Stephen Hawking’s end of the universe
Published: 22 December 2012 (GMT+10)
In the final episode The Story of Everything (Part 2) of the TV mini-series Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, currently being shown in Australia on SBS-TV,1 Prof Hawking gives viewers his atheistic thoughts on how life began, and how he thinks it and the universe might end.
Hawking’s view of the origin of life
The Professor begins with four unproven and unsupported, and hence unscientific, statements:
Just by chance some molecules bumped into each other at random until one found that it could copy itself. Then began the slow process of evolution that led to all the extraordinary diversity of life on Earth. Life seems to be what matter does, given the right circumstances. I think that life is quite common throughout the universe.
In fact, no one has ever advanced a single instance of life coming into being from non-life—i.e. from anything other than previous life. For some problems with Hawking’s proposal, see:
- Self-replicating enzymes?
- Evolutionist criticisms of the RNA World conjecture
- Why the Miller Urey research argues against abiogenesis
Nor is there the slightest shred of evidence of any life having arisen outside of the earth. First, it just puts the problem back a step (see Designed by aliens?), and second, it would have been burned up in Earth’s atmosphere (see Panspermia theory burned to a crisp: bacteria couldn’t survive on meteorite).
And so the better (and indeed more scientific, because more rational) explanation is that life originated on Earth because it was created here by the Living God.
Hawking concedes that “on the face of it, life does seem to be too unlikely to be just a coincidence”, even in his evolutionary scenario, which he gives as:
The earth lies at exactly the right distance from the sun to allow liquid water to exist on its surface, and the sun just happens to be the right size to burn for billions of years, long enough for life to have evolved. The solar system is littered with all the elements needed for life … [from] older stars that have burned out, [which] only existed because of a tiny unevenness in the early primordial gas, that was itself produced by a one-in-a-billion imbalance in the sea of particles that came from the big bang.
He then asks: “So is there a grand Designer who lined up all this good fortune?” And he answers: “Not necessarily.”
Readers, especially if theistic evolutionists, should realize that, for Hawking, God has no place, even in his evolutionary belief system.
Readers, especially if theistic evolutionists, should realize that, for Hawking, God has no place, even in his evolutionary belief system.
For our answers to the above credo of Hawking’s see:
- Into the universe with Stephen Hawking: Aliens
- The universe is finely tuned for life
- Did life come to earth from outer space?
- The sun: our special star
- The elements of the universe point to creation
- Origin of the elements: Bible vs big bang
- Missing antimatter challenges the big bang theory
- Life from life … or not?
Hawking’s multiple universes
Hawking advances the following argument in support of his atheism. He asks:
What if there were other universes, ones not as lucky as ours? Each of these universes could have come from its own big bang, with different laws of physics and different conditions. In some, gravity might not exist, so there could be no life. In others, hydrogen might not fuse, so there would be no stars and again no life. And for any number of reasons, universes could have come and gone without producing anything at all.
Frankly, this is nonsense. The word ‘universe’ means ‘the totality of matter, energy and space’. This means there is one, and only one universe, and there cannot by definition be more than one. Furthermore, seeing there is only one universe that we can observe, this rules out appealing to any others, whether real or hypothetical. So why do he and his fellow atheists invoke others? Prof. Hartnett replies:
Since there is only one universe and it looks designed for human life (and always has looked that way), there is no room for a chance explanation. Only if there were many universes, of which this just happens by chance to be one that contains human observers, could one advance a chance explanation, and so they do. They invoke either a ‘multiverse’—a set containing many different universes where the laws of physics and the starting conditions on each are different to ours, or ‘multiple universes,’ of which ours is just one universe of the many, with a chance combination resulting in human observers.2
A much better explanation is that the universe looks as if it was designed for human life on Earth because God’s Word tells us that it was so designed (Isaiah 45:18), and that He, Almighty God, was the Designer.
The fate of the universe and us
Prof. Hawking now begins a new theme, with the words: “Cosmology tells us what lies in store for both the universe and us.” And he refers to “the enormous challenges our species will face” because “we are puny organisms compared to the mighty universe that made us” and “the Earth that gave us life will not always be the blue sanctuary it is today.”
