Yes, I know he denied the existence of God. Frankly, I think it is very un-Christian to make fun of the man because of this fact. Let me ask you this, person who claims to be a Christian: If Christ is judge, why have you taken His responsibility upon yourself? I may question whether you are actually a Christian, then again, it is not my place to do so. Christ alone is worthy.
Some of you know this, many do not. I really enjoy physics, and so I have really enjoyed the work of Stephen Hawking. Never did he disprove the existence of God (nor did he claim to), though he did try to show how it was possible for a universe to come into existence without appealing to divine creation. By his own words, though, it was all hypothesis and someone would need to prove it by scientific method.
In one of his lectures, “The Beginning of Time,” Hawking stated that the reason many religious people loved the Big Bang Theory was that an intelligent creator needed to be appealed to in order to account for the beginning of real time. Though he stated that this wasn’t necessarily true (because of the existence of a boundless imaginary time in which real time began to exist), there was still a looming question about how the process of the creation of real time initiated. All Hawking could say was that the laws of physics didn’t have to break down at the singularity of the Big Bang and could exist in imaginary time so that the laws of physics would themselves initiate the universe. As I write and speak, I will often refer to the difference as continuous (similar to what Hawkins termed “imaginary,” though I would say that continuous time is infinite whereas Hawking’s imaginary time is finite) and discrete (similar to Hawkins’ “real”) time. I would actually agree with Hawking on this point, though, like him, I think someone who knows what he or she is doing needs to set out to prove it.
I think that Hawkings has done exactly what we have been trying to do for so long. Though he denied the existence of God, he would often speak of looking into the mind of God. If there is a God, then, who Himself has a boundless existence, it would make sense that the universal laws were not created by Him, but are instead a part of His character. The universal laws would need to always exist because it doesn’t make sense that a boundless God would need to write such laws or fine-tune the universe He creates. Furthermore, if universal law is found in God’s very character, then it is God who sustains this universe (and every other spectrum of space-time) simply by virtue of His being. Even with the laws in place, there need be some purposeful initiator to the process. If there was no initiator and the singularity, in the broader spectrum of the laws in imaginary time, would conceivably always have existed as a singularity in that sort of time. Unless there was an infinite regression of Big Bangs and retractions (which Hawking disapproved of and proved to be very unlikely), there is still need for a cause other than the mere existence of universal law.
Imaginary time, according to Hawking, must itself be finite and we would know nothing else about it. In fact, its existence is still only theoretical. If imaginary time is finite and is under the rules of the same universal laws that birthed real time and space, then we are left with the same question we ask of our universe: On what is finite imaginary time contingent? Philosophers have recognized the impossibility of infinite regression for centuries now. Hawking has reintroduced the idea implicitly with new physical properties. Instead of infinite regression in real time, the philosopher or the theoretical physicist must now appeal to an infinite regression of different types of space-time, each ever-expanding from our own perceivable universe. The same problems exist- the very problems that caused Hawking to admit of the Big Bang theory in a classical model of General Relativity, “… one would have to appeal to an agency outside the universe.” Hawking did so as he hypothesized the existence of imaginary time and the universal laws there transcending real space-time.
The same is now true, one has to appeal to an agency “outside” of imaginary time for there to be any finite processes (though I personally think the term “outside” is a bad one to use, perhaps “transcendent agency” would be more accurate because it doesn’t make sense to say “outside of space” or “before time”). Finite processes, it seems, must be contingent. Though Hawking criticised the Kalam Cosmological argument for the existence of God, he seemed to prove a need for just such an argument:
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist (and also theoretical imaginary time)
- The universe has a cause (and also theoretical imaginary time)
There is still a need for some sort of agency. Hawking went a step further for us by claiming that there are laws that transcend this universe, and also presumably imaginary space-time (though he did not say that much). Perhaps Hawking truly did read the universe and look into the mind of God as reflected in the natural world. Perhaps he saw the very character of God pouring over and through the universe, and whatever other sorts of space-time there may or may not be). Perhaps he saw God and didn’t even recognize, like many of us, what he was looking at.
Stephen Hawking, thank you for your work in the arena of physics.