A few weekends ago I sat down to watch Stephen Hawkings documentary “Did God create the universe?” The text in olive I have quoted from the documentary, and hopefully accurately. If not please let me know.
In the beginning of the documentary Stephen humbly states that “asking if God exists is a valid question.” I believe the answer is a resounding yes. Before I begin this article I should state that I am Christian who believes that God created everything including the universe. I also believe science is a wonderful thing but it isn’t everything. I believe there is much more to our existence then just mere mechanics. I believe there is meaning & purpose to our very existence, and that it is not a cosmic accident.
There seems to be an underlying anger with atheists when it comes to their view of God. Most likely because of human history, and perhaps other people in their lives that have misrepresented Him giving them the idea that God is a deity that curses, causes disease, murders, wages war, and condemns. Stephen Hawking even mentions about himself being “cursed” and I wonder who in his life would give him such a terrible idea. I believe that God is a pure loving being who forgives, saves, and offers eternal life in his presence.
The documentary started off talking about mans past. How the world was a scary place, and people made up Gods to make sense of the world. He will use this as one of his arguments to prove that there is no God, and that man made him up. He referenced the vikings and the god they feared most was the wolf god Sköll. He was responsible for what we now call the solar eclipse. Sometimes he would eat the sun. So at the time without science imagine how terrifying it would have been to see the sun vanish. The vikings would scream at the sky till the sun would reappear. The narrator goes on to explain that obviously the sun would return no matter what, and that it turns out the universe is not as supernatural or mysterious as it seems.
In about 300 BC he studied eclipses of the moon. He was the first to question whether they were caused by Gods. He studied the heavens carefully. He realized the eclipse was the shadow of the moon passing over the sun and not a divine event.
I’m grateful God gave the intelligence, and courage for people to make these discoveries. Unfortunately because of mans fears, people like Aristarchus and many others were persecuted for their discoveries.
However, the only problem with the above argument is that unlike Sköll, Jesus actually physically existed. Jesus himself revealed to us that he was God,
“Jesus answered them, “I and My Father are one.” ~ John 10:30
Jesus lived a life a poverty, and was crucified for making these claims. So he was either the most delusional arrogant liar in history or he was exactly who he said he was. From a logical standpoint, it’s hard to believe that someone would make such claims to the point of being put to death for it. It’s illogical that others would follow him after his death, and also be put to death for claiming His name. Keep in mind they too lived in poverty, and gained nothing. Any other example in history of people claiming to be God or a God they’ve had great wealth, and armies behind them. This is not the case with Jesus Christ.
If you’re an atheist reading this hopefully I still have your attention. I found that bringing up the name Jesus brings up a lot negative emotions for non-believers. Anger, fear, anxiety, “eye rolling”, and generally His name makes people feel uncomfortable. I understand this because I was once like you. Even though I was raised Catholic, believed in Jesus, I still didn’t want to talk about him or have anything to do with him except for the occasional weekend or holiday when I’d attend Church services.
So did man make up Sköll? Yes! Absolutely! But did man make up Jesus? No. If so it is one of the greatest lies ever told, and for the founding Christians what could they have possibly gained by making such bold claims? Moving on.
The universe is a machine, governed by principles or laws that can be understood by the human mind. He went on to say: “I believe the discovery of these laws has been human kinds greatest achievement. It’s these laws that will tell us whether we need a God to explain the universe. For centuries it was believed that disabled people were living under a curse inflicted by God.”
This is a bit sad to me because he definitely has a distorted view of God. Stephen suffers from ALS which is a horrible disease. I’ve seen what this disease does to people first hand. However, I believe that without this disease he would have never made the amazing discoveries he’s made in his life. Not to mention that the average life span of ALS is 2-5 years. He is now around 71 years old and was diagnosed with the disease in his 20’s. I do believe this is for a reason and no accident.
Every year I volunteer for the Wheels with Wings foundation. The founder Natalie suffered a spinal chord injury when a 600 pound weight machine fell on her and she became quadriplegic. This amazing woman who has strong faith in God now raises money to help others with spinal chord injuries. I met a guy named Bob this past year who also is quadriplegic. He says his injury saved him from the path of destruction he was on prior to his injury.
So is what happened to them a curse or a blessing? I guess it’s all how you look at things. In Natalie and Bob’s case because of their faith they are now helping, inspiring, and blessing others bringing them closer to God, & giving them hope. In Stephens case because of having no belief he sees it as a something that just happened by chance, and he is using this to lead others away from God by discrediting that he even exists. In Stephens world there is no God, and no afterlife as he says at the end of his documentary. This life view offers no hope or salvation.
