A reader who lives next door to Crocodile Dundee asked me to write about Stephen Hawking’s latest musings and the “media feed and frenzy surrounding it”. Since I don’t read anymore because my job takes up all my reading, eating, running and sleeping time, I had to wait until it came up in my dreams and make my response based on that.
Hawkings has a book coming out and that is reason enough to explain the “gravity not God created” type headlines. Let’s not call in the metaphysicians when personal accountants provide a better explanation.
It is utterly conceivable (which is not equivalent with likely) that a universe might be generated through forces of gravity. But the question of God is not a question that is only meaningful if it turns out that he left some fingerprints behind for us to detect. Hawking and all of new-atheism (and indeed much of contemporary Christianity) misses the point when it thinks the deep question of existence is about how things came to be. Existence itself is the issue.
The existence of questions solvable through the scientific method is even more remarkable than the answers or even the fact that we can discover the answers. And this hard, obscure, bottom-of-everything question is the one that Hawking either has to ignore or never acknowledge to think gravity disproves God. That science can’t reach the question doesn’t mean scientists are absolved from asking it. To claim it does, is as Eagleton says, to claim that now that we have toaster ovens, we don’t need Chekov anymore.
Without slipping into some myth of ongoing progress there will come a day when science leaves us with a vastly improved understanding of the origins of the universe, species and reality tv. Even in this knowledge utopia, we will still not have moved a step closer to the mystery of existence. It doesn’t matter how deep down we go, taking elevators down into the depths of the atom or probing quantum mechanics, or mating a Higgs with a Boson or whatever crazy junk those scienticians come up with; existence remains an utterly different thing. Even understanding the most basic of things doesn’t approach the ground of being. The laws Hawking might uncover point towards something that is and nothing within the universe of created things or even the universe(s) itself can end up explaining the source of its own being.
Your Correspondent, Can even survive in lava.