amed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking created an uproar this week after The Times of London published an excerpt from his latest book, The Grand Design, which asserts that the universe was created "spontaneously" with no help from God. "Because there is such a law as gravity," he writes, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing... It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going." Church leaders in the U.K. and elsewhere have reacted with fury. Commentators weigh in:
In the beginning, there was physics: Hawking hasn't exactly "proven that God does not exist," says Sean Carroll in Discover. But he does have a point. "Science has progressed to a point where we don't need to go outside the universe to explain the universe." Thinkers like Hawking have answered the "ancient question" of why we exist using quantum mechanics. On a practical level, "the universe can simply exist, end of story."
"Stephen Hawking settles the God question once and for all"
Hawking's argument is built on a logical fallacy: Hawking claims that the existence of a "law of gravity" proves his theory, says Tim Connor in American Thinker. But the laws of physics depend on the existence of matter. His "circular" logic — "Matter exists because of gravity which exists because of matter" — is flawed. The only "intellectually honest" explanation for the universe is that "it was created by an eternal, intelligent being: God."
"Hawking replaces God with circular logic"
Praise the PR machine: Regardless of whether Hawking has disproved the existence of God, says Richard Lea in the Guardian, one thing's for sure: He knows how to sell books. His "theologico-physical bombshell" landed him on the front page of newspapers across the world, partly because of the "retaliatory jihad" he received from the Church of England. Even if Hawking's right that God wasn't a crucial factor in the creation of the universe, clearly "a little religion goes a long way in creating a bestseller."
"Stephen Hawking gets some PR help from God"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why is American internet so slow?
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history
- 10 things you need to know today: March 9, 2014
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- This energy source could solve all of our problems — so why is no one talking about it?
Subscribe to the Week