• Question: Physics has always helped me to understand the reality. It has made me think about the unimaginable but yet true facts. I got interested in a topic and it took me one year for making a good explanation about the topic. My aim was to find an answer to the question "Is There Something Called God?". The question may be a bizarre one for some but interesting for others. I wanted to find a logical and more convincing explanation to this question. I think that many scientists have this question in their mind. Through reading books on relationship between 'physics and god' like 'The Grand Design' by Prof.Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow which questions the need for a god for the creation of the universe, I came to a conclusion which got considerable amount of appreciation as well as insult. I wrote a whole article on it-http://itscgod.blogspot.in/ Please read it and provide your suggestions whatever it maybe.

    Asked by rajathjackson to Chris, Dave, David, Fiona, Jack on 20 Jun 2013.
    • Photo: Chris Mansell

      Chris Mansell answered on 20 Jun 2013:

      I liked your blog. It brought back memories of when everyone in my GCSE English class had to give a short talk about a subject they found interesting and I gave one about whether God exists.

      Some time ago, I read a critique of Hawking and Mlodinow’s book. The book was written by a guy called Stephen Dingley who has studied both physics and theology to quite a high level. I have copied and pasted some of the points he made. I hope you find it relevant and interesting.

      “Hawking and Mlodinow claim that the universe is logically necessary; that it spontaneously created itself from nothing; that it does not require God “to light the blue touch paper.” [16]

      “The authors offer a number of requirements that “any set of laws that describes a universe such as ours” [17] would have to fulfil: (1) something like energy must exist (no reason given); (2) the energy of an isolated body must be positive, otherwise such bodies could pop up spontaneously all over the place; (3) a law like gravity must exist, so that the universe can be spontaneously created out of nothing. [18] The argument here clearly falls into the fallacy of mistaking one sort of necessity for another.

      “The authors have listed features which are necessary to make a universe like ours, but soon treat them as if they were logically necessary. Having made this error, it is hardly surprising that they soon conclude that abstract logic demands a universe like ours—but it is a classic circular argument: a universe needs these sorts of laws, therefore they must exist, therefore they do exist, therefore the universe must exist.

      “Where do the Laws of Nature come from?

      “There are three plausible options for the origin of the laws of nature: (1) they are made by God, but this is the idea that Hawking and Mlodinow are attempting to refute; (2) the laws are logically necessary which is the option preferred by the authors, but we have just seen that their argument is fallacious; (3) the laws are ontologically necessary, i.e. they just are, they are uncaused causes: but this raises the second question.

      “What Sort of Things are the Laws of Nature?

      “Either the laws of nature are simply descriptions of the regular features of the universe, or else they somehow govern the universe’s behaviour, causing things to happen. If they only describe what happens, they cannot really be the reason why the universe exists, as the authors assert. Hawking himself faced this issue squarely in A Brief History of Time, famously asking: “Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?” [20]

      “On the other hand, if the laws of nature genuinely govern the universe, what sort of thing does that make them? They will be non-material, eternal, unchanging principles, present everywhere in the universe, bringing it into existence from nothing and ultimately causing everything that happens in it. At the very least we have come quite close to the idea of a Creator God.

      “Many people are prepared to grant the existence of some sort of first cause like this—notably including Richard Dawkins. [21] However, they baulk at the idea of calling it God because the idea of God suggests a personal being with intellect and intentions, whereas this first cause of the universe seems to be quite impersonal. But this nicely raises our third question.

      “Why do the Laws of Nature take the specific Form that we find?

      “The particular laws that we find in our universe are very finely specified to allow the emergence of intelligent life. Had almost any of the basic parameters of the universe (e.g. the strength of gravity or the mass of the electron) been slightly different from their actual values, life would have been impossible. This observation has been designated the Anthropic Principle. Hawking and Mlodinow are happy to acknowledge it; in fact they devote a whole chapter to it. [22] It is also a fact that needs explaining. A possible explanation is that the laws originate from a personal designer God who intended to create intelligent life. But this is the conclusion which our authors are trying to avoid.

      “An alternative suggestion, advanced by many including Hawking and Mlodinow, [23] is the “multiverse”. This is the hypothesis that there may be many universes, each of which has its own particular laws of nature. If there are enough of these different universes, then we can expect that one at least will be suitable for life by pure chance—and the need for a designer God seems to vanish.

      “To make this plausible, however, it must have some scientific grounding. Therefore there must be some sort of overarching scientific “super-law” which governs the production of all these universes and the processes by which they gain their own “local” laws of nature. Once we have realised this, we see that the terminology of “many universes” is misleading. These individual “universes” turn out to be only parts of a bigger whole—the multiverse. The multiverse is the “real” universe. If this is confirmed by observation, it will simply be the latest stage of our expanding human horizons. We used to think the earth was more or less all there was, with some heavenly bodies orbiting around it; then we discovered that it was only part of a much larger solar system; then that the solar system was only a very small part of the galaxy; then that the galaxy was only a small part of what we currently call the “universe”—that is, everything that came out of our Big Bang. Now (perhaps) our “universe” is just a small part of the multiverse. Nothing has really changed except that there is even more stuff out there than we used to think.

      “Another more important consequence must also be drawn. The overarching “super-law” which governs the multiverse will also need to be precisely specified to allow the emergence of intelligent life. If any old law of this “universe” would not produce life, it is foolish to imagine that any old super-law of a multiverse would produce life. The multiverse hypothesis signally fails to remove the need for a personal designer God.

      “16 Hawking and Mlodinow, p. 180-181.
      17 Hawking and Mlodinow, p. 179.
      18 Hawking and Mlodinow, p. 179-180.
      20 Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History ofTime: from the Big Bang to Black Holes (London: Bantam Press, 1988) p. 174.
      21 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (London: Bantam Press, 2006) p. 155.
      22 Hawking and Mlodinow, ch. 7, p. 147-166.
      23Hawking and Mlodinow, p. 136-137, 164-166. Cf. Paul Davies, The Goldilocks Enigma (Allen Lane, 2006); Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.”

      P.S. There are courses at university where you get to study both physics and philosophy. You seem like the type of person who might enjoy this.