Sunday, September 05, 2010

Nothing New

No... this isn't me being self critical about the fact that I have taken such a long sojourn from blogging, I am merely posting my reaction to a recent headline in the times and one of the major stories that ran on the BBC website in the week.

I am referring to the news that Professor Stephen Hawking has suggested that the existence of the law of gravity negates the need for a creator. The media jumped on this like a hot potato and made it much more of a story than it actually was. It certainly wasn't front page news. With all that's going on in the world today, the only way you could justify making this your lead story is if you wanted to get a huge ladle and stir up the old controversies that provoke believers and secularists onto taking a path of mutually assured destruction.

In his previous book, Hawking seemed to acknowledge the existence of God (although I believe that he was more using the existence of God as analogy), and he came in for a lot of unfair criticism for doing so. I believe therefore that Hawking worded the statement in his book quite carefully. His opinion states that the mechanisms that are in place in the laws of physics are sufficient for the creation of the universe to come about in themselves and that therefore there is no need of a divine being to bring it about. For some, it may seem to be saying "there is no God". and I will concede that it skirts pretty close to saying that... but it is not saying that, it merely gravitates around a position that implies it.

It seems to me that every now and then, secularists have a compulsively paranoid need to raise up champions who can smite down the very idea of God. The way they invoke the names of Darwin, Hawking and Dawkins... it's practically akin to hagiophilia.

The apostle Paul whilst writing to his protege and spiritual son Timothy, recorded the following words:

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."
 2 Timothy 4:3-4

This is what I believe lies at the heart of many anti God movements. People don't want to admit to having any need of God... whether that is spiritual, mental, emotional or physical because admitting you needs something implies that you are dependent upon it. Our rebellious nature does not like contending with the idea that we are accountable to God because it means we are no longer at the centre of our own private universe. This is the itch that Paul speaks of. By choosing to amass an armada of intellectuals to speak out against against our need of God, we can soothe it for a time.... or pretend it's not there.

But still the itch remains.

That's all very well and good me saying that... but I haven't even responded to the other camps argument, have I? So what do I as a Christian, make of Hawking's statement?

I believe his assertion that laws such as gravity negate the need for God, is seriously and fundamentally flawed; if we remove God from the picture we are still left to answer question of what laid the foundations for the laws of physics to come about. No doubt the secularist argument would be for a precursor state that triggered the basic laws of the universe to begin to click. This doesn't add up for me at all.

When you speak to me of the laws of physics, or mathematics, or genetics... I understand them best in terms of them being languages and statutes. I don't believe you can have a law or a language without intelligence being behind them.

The difference between God and gravity is that gravity is a mechanism we can to a degree understand. God by his very nature exceeds our understanding and imagination of what is possible, and rather conveniently because of his nature doesn't require a catalyst to exist.

Of course, I appreciate that is a trump card that is played by many believers just to end debate (I suppose if used in a clich
éd way without further explanation, it can become the Creationist equivalent of Godwin's Law).

In my view, whether or not you believe in God doesn't remove anything from the fact that Hawking's statement is deeply flawed.

We exist in a state whereby everything has a beginning and end... a world that is based on cause and effect and opposing forces. As it is the only state we have experienced it is understandably hard for us to imagine an existence that is not reliant on those rules.

The question I ask you to consider is whether or not the view of a universe without God  is seriously compromised by it's convoluted nature? The more you choose to accept that view, the further you have to keep going back finding elaborate theories that explain how x started and y came about.

When we are talking about a state of the universe that we have absolutely no real understanding of (because we have not been outside the goldfish bowl of our own existent state), is it not more logical to conclude that God is there... and because his nature is as vastly beyond our imagination as the deepest origins of the universe (I would argue more so), that the cycle of cause and effect, life and death and linear existence are not something he is subject to?

I'd just like to finish with a clip from the end of the Babylon 5 episode "Mind War". In this crucial scene, Ambassador G'Kar explains to Catherine Sakai that there are some things in the universe that are beyond our understanding... and that while it is in some ways terrifying, it is also reassuring to him:

For me the wonderfully reassuring thing about God, is that although we are like ants to him, he does  notice us, does understand us and longs for us to communicate with him:

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
Luke 12:6-7

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