April 26, 2023 | Jerry Bergman

Hawking’s Final Theorem Does Not Produce a Viable Theory of Cosmic Origins

The problem of being blinded by your conclusion,
then attempting to build a case to support it.

 

by Jerry Bergman, PhD 

The world’s most well-known cosmologist, the late Cambridge University Professor Steven Hawking, spent the last two decades of his life in an attempt to come up with a rational explanation for his belief about the naturalistic origin of the universe. The main problem in developing  a naturalistic origin of the universe is that “the universe is so well suited to life that it can appear to be designed.” Evolutionists believe it was not designed but rather evolved.[1]

So evolutionists need to explain how can we explain the origin of a universe that looks like it was designed, but was not designed.

Furthermore, how can evolutionists explain that ultimately nothing created everything. As Hawking believes, “thanks to the Big Bang, you can get a whole universe for free” because “the fantastically enormous universe of space and energy can materialize out of nothing.”[2] How it evolved from nothing had been the focus of Hawking’s research. In other words, his theory is that “nothing created everything.”[3]

He believes this nothing created everything idea, and most scientists recognize defending this view is very difficult.

The Claim that the Universe Evolves – Just as Life Does

Hawking had recognized many of the numerous problems with multiverse cosmology that were documented in my previous posts. To review, Hawking believed that just as life had evolved, similarly the universe had evolved, concluding that what occurred in the early universe was

a process akin to that of natural selection on Earth, with an interplay of variation and selection playing out in this primeval environment. Variation happens because random quantum jumps cause frequent small excursions from deterministic behavior and occasional larger ones. Selection enters the picture because some of these excursions, especially the larger ones, can be amplified and frozen-in thanks to quantum observation. This then gives rise to new rules that help shape the subsequent evolution.[4]

Specifically, as noted in my previous post, what variation occurred and how it varied was not made clear in his theory. Variation in heat energy, quarks, or positrons? Furthermore, what caused the random quantum jumps and what is jumping? Energy, photons, or what? Whatever caused frequent small excursions from deterministic behavior and occasional larger excursions he does not explain. What caused the deterministic behavior in the first place and how did it become deterministic must also be answered? And what caused selection? A life survival advantage causes selection in biology, but what causes selection in the progress of the Big Bang’s evolution that produced our Earth?

Hawking’s explanation of what causes selection is that selection occurs because some of these variations, especially larger ones, that can be amplified and frozen-in. I assume they are amplified like the other variations, but he never clarified what is selected, what dominates, what becomes more common, and why this happens. How does whatever is selected, muons, photons or quarks, give rise to new rules that help to shape the subsequent evolution? What are the new rules? Are they like gravity or the strong nuclear force? What causes the new rules to come into existence, and what causes the new rules to function? Hawking adds that when these new rules come into existence, then the interaction between

competing forces in the furnace of the big bang produces a branching process – somewhat analogous to how biological species would emerge billions of years later – in which dimensions, forces and particles first diversify and then acquire their effective form when the universe expands and cools. And just like in Darwinian evolution, this introduces a subtle backward-in-time element to our hypothesis. It is as if the collective quantum observations retroactively fix the outcome of the big bang. For this reason, Stephen liked to refer to our idea as “top-down cosmology,” to drive home the point that we read the fundamentals of the universe ex post facto, somewhat like how biologists reconstruct the tree of life.[5]

For this theory to work, Stephen Hawking reasoned that he must relinquish the idea inherent in multiverse cosmology, namely that our theories take the position of looking at the universe from outside of the cosmos. Our cosmological theory, he argues, must deal with the fact that we exist within the universe and cannot understand the universe by viewing the universe from the outside. Thus, Hawking and his co-workers set out to rethink cosmology, observed from an inside-out perspective.

A famous cartoon by Sidney Harris mocks the religion of science.

It’s a Simple Problem                                                                                                                       

I fail to see how this solves the problem of understanding how the universe created itself. Looking at the universe as an outside observer has its advantages, as does looking at the universe as an insider. Thus both perspectives are required. Either way, the universe follows the laws of physics and, therefore, is largely independent of how we conceptualize the universe.

When researching the gas laws, gravity, and Newton’s laws of motion, (discussed in my last post), looking from the outside or from the inside of the universe is irrelevant. And it is these laws that help us to understand how the universe works, not the thought experiments put forth by Hawking. Thought experiments are important if they lead to actual lab or field research. It is not obvious how Hawkings’ musings can lead to any lab or field research. Hawkings’ colleague professor Hertog admits that

In hindsight, we were walking on quicksand back then in the sense that we didn’t quite have a solid mathematical basis for our ideas. As we began to look for firmer ground, inspiration came from an unexpected corner. Around that time, another revolution in physics was picking up, one that was all to do with holography. This would prove to be just what we needed.[6]

We will now examine the viability of the hologram explanation.

Is the Universe a Hologram?

In 1997, physicist Juan Maldacena envisaged that the entire universe may be akin to a hologram.[7] He showed that a “system of quantum-entangled particles located on a surface can contain within it all the information of a higher-dimensional cosmos with gravity and curved space-time.”[8] A hologram is a three-dimensional image produced from a two dimensional image. The most familiar examples are on credit cards, drivers licenses, and on some book covers.

