Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God
• Physics, not creator, made Big Bang, new book claims
• Professor had previously referred to 'mind of God'
The Guardian, Thursday 2 September 2010
God did not create the universe, the man who is arguably Britain's most famous living scientist says in a forthcoming book.
[Left: Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why we exist, says Stephen Hawking. Photograph: Bruno Vincent/Getty Images]
In the new work, The Grand Design, Professor Stephen Hawking argues that the Big Bang, rather than occurring following the intervention of a divine being, was inevitable due to the law of gravity.
In his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking had seemed to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe. But in the new text, co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow, he said new theories showed a creator is "not necessary".
The Grand Design, an extract of which appears in the Times today, sets out to contest Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have been created out of chaos.
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," he writes. "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."
In the forthcoming book, published on 9 September, Hawking says that M-theory, a form of string theory, will achieve this goal: "M-theory is the unified theory Einstein was hoping to find," he theorises.
"The fact that we human beings – who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature – have been able to come this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe is a great triumph."
Hawking says the first blow to Newton's belief that the universe could not have arisen from chaos was the observation in 1992 of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun. "That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions – the single sun, the lucky combination of Earth-sun distance and solar mass – far less remarkable, and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings," he writes.
Hawking had previously appeared to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe. Writing in his bestseller A Brief History Of Time in 1988, he said: "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God."
Hawking resigned as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University last year after 30 years in the position.
Introducing the Big Bang machine
The Guardian, Monday 30 June 2008
Humans have always strived to understand where the universe came from. Aristotle believed it could not have had a beginning and would not end. Immanuel Kant asked why, if there was a beginning, the universe had waited an infinite time before it began.
In 1915, Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity solved the conundrum: space and time were not fixed backgrounds to events, but dynamic entities. And, just as there is no point further south than the South Pole, time cannot exist outside the universe. But there was a problem: Einstein's idea, which describes the very large, does not fit with the other pillar of 20th century physics - quantum theory - which describes the very small.
The Large Hadron Collider at Cern in Geneva, which switches on this summer after 20 years of preparation, is an attempt to bring us closer to solving this dilemma. It will smash particles together to recreate the moments after the big bang, producing a new golden age of discovery for physicists. The essays that follow give a taste of our excitement.
Some have asked if turning on the LHC could produce some disastrous, unexpected result. Indeed, some theories of spacetime suggest the particle collisions might create mini black holes. If that happened, I have proposed that these black holes would radiate particles and disappear. If we saw this at the LHC, it would open up a new area of physics, and I might even win a Nobel prize. But I'm not holding my breath.*******
God or Science?
09 December 2010