Stephen Hawking’s Sleight of Hand

Stephen Hawking’s Sleight of Hand

by Michael J. Penfold

In his 2010 book, The Grand Design, Stephen W. Hawking includes a sentence of staggering, perhaps unparalleled, sleight-of-hand proportions.

“Because there is a law such as gravity,” he writes, “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.”

Surely, any thinking child above the age of 10 should be able to spot the gaping hole in Hawking’s argument. Apparently the Universe quite easily came from nothing, because a law exists. But pray tell me, Professor Hawking: this law, is it a thing or not?

It has been long acknowledged that there are only 4 possible explanations for the existence of the universe, with its septillion stars:

1) It came from nothing accidentally
2) It has always been here
3) It is not really here – it is an illusion
4) It came from nothing supernaturally

1) It came from nothing accidentally

First of all there was nothing, and then it exploded. But what is the ‘it’? Science generally agrees that all matter, energy, space and time came from a singularity known as ‘the big bang’. However, ask the average cosmologist from whence originated the energy, matter and controlling laws for the big bang and you will be politely told not to ask silly questions. But don’t be bullied into silence. It is an indisputable axiom, despite Hawking’s bluster, that from absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing comes. Ex nihilo, nihil fit. And if there ever was a time when there was absolutely nothing, there would still be absolutely nothing. Redefining ‘nothing’ to allow it to include space, the laws of physics, non-zero energy or relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical vacuum states is cheating.

2) It has always been here

Think carefully. The universe cannot have always been here. If an infinite number of moments occurred before today, today would never have arrived. But the present day has come, hence, a finite number of moments must have occurred prior to today. The Universe must have had a beginning. Counting to infinity from zero can at least begin. Counting to zero from negative infinity cannot even start.

One of the laws of thermodynamics – the second – states that the amount of usable energy in any closed (or open) system is decreasing; or put another way, left to themselves things tend to disorder. You feel the impact of these laws daily. Your watch, car, house and body are running down. Think about it: if your watch had always been here, would it still be ticking? How would you look if you’d always been here? If universe had always been here, the law of entropy would have ensured it would have reached a state of complete equilibrium a million eternities ago, which it has not.

3) It is not really here, it is an illusion

A student once asked Dr. Nathan of Toronto: ‘”How do I know I exist?” “Who shall I say is asking?” replied the Doctor. One cannot deny one’s own existence without at the same time affirming it. By saying “I do not exist” one implicitly affirm that one does. Much in the same way as one cannot truthfully write,”I cannot write a word of English.”

All of this leaves ‘supernatural creation’ as the only logical and possible explanation for the existence of the Universe. Investigations, by their very nature, use a process of elimination and inference to the best explanation. There must be a Creator. Even the great skeptic philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) said, “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.” Nothing may be followed by something, but it cannot be cause something or else things would pop in and out of existence willy nilly, which they do not. Universal human observation over the millennia has confirmed the following scientific fact: whatever begins to exist has a cause. Since the Universe began to exist, the Universe must have had a cause.

Who Made God?

So then, who made God? The question is redundant. The universe consists of space, matter and time. Since time has a beginning, the cause of the beginning of time must itself be timeless. A timeless being has no beginning or end. Such a being is eternal. Let us rephrase the question to see its truly fallacious character – who made the unmade God?

God is the great uncaused first cause. God just is. We have found the grand designer. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (The Bible – Genesis 1:1).

Michael J. Penfold (