Scientist Stephen Hawking in his book “The Grand Design” has written that the universe can and will create itself from nothing because there is a law such as gravity. As per him spontaneous creation is the reason as to why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. Therefore he thinks that it is not at all necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.1
That an entire universe can come out of nothing is not a scientifically proven fact, rather it is merely a speculation. This speculation is also based on a logically flawed assumption, the assumption that the void is a real void. Here scientists have assumed that our universe is a Godless universe, and that therefore the void is a real void. But it may be true that this is a Godless universe, or it may not be true. As the believers cannot claim that they know with certainty there is a God, so also neither the scientists can claim that they know with certainty there is no God. However there is a definite way to know with certainty that there is no God. Here I am not claiming that there is a definite way to know with certainty there is a God, but I am only saying that there is a definite way to know with certainty there is no God. And this definite way is the scientific way.
If scientists ultimately become successful in explaining everything in this universe, including its origin also, without invoking God, then we will have no other option but to admit that the universe we live in is a Godless universe. But there is a very big “IF” here, if they become successful. Until they achieve their success here, they do not know whether they will be ultimately successful or not. So until they achieve their success here, they do not know whether it is a Godless universe or not. All their earlier successes cannot give them any assurance that in future also they will be equally successful. If somebody claims that there is no reason as to why they will not be successful, then I will have to bring in Hume here, but I think it will not be necessary. It is like climbing a mountain peak. So long as one is not there at the peak, she does not know whether she will be able to reach there at all. But once she has reached there, she knows with certainty that she has done it. So in order to come to the conclusion that we live in a Godless universe scientists will have to be able to give a scientific explanation for each and every single fact, every single event, or every single phenomenon of this natural world, and not a single fact, single event or single phenomenon should be left unexplained.
If the scientists claim here that they have explained almost everything of this natural world without invoking any kind of god, then I will have to point out to them that the origin of the universe has not yet been explained in a properly logical way. Before proceeding further here I want to quote a single line (or, a part of it) from an essay by Keith M. Parsons, an atheistic philosopher: “…[P]rima facie the most promising location for a Creator would be in the “creation” event itself, the origin of the universe.”2 If the most promising location for a Creator would be in the “creation” event itself, then this Creator must have to be eliminated first from the “creation” event, because that act only can ensure that there is no such Creator.
So until this so-called Creator has been eliminated from the creation event by providing a most plausible, and natural, scientific explanation (A) for it, we cannot have any idea as to whether the void is a real void or not. This is because if there is a creator God, then as per the theists that God is everywhere and therefore the void is no longer a real void. So let A be provided first by the scientists. Then only we can be sure that the void is a real void. Therefore A should always come first, and then only we can conclude that the void is a real void. But in the case under consideration it has already been concluded that the void is a real void without giving a natural explanation for the origin of the universe. And that makes all the difference.
Let me try to make my point more clear. Let e0 be the event zero, the origin/birth/creation of the universe, and let e1 to en be all the events that have so far happened in this universe after its origin. Let ne0 be the natural explanation for event zero, and let ne1 to nen be the natural explanations for events e1 to en respectively. Let us now suppose that scientists have already been able to provide ne1 to nen, but that they have so far failed to provide ne0. Will this situation allow us to conclude that there is no God? No, we cannot come to any such conclusion, because if there is a God then there will definitely be his hand behind the event zero. Yes, we can say this with absolute certainty, because God, if he is really God, and if he is really there, will not be our God at all, and neither will we recognize him as such, if he has no control over our destiny. In other words, if this universe is not his creation.
Therefore in order to establish that there is no God one must have to show that there is no hand of God behind the creation event. All the other natural explanations ne1 to nen put together cannot prove that there is no God. But once ne0 is given, it is firmly established that God does not exist. Therefore so far as the question of the non-existence of God is concerned, we can say that when ne0 has already been given, ne1 to nen will become unnecessary. And when ne0 has not yet been given, ne1 to nen are simply useless. And thus we can say that the necessary and sufficient condition for establishing the non-existence of God is that there will have to be a natural explanation for the origin of the universe (ne0).
Therefore so long as ne0 has not been given, we cannot come to the conclusion that there is no God. And therefore so long as ne0 has not been given, neither can we conclude that the void is a real void. And therefore so long as ne0 has not been given, neither can we say that as virtual particles can appear from out of nothing, so also an entire universe.
Here scientist Victor J. Stenger would perhaps have said that so long as there is no evidence for the existence of God, the default position is that there is no God. So in that case they are fully entitled to treat the void as a real void. But in an article titled “A Critique of the Void”3 I have very clearly shown that this universe even if created by a God may not display any evidence of his existence if it is the case that this God is non-interventionist, that is, if it is the case that he has not intervened at all after the creation of the universe. So from the mere fact that so far there is no evidence for the existence of God, it cannot be concluded that this universe is a Godless universe. In such a case the matter regarding the existence or non-existence of God can only be settled at the creation event itself. So scientists are in no way entitled to treat the void as a real void until it is firmly established that this void is really a void, that is, until the creator God is eliminated from the creation event by providing a natural explanation for it.
Scientists usually say that as there is no evidence for the existence of God, so it is reasonable to believe that there is no God. Here I have very clearly shown that neither is there any evidence that something can actually come out of nothing. On the basis of this lack of evidence we can also say that it is reasonable not to believe that the universe has actually originated from nothing.
- Book: The Grand design, Published by Bantum Books, New York, Ch: The Grand Design, page 282.
- No Creator Need Apply: A Reply to Roy Abraham Varghese (2006), www.infidels.org/library/modern/keith_parsons/varghese.html