Not correct, Professor. We are not “puny organisms”, but people whom God made in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26–28; see also Made in the image of God). And neither the universe nor the Earth gave us life, but the Almighty Living God. As to our future, God says that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27–28). See also:
Hawking next lists some of the things he sees as hazards to humans on Earth. These are:
- Asteroids—billions of them, he says.
- Technology—i.e. destroying ourselves with nuclear weapons.
- Gamma rays from Star WR104, if and when it becomes a supernova.
In support of the latter he says:
450 million years ago over half of all living organisms were wiped out in a grand extinction. One explanation is that a gamma ray burst irradiated the planet so badly that Earth’s ecosystem virtually collapsed.
Evolutionary/uniformitarian geologists call this alleged event the Ordovician–Silurian extinction. This is supposed to be the second worst mass extinction in uniformitarian history, exceeding even the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction claimed as the demise of the dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago (formerly Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T), but in 2004, the Tertiary was abolished as an official period and replaced with two periods: Paleogene and Neogene). The worst is claimed to be the Permian–Triassic (P–Tr) extinction, 251 million uniformitarian years ago.
There was a mass destruction of animal and human life 4,500 years ago during Noahs’s Flood.
However, without any corroborating evidence that this particular burst ever occurred, this hypothesis is worthless, scientifically speaking. In fact, there was one mass destruction of life (long-age geologists often claim five mass extinction events). Also, Hawking and the uniformitarian geologists are wrong about the timing by a factor of 100,000. It wasn’t 450 million years ago but 4,500. At that time, all land animals that breathed through their nostrils (Genesis 7:22) perished except those aboard Noah’s Ark. This mass destruction (but not extinction) of land-animal life,3 and the extinction of much marine life, wasn’t due to a gamma ray burst, but to a worldwide Flood, which was sent by God because of the evil of mankind at that time (Genesis 6:5-8). Dinosaur kinds were created on Day 6 of Creation Week4, so they did not become extinct 65 million years ago.5 Those which were preserved on Noah’s Ark eventually became extinct following the Flood. For the true history of dinosaurs, see:
- The extinction of the dinosaurs.
- How did dinosaurs grow so big? And how did Noah fit them on the Ark?
- Did a meteor wipe out the dinosaurs? What about the iridium layer?
Getting away from it all
Hawking’s solution for “keeping humankind alive in an aging universe” is to look for somewhere else for the human race to live. His first candidate is Mars. He lists the problems,6 but thinks that in 500 years we will have overcome these difficulties, and mankind will be living there. He then says, “Look further into the future and ultimately our solar system will follow the same path as countless billions of solar systems before it, and cease to exist.” Countless billions? Well, there is some evidence of extrasolar planets around some other stars, but to make such an unqualified statement about something which was unobserved (and would have been largely unobservable) seems to be going considerably beyond the evidence.
The planet Mars is not hospitable to life.
Planet Gliese 581D
Then, to ensure the survival of the human race for billions of years, he tells us we need to go to other solar systems. His next suggestion is for a spaceship to carry passengers to Gliese 581D. This is a large rocky Earth-like planet, the nearest known, seven times bigger than Earth,7 and orbits a star at just the right distance to allow water to exist on its surface. (Of course, that doesn’t mean that water necessarily exists there.) It’s more than 20 light-years (120 trillion miles) from Earth, so the fastest object we have ever put into space (the tiny unmanned dish radio antenna called Voyager 1) would take over 350,000 years to get there. His solution is “new technology on an enormous scale”, to find a way for a large manned spaceship to travel 1,000 times faster than Voyager 1, so the trip would only take 73 years.
He tells us that the main challenge for building such a spaceship is not technical but financial:
The cost of building such a spacecraft would be huge, but for the society that made it there would be little payback. They would never see it again. So constructing such a machine will either be the greatest act of generosity in history, or it will have to be funded by the travellers themselves.
