Hawking and the Demise of Culture

According to a recent BBC report, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s soon to be released book claims:

Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.

Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Wow.   What a surprise.  (Yawn.)   One week before the Pope visits England,  Hawking’s new book is to be released in order that all the citizens of the Queen can know where Britain’s leading and most famous scientist stands on the question of God. Purposeful or accidental, the timing couldn’t be more choice for a culture more in line with Masonry than with the doctrines of Catholic Christianity.  Let’s see if we can do the math:  Britain’s leading scientist suddenly and publicly rejects God; therefore, all Britain is eager to receive a person who claims to be the representative of  God’s eternal  Logos become human?  Yes, England and your media: the rest of the world — at the other end of your nose from which you look down upon us — gets your subtle welcome of the Pope… and we’re hoping for your change of heart.

This seems a teaching moment to offer Dr. Hawking a reminder.  He ignored a tremendous philosopher and theologian once beholden to English universities, a man of extraordinary genius who destroyed Hawking’s reasoning 700 years before a theoretical physicist could even say “Theory of Everything.”  Of course this genius of his epoch is not studied much in England anymore because of a certain former Catholic King who had some difficulties with Christ’s teachings on marriage… serial difficulties, to say the least.  Or maybe I’m  just looking to give Hawking a little wriggle room for why he could be ignorant of Thomas Aquinas’ ancient position on the relation of physical theories to doctrines of creation.  That is to say, why Hawking’s speculations against God are invalid to any lover of wisdom.

How did Aquinas Already Silence Hawking?

A noted Thomist philosopher, William Carroll, draws-out Aquinas’ thought in order to set the record straight on false opposition between creationists and evolutionists, etc. In his article “Creation, Evolution, and Thomas Aquinas” Carroll observes:

Aquinas saw no contradiction in the notion of an eternal created universe. He thought that it was a matter of biblical revelation that the world is not eternal. He also thought that reason alone could not conclude whether the world had a temporal beginning. But even if the universe were not to have had a temporal beginning, it still would depend upon God for its very being, its existence. The root sense of creation does not concern temporal origination; rather it affirms metaphysical dependence. For Aquinas, there is no conflict between the doctrine of creation and any physical theory.

Theories in the natural sciences account for change. Whether the changes described are cosmological or biological, unending or finite, they remain processes. Creation accounts for the existence of things, not for changes in things. An evolving universe, just like Aristotle’s eternal universe, is still a created universe. No explanation of evolutionary change, no matter how radically random or contingent it claims to be, challenges the metaphysical account of creation, that is, of the dependence of the existence of all things upon God as cause. When some thinkers deny creation on the basis of theories of evolution, or reject evolution in defense of creation, they misunderstand creation or evolution, or both.

Regardless of theories of quantum gravity, M-theory, Super-Symmetry, etc… etc… the same reasoning applies to Hawking’s never ending speculations. Whatever the latest theories and processes uncovered, whether we dwell in a universe or a multi-verse, whether CERN rewrites the Standard Model or not, these descriptions do not answer the metaphysical issues of the contingency of being.  Only a transcendent and uncaused cause, only “I AM,” answers the question; and he has actually spoken in Jesus Christ.

Humans are Theological Beings

Look, let’s be honest with one another.  Western culture is falling apart and attacks on God’s existence are not helping anyone to become less selfish.  The attacks are just leading more and more people to self-indulge in meaninglessness, drunkeness and relativism. Such false individualism hardly protects what the human race holds in its heart to be true, good, and beautiful.  The process of cultural disintegration was summarized best by John Paul the Great: as man loses the sense of God he also loses the sense of who he is.  For man, male and female, was made to the image and likeness of God.

We have always been theological beings, oriented to realizing ourselves only in the light of God and dependent on his revelation of his inner life in order to know ourselves.  We came from the Trinity, a mystery of Love and eternal self-giving.  The purpose of creation is to enable us to live in freedom so that we might choose to love as God revealed in Christ and so ourselves become sharers in eternal life.  Belief just in “God” is not enough for man to realize his identity.  The mystery of the one God as Trinity is necessary to preserve authentic human freedom.  God can only truly be love because from all eternity there was a mystery that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have always surrendered themselves to one another in perfect communion… one in being… a mystery of Love.

The one God is Triune. If God were only one person then he would not have always lived as a gift for another from all eternity; and, therefore Love would not be his nature. Human love is called to grow — in our living for one another, not just for ourselves — so that we, made in God’s image, may enter the communion of God.  The Trinity is that foundation and model of love — for how to live as a gift to others — which Christ, God, revealed to man and empowers man to become.  For this reason we call Jesus the Way.

Jesus reveals man to himself.  The doctrines of Islam distort authentic love  with a vision of God as Master and not loving Father.  It cannot engender human freedom because it is modeled after the master-to-slave relationship.  Islam’s view of God distorts truth and freedom because it misunderstands the oneness of God and why God is love… not just Master.   Wake-up!  Nature abhors a vacuum.  The experience in the West is that Islam replaces former Christian cultures and eventually treats Christians as less than human when Islam becomes a majority. It cares less about Enlightenment ideas of freedom which steal from the past charity of a Christian vision. Islam preserved Aristotle and good philosophy until the Christian West could update it with Thomas Aquinas.  It would be a shame if Islam must rule and preserve England before England can again do good philosophy and be a light to the nations. Jesus is the true light which enlightens every man.

