The article begins by describing the interest in Hawking’s speech. He spoke to a “packed house.” People had waited 12 hours to get their hands on the free tickets. The line to get into the lecture was about a quarter mile long. Another auditorium and an outdoor jumbotron were used to manage the masses. $1,000, apparently, wasn’t enough to take a ticket of someone’s hands. All that to say… people were excited to hear what Stephen Hawking had to say about the origin of the universe. People are interested in the big questions of life. Where did we come from? Why are we here?
After dismissing a number of outdated scientific theories, Hawking’s advocated M-Theory. What is M-Theory, you ask? It is the belief that there are lots of universes. These other universes exist in other dimensions that we don’t have access to. They are sometimes called parallel universes. The article states that, “Hawking sees that theory as the only big idea that really explains what he has observed” (He also feels quite lucky to have landed in one of the universes suitable for life).
So the case for a first cause (The Big Bang) without God is the belief in multiple parallel universes. You may be wondering WHY such a theory is put forward. Let me explain. Hawking admits that the universe appears to be designed (the ‘Design’ argument happens to be the second argument we discussed this past Sunday). Hawking knows it is a worthless endeavor to try to explain this appearance of design as a statistical anomaly. But how else can it be explained? If it is incredibly unlikely that the appearance of design in our universe may be explained by random chance… then why not posit an infinite number of universes? If there’s a near infinite number of universes, a few of them are bound to ‘appear’ designed!
Take a second to think about the move Hawking is making here. To avoid belief in an invisible God, Hawking is willing to believe in the existence of a near infinite amount of universes that he can’t see or observe. Not only does this, to my mind, require far more faith than most any religious system… it also doesn’t happen to explain the origin of the universe (which, I thought, was the whole purpose of the lecture)! Indeed, it multiplies the problem. If you thought it was hard to explain the origin of one universe… try explaining a billion or more!
What would motivate such an intelligent man to come up with such a faithful theory? What is it about G-theory (The God theory) that makes M-Theory so attractive? We find clues to this in the article as well. Early in the lecture, Hawking quipped, “What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?” Hawking sounds like a person who has some issues with God from the outset. He’s an angry God. Let me say this… if I felt God was primarily characterized by anger, I’d be looking elsewhere too.
Later in the speech Hawking observed that Pope John Paul II admonished the scientific establishment against studying the moment of creation, as it was holy. He then joked, “I was glad not to be thrown into an inquisition.” This reference to church history, once again, shows that Hawking may have less issue with the divine in concept that he does with religion in general. Based on these two quotes, in fact, I would suggest that Hawking’s atheism is motivated more by a distorted view of God and the downfalls of religion than by the scientific facts. He admits the evidence seems to point toward God, but he’d rather appeal to invisible universes than bow to invisible God.
I don’t claim to be nearly as smart as Stephen Hawking when it comes to the inner workings of the universe. I can, however, say this confidently: Belief in M-Theory is motivated more by an anti-God philosophy than it is by actual evidence. Such being the case, one could easily argue that Hawking is just as faithful, if not more so, than your average believer in God.