The second problem is moral. Assuming you could get there in 73 years:
At least one generation of humans would have to spend their entire lives in space—one couldn’t say they were volunteers. The ethics of sending a human cargo on such a voyage would have to be carefully considered.
Actually, solving these two problems might be difficult, because in the evolutionary worldview a) altruism is very light on, and b) there is no ultimate basis for morality. See:
- Evolution: no morality (Dawkins)
- Morals decline linked to belief in evolution
- Evolutionist: it’s OK to deceive students to believe evolution
- Darwinian foundation of modern ethics
Hawking’s solution to survive long journeys and inhospitable worlds is that within the next 1,000 years, he thinks that:
- Genetic engineering will give us longer life spans and greater intelligence.
- Modifying our genes will give us skills that protect us from radiation, and give us the ability to breathe poisonous gases, and to resist infection.
- We might even develop sophisticated artificial life forms using synthetic DNA.
Then, in a computer simulation, his imagined future monster spacecraft splits up into about 200 smaller spaceships, presumably each with its human cargo, all off to colonize 200 other planets in what he calls “a true diaspora of life”.
After the above diversion into science fiction fantasy, Hawking returns to his main theme of whether this cosmic world will go on for ever. He tells us: “At 13.7 billion years, our universe is still in its youth. The earliest date we cosmologists think it could end is 30 billion years from now.”
Wrong! Our universe is old—6,000 years old. And it will end when God decides to end it. See
Hawking’s panacea—dark energy
As to whether this cosmic world will go on for ever, Hawking says:
I think the solution lies back where we began—with the big bang. What caused the explosion or inflation of the universe in the first place? … The key to it all is something called dark energy—a mysterious form of energy that pushes space itself apart even as gravity is making matter clump together. It seems as if dark energy supplied the ‘kick’ that inflated the universe, although we’re not quite sure how. What is certain is that the fate of the universe depends on how this dark energy appears. If the dark energy slowly weakens, then gravity could get the upper hand and in 20 billion years or so the universe would go into reverse and drive everything back to whence it came. In a strange reversal of the big bang, space itself would contract. This theory is known as the big crunch. In the end, if the theory is right, 1000 billion years from now … the entire universe would exist as one tiny point, much as it was at the instant of the big bang.
But I think it is more likely the dark energy will drive the expansion of the universe for ever, and that ultimately everything will just keep spreading out until the universe was cold and dark. Everything would become so far apart that even gravity would be defeated. I think a big chill is what we’ve got in store, not a big crunch. So will this be the end of us and life as we know it, or will we have figured out how to navigate to a new universe before death?
I think we will only know when we truly understand why the universe exists at all. Perhaps then, when we finally unravel the whole cosmic puzzle, we will become masters not just of our universe, but the universe next door.
For a creationist response see
- Cosmology is not even astrophysics: Dark matter a big bang fudge factor
- Doom and gloom from the BBC.
Yes, this universe is indeed running down continually—stars burning out and dying, for instance—heading towards ‘heat death’. This unrestrained decline is in accord with it having been “subjected to futility” and “bondage to decay” in response to Adam’s sin (Romans 8). But verse 20 of that same chapter tells us that this subjection was “in hope”. This is the glorious hope that long before such a cold, dark future is reached, God will intervene, through Jesus Christ, the sinless last Adam—and create a New Heavens and Earth which believers will inhabit for a deathless eternity.
We also bring to readers’ notice the following response to the big bang concept by a portion of the secular scientific community in 2004.
Secular scientists object!
In An Open Letter to the Scientific Community, originally published in New Scientist 182(2448):20, 22 May 2004, and now available at Cosmology statement, 34 secular scientists signed the statement, part of which is quoted below. Since then it has been co-signed by a further 218 Scientists and Engineers, 187 Independent Researchers, and 105 Other Signers.8 It reads as follows:
The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed—inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples.
The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed—inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, there would be a fatal contradiction between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory.
But the big bang theory can’t survive without these fudge factors. Without the hypothetical inflation field, the big bang does not predict the smooth, isotropic cosmic background radiation that is observed, because there would be no way for parts of the universe that are now more than a few degrees away in the sky to come to the same temperature and thus emit the same amount of microwave radiation.