Laws of nature:
Stephen talks about the laws of nature being “immutable.” These laws are unchangeable, and are universal. The laws of nature cannot ever be broken. That’s why they are so powerful. And for a religious person this is controversial. Stephen says if you look at it this way it doesn’t take long to ask “what role is their for God?”
For me as a Christian this isn’t controversial at all. The God who created the universe created these laws, and they can be broken if he wills it. These laws exist because of God, otherwise there would be no possibility of them ever existing in the first place. These laws are limited to our universe, space, and time. God is eternal, and a spirit. His spirit does not require the limitations of our universe, or it’s laws. Gods eternal spirit does not require space, or even time to exist.
“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.” ~ Exodus 3:14
Meeting with the Pope
In 1985 Stephen attended a conference on cosmology at the Vatican in Rome. A community of scientists had a gathering with Pope John Paul II. He told us it is o.k. to study the workings of the universe but we should not ask questions about its origins, for that was the work of God. Stephen said he is glad to say that he didn’t follow his advice. He can’t just switch off his curiosity, and he believes it is a cosmologists duty to try, and work out where the universe came from. I fully agree with him.
He goes on to explain the mechanics of how a universe is made. Energy, Space, & the big bang.
The Bible explains the big bang long before science did. “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in” ~Isaiah 40:22
“Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.” ~ Genesis 1:3-4
This was written thousands of years ago; for the writers to conceive thoughts like this would have been impossible without inspiration from God. Without God how would they have known there was no light before the creation of the universe? There was very little, if any science back them.
Stephen then states after the big bang the entire universe was created, and asks “So where did all this energy and space come from? How did it appear out of nothing? For some this is where God comes back in. But science tell a different story. We can use these very laws of nature to grasp the very origins of nature.”
Again, I would argue where do these laws of nature come from? How do they exist? Something had to put them together to make them immutable, and saying it was nothing is short sighted. And by this very argument is Stephen, without realizing it, making the laws of nature his God?
Universe created from nothing:
This is where the documentary starts delving deeper into the mysteries of the universe. Without question he is explaining in an easy to understand way. His next topic is how the universe is created out of nothing. He states that the laws of physics demand positive, and negative energy equal zero. Always. According to the laws of nature concerning gravity and motion, laws that are among the oldest in science, space itself is a vast store of negative energy. Enough to ensure everything adds up to zero. So what does that mean in our quest to find out if there is a God? It means if the universe adds up to nothing then you don’t need a God to create it. The universe is the ultimate free lunch.
Same argument would apply here as above, and if there was no God to create these laws they simply wouldn’t work or exist in the first place. There would be no reason for things to equal out. Positive + negative would not always equal zero. It is because of God that these things are unchangeable or immutable.
Regardless of this he is merely explaining the mechanics of the universe. We’ve figured out how the human body works, and what we are made of but does that mean that is all we are? I would hope that even a man as brilliant as Stephen could see that there is much more to us then simple chemical reactions. People of faith call it a Spirit. If you look at the universe, people, the world in a mechanical sense then you aren’t looking deep enough.
What triggered the whole process?
What could cause the spontaneous appearance of the universe? This is where Stephen delves even deeper talking about quantum mechanics. Particles on the subatomic level will appear at random, and then reappear somewhere else. Because of this it means the universe itself in all its vastness and complexity could have simply popped into existence without violating the known laws of nature. Here he questions again: Did God create the quantum laws that allowed the big bang to occur? In a nutshell do we need a God to set it all up so that the big bang could… bang? He says he has no desire to offend anyone of faith but he thinks science has a more compelling explanation other than a divine creator.
Cause & Effect Principle
This part made me think of the move “The Matrix” when the Merovingian says “Cause and effect my love. I drank too much wine, now I have to piss! Cause and effect.”
Stephen explains that our everyday experience makes us convinced that everything that happens must be caused by something that occurred earlier in time. So it’s natural that something “perhaps God” must have caused the universe to come into existence. But when we are talking about the universe as a whole that isn’t necessarily so. Imagine a river flowing down a mountain side, what caused the river? Perhaps the rain, rain that fell earlier in the mountains. But what caused the rain? A good answer would be the sun. The sun that shown on the ocean and lifted water vapor up into the sky and made clouds. O.k. so what caused the sun to shine? He then explains fusion in which hydrogen atoms join to form helium releasing vast quantities of energy in the process. Where does the hydrogen come from? Answer “the big bang.” The laws of nature themselves tell us that not only can the universe popped into existence like a proton, and have required nothing in terms of energy, but also that it is possible that nothing caused the big bang. Nothing! Then emphasizes it again.. Nothing!
This explanation lies back with the theories of Einstein, and his theories of how space and time in the universe are fundamentally intertwined. Something very wonderful happened at the very instance of the big bang. Time itself began.
