And now we find arguably the most brilliant mind of our lifetimes wallowing in self-refuting claims, and thereby making what may be his final book a testimony to the absurdity that results when one sets out to deny God.
I'm referring, of course, to Stephen Hawking, the iconic mathematician whose Brief History of Time was the best-selling science book of its era. His latest, coauthored by physicist Leonard Mlodinow, is titled The Grand Design, and was released in September. Its central claim--that the universe and its laws can be explained without reference to God--is indeed sweeping and grand, but the foundation required to buttress that claim is riddled with self-refuting arguments. Let's look at a couple of them.
Philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.I'm sure that some of you see the problem here (even though Hawking, his coauthor, and his editors must have missed it): these and all related claims are not scientific claims but philosophical ones. And I'm not cherry-picking an isolated logical mistake here; fully a third of the book (and arguably a whole lot more) is a rambling, philosophical discourse, one that will cause any good philosopher to wince, laugh, or cry, depending upon his mood while reading. We scientists are notoriously poor philosophers, and if it does nothing else, Hawking's book serves as a stark reminder of this fact.
But scientific naturalists have even more reason for dismay. For many who would deny God's existence, Hawking offered the best hope, as he years ago devoted his brilliant mind to discovering a 'theory of everything.' This book would seem to be the culmination of that search, and yet it winds up dissolving into postmodern nonsense.
Hawking and Mlodinow devote a chapter to the question "What Is Reality?" And the conclusion to which they arrive is that
there is no picture- or theory-independent concept of reality... our perception is not direct, but rather shaped by a kind of lens, the interpretive structure of our human brains. [Therefore, no model of reality] can be said to be more real than any other.What are we to do with such? If no view of reality can be said to be real, why bother interacting with Hawking's view of reality? If there is no theory-independent concept of reality, then this concept isn't. Like all self-refuting claims, these epistemological ones are necessarily false.
So where we expect to find piercing scientific argumentation, we are treated instead to sloppy, self-refuting philosophy (after first being told that philosophy is dead).
Others of the main claims of Hawking's new book likewise disqualify themselves, but perhaps I'll save those for another time. The bottom line is this... the Christian need not fear the fallacious arguments either of the scientific naturalist or the postmodernist (or, as in this case, someone who mixes both in bizarre ways). Even the most brilliant mind will end up stunningly in error, if he begins his search for truth with a denial of the Author of all truth.