Thursday, 2 September 2010

Hawkins Grand Design

Well, plenty of comment and reflection on Hawking today and his views about the incompatability of science and religion. Apparently, we now have to choose I don't believe in science if I continue to believe in God. Yet, there are two flaws in Hawkings thinking, that were CS Lewis alive he might have pointed out in a succint, crystal clear and compelling way . . . I on the other hand, am no CS Lewis . . . but, in my clunking way, I will attempt it . . .

Issue 1. Are we unique? This is at the crux of our understanding about our "place", but also our "purpose in the Universe. In his book (and I have only seen an extract in the Times - yes, I know, I need to wash my hands) Hawking makes the following statement,

"In 1992 came the first observation of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun. We now know of hundreds of such planets, and few doubt that there exist countless others among the many billions of stars in our Universe. That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions - the single sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance, and solar mass - far less remarkable and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings."

Ok, here is my attempt at CS Lewis style critique, let me ask a question, "is red hair on a human being unique?" Now, if you have only one human being you have nothing to compare it with - there is stands, male or female, with red hair - if you have nothing else like it to observe, you might consider that, IF there was another human being, it might consistently have all the same attributes . . . not just the red hair but gender, freckles, green eyes etc. We have NOTHING to base that assertion on, unless we can do some comparission work. OK, now lets say you have thousands of human beings, maybe different heights, genders, even different skin colour represented . . . but there, in the middle of all these thousands, there is ONE with red hair. Is "it" (or he / she) unique? I would be more inclined to say YES, looking at the evidence in front of me of thousands of huamans, than if I had just one. I do not know if we are unique, the tenuous link between M-Theory and the idea of multiple worlds, multiple dimmensions etc aside - I don't think it matters, as things stand - this planet is unique in that it supports human life, until we discover another one, the MORE planets we discover where human life cannot be sustained (orbiting single, multiple, or no stars at all . . . ) the more unique this planet becomes - not less!

BUT, more than that - there is a fundamental misunderstanding about what stuff is for (i.e. everything that exists).

Issue 2. Designed to please who? This, for me as a Christian, is easier to answer - unfortunately, Christians historically have struggled with the thought about who "everything revolved around", hence the issues surrounding Copernicus and his theories about the Sun . . . being the "pinacle of creation" - yes, I believe we are made in the image of God, but we were not made to "please ourselves", and unlike Hawkings assumption of Christian blieve, the earth was NOT "carefully designed to please human beings". ALL that exists (including us, soaring mountains on this earth, huge valleys on a moon circling a distant planet that we have not yet discovered) is for the GLORY of God. Created by Him and for Him . . . Colossians chapter 1 puts it fantastically well,

"For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and FOR HIM." Colossians 1 verse 16.

All this amazing beauty for me? I'm at the centre of things? All about me - no, all these things point me to our glorious creator God, and He delights in what He has made, the focus of the universe is God not man. So this is my belief (and I belief and, I think, the belief of Christians the world over), I am not shaken by Hawkings views - his reasoned thoughts are well presented, and mostly accurate - he has just come to the wrong conclusions and, crucially, although I have not read the rest of the book yet - and I will - there does not appear to be any fresh evidence . . .

I will put another blog up exploring what Hawkings has said about gravity in the next day or two . . .

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