Two weeks ago, I rushed home from work to watch Discovery Channel’s first installment of its new series “Curiosity,” in which questions that have perplexed the minds of great thinkers throughout human history, are analyzed.
For the series’ first conundrum, Professor Stephen Hawking tackled the mother lode of all questions:
Does God exist?
The question in itself seems ultimately unanswerable, but Hawking stated that by the end of the episode, he would, through scientific analysis and explanation, prove that a higher power does not exist nor did God have anything to do with the creation of the universe.
This statement really got my attention for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I consider myself a spiritual man, but not in any way religious.
I feel that there is a fundamental difference between the two. Spirituality can be tied to an organized religion, but the two do not need to necessarily exist hand-in-hand.
That being said, I strongly think that there is something more than myself out there in the cosmos.
Call it whatever you like.
This is what initially hooked my interest about Hawking’s statement.
Circumstances in my life have “forced” me to acknowledge a higher power. It was not a conclusion that I was willing or was prepared to make.
I am the kind of person that does not believe in things that I cannot experience with my senses.
Maybe it’s my scientific background that has something to do with it, but that’s beside the point.
I found it interesting that a man was going to “prove” to me that something I have actually experienced so strongly doesn’t exist.
Secondly, I was eager to hear a scientific explanation for something, which I consider, to be beyond the realm of what science can analyze.
Hawking began his argument by embarking on a journey through the history of scientific discovery.
Starting with the ancient Greeks, he explored how, throughout history, science has explained and discovered the mechanisms of natural phenomena.
This of course displaced previous, divine explanations that religion had established.
Before Galileo, it was accepted that the Sun and all of the plants, revolved around the Earth.
Galileo proved otherwise through scientific observation of the orbits of many heavenly bodies.
Because of his discoveries, the pope put Galileo under house arrest, calling his discoveries heresy and blasphemy.
Here, Hawking started to pit religion and science in some sort of heated battle.
Next, Hawking moved onto the idea of cause and effect.
If you think about it, everything in the world, as we experience it, is a direct result of something that came before it.
Take your car for example. When you start your car, an ignition spark from your battery, which is charged by your alternator, travels down a wire into the tip of a spark plug.
At the same time, electrical current from your battery spins the starter to move your engine’s crankshaft, which cycles your pistons up and down.
Also, fuel, that you pump into the car, is atomized into the combustion chamber through fuel injectors and mixed with air that your car is sucking in.
All of these things are happening because of a simple key turn and each step in the cycle can be traced back to its own source.
This is cause and effect.
We believe that everything in the universe must have a cause or a source and for the most part this is true, until you reach the .
At the quantum level (really, really small), things don’t act like you would expect.
Particles come in and out of existence for no good reason and without any provocation.
Cause and effect ceases to exist.
This idea paints a different picture in which cause is no longer needed.
Current research in physics reveals that even during the Big Bang, no cause or source is needed to exist to trigger such an event.
Our universe may have been created on a whim; just a random quantum fluctuation.
Well what about before the Big Bang? Surely something had to be governing that!
Hawking goes on to explain that God didn't even have a say in the Big Bang either.
One of the products of the Big Bang was the fourth dimension; something we call .
Time effectively didn’t exist before the moment of creation; it is a byproduct of the Big Bang.
Finally, after an hour of solid scientific statements and observations, Hawking concluded that if time didn’t exist before the Big Bang, neither did a supreme being.
Hawking’s justification was that in order for a being to manipulate a world full of matter, space and energy, he/she/it would have to perform those operations through a dimension of time or it would have no meaning.
If you think about it, the statement is logical.
Imagine trying to listen to music if there is no time. All of the notes would exist in one point in time with no way to distinguish one note from another.
Hardly a masterpiece in my opinion.
After the show, a supplemental piece was aired in which three individuals discussed the implications of Hawking’s statements and conclusions.
It was indeed refreshing to see an intellectual debate on television and I highly recommend watching the show just for the after-show debate.
After watching the debate, in which solid testimony was presented on all sides of the argument, my younger brother and I decided to step out on the porch and discuss the show.
These are the points that we discussed and ultimately agreed upon.
Before I begin I would like to state that I have the utmost respect for, and completely admire, Professor Hawking for his contributions to the advancement of science.
That being said, I believe that science is ill-equipped to tackle the subject of God and that Professor Hawking’s attempt to do otherwise is futile.
Yes, science can tell us a great many things about the universe and help to reveal to us how awesome creation is, but it cannot disprove or prove the existence of God.
To me, saying there is no God is the same as stating that there is one.
God is something personal that needs no proof or explanation and in the same respect, the belief that God does not exist is also something that should be deeply personal.
I think that there is a God because I choose to and no amount of “proof” will ever change that.
We humans do not have the brain power or the understanding to even begin to fathom something as ubiquitous and awesome as “God.”
The more we find out in our scientific exploration, the more we realize that we really don’t know jack.
We are all still “babes in the woods.”
There may come a time, far in the future, in which we look back at what we thought was the truth and laugh.
There is still so much out there to explore and still so many questions that need answers.
I believe that as a race, it is still too early to make statements like “God doesn’t exist.”
Sometimes I feel that we are also not able to say the opposite either.
I don’t think it’s possibly to say that one is 100 percent sure either way.
That's where faith comes in.
All I can say is; I think that there is a God more than I do not think there is a God.
As strange as that statement sounds, I gain comfort from it.
Whether we believe in God or not, I think that it is our moral duty to respect one another and to not judge others for what they believe in, because it may be possible that we’re all wrong.
Finally, I would like to state that many people may feel that there is some kind of “cold war” between science and religion.
This should not be, and for the most part, is not the case.
One doesn’t have to choose between science and religion because, at least for me, it isn’t even an issue.
I can study as much as I want and learn as many scientific proofs and theories as I can squeeze into my head, but they will never replace my understanding and acceptance of a higher power.
God is always there and there is still a whole lot of room out there for Him or She or It.
Think about it!
Also, I’d love to hear some comments from the readers. Let me know what you think about the “ultimate question”.