Thursday, September 02, 2010

Stephen Hawking: The Grand Design

The Guardian promotes Stephen Hawking's new book, co-written with Leonard Mlodinow, by the following provoking title:
Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God (see other sources)
The book will be out on September 7th - in five days. A creator is unnecessary because the Universe has inevitably come into existence because of M-theory, i.e. the full laws of quantum gravity. "M-theory is the unified theory Einstein was hoping to find," he correctly explains.
See also: Churches hit back at the heretic for an analysis whether Hawking is right.
At the page of the book, the authors sketch the content of the book. The book will defend the multiverse and present the recent results on the theoretical and experimental front - especially string/M-theory and the observations of COBE and WMAP. They "assess M-Theory, an explanation of the laws governing the multiverse, and the only viable candidate for a complete 'theory of everything'."

So don't expect any politically correct bullshitting about random crackpots' delusions being as viable as M-theory. ;-)

For Stephen Hawking, the elimination of God from the laws of physics seems to be an unusually high "research goal". And while I don't quantitatively understand what this goal could exactly mean, I kind of understand him. He has been given quite some circumstantial evidence that no good God is in control of this particular Universe or multiverse.

Pre-order the book via the link at the top if you care and if you want a guaranteed 40% discount.

Where is Boyle's beef?

Alan Boyle (MSNBC) and others are very skeptical about the "beef" of the claim that something has to arise from nothing according to the laws of physics. I largely disagree with Alan Boyle.

First of all, many people are confused by the range of validity of mass or energy conservation. They think that it's not possible to violate this law. However, in Why and how energy is not conserved in cosmology, I have explained that the energy conservation only holds if the laws of physics - and the appropriate background - is time-translationally invariant which is not true, in any useful sense, in cosmology.

So the intuition that "something cannot arise from nothing" is flawed as soon as one takes the insights of general relativity into account. However, science can actually go further than that. In principle, it can also study whether some space or matter is actually created and how it looks like.

The laymen - including some atheists - have the tendency to think that such questions eternally belong to God and religions and they're not accessible to science. However, this opinion is incorrect according to state-of-the-art theoretical physics. Science can discuss the very beginning of the existence.

It's a very different question whether we completely understand these issues - we don't - but I think it's fair to say that we understand enough to know that such questions are likely to follow some laws that are accessible to the scientific research.

Already with our incomplete understanding as of 2010, we can say many things. Inflation can explain why the Universe is flat, large, and much heavier than the Planck mass (order 1 in fundamental units) but it doesn't quite get to the "Planck time" away from the ultimate birth. However, we also have candidate laws - such as the Hartle-Hawking wave function - that can determine the initial conditions as well.

So Hawking's statements are not really willy-nilly today - and the book will surely try to substantiate the "big claims" about God in some technical detail.


  1. I expect that the 7th of september God issues a press comment: Hawking created the Universe, not Me!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Gentlemen, you are all wrong....and you are all right!!!'s relative to the time frame! ;o)

    The point is that the discussion about God and the Universe is irrelevant...The Universe is God!

    Nobody realized??? All the proofs are in front of us...and nobody created God...that's for sure.

    End of discussion for me.

  4. Hawking likes to replace one myth with another. Multiverses are fiction now being made out to be science in the same way that ID freaks try to smuggle in Christianity in the class room. There is no scientific proof that multiverses exist. The biggest mistake one can make is to confuse logic with truth. Unipolar magnets are mathematically logical but do not exist. Hawkings' biggest problem is that he can't shake of his favourite propositions that are vicious infinite regressions. He attempts to solve a problem which re-introduced the same problem in the proposed solution (universes born from universes). If one continues along the same lines, the initial problem will recur infinitely and will never be solved. It's nothing more than smuggling the idea of a static universe back in through the back door. I'm definitely not falling for his metaphysical mumbo jumbo.

  5. It seems to me that what is really confusing is the definition of "nothing." Theologically, creation ex nihilo is truly from nothing - absolutely nothing. Even the pre-existence of the laws themselves would constitute "something." So even there is a "theory of everything", the theological point would still be that God decreed the TOE into being.

  6. My "insignificant" mind can't grasp how anything comes out nothing. This infinite universe comes out black hole and where this black hole came from? And the space came to an existent upon which this ever mysterious, and irritatingly theoretical 'black hole' born.

    God existence can't be judged by science that was created by Human. Don't you think the consciousness we possess is something extraordinary. What's is behind this space, cause and time? No, it's not a matter of discussion, or solved by logical buffoonery, but through some sort of queer realization...

    Mr. Hawking should let it go...

  7. Atleast 4000 years before Indian philosophers found the answer. Everything came out of Brahman. Brahman is the cause. Brahman is of the nature of existence, awareness and unlimitedness. This is the absolute answer. Any other answer will be only relatively right.

  8. In "The Grand Design," Hawking theorizes on multiple dimensions beyond space and time as well as multiple universes. He says that God is not needed [sic] to explain the origin of this multiverse. In my e-book on comparative mysticism I use "One" as more neutral than God, Allah, etc. which may be either a creator and/or sustainer of life, both immanent and transcendent to it:

    One is oneness; two is separateness. We all, in and of ourselves, are apparently just one of the many. In spiritual knowing, or gnosis, each one is inside every self, integral to the One. In devolution, which some may call creationism, the One had become the many. During evolution, the many are currently moving towards the One. Most of Judaism, Christianity and Islam view this life in linear time, with a beginning and an end. For Hinduism and some of Buddhism, life is cyclical and continuous; time repeats itself endlessly in an altered form. For true mystics, the One was, the many are and the One again will be - in space and time - and always is in eternity.