A typical black hole is a star so massive that it is collapsed in on itself. It’s so massive that not even light can escape its gravity. It’s almost perfectly black. It’s gravitational field is so powerful that it does not only warp and distort light, but also time. Imagine a clock being sucked into a black hole. As it gets closer and closer time slows down. Once the clock enters the black hole time stops. Inside a black hole time doesn’t exist and this is exactly what happened at the start of the universe. Stephen then states: The role played by time at the beginning of the universe is, I believe, the final key to removing the need for a grand designer, and revealing how the universe created itself.
As we travel back in time towards the big bang. The universe gets smaller, and smaller until it becomes a black hole. And just as with modern day black holes, floating around in space, the laws of nature dictate something quite extraordinary, they tell us that here too, time itself, must come to a stop. You can’t get to a time before the big bang because there was no before the big bang. We have now found a time where there was no cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in.
Here Stephen deals his final blow to the existence of God: “For me this means that there is no possibility for a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed. Since time itself began at the moment of the big bang, it is an event that could not have been caused by anyone or anything.” (Then they play victory music in the background) So science has given us the answer we set out to discover. An answer that took more than 3000 years of human endeavor.
We have discovered how the laws of nature acting on the mass and energy of the universe, started a process that would eventually produce us, sitting here on our planet, pretty pleased to having worked it all out. So when people ask me, if a God has created the universe, I tell them the question itself makes no sense because time didn’t exist before the big bang, so there is no “time” for God to make the universe in. It’s like asking for directions to the edge of the earth, there is no edge of the earth, so looking for it is futile. We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is that there is no God, no one created the universe, and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization, there is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that I am extremely grateful.
There is a fundamental flaw in his final argument because he is assuming God can only exist within the limitations of our universe, space and time. As I stated above God needs none of these things. God is forever, eternal, unchanging, the Alpha, and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come. He created all these laws that Stephen idolizes throughout the documentary.
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” ~ Pslam 92
Another flaw with his argument is he says the universe was created by a black hole. So the pre-universe as we know it, must have started as a Star in another universe that eventually collapsed in on itself. So even though there was nothing there was still something. Time didn’t exist in our black hole pre-universe however time did exist somewhere else so there was something even when there was nothing. Still it is all irrelevant to God.
I believe it is very difficult if not impossible for us to even begin to understand eternity, or an eternal God. Everything we know has a beginning, and an end, except for God. I think of math: “One plus one always equals two because an awesome, never-changing God created and sustains all things.“
Everything he says in his documentary makes sense from a mechanical view. If you are to view us, and the universe as merely a machine. But we are so much more than that. It breaks my heart that Stephen and people who share his view subscribe to this line of thinking. If there truly is no God, then I would argue that there would be no laws of nature. No order, but total and complete eternal chaos. If there was no God, we couldn’t possibly exist because even our atoms would fail to join together.
We are conscious beings, and by the Grace of God have been granted free will, we have sense of right and wrong. We are beings that can think, feel, and most importantly Love. Science does offer explanations of how things work in the universe which we should be very grateful for but it does not offer Love, salvation, or an afterlife. Maybe someday science will catch up with religion, and prove the existence of an afterlife but for now it seems many deny its very existence. I have no desire to offend anyone without faith. However, whether you realize it or not, if you don’t believe in God, then I assure you you’re worshiping one in some form or another. Whether it be laws of nature, money, food, drugs and alcohol, material things, yourself. Even by denying God you still have something that rules over you. It is impossible for us to live without God whether you believe in him or not.
Science currently offers nothing in terms of an afterlife, but Jesus offers eternal life, and freedom of these other gods and idols, that ultimately destroy us. I have a friend who is an atheist. I told him once that if you are right, and there is no God, we both still die. But if I’m right then death is only the beginning.
It is because of Gods word, the promises he made when he walked on this earth, through hours of personal prayer, reflection, and study I have come to the profound realization that there is a God, there is an afterlife, there is a heaven, there is Love beyond anything we can comprehend, someone we can depend on that is immutable, unchangeable, faithful, eternal, a rock, and on this I will rest in Jesus Christ.
It is my hope to those who aren’t sure if God exists to help lead you to the truth that he does, he loves you, and there is life after death. You have the right to choose to accept this, or reject it. If you choose to reject it, then what is there for you other than just “enjoy it while you’re here?” If you choose to accept it you have so much more to gain. I would invite you to pursue him, accept him, and do the same research as I have. I can’t prove to you God exists, you will have to take that leap of faith yourself.
“My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom,and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.” ~ Proverbs 2:1-8
Just because you can’t hear something doesn’t mean there isn’t a sound. Romans 3:22-23
See Stephen Hawkings full documentary here: https://vimeo.com/55419263