Earl, Stephen Hawking, and God

Posted on September 2, 2010 · Posted in Apologetics, Worldview

This weekend Hurricane Earl is visiting the East Coast. While a direct hit on the coast does not appear likely, Earl will no doubt cause widespread damage in areas not typically affected by hurricanes. It intriguing that this intense low pressure center is given a human name. Low pressure is a common meteorological occurrence and is frequently associated with stormy weather. On any given day a weather map will show both low and high pressure systems moving across the continent. However, no one attempts to name or even number these systems. They simply come and go. But several times each year, a low pressure system that forms in the warm waters of the tropics will grow to such a large size and intensity that meteorologists give the storm a name. These names used to be exclusively female, but to be fair to men everywhere, both male and female names are now used. Hence, Earl is bearing down on the East Coast. Naming the storms does tend to make them more personal. It is easier to express anger toward a storm named Earl rather than toward a low pressure center. People often write on the protective boards they put up something like “Earl – Stay away!” This does sound more personal than writing “Intense Low Pressure Center – Stay away!”

Stephen Hawking, on the other hand, says that the laws of physics can’t be personalized because there is, in fact, no personal God. Note this statement attributed to Hawking by the UK Telegraph:

“The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can’t understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second. If you like, you can call the laws of science ‘God’, but it wouldn’t be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions.”

So Hawking, one of the world’s most brilliant scientists, says the universe (and by extrapolation, you and I and Earl) does not owe its beginning and existence to anything personal; we have only to thank the law of science. But despite Professor Hawking’s personal assurances, some property owners will still put up signs urging Earl to go somewhere else.

The universe, you see, is a personal creation. There is good and there is evil. There is a personal cosmic battle that influences every “law of science” and every human event. If there had been no fall there would be no Earl and the destruction that he is causing. If there had been no fall, Dr. Hawking would not have suffered from a debilitating physical disease.

The personal matters more than we can ever realize. This is because God is  person, and what he does is personal. Yes, all of life is personal. It is personal because life was created by a Person.  As noted earlier, Dr. Hawking is a brilliant scientist. However, his belief that the beginning of the universe is an impersonal event causes him to draw a startling conclusion. Examine this quote from the Telegraph on September 2:

In his latest book, The Grand Design, an extract of which is published in Eureka magazine in The Times, Hawking said: “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.”

You read correctly. The Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Dr. Hawking says there is an impersonal nothing that is governed by the laws of science. One of these laws is spontaneous creation that creates something from nothing.  So even when there was nothing, there was something. Dr. Hawking’s reasoning demonstrates the truth of Romans 1:18, that man aggressively suppresses the truth of God in order to deny the reality of God.

In contrast, Christians believe there was always something. Before there was a physical creation there was a person. Because creation is personal, creatures are given to understand events from a personal perspective. Thus, our God is a personal God who can bring glory to himself and good to you from an intense low pressure center named Earl.

Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.