November 3, 2015

In Their Own Words XXXVIII: An Eternal Universe Exists but An Eternal God Doesn’t

Let us admit outright that we are dwarfed by scale when we contemplate the universe as a whole. The earth we live on is considered a medium-sized planet orbiting an average star on one of the outer radial arms of an average galaxy. On this planet resides an ordinary race of people whose only outstanding characteristic is that they are, well, not very outstanding. They are sinful and painfully ordinary. Our galaxy is only one of millions of other galaxies in the known and observable universe. All these factors though have led extraordinarily to our healthy existence. The odds of which are… (if you’ll pardon the pun) astronomically small. In other words the chances of our existence were statistically impossible as even I will admit. That is...if you do not believe in God.

Yet based in simple inductive study and basic observation one could quickly conclude that that this whole vast construction exists specifically for our sake. It is called the Anthropic Principle or the Law of Human Existence. It is the principle that our existence in this universe is contingent upon a myriad of physical factors that must fall within a very narrow range for the ability for humans to survive at all in a hostile universe. If even a single variable were off by decimal places, even slightly, we would be obliterated or simply cease to exist. If the strong or weak nuclear forces were minutely off, the atoms that compose our reality would fly apart. If we were even a few thousand miles closer or farther way from the sun we would either freeze to death or burn to a cinder.

Surprisingly, atheist Stephen Hawking sums up this sentiment rather interestingly (but errantly and unbiblcially) in a quote from weekly German news magazine Der Spiegel.

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” ~ Stephen Hawking [Der Spiegel, October 17, 1988]

We then have another comment about the existence of mankind and the universe from the same man that defies logic and commonsense.

“I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is 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.” ~ Stephen Hawking [Curiostiy; TV series]

The irony is that it isn’t just hard to believe we exist…it’s impossible to believe. Too many circumstance speak to the improbability of our existence...yet we are here.

Hawking’s view is clearly a man-centered view (anthropic), not a God centered one (theocentric). It is ironic that the Anthropic point of view in actuality is a theological argument for the existence of God because of the need for Universe fine-tuning. The problem with Hawking’s view is that it is purely and only an anthropic view that totally wishes to push out God. The problem is that he also tries to discount God from an impossible scenario. Hawking omits the possibility of a Creation, God and anything powerful enough to have spoken reality into existence. A reality specifically geared to humanity which Hawking himself has admitted is special or exceptional in its improbability.

Furthermore things within his own statements beg multiple questions. He specifically states that man’s ability to comprehend these very facts that I state, makes them special. Well, what makes them special? Special implies a classification system. A classification system that lends itself to inductive thought and inductive study. Things obviously didn’t have to be this way. Reality is organized. Even chaos (to some extent) can be quantified and, well, compartmentalized and categorized. The Universe by its very nature is systemic and principles within the universe tend to be…ironically, universal. Physics that apply in my backyard mostly likely apply to stars at the edge of the Universe. The Universe’s physical characteristics are uniform and consistent from the atomic scale to the intergalactic scale.

Again I ask, special how? There needs to be a measuring stick or benchmark of special. Special to Hawking? Special compared to what? I believe exceptional might be a better adjective. Both of these are comparative words. I believe special in Hawking’s mind is the that they're special as opposed to nothing at all. A state of being that Hawking has worked hard not to believe (nothingness). You see, Hawking’s wants to believe the Universe has always existed in some form either through oscillating universes or an outright eternal universe even though background radiation in the Universe seems to refute that claim. If Hawking admits to initial nothingness he knows he violates a fundamental axiom of logic. That true "somethingness" cannot arise from "nothingness" (also known as the God Paradigm).

Hawking’s realizes just how precious human existence and human consciousness is and how special it is yet he attributes it to no exceptional source. Special and exceptional. In other words…unusual or not typical. Hawking’s is making comparative claims that these conditions for human and even Universe/Universal existence are not the norm. How would he know this? The truth is that he cannot without making himself Omniscient. Mr. Hawking’s is clearly making himself into an entity with godlike abilities that his physical condition clearly shows he does not possess. This is not surprising for a man whose overriding drive behind his theories is to disprove God and deny His existence. A motive and impetus so strong that it drives him to make contradictory or irrational statements.

Since he cannot truly know the extent of existence or a lack of it, deduction tells me that the only comparative point he has to make his statement is that he is implying it is miraculous that anything exists at all as opposed to nothing.

Furthermore, it is even more startling to him that human consciousness exists in addition to what appears to be an arbitrary and statistically improbable reality. Ontological existence of being as opposed to nothing and non-being…a start condition that Hawking’s has repeatedly tried to deny and disprove. Hawking’s has admitted that he wants the universe to have been eternal so that it discredits a need for God but admits it is improbable. So in making his statement that human consciousness is special he admits it is unusual and exceptional while simultaneously affirming a comparative start point that doesn’t seem physically feasible either by scientific or theological standards. 

It appears we have caught Mr. Hawking in a rather large philosophical contradiction or in his case he has perpetrated philosophia contra mundom.

All this to pose an ironic dichotomy in Hawking’s thinking.

Stephen Hawking wants a special eternal Universe with special human consciousness but simultaneously wants to deny a eternal God to have created it and sustain it. A desire so great that he has made assertive philosophical statements to affirm his position on  it. It is clear that an eternal God would be needed to create and sustain the universe because physical constants like entropy require a self-limiting Universe start condition and also point to an expiration date. 

So in effect, Hawking’s has made his belief and desire for ontological eternality publicly known (it is on record). Eternality...a concept firmly rooted in metaphysics...and a  characteristic that should philosophically be attributed to divinity not physicality in isolation  [I discount the idea of Temporalism because of its errant misunderstandings of God]. All these are concepts firmly planted in theology and metaphysics not science and physics. 

Theology and metaphysics. Two areas Hawking’s is clearly not an expert on nor should he be making assertive and dogmatic statements about. Two areas that he conceivable does not even acknowledge exist (an intrinsic bias then comes into play). Hawking’ expertise lies in science and physics not theology and metaphysics. It is therefore ironic that Stephen has made the Universe a god (a form of scientific pantheism) by saying it is in all likelihood eternal. 

My second point of contention with Stephen Hawking’s overreaching philosophical and metaphysical statements is when he says, “We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that I am extremely grateful.” I will say outright that his statement begs the question: Grateful to whom? I wish to sidestep this philosophically self-negating statement to dive into his other allusion of a "grand design".

A design implies a designer. If we piggyback this statement into the one we have already discussed we arrive at a rather peculiar conclusion. It isn’t just a design, it is a grand design or as other statements from Hawking’s have alluded to…special and exceptional. This is a lot of grandiloquent and superfluous language coming from a man who believes in an eternal but mundane Universe. A Universe he also has stated has a design (which implies a creator/designer behind it). 

So is Hawking’s being intellectually inconsistent and contradictory? If so, how many of his other beliefs and statements can become subject to these deductions? I’d have to say all of them. Can this man’s theories and conclusions be relied upon to explain reality? Can he be taken seriously at all? I posit that he cannot be taken seriously.

I’ll leave that to you to determine though. I personally have trouble taking anything he says seriously anymore based on these and other observations of him. As my father who was well driller used to say in his blue collar commonsense way, “People like him need to be taken with a grain of salt.” That is to say that anything he says should be considered something not completely true or right.

In a word: Dubious. This word best describes Hawking's assertions. 

Taken with a grain of salt. It was an old idea that things that were undesirable or inedible (hard to swallow) would be easier to swallow or stomach if you add a little salt to them. There might be something useful in what he says but most of it is just hard to digest and frankly, unpalatable.

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