Without some kind of dark matter, unlike any that we have observed on Earth despite 20 years of experiments, big bang theory makes contradictory predictions for the density of matter in the universe. Inflation requires a density 20 times larger than that implied by big bang nucleosynthesis, the theory’s explanation of the origin of the light elements. And without dark energy, the theory predicts that the universe is only about 8 billion years old, which is billions of years younger than the age of many stars in our galaxy.
What is more, the big bang theory can boast of no quantitative predictions that have subsequently been validated by observation. The successes claimed by the theory’s supporters consist of its ability to retrospectively fit observations with a steadily increasing array of adjustable parameters, just as the old Earth-centered cosmology of Ptolemy needed layer upon layer of epicycles.
The statement continues, lamenting the fact that virtually all cosmological funding is for projects within the big bang framework, and ends with the plea that “Allocating funding to investigations into the big bang’s validity, and its alternatives, would allow the scientific process to determine our most accurate model of the history of the universe.”
Readers will observe that the scientists who signed this statement are not objecting to any theistic beliefs of Stephen Hawking’s (he has none), but to his unsound science! Theistic evolutionist big bangers take note!
- December 2012. Return to text.
- Williams, A., and Hartnett, J, Dismantling the Big Bang, pp. 74–75, Master Books, Oregon, USA, 2005. Return to text.
- Many of these land animals, populations weakened by lowered numbers and with changing climatic conditions, became extinct, too, in the centuries following the Flood. Return to text.
- Dinosaurs were all land creatures, though some were amphibious in their lifestyle. Marine reptiles, such a plesiosaurs, and flying reptiles (pterosaurs) are, strictly speaking, not dinosaurs. Return to text.
- We mention dinosaurs here not because evolutionists believe they were part of the alleged event Hawking refers to here, but because they so frequently come to mind when discussing past mass extinctions. Return to text.
- E.g. Mars is cold, has low gravity, only a wisp of a CO2 atmosphere, and has no magnetic field or ozone layer to protect it from harmful radiation. See also Sarfati, J., Mars: The red planet, Creation 32 (2):38–41, 2010; creation.com/marsred. Return to text.
- So every person and every object there would weigh seven times more than it does on Earth—hard to imagine as an idyllic colonial existence, to say the least (!). Return to text.
- cosmologystatement.org accessed on 7 December 2012. See also Wieland, C., Secular scientists blast the big bang: What now for naïve apologetics? Creation 27(2):23–25, 2005; creation.com/bigbangblast. Return to text.
Yes, you are right; he is unscientific on this topic. In fact in some cases he is no more scientific than the various aboriginal cultures around the world that have their own theories of how the Universe and life started. I find it sad that such a brilliant mind has stooped to such a low level of nonsense. If it were anyone else who stated ideas similar to his, that person would be laughed off and scoffed at by the whole scientific community, and rightly so. As you stated some have objected openly to his theories but I’m sure a lot more are doing that secretly too, especially to his most ridiculous ideas, like how life came about.
Ok for arguments sake, I am going to pretend to agree that a god, particularly the Christian god created the universe, the earth and all of life.
Now, what explanations can CMI offer as to HOW he created all of it? What processes did God use to create the universe, earth and the creatures?
Where did he get the material from to create it?
What better explanation can you offer, that can be peer-reviewed, tried and tested, repeated and confirmed and published in a reputable journal, to help further our understanding of how God did it all?
Or am I just going to get the same old cop-out "he spoke it into existence" (a.k.a Abra Cadabra!)
Since you have conceded the Christian God for the sake of the argument, you have by definition agreed that there is a being who is greater than the universe (having caused it and its laws) and therefore transcends it (and thus its laws). By definition, creation of a functioning universe in six days involves no natural process. As Psalm 33 reveals, "He spoke, and it was; He commanded, and it stood fast." That same Christian God who created is Jesus Christ, who revealed Himself by the miracles He performed in the Gospel of John as capable of overriding/transcending natural law. This included creating matter out of nothing pre-existing (water into wine, multiplication of loaves and fishes) including the instantaneous creation of biological complexity (dead fish are still highly information-rich and complex).
