Stephen Hawking’s Fishbowl

by Arthur Khachatryan

Stephen Hawking's FishbowlIn September 2010, Stephen Hawking, the icon of modern science, made headlines with his new book, The Grand Design. The title is quite ironic, as it alludes to design and intention while arguing for an impersonal chance beginning of the universe. Interestingly, Hawking holds to the notion that the universe was an inevitable natural reality given the natural laws of physics. According to Hawking, there is no need to infer a Creator because gravity is able to create the universe all by itself.

The initial reaction to the views of such an authority might be to concede to his intellect and accept what he’s saying as fact. But let’s think about this a bit. His views are, of course, based on a set of assumptions, such as the brute realities of the laws of physics and gravity. But if nothingness preceded the universe, is it warranted to believe that these laws also preceded the universe? The induction of gravity would itself require some sort of catalyst. Since the force of gravity is also finely tuned, isn’t it unwarranted to simply infer it in the first place as a blunt reality preexisting all things? At the end, contrary to Hawking’s contention, this does not explain why there is something rather than nothing, because his “nothing” assumes all sorts of natural laws, measurements and precision, none of which are truly “nothing.” He simply chooses to invoke theoretical “somethings” instead of one supernatural catalyst. It is also somewhat disappointing that he greatly overlooks the extreme fine-tuning of the conditions required for life.

He essentially claims that nothing has created everything, but he hijacks all sorts of theoretical and even substantive somethings (i.e. gravity) as brute realities in his version of nothingness. But what is nothingness? Anything at all included before there was any particular something is not really nothing, and we don’t know of anything natural the preceded the Big Bang. As such, it appears to be quite a fascinating position to posit a something, anything at all, and yet still freely call it nothing.

Should we be amazed how a mind as brilliant as that of Hawking can fail to comprehend the flaws in this manner of thinking? May we question his intellect? We may. But it may prove to be far easier to see his flaws as the result of his will, not his mind…

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