to show that one does not understand the nature of his being. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 952-956). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Austin Farrer comments aptly on what is at stake here: “The issue between the atheist and the believer is not whether it makes sense to question ultimate fact, it is rather the question: what fact is ultimate? The atheist’s ultimate fact is the universe; the theist’s ultimate fact is God.” [Austin Farrer, A Science of God, London, Geoffrey Bles, 1966, pp. 33– 34.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 957-960). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· You start with any chosen arrangement of alive and dead squares; there are three rules or laws that determine what happens next, all proceeding deterministically from the initial chosen state. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 966-967). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· In Conway’s world the immensely complex objects that can self-replicate under the laws have to be initially configured in the system by highly intelligent mathematical minds. They are created neither from nothing nor by chance, but by intelligence. The same applies to the laws. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 995-997). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Conway’s world has to be implemented, and this is done using sophisticated computer hardware with all its attendant software and high-speed algorithms. The alive and dead cells are represented by pixellated squares on a screen, and the laws governing their behaviour are programmed into the system. It should go without saying – but it clearly needs to be said – that all of this involves massive intellectual activity and input of information. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 997-1000). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Ironically, he actually admits this by saying that, in Conway’s world, we are the creators. And in our universe the Creator is God. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 1004-1005). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

5 Science and Rationality

· Crick writes: “You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” [The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul, London, Simon and Schuster, 1994, p. 3.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 1020-1024). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· We use a procedure called “inference to the best explanation” (or “abductive inference”). [For further discussion see Alister McGrath, A Scientific Theology: Reality, Edinburgh, T & T Clark, 2002, pp. 157ff.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 1066-1068). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· The evidence centres mainly on the life and work of Jesus Christ, and focuses above all on his resurrection from the dead, which is presented to us as a fact of history. These events are well attested in the biblical record, whose authenticity has been repeatedly established. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 1087-1089). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· My faith in God, therefore, rests not only on the testimony of science but also on the testimony of history, particularly to the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 1090-1091). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Hawking reduces biology to physics and chemistry and concludes: “It is hard to see how free will can operate if our behaviour is determined by physical law, so it seems we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.” [Op. cit. p. 32.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 1100-1103). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Hawking says: “This book is rooted in the concept of scientific determinism which implies that… there are no miracles, or exceptions to the laws of nature.” [Op. cit. p. 34.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 1107-1110). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Quantum physics might seem to undermine the idea that nature is governed by laws, but that is not the case. Instead, it leads us to accept a new sort of determinism: given the state of a system at some time, the laws of nature determine the probabilities of various futures and pasts rather than determining the future and past with certainty. [Op. cit. p. 72.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 1123-1128). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Richard Dawkins: The nineteenth century is the last time when it was possible for an educated person to admit to believing in miracles like the virgin birth without embarrassment. When pressed, many educated Christians are too loyal to deny the virgin birth and the resurrection. But it embarrasses them because their rational minds know that it is absurd, so they would much rather not be asked. [The God Delusion, p. 187.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 1147-1152). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

· Just one more word about Hume. It is worth remembering that, in spite of his objections to miracles, he wrote: “The whole frame of nature bespeaks an intelligent author; and no rational enquirer can, after serious reflection, suspend his belief a moment with regard to the primary principles of genuine Theism and Religion.” [From the introduction to The Natural History of Religion (with an Introduction by John M. Robertson), London, A. and H. Bradlaugh Bonner, 1889.] [John Lennox: God and Stephen Hawking (Kindle Locations 1311-1315). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.]

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