Pressing the Reset Button

We Yanks are as boorish as you Brits and just as secretly atheistic at heart as Hawking. The entire West has succumbed to this malaise.  It has even wreaked havoc in our religious institutions.  We seemingly can’t get enough money, sex and drugs (including alcohol) to distract ourselves from having to face ourselves and our own selfishness.  Do we really have to wait until we totally destroy ourselves in immorality before we realize how we have squandered the opportunity to build a civilization of love? We are unwilling to be faithful to our marriages or live for our own children and yet we think we can solve the world’s problems? We are not spiritually sick? Lord, have mercy.

If anyone has a reset button, it’s time to press it and give Christianity a second chance within liberal democracies.  We need to press that reset button before radical Islam finds more buttons to press.

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  • karenhanegan

    I knew that as soon as Hawking’s report came out there would be a great outcry from the religious. However, may I point to an article that was published just a few days ago here on the Catholic Exchange, written by Jesuits learned in physics, who stated that Hawking’s latest reasonings do NOT necessarily reject God altogether.

    I agree that Western civilization has decayed morally, and this issue does need to be addressed.

    But I believe the biggest moral imperative facing us is to react to the problem of global warming by radically changing our lifestyles (relying on oil and the products of oil such as plastics, reliance upon the products of corporate agribusinesses – meat, chickens, etc.; huge corporate farms that produce wheat, etc., which does not go to feed people – 98% of the product goes to the making of food for cattle or cat food.)

    The Holy Father recently issued a statement that global warming is an issue we must address. I might add that it needs to be addressed immediately, especially by Americans. The two biggest contributors to global warming are America and China.

    The evidence is all around us that it is real and the effects are already being felt, from the loss of of fisheries to the melting of the North Pole. The flooding of Pakistan, the landslides in Tibet, and the loss of snowpack in the Himalayas are also examples. Some scientists say we have only 10 years left – others state we might have until 2050 before we will have a complete collapse of our ecosystem.

    Another driving force is the fact that the top 2% of the population/corporate elite conglomerates hold most of the world’s wealth, with the rest of the 98% (yes, here in America) being at or starting to fall into poverty. The corporate conglomerates rely upon our addiction to unsustainable resources to maintain their position. It is therefore morally imperative that we radically downsize our lifestyles, move toward relying upon sustainable/renewable resources such as solar power; if this is not done now our children will be living in such chaotic times it will not matter at all that some physicist made a statement that God was not necessary in the evolution of the universe. God gave us the riches of earth to use wisely, and live with in harmony.

  • Joe DeVet

    Let us be crystal clear–it is not Catholic teaching that the greatest moral imperative is to alleviate “global warming”, notwithstanding what the Holy Father might have said. My goodness, there are real and tangible moral evils aplenty to occupy us without going off half-cocked in pursuit of a hoax like global warming.

    I do not deny objective data which shows a short-term warming trend in recent decades–very few decades at that–remembering that recent revelations show that the data “global warming” advocates use has been tampered with, and is even suspect at its source. What I do deny is the hysterical reaction to it, which pretends that radical and draconian economic measures must be taken at once, without further evidence or reflection. We most assuredly do not have enough evidence or understanding of the problem (or even that a problem exists, which could be alleviated by human intervention) to condemn the majority of people on the planet to impoverishment. You think you see poverty now? Go ahead and follow the Kyoto protocols for awhile, and see what happens. The rich (you and I) will be inconvenienced. The poor will actually suffer far greater want.

    If one wants to adopt a lifestyle of radical poverty for the sake of God’s Kingdom (and even for the sake of the City of Man) then I say God bless them. Seems to me we Americans are, as a group, far too possessed by our possessions for our own good. But it is a grave sin against charity to impose your radical poverty on others.

    The Holy Father urges action on “global warming”? Yes, I agree it’s important. Which is why I took the time to submit this rebuttal.

  • RoodAwakening

    Karen, “global warming” has been proven false–actually, a scam–and legitimate climate change is a NATURAL process of the earth’s life cycle. In other words, it’s been happening ever since the earth was created, before America, and even China existed. Human beings don’t really have any SIGNIFICANT power over it. Several rational articles have been published here on Catholic Exchange in the past few years; you can do a site search for “global warming” to find them. Instead of pouring our collective resources into massive, fruitless attempts to stop the climate-change process, we should be directing them to helping populations ADAPT to it.

    Of course, we all should each certainly do whatever IS within our power to optimize our individual environments, as Joe constructively suggests–it’s part of what we were charged to do by God, Himself, in the beginning of our human existence (along with being fruitful and multiplying), after all.

    Insofar as Stephen Hawking’s new book goes, well, his disease is obviously finally affecting his reasoning ability. It’s sad, but there it is. Like all of us, the man needs prayer.

