Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New Evangelizers Post: A Brief Response to Stephen Hawking

I have a new article up at  

Stephen Hawking passed a few years ago, but one of his books is being published posthumously. This book is getting a great deal of press because it expresses Hawkings’ atheistic beliefs of a universe that is explainable without God. Seeing as how Hawking is regarded with great respect in the popular culture for his scientific genius, his points deserve a response.

I will say up front that I am not a scientist. My training is in theology and philosophy. I will be ready to take correction from anyone in the scientific field who can show me the error of my logic, but the laws of logic and reason form the foundation of scientific inquiry.


A very basic principle of being is that out of nothing comes nothing. This is expressed in the Latin phrase “Ex nihilo nihil fit.” In other words, anything that comes into being must come from something and is not the cause of its own existence.

Hawking believed that the universe came into existence out of nothing. The basis for this idea is that scientists have observed sub-atomic particles seemingly come in and out of existence. Hawking extrapolates this principle to the universe itself. The logic works like this:

A: In order for the universe to come into existence out of nothing, there must be some things that come from nothing.
B: Some subatomic particles come from nothing.
C: Therefore the universe comes into existence from nothing.

There are two main problems with this line of thinking.

The first is that the logic does not follow. Even if we could prove that things came from nothing, it does not prove that this is the case for the universe. A subatomic particle may come into existence, but we would never say that a bowling ball would spontaneously come into existence. And a bowling ball is incredibly less complex than the universe, even nanoseconds after the Big Bang.

The second is that accepting that material things comes from nothing sounds like a scientific dead end. I cannot imagine any other case in which scientific inquiry ends with “and then a miracle happens and then it exists.” You may not classify spontaneous generation as a miracle, but I cannot imagine classifying it as anything else. To say that subatomic particles come from nothing sounds more like a problem of observation than it does a conclusion. Just because we cannot currently observe where these particles come from, it does not therefore mean that they come from nothing. I can think of no other situation in which a failure at finding a cause leads to the conclusion that there is no cause. I may not be able to observe gravitational fields with the naked eye, but since I can see there effects, I can be sure that the exist as a cause. A cause without an effect is a logical fallacy.

You can read the whole article here.

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