The materialist/naturalist also believes that 'abracadabra', something popped into existence (since thermodynamics shows that the universe cannot be eternal). However, the difference is that the Christian presupposes an adequate cause. A universe cannot cause itself to exist, since it must first exist in order to be such a cause. Hence, postulating an eternal God powerful enough to bring the universe into being in the first place is not only philosophically much sounder, it fits the facts of nature. (Combine the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics, and they equate to the fact that mass/energy could not have created itself, and that available energy is continually declining, hence it can't be eternal.)
Of course, atheists sarcastically referring to 'abracadabra' or making similar comments imply that postulating any non-naturalistic cause is not scientific by definition. However, if science is to be a search for truth, and not a search to bolster atheism, the real issue is whether or not an explanation best fits the facts. And there is where biblical creation is not only a good explanation, but somewhat of a 'laydown misere'. See also Science: The rules of the game, and A tale of two fleas.
I personally reject the claim of Hawkings high intelligence. His pride refuses to let him acknowledge the problems of his claims and the problems with the claims as he himself states. That's not very smart to a simple person as myself. God can open his eyes, and I pray that He does. Here in America this year, the airways are full of "scientific" and "historical" faith based explanations of both creation and Jesus during this Christmas season. At times it disheartens me, but then I know the Lord works as He will and Creation Ministries stays on the line to help as we all do as best we can.
Graham D. (Australia) asks for an explanation of the origin of the universe … “that can be peer-reviewed, tried and tested, repeated and confirmed, and published in a reputable journal.”
It is interesting to consider the Big Bang against these requirements - i.e. testing it by way of repeatable experiments in order to confirm it.
Initial Conditions: nothing exists. This means, in particular, no raw material with which to do the experiment
Apparatus: none: since nothing exists, there can be no apparatus with which to do the experiment.
Method: who knows? Since nothing exists there can be no mind to conceive of an experimental method. In effect, the Big Bang asserts that there was no method, that the event just happened by chance.
Observations: There can be none since nothing exists - least of all an observer.
Peer-review: not possible; nothing exists so that includes peers to do the review.
Reputable journals in which to publish the results: none since they don’t exist either. (As an aside, who gets to define what constitutes a ‘reputable journal’? In my opinion TheJournal of Creation is a reputable, peer-review journal but my guess is that Graham D. would disagree with me.)
Conclusion: By Graham D.’s own requirements the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe fails as an explanation.
I wonder if Graham D (and those with similar attitudes, of whom there are many) thinks Prof. Hawking's ideas - or the many similar ones - can be tried and tested, repeated and confirmed? Any ideas about how the Universe came about (cosmogony) are by definition metaphysical and not scientific (science being ALL ABOUT testability and repeatability). The number of times big bang believers have to appeal to different laws of physics in order to make their ideas work is truly unbelievable.
It's interesting that Prof. Hawking here talks about how gravity supposedly might not exist in some of his hypothetical other Universes - yet I'm absolutely certain I've heard him say elsewhere that gravity would be necessarily pre-existant in this hypothetical omniverse in order to allow all these hypothetical big bangs to occur. It's a classic example of how non-supernaturalistic cosmogenies so often appeal to the laws of physics when they need them to support their ideas and so they can claim them as "scientific" and then explain how "the laws may be different" or "the laws may not have existed yet" when they render them impossible.
If the atheists would just acknowledge the fact that priority #1 is that a supernatural creator must not be invoked that'd at least be honest. Then it'd be possible to reason in terms of rational metaphysics. And the theists' metaphysics and physics are routinely far sounder than the atheists'. Theists at least invoke constant laws of physics throughout all material reality, plus miracles with a plausible miracle-worker; atheists invoke neither!
Where did the molecules come from in the opening paragraph? The world's knowledge is folly to God! And believe me, what Hawking is trying to "put over" on people isn't even knowledge, just wild conjecture.
