Friday, September 3, 2010

Stephen Hawking and God -- A Mormon Perspective.

There isn't a bigger name in science than Sir Issac Newton. His law of universal gravitation and three laws of motion laid the groundwork for modern science as we know it, but few know how religious he was. He wrote more extensively about theology than he did about the mechanics of science. Because of  Professor Newton, whenever the worlds of science and faith clash I try to remember one does not necessarily have to choose one over the other. Reason must be the foundation of any honest pursuit of truth.

So when I see banner headlines like Steven Hawking Says God Not Needed for Creation, I perk up a little bit.  Here we go again! Another spitball fight between the religious and secular. Defenses will go up, voices will be raised, making it all the more difficult to suss out anything either side has to say. Issac Newton would not be pleased.

I shouldn't even attempt to offer my opinion on the subject. This stuff is over my head, but let me give it a try. Don't worry -- my spitball shooter is put safely away.

In his new book, The Grand Design, Steven Hawking rejects Newton's theory that God must have been central to creation because our world couldn't have come out of chaos simply through nature. He writes that as long as the Laws of Physics are a constant, no Higher Being would be necessary to push the button on creating the universe. He states:

"Because there is a law such as gravity, 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."

Translation: "In your face Issac Newton! Go find a tree to sit under and let a few apples hit your noggin while you have a think about that!"

As a Latter-day Saint I don't find myself terribly uncomfortable with Professor Hawking's new assertions. We believe that God is not above the Law nor is He beneath it. He is, however, subject to it. As with matter, it might be said He is co-eternal with it. The law of gravity could be among the many laws that have always existed, and exist independently from God. None of this displaces God as Creator. He is still the Lord and Creator over our existence, regardless of whether He Himself lit the fuse that kicked things off. The words of Hymn 284 seem to speak to Hawking's challenge, asking:

"Do you think that you could ever, Through all eternity, 
Find out the generation Where Gods began to be? 
Or see the grand beginning, Where space did not extend?
Or view the last creation, Where Gods and matter end?"

Consider that our concluding hymn. I'd better stop before we go into really deep waters. I never intended this blog to be the source for many doctrinal discussions, but whatever is on my mind is fair game.

Now I'd better "hie" my ass out of here... I'm running a little late.