Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stephen Hawking Has Proven That God Exists

Although it is alluded to throughout the Grand Design, its core argument against the concept of God lies in Hawking and Mlodinow's interpretation of the nature of the multiverse and the quantum mechanics at play in the early universe. 

The arguments are as follows.  The nature of the universe, say they, is such that it generates all possible structures, physics, and spacetimes.  The number of possible options within the universe is, they suggest, functionally infinite, being at a theoretical minimum of on the order of 10500 potential realities.  That means that while we might see intricacies and divine order in our universe, there are also quite literally billions of sad, stumpy universes that collapse in on themselves or disperse like cosmological flatulence a picosecond after coming into being.  This, according to Hawking, refutes the primary concept of intelligent design, by which one determines the necessary existence of God based on the elegance of the structures of physics.

The second argument from quantum theory is that the multiverse is sui generis, meaning it is self-creating.   Noting that subatomic particles behave in ways that imply they actualize all possibilities, and that at some point near Big Bang singularity the universe existed only at the subatomic level,  Hawking and Mlodinow suggest that it is this characteristic that causes the creation of all potential being.  Again, this is interpreted to indicate that God is not necessary in such a system. 

This is understandable, but it is hardly the only option.  Honestly, what they've done here is amazingly, strikingly, marvelously compatible with belief in God.  If M-Theory holds, it is perhaps the closest science has come to affirming some of the fundamental tenets of faith, and in particular the necessary existence of God.  With only the tiniest bit of conceptual aikido, just the gentlest redirecting touch, it becomes M-Theology.  

Let's take a look at that, why don't we?

Since the Enlightenment, science has been fundamentally empirical.  The scientific understanding of reality has been firmly locked into what can be seen and observed and touched and tasted, to the measurable dynamics of nature.   If it cannot be observed, science has told us, then it is not real, and asserting that there is anything outside of our spacetime has been declared delusional.  We theists, who with a few pantheist and panentheist exceptions tend to conceive of God as existing outside of our reality, well, we're just a widdle kwazy. 

With M-Theory, that has all changed.  At a basic level, this assemblage of quantum theoretics affirms that beyond our universe, beyond what can be seen, there lie all sorts of ineffable marvels that defy even the structures of our physics.  M-Theory, backed by the thrumming power of vast underground accelerators and complex and elegant computer modeling, with all the certitude of scientific observation leaning it's way, affirms the existence of the supernatural.   Beyond our reality, there are immeasurable heavens, says Hawking.  And immeasurable hells, adds Mlodinow, looking a bit spooked.

This is a nontrivial shift in scientific cosmology.

But what about God?  What place does a Creator have in this cosmological system?  Clearly, Hawking and Mlodinow do not believe that it is required.  The infinite generativity of quantum mechanics at the point of singularity are sufficient for them.   Yet, again, they seem very slightly oblivious to the implications of their assertions.  What they are proposing doesn't make God unnecessary.  Quite to the contrary.  M-Theory makes the existence of God defensible from a rational and scientific standpoint.

In my previous blogging on the intersection between multiverse cosmology and theology, I've noted that M-Theory removes the only rational objection to an ancient proof for the existence of God.   That proof was offered up by a 10th Century Archbishop of Canterbury, in which he argued that God was "that than which nothing greater can be conceived."  Because we can conceive of an omniscient, omnipotent and eternally self-aware being, and because something that exists is greater than something that does not, God must exist.

It's a pretty argument, but the problem with it is obvious.  We can think of plenty of things, wonderful, amazing things, that don't exist.  We can imagine that we have our very own flying car.  We can visualize an America that is financially solvent.  We can imagine that Hamas and Likud watch futbol together and roar with laughter.  Within the finite boundaries of our cold, hard reality, there are plenty of things that don't exist, no matter how desperately we want them to.  Just because God is possible, doesn't mean that God actually is.

But with M-Theory, that objection falls away.   Hawking and Mlodinow are really, really adamant about this.  Quantum mechanics tell us that every possible thing exists.  And if all potentiality must by necessity be, then God must by necessity exist.

So Hawking has accidentally given us scientific grounds for belief in the transcendent.   He has also, inadvertently, suggested that God...meaning a being that we'd generally say meets that an entirely probable part of that infinite, eternal, transcendent reality.

The logical question then arises:  what would be the relevance of such a Being?  Hasn't Hawking shown that reality just up and creates itself?  Yeah, maybe there's a God, but so what?

Further up and further in...