It’s common in sports to see an athlete play past his prime, searching for something he never achieved or fearing life without the spotlight. Think Muhammad Ali losing to Leon Spinks or Willie Mays batting .211 for the New York Mets.
That phenomenon is occurring with physicist Stephen Hawking. Hawking made headlines recently with a pronouncement, coinciding with the release of his book (imagine that), that he has concluded the universe could have come into existence without the assistance of God.
But has he really discovered something scientific? Nope. Stephen Hawking is in a Walter Mitty fantasy. Throughout his career he longed to make that announcement and no doubt repeatedly pictured himself in that moment of atheist glory. He retired last year without achieving his goal.
Unable to resist attention, he went ahead this year and announced it anyway with no more physics in his book to prove that God didn’t make the universe than a priest has in his Bible to show God did.
The Holy Grail for physicists is to find a unified theory that explains the whole universe, large and small. The problem is the physical laws we know of that govern small things like atoms don’t translate to big things like galaxies, so there is no “God excluding theory.”
Scientists have erred for centuries trying to unseat God. In prosecuting Galileo, the church was siding with wrong theories by scientists Aristotle and Ptolemy who thought the sun went round the earth, and they ignored Copernicus, the Catholic priest, who was actually right about the earth orbiting the sun.
In 1927 a Catholic priest named Monsignor Georges Lemaitre proposed what later became known as the Big Bang Theory. It was revolutionary because science had believed the universe had no beginning or end (which would exclude God). Lemaitre’s Big Bang gave the universe a creation point, which allows then for a Creator.
Science was outraged (not in defense of science, but atheist pride). Fred Hoyle tried to lead the world back to the “steady state theory,” developed by Einstein, which Albert later called his “greatest blunder” when further observations supported the Big Bang.
So let’s examine Stephen Hawking’s new book “The Grand Design” and look at his blunders. There are a few things you have to know first in order to clearly see that Hawking, the emperor of Cosmology, is wearing no clothes:
Point 1: “The Grand Design” isn’t really a new book. It’s a compilation of ideas already covered in previous Hawking books like “A Brief History of Time” and “The Theory of Everything.”
Point 2: The first tiny sliver of a second that occurred at the beginning of the Big Bang is known as Planck Time. It’s important because our laws of nature as well as time itself didn’t exist separately before that. In other words, whatever was before that was not “nature” but “supernatural.” And the hot, dense little singularity that existed before Planck Time came from where? Stephen Hawking doesn’t know and doesn’t address it in his book.
Keith Olbermann discussed Hawking’s book last week and flashed on the TV screen a quote attributed to Pope John Paul saying we should not study earlier than Planck time, the insinuation being that the Pope feared disproving God. Olbermann failed to flash the very same quote from Hawking who also said it; I guess the insinuation would be that Hawking is afraid to confirm God. But give Olbermann a pass for the transgression — anything beyond reading sports scores and he gets lost.