    That may sound like mystical gobbledygook out of context, although it makes more sense when read again (and again).

  9. XY=1
    If 1=0 God exists otherwise God can't exist. For all X, Y takes a different value, such that XY=1. If we draw a graph for all values of X and Y we get Rectangular Hyperbola and we can clearly observe that both X and Y can never be ZERO, therefore GOD(S) can't exist.If 1 can come out of 0 it means creation ( by GOD ) and if 1 can become 0 then it means destruction ( by GOD ). XY=1 supplies as means to understand that 1 is not equal to 0 and it means absence of GOD. The only GOD is life. We are GODS. Our parents are GODS.
    XY=1 is a means to understand why X and Y can't be zero. Weather it is a unit area of a rectangle or rectangular hyperbola... it doesn't matter until you see the connection. All we have to do is obtain the possible values of X and Y such that XY=1....and X and Y can never be equal to zero. If X or Y equals to zero then we get 1=0 which is??? Still want me to connect the dots? This is the big picture...the big picture is neither X nor Y can ever be equal to zero. That answers all the questions... X never becomes 0 and the same goes with Y. This means that the so called creation and destruction are simply impossible. In my theory there are eleven postulates and only one [[[ velocity of light is relative ]]] postulate is not connected to XY=1. All the other TEN POSTULATES are interconnected. The only thing you have to understand is the possibilities of XY=1 and what else it can mean.
    1. Zero can not exist as denominator.
    2. Anything can not be created out of nothingness, only change of form is possible and change is everywhere.
    3. Anything can not be destroyed into nothingness, only change of form is possible and change is everywhere.
    4. Existence of anything can not be infinite.
    5. There is no beginning and an end to the existence of the World.
    6. There are finite absolute laws.
    7. Velocity of light is relative.
    8. There are three dimensions and three dimensions only.
    9. Time Travel is impossible.
    10. Tan 90 can not exist.
    11. God(s) can not exist.
    1. Zero can not exist as denominator.
    If X can't be zero...
    If Y can't be zero...
    1/0 can't equal anything. Hence proved.
    2. Anything can not be created out of nothingness.
    If 1 can't become zero...
    If 0 can't become one...
    Creation? ( change related creation? or total creation? )
    Destruction? ( change related destruction? or total destruction? )
    If creation and destruction ( not related to change of form ) are possible then there is no reason why it can't happen NOW???!!!
    All rules will fail if CREATION and DESTRUCTION are possible.
    1=0 becomes the only rule...all other rules will fail.
    The only rule with
    1=0 ( If accepted )
    is anything equals anything.
    Anything can't equal anything else.
    ONE can't be equal to ZERO.
    All other postulates are hence proved.
    Fundamental theory of existence.

    God(s) can not exist.Space can not be infinite and it is timeless.There is no beginning and an end to the existence of the World.Numbers are infinite but number of apples (existence) can not be infinite.....

  10. Well, this is the only question , along with death, that no one has an answer to. I don't believe Hawking, there must be something higher than ourselves - but if that power exits is something we must keep exploring.

    Nice review BTW:)

    Helen Neely

  11. Consciousness is that faculty which perceives that which exists. Consciousness is an active state. There can be no perception of existence without something to exist for a consciousness to perceive. Therefore, there can be no (conscious) "god" preceding existence. Furthermore, existence is tautological.

  12. I just bought the book two days ago, started to read it today. Lubos, once you read it, please write a review, I would be interested in your opinion.


  13. Lubos,
    Something I did not understand and expected they would discuss better in the book.

    They explain very nicely that we could very will be a fish in a bowl and therefore have a distorted view. Second, as I understood, the creation of the universe relies on Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. But if we are a fish in a bowl, could it not very well be that we've got something overcomplicated through this uncertainty principle. It is in the end of the strangest laws of nature.

    Why would they be so certain about the creation of the universes?

    As I see it, the book did not need the God discussion at all.

  14. Philosophy is dead. Is Logic dead also?

    How did the scientists come to know that an entire universe could come out of nothing? Or, how did they come to know that anything at all could come out of nothing? Were they present at that moment when the universe was being born? As they were not present there, therefore they did not get that idea from the creation event. Rather they got this idea being present here on this very earth. They have created a vacuum artificially, and then they have observed that virtual particles (electron-positron pairs) are still appearing spontaneously out of that vacuum and then disappearing again. From that observation they have first speculated, and then ultimately theorized, that an entire universe could also come out of nothing. But here their entire logic is flawed. These scientists are all born and brought up within the Christian tradition. Maybe they have downright rejected the Christian world-view, but they cannot say that they are all ignorant of that world-view. According to that world-view God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. So as per Christian belief-system, and not only as per Christian belief-system, but as per other belief-systems also, God is everywhere. So when these scientists are saying that the void is a real void, God is already dead and non-existent for them. But these scientists know very well that non-existence of God will not be finally established until and unless it is shown that the origin of the universe can also be explained without invoking God. Creation event is the ultimate event where God will have to be made redundant, and if that can be done successfully then that will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that God does not exist. So how have they accomplished that job, the job of making God redundant in case of creation event? These were the steps:
    1) God is non-existent, and so, the void is a real void. Without the pre-supposition that God does not exist, it cannot be concluded that the void is a real void.
    2) As virtual particles can come out of the void, so also the entire universe. Our universe has actually originated from the void due to a quantum fluctuation in it.
    3) This shows that God was not necessary to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going, as because there was no creation event.
    4) This further shows that God does not exist.
    So here what is to be proved has been proved based on the assumption that it has already been proved. Philosophy is dead for these scientists. Is it that logic is also dead for them?