Robert Spitzer, SJ on Hawking's Idea of God

Stephen Hawking's recent comment that the universe does not need a creator God--because it can spontaneously create itself--has prompted lively debate on the web, and also this intelligent response from Robert Spitzer, S.J.   Fr. Spitzer, a Jesuit priest and the former president of Gonzaga University, also has a Ph.D. in philosophy, and is an energetic and articulate Catholic apologist.  My general question for Professor Hawking would be: Can something come from nothing?  This flies in the face not simply of natural law but simple logic.  Anyway, here is Fr. Spitzer on the creation of the universe.

 

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7 years 10 months ago
 There's a page at Counterbalance that discusses different theological reponses to the quantum cosmology idea that the universe wasn't begun with the big bang or created out of nothing .... http://www.counterbalance.org/ghc-bb/theoqm-body.html

David Nickol
7 years 10 months ago
My general question for Professor Hawking would be: Can something come from nothing?

I think the answer is yes, depending on your definition of nothing. It's been a while since I read anything in this area, but I believe virtual particles pop in and out of existence continuously. 

While I don't rely on Stephen Hawking to tell me whether or not there is a God, or whether God created the universe, I would feel more comfortable learning my physics from Hawking rather than Fr. Robert Spitzer. Hawking is one of the greatest physicists of all times. 
Thomas Piatak
7 years 10 months ago
Thanks for posting this.
James Lindsay
7 years 10 months ago
While one can certainly find God in cosmology, it is a weak faith indeed that requires it.  If one must have proof to have faith, then one does not have faith.  The experience of loving and being loved can lead to faith, although one can love in the true sense of the word - the pressence of the Holy Spirit, without proclaiming or even knowing about Her.  One can seek Truth without knowing the Christ is the Truth.  One can seek Beauty without knowing that the Father is Beauty.  I trust atheists who believe in the concepts of Beauty, Truth and Love but reject religion much farther than those who are religious but whose actions demonstrate that they have knowledge of none of these three things.
Stanley Kopacz
7 years 10 months ago
WHen I think of it, it's rather interesting that many people think of something as being created and then it goes on by itself with a kind of ontological momentum.   But aren't things being created right now, aren't we being created right now as well as the universe around us?  The discovered physical laws allow us to see a connection between things in space and relate the present to the past, somewhat, and extrapolate to the future.  To me, creation is taking place right now and just as contingent as ever.  Tell me why the whole thing shouldn't wink out in the next nanosecond.  It seems to me more of a philosophical consideration than a physics one.  Physics describes how things are layed out, not why they are at all.

As for the virtual particles, they seem to come out of nothing, but is nothing really nothing? 

And Hawking, it seems he likes the headlines and the popularity.  In a recent TV show, he advised us not to signal aliens because they'll come around and do a war of the worlds on us.  But why would they bother?  Anybody with the control of energies reqiuired to traverse vast spaces to attack us would have the power to form planets to their liking and not need to grab ours.  If they have such powerful instrumentality, they probably know our planet has life.  At the same time, I'm not sure his theory on black holes has held up well in the theoretical physics community. 
David Nickol
7 years 10 months ago
But why would they bother? 

Stanley,

Don't you remember the episode of Twilight Zone in which aliens came to Earth and seemed to be very benevolent, curing human diseases and such? As I recall, they were taking selected earthlings away in groups to some paradise for a better life, or so the aliens claimed. An alien book fell into the hands of some skeptical humans who suspected things were not as they seemed, and at first they could only translate the title - To Serve Mankind. That seemed very benign, but they kept working on the translation and discovered that To Serve Mankind was a . . . cookbook!
7 years 10 months ago
Science has problems with origins because they are essentially one time events.  I would be interested in asking Father Spitzer about Hawkins reasoning since I am certainly at my present level incapable of understanding the full extent of his reasoning.  Is it deductive or inductive and if deductive, what assumptions have been made.
 
 
Modern science is pretty much induction oriented, arguing from a large number of instances to basic processes that explain the instances.  For a one time event this is impossible so one gets lots of speculation and often scientists resort to ''it just happened.''  That is, all the right conditions just happened at the same time by chance and something new or unique emerged.  Once this unique situation has emerged, scientists do use deductive processes to lay out consequences from this event.  But eventually they run into unknowns and then resort to induction again.
 
 
There are lots of unique events in the universe but a few that have baffled scientists include 1) existence itself (why should anything exist) and 2) why is this existence so well ordered.  A universe that is so ordered with basic laws so precise is one that is incredibly remarkable and incredibly unlikely unless directed by an intelligence.  One science magazine a couple years ago, not friend of religion, said that the laws of the universe imply a creator or an infinite multiverse.  In other words the multiverse theory came about because of the uncomfortable implications of our designed universe.
 
 
Hawkings is trying to slay the God monster.  Science has painted atheistic science into a box and they must rid their conclusions of the thing they hate the most, God.


PS - I am glad they got rid of the first name - last name sign in box.  Now if they just get rid of the problems with the letter O and the number 0 when verifying, life will be better.

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