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Sep 5 2010
Stephen Hawking and God

It wasn't covered much in the American press, but it apparently caused a lot of hoopla in the UK this week when famed mathematical physicist Stephen Hawking went public with a statement about God "not being necessary" to explain the existence of the universe. (See here.)

For me, this is not a big deal. I long ago came to the same conclusion, though perhaps did so without quite so many formulas and theorems. Physics still boils down to a few basic rules (and with luck we'll eventually have a unified field theory that is even simpler). Given those rules, I can see how the universe would turn out the way it did and no "planner" is necessary. Of course, there is the question of where the rules came from, and I don't know the answer to that. But, being few and relatively simple, it is not so difficult to imagine that they came into existence without a planner either.

Of the many articles written in response to all this, one of my favorites was Mary Warnock's in the Guardian. She gets one thing wrong (so far as I can tell, Hawking has not claimed to have proved that there is not god but only that the "god hypothesis" is not necessary to explain the existence of the physical universe) but makes other good points. The main point is: even if Hawking is wrong and some being created the universe, what does that have to do with morality? Again, this is no surprise to me as I've been saying the same thing for years...but I also did not know that David Hume said it as well. So, I'm grateful to Warnock both for putting these ideas out there for everyone to see and for giving me a little history lesson at the same time.

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