When the hologram is moved correctly, an illusion of a three-dimensional image is produced in the viewer’s brain.[9] Large holograms take the form of a ghostly 3-D figure that shows a different perspective as the viewer walks around to see it at different angles. Although invented in 1947, they were perfected only after the invention of the laser in 1960. Another definition for holograms is that they encode all of the information about three-dimensional objects on two-dimensional surfaces. Hertog explains that a holographic approach to cosmology

is like zooming out, an operation whereby we discard more and more of the entangled information that the hologram encodes. Holography suggests that not only time, but also the physical laws that shape our universe, disappear back into the big bang. This is very different to the old Platonist view that the laws of nature are somehow immutable. Stephen and I held that it isn’t the laws as such that are fundamental, but their capacity to change.[10]

This statement reiterates that they believe the physical laws themselves evolved. But this does not explain how the physical laws that shape the physical reality of the universe came to be or changed. Hawking believed that the laws that govern our universe are not laws at all, as we were taught to believe, and they reject the “old Platonist view that the laws of nature are somehow immutable.”  They believe instead that they can change, thus are not immutable. E = mc2  could somehow, somewhere become some other relationship, such as E = mc3, or some other value. In other words, laws are not laws as we were taught in our science classes, but a relationship that has the capacity to change. 

However, apparently there is one law that cannot change, according to Hawking and Hertog, and that is that physical laws have the “capacity to change.” Thus, the very laws that govern our universe can evolve, an idea that is now seriously discussed by some cosmologists.

Frustrated at the inability to explain the fact that the universe was designed for life, some evolutionists are attempting to argue that it was not designed for life, thus there is nothing to explain. One proponent of the latter position is Professor Carlo Rovelli of Aix-Marseille University in France who wrote that it is sad that even good scientists fall into the trap of believing that the universe was designed for life:

The universe is not ‘just right’, it is what it is.” …  to say the cosmos is fine-tuned is a failure of imagination coming from no one really having the slightest idea how the universe would be if its vital parameters were any different. “It might be perhaps far more varied and interesting and with all sorts of strange, complex entities asking silly questions about how very, very just-right their universe is,”[11]

The fact is, denying reality does not help their case for a universe that was allegedly not designed, but evolved. As Arizona State University cosmologist Paul Davies observed, (the same idea that I was taught in graduate school) that if you alter

the relative strengths of gravity and electromagnetism just a little, say, and stars and galaxies can’t form. Flip the tiny difference in the proton and neutron’s masses to make the proton heavier, and you don’t even get stable atoms. Changing these numbers would probably preclude any life in the universe. It isn’t a big leap to say it looks like the knobs have been twiddled – as if the universe were somehow fine-tuned for our existence.[12]

Denying the reality of our designed universe does not solve the problem either. Reality forces us to recognize that our universe was intelligently designed for life and did not evolve. Hawking’s attempt at armchair theorizing produces far more questions than answers.

Summary

Hawking is clearly proceeding with his creative musings to support a conclusion, namely his belief that the universe created itself out of nothing. He then attempts to document that conclusion. This is the opposite of science, which should look at all the existing possibilities. In this case, the only possibilities are whether the universe was the result of intelligent design or the result of strictly natural forces. Hawking begins with a preferred conclusion, and then attempts to support it. In contrast to this approach, he should determine from the evidence which view is correct, design or evolution. According to the Bible, it was the Earth that was designed for life (Ps. 115:16; Isa. 45:18) and the universe has a supportive role to that end.

B.C. cartoon by the late Johnny Hart

References

[1] Hertog, Thomas. Why is the universe just right for life? New Scientist 257(3431):38-41, 25 March 2023, p. 41. The online article on the New Scientist website with the same title but different content was written by Richard Webb. See https://www.newscientist.com/article/0-why-is-the-universe-just-right-for-life-blame-the-multiverse/.

[2] Hawking, Stephen. Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Bantam Books, New York, New York, 2018, pp. 31-32.

[3] Comfort, Ray. 2009. Nothing Created Everything. Los Angeles, CA:World Net Daily.

[4] Hertog, 2023, p. 40.

[5] Hertog, 2023, pp. 40-41.

[6] Hertog, 2023, p. 41.

[7] Plasencia, Adolfo, and Tim O’Reilly. Is the Universe a Hologram?: Scientists Answer the Most Provocative Questions. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2017.

[8] Hertog, 2023, p. 41.

[9] Kasper, Joseph E., and Steven A. Feller. The Complete Book of Holograms: How They Work and How to Make Them. Dover Publications, New York, New York, 2001.

[10] Hertog, 2023, p. 41.

[11] Webb, Richard. Why is the universe just right for life? Blame the multiverse. New Scientist,17 November 2021; https://www.newscientist.com/article/0-why-is-the-universe-just-right-for-life-blame-the-multiverse/.

[12] Webb, 2021.


Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,800 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 60 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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Comments

  • tjguy says:

    “Hawking begins with a preferred conclusion, and then attempts to support it. In contrast to this approach, he should determine from the evidence which view is correct, design or evolution. According to the Bible, it was the Earth that was designed for life (Ps. 115:16; Isa. 45:18) and the universe has a supportive role to that end.”

    Sure, but don’t we do that same thing because of our bias? We start with a “preferred conclusion” – that the earth was designed for life. We view that as a biblical truth and then seek to support it with the data.

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