Grand Dialogues

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The theory of general relativity has a fundamental law  – the Einstein equations which describe how space curves, the geodesic equation which describes how particles move may be derived from the Einstein equations. Since the equations of general relativity are non-linear, a lump of energy made out of pure gravitational fields, like a black hole, would move on a trajectory which is determined by the Einstein equations themselves, not by a new law. So Einstein proposed that the path of a singular solution, like a black hole, would be determined to be a geodesic from general relativity itself. This was established by Einstein, Infeld and Hoffmann for pointlike objects without angular momentum, and by Roy Kerr for spinning objects – Professor Stephen Hawking quotes – On God and Religion….

As we shall see, the concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: What did God do before he created the universe? Augustine didn’t reply: He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions. Instead, he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe.

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 8

One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang, or even afterwards in just such a way as to make it look as though there had been a big bang, but it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!

A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), pp. 8-9.

With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started — it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?

A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 140-41.

However, if we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just by a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God. (p.193)

A Brief History of Time – (Actually the concluding paragraph!)

In a later work Black Holes and Baby Universes and other Essays, 1993 Stephen Hawking revealed that A Brief History of Time remained on the bestseller list of The New York Times for fifty-three weeks, that as of February 1993 it had been on The Sunday Times best seller list for 205 weeks, and that translations into 33 languages other than English had already been published.
Also in Black Holes and Baby Universes, Hawking goes so far as to attribute a marked increase in sales to this  » theory of everything  » means  » knowing the mind of God  » quotation :

« In the proof stage I nearly cut the last sentence in the book… Had I done so, the sales might have been halved. »

What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn’t prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary.

Der Spiegel (17 October 1988)

Stephen Hawking was an invited guest when the Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosted a week-long gathering from October 31 to November 3, 2008, exploring the theme: « Scientific Insights into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life. »

Proceedings were held in the Vatican City during which Pope Benedict told the gathering that there was « no contradiction between believing in God and empirical science » and described science as « the pursuit of knowledge about God’s creation ». Stephen Hawking spoke about the origin of the universe during the week of events held behind closed doors. The Catholic Church teaches « theistic evolution, » which accepts evolution as scientific theory. Proponents see no reason why God could not have used an evolutionary process in forming the human species – Hawking takes an agnostic position on matters of religion.[51][52] He has repeatedly used the word « God » (in metaphorical meanings)[53] to illustrate points made in his books and public speeches. His ex-wife, Jane, however, said during their divorce proceedings that he was an atheist.[54][55] Hawking has stated that he is « not religious in the normal sense » and he believes that « the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws. »[51] Hawking compared religion and science in 2010, saying: « There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works. »[56]

The question of scientific determinism gave rise to questions about Einstein’s position on theological determinism, and whether or not he believed in God, or in a god. In 1929, Einstein told Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein « I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind. »[94] In a 1954 letter, he wrote, « I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. »[95] In a letter to philosopher Erik Gutkind, Einstein remarked, « The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. »[96]

Repeated attempts by the press to present Albert Einstein as a religious man provoked the following statement:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
—Albert Einstein[97]

Einstein had previously explored this belief, that man could not understand the nature of God, when he gave an interview to Time Magazine explaining:

I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
—Albert Einstein[98] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein%27s_religious_views

[…] The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These […] interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.

Einstein had previously explored this belief that man could not understand the nature of God when he gave an interview to Time magazine explaining:

I’m not an atheist. I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.

The question of scientific determinism gave rise to questions about Einstein’s position on theological determinism, and whether or not he believed in God, or in a god. In 1929, Einstein told Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein « I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind. »[94] In a 1954 letter, he wrote, « I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. »[95] In a letter to philosopher Erik Gutkind, Einstein remarked, « The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. »[96]

Repeated attempts by the press to present Albert Einstein as a religious man provoked the following statement:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
—Albert Einstein[97]

Einstein had previously explored this belief, that man could not understand the nature of God, when he gave an interview to Time Magazine explaining:

I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
—Albert Einstein[98]
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