Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Liveblog: "Did God create the universe?" on the Discovery Channel

Tonight on the Discovery Channel from 8PM-9PM on the premier of the show "Curiosity," Stephen Hawking will address the question, "Did God create the universe?"

Liveblog:I finally found Discovery Channel (Channel 25 in Louisville); thank you to my friend John Mark in the Legacy Center!
So far all I've heard is that the earliest scientists deduced natural laws from their observations on nature.

Hawking: For centuries it was believed that disabled people like me were suffering under the curse of God; while it is possible that I've made somebody up there upset, I believe that things like this are better explained by the laws of nature.

[This illustrates one of the major objections I have to this show; for the question of whether God created the universe, it might make sense to ask the question to people who have spent their distinguished careers studying the universe-- like Hawking-- but shouldn't the Discovery Channel also ask someone who has spent a distinguished career studying God: a theologian, such as Albert Mohler?]

Hawking: If you accept, as I do, that the laws of nature are fixed, then you must soon question what role is left for God.

Narrator: (Describes a Pope who questioned the laws of nature, and then the roof of a cathedral fell on his head.) The Church came to explain that God had created the laws of nature. (The narrator introduces Galileo, whom he calls the "father of modern science.) [It seems that Hawking and the narrator are going to use Galileo to set the stage for another supposed conflict between science and the Church.] Galileo's discoveries would eventually loosen the grip of religion over science. (The narrator then describes how the Church forced Galileo to recant. The narrator then describes other discoveries of science, and asserts that with each new discovery the need for God diminished.]

Hawking: Science does not deny religion, it just offers a simpler explanation. [Did I hear this correctly, or did Hawking say, "religion does not deny science," etc.?]

Narrator: I attended a conference on science at the Vatican, where we were told that we should not ask about the origin of the universe, because that is a question for religion.

Hawking: I am glad to say that I did not follow that advice; I cannot simply turn off my curiosity when it comes to that question.

Narrator: To make the universe, you need only three ingredients: 1. matter, 2. energy, 3. space. Where did all the matter, energy, and space in the universe come from? We had no idea until the 20th century, with the work of Albert Einstein; Einstein realized that matter and energy are basically the same thing, reducing the number of ingredients in the universe to 2. Where did space and energy come from? They were spontaneously created in the moment of the Big Bang! Science tells a different story than the idea, "it was God."

[I've just realized that the Narrator seems to be reading from Hawking's writings: I suppose to ease communication, since Hawking has some difficulty with speaking, and to avoid monotony.]

Hawking: We were taught you never get something for nothing, but now, after a lifetime of work, I believe you can get a whole universe for free!

Narrator: When you build a hill, you must make a hole-- a negative hill-- so that it balances out; when the Big Bang produced a positive amount of energy, it must also have created an equal amount of negative energy: this negative energy is what we know as "space." This means that everything adds up to zero.

Hawking: If the positive and negative energy adds up to nothing, then nothing is needed to create It.

[A weakness is shown by the illustration of a man building a hill; for the positive hill and the negative hole-- rather than the neutral level ground-- to exist, then someone must do something: someone must create. Hawking still has not explained why any "Bang" should have happened. Hawking next seeks to answer this objection.]

Narrator: What could trigger the spontaneous appearance of the Universe? At the subatomic level, conjuring something out of nothing is possible, at least for a short while, as we learn from quantum mechanics. The universe was once smaller than a proton, and so the universe could have just popped into existence without violating the known laws of nature (the quantum laws). But did God create these quantum laws?

Hawking: Science has a more compelling explanation than a divine Creator.

Narrator: We think in terms of cause and effect, but when we think of the universe as a whole the cause is the Big Bang itself, and it is possible that nothing caused the Big Bang; as we know from Einstein, time and space are intertwined: time began at the Big Bang as well.

Hawking: The role played by time at the beginning of the universe is the key to removing the need for a Creator.

Narrator: At its origin, the universe was a infinitely small, infinitely dense black hole; as in a black hole, time itself ceases to exist. The was no cause for the Big Bang, because nothing existed before the Big Bang: there was no time in which a Creator could exist. The Big Bang had no cause. Time didn't exist before the Big Bang, so there was no time for a Creator to make the Universe: it is like asking directions for the edge of the world.

Hawking: We are each free to believe what we want, but the simplest explanation is that there is no need for a Creator. This leads me to believe that there is also no Heaven or Hell.
"We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the Universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful."

[I hope to give some thoughts on the above presentation in a blogpost tomorrow, focusing on the final quote from Hawking, but here I will only note that the only philosophy that would make sense if one embraced Hawking's views is existential nihilism.]

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