  • I think global warming is the latest in a long line of distractions by the devil to get us to “look over here!” and ignore real and pressing problems like the breakdown of the family due to contraception and divorce, the destruction of innocent life in petri dishes or the womb, and the growing islamicization of the West.

    Having said that, I’ve always felt great sorrow when I think of Professor Hawking. He has been trapped in his body for forty years, scarcely able to lift a finger, and he has apparently wandered farther and farther from God. It’s really tragic–the one thing he could do with all his being in his state of paralysis is pray, reach out to his Creator and perhaps even become a voice for faithful reason to his contemporaries. Instead he appears to have written God off as a delusion and has as a consequence left himself utterly alone in his frozen body. It’s a sad, sad story and I think we should pray for his salvation.

  • goral

    The godless egomaniacs take themselves way too seriously. Climate change is a given. The only thing constant in the universe is change. This is why the unbeliever gets hooked here. The unbeliever expects a constant environment.
    We believers do too, but we find our constancy in God. Absent that the atheist must desperatly rely on man to maintain the only thing sure, which is the status quo.

    We can no more affect the trend in climate change than a boy peeing into the wind can change it’s direction.
    Silly little boys with wet pants, all these environmentalists.

  • O-o-o-k-a-a-a-y!

    Now that we have dealt with climate change, a topic I do not see mentioned in this terrific article, does anyone want to comment on Matthew’s thoughts here?

  • rakeys

    “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”

    It is ammazing that a physicist does not realize that for the law of gravity, which states that any two objects attract each other, to work there must be two objects. Yes,if theres are objects, over time these objects will eventually all come together and form a big ball. However, he forgot that first you must have two objects to attract each other.

    Which is the reason for his second statement

    “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”
    I am a physicist, and this reasoning that rocks, energy and all matter can appear on their own is hard to swallow.

    The only logical explanation is that there must be a god who has always existed and created rocks, energy and matter, then set the universe going with the “Big bang”
    I am sorry, rocks do not appear on their own.

    By the way, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were much higher during the ice age than they are today. There must be another explanation. and there is. Try sun spot activity for the extra warmth, and then wind patterns which are cureently blowing the warm water from the equator north to the artic. Also check to see that the icelevels in the antartic are growing much higher. Oh yeah, they blame that on global warming too. Bear in mind that the main goal of global warming advocates is population control.

  • plowshare

    I do not think it is a good idea to put all our eggs into the basket of Thomism. Physicists, with a few notable exceptions, believe the universe had a definite beginning in a Big Bang, and will expand forever at an ever-increasing rate due to something called “dark energy”.

    By the way, the Big Bang theory began in a crude form with a Belgian priest, Lemaitre, and he met with a huge amount of opposition from physicists, including Einstein, who wanted to believe in an eternal universe with no beginning.

    Hawking gave an interesting compromise between the two views in an _A Brief History of Time_ postulated that ours is a universe whose whole history is like a ball in which the bottom takes us towards a Big Bang but never gets there because near the “South Pole” time and space become indistinguishable, and the same is true of the “North Pole”, in the far distant future. He believed that the history of the whole universe encompassed in the resulting finite period of time.

    Thus we have an “eternal” universe but one which is easier to dovetail with Aquinas’s concept of God than a universe that has been going on forever, without a beginning.

    It will be interesting to see whether Hawking has abandoned this earlier concept of his in favor of some other speculative theory. He has already had to abandon one theory that is so absurd, I think it shows how little common sense Hawking has: at one point, he believed that if the universe were to stop expanding and start contracting, time would flow backwards! In other words, we’d be experiencing the world as if we were watching the tape of a movie run backwards!

    I also will be curious to see how Hawking handles the following question: if the whole universe can create itself from nothing, what is it that keeps new universes from appearing right under our noses? Perhaps he has too little common sense for this question to occur to him.

  • I kind of like Hawking’s theory, because it gives me hope that gravity will always ensure that we will have an abundant supply of oil, gold, diamonds, etc. I hope it also applies to money. 😉

  • barbosav

    I prefer Fr Robert Spitzer’s new book, New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy. He considers string theory, quantum cosmology, mathematical thoughts on infinity, and much more, and it makes sense to me. In my admittedly limited experience, if nothing exists, nothing can come into existence.
    I wonder how Professor Hawking deals with occurrences like the miracle at Lanciano.

  • Joe DeVet

    Mary, I prefer to write about global warming, but I’ll be good for a moment.

    Of course I agree with Matthew’s analysis, and it all boils down to this: if there is something, then it has a cause. If indeed one can believe “because there is gravity…” But this theory begs the question, what’s gravity, and how did this force come to be? Did gravity also create itself? What gave it the ability to do this?

    It seems to me these philosphical questions about existence lead to God whether or not the universe had a beginning in time (the most obvious conclusion based on today’s knowledge) or is eternal. As C S Lewis was able to demonstrate (Mere Christianity, I think), it is possible to imagine an eternal entity which is still contingent on a different, eternal, first cause, which would be God.

    Now for the important point: despite persistent rumors to the cotrary, the North Pole is not melting. It still stands there, erect and tall as it ever was. It still has those alternating red and white spiral stripes, as bright and clear as they ever were!

  • Ho, ho, ho!