At least scientists are still tackling the question of God, though they seem self-assured that they’ve pinned it down.
We’re in another go ’round right now. Here’s Barron on Hawking on God.
Stephen Hawking, probably the best-known scientist in the world, has said, in a book to be published a week before the Pope’s visit to Britain, that the universe required no Creator…I confess that something in me tightens whenever I hear a scientist pontificating on issues that belong to the arena of philosophy or metaphysics. I will gladly listen to Stephen Hawking when he holds forth on matters of theoretical physics, but he’s as qualified to talk about philosophical and religious issues as any college freshman. There is a qualitative difference between the sciences, which speak of objects, forces, and phenomena within the observable universe, and philosophy or religion which speak of ultimate origins and final purposes. Science, as such, simply cannot adjudicate questions that lie outside of its proper purview—and this is precisely why scientists tend to make lots of silly statements when they attempt to philosophize.
Like this one:
“Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing.”
To which Barron responds:
The classical philosophical tradition gives us an adage that is still hard to improve upon: ex nihilo nihil fit (from nothing comes nothing). Any teacher worth his salt would take a student to task if, in trying to explain why and how a given phenomenon occurred, the student were to say, “well, it just spontaneously happened.” Yet we are expected to be satisfied with precisely that explanation when it comes to the most pressing and fascinating question of all: why is there something rather than nothing?
Celebrity atheists and scientists keep coming up with the non-answer ‘because that’s the way it is.’
Apparently, the affirmation of God involves far too great a leap of faith, yet the assertion that the universe just popped into being is rationally compelling!
Carl Olson has a good pull quote about why science should stick with science.
The job of the physicist is to uncover the patterns in nature and try to fit them to simple mathematical schemes. The question of why there are patterns, and why such mathematical schemes are possible, lies outside the scope of physics, belonging to a subject known as metaphysics.
But one discovery these scientists have made is of a market, and that’s quantifiably enriching.