"By definition, creation of a functioning universe in six days involves no natural process."
Actually, the idea of 'intelligent design' infers that there is a designer. To design something infers a process involved to complete the design. You cannot simply wish a building into existence. If you suggest that God was the designer, there must have been a point where he drew up plans and acted upon them incrementally.
"This included creating matter out of nothing pre-existing (water into wine, multiplication of loaves and fishes)"
How do you know such miracles actually took place? Or that they weren't illusions? So-called 'magicians' nowadays can pull off greater illusions with less materials on hand. Your 'miracles' prove nothing.
" A universe cannot cause itself to exist, since it must first exist in order to be such a cause. Hence, postulating an eternal God powerful enough to bring the universe into being in the first place is not only philosophically much sounder, it fits the facts of nature."
So you postulate and presuppose the existence of a god to answer questions such as "how did the universe come to exist?" God of the gaps fallacy, very elementary.
"Of course, atheists sarcastically referring to 'abracadabra' or making similar comments imply that postulating any non-naturalistic cause is not scientific by definition."
Hardly atheists. I can recall attending several apologetics meetings discussing I.D vs Naturalism. The clergy came out as naturalism was the most logical answer to how God created the universe. Although I would tend to agree that there are deep contradictions when trying to marry genesis and naturalism, they see it as it does not jeopardize their salvation.
Have a safe Christmas
We are not told whether the concept of the universe was planned in timeless eternity before the beginning, nor can our finite minds even grasp such a thing as existence in timelessness--just as they have difficulty grasping naturalistic versions of 'before' the beginning of time itself. But I don't see how your comments about Him having to act upon plans incrementally is in any way a contradiction to the incremental process described in Genesis.
By the way, re God of the gaps--you may have been closer to the mark by accusing us of circularity, but see Using the Bible to prove the Bible: are biblical creationists guilty of circular reasoning? A search on our site would have shown that we do not advocate God of the gaps reasoning.
Finally, given the many examples in the Bible of people who claim to be His followers denying many aspects of the faith, hearing of clergy compromising with naturalism, while tragic, is hardly surprising. Intelligent atheists like Richard Dawkins are fully aware of how much such clergy are sawing off the branch on which they sit. (See this brief clip where he makes it plain I wish you a safe Christmas too, though hoping you would come to know Him who is the reason for the first Christmas.
Graham D. -- actually most modern "magic tricks" are not that impressive to my mind. You can usually spot for example a thickness in the table when something supposedly magically appears above it. This is completely different from a vast crowd surrounding Jesus and a few disciples with only a little food, yet pulling out far more mass from that food than could ever fit in a hidden compartment. Besides, the context shows that there was no planning to gathering that crowd there.
In any case, there's really no physics reason that God couldn't miraculously create from nothing. Analogies to human limitations fail utterly because we are not infinite, beyond-time, omnipotent beings; we are created. Interestingly, IMO we now have possible indications of the way He created from quantum mechanics which says that all "particles" actually can behave as waves. And Genesis uses a wave-type phenomenon, speech, to describe God's method of creating. I suspect, personally, that this indicates God created, and still maintains (as the Bible also says that he upholds everything) everything via vibrations in spacetime.
This is obviously extremely out of our current technological range of abilities, but we do know enough scientifically now to realize that it is possible. And God would not need to build machines to do it as he has none of our human limitations.
The idea of a god is about as way out as Hawkings' idea of a olack of a god. Neither of you can proven your position or disprove the other's position.
Both positions have unavoidable faith elements, but that is not the same as blind faith, i.e one can have a great deal of evidence for something which nonetheless can't be ultimately proven or disproven. However, your attempt to regards both notions 'way out' because of this would seem to be a difficult one to sustain in practice. The cosmos was either made, or it made itself, it's hard to see any third possibility. Most rational people will naturally want to choose one option or the other rather than remain perpetually in some sort of post-modern fog.
James 1:8 may be relevant where it refers to someone who is "double-minded" as being "unstable in all his ways". And in 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah says to the crowd: "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him."