May 18 2011

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Refuse to do that

Stephen Hawking (and I) reject ‘the God of the gaps’

By Susan Brooks Thislethwaite, May 17, 2011 8:44 AM

The God Stephen Hawking rejects is the God of what is called “intelligent design.” In discussing his argument from his book, The Grand Design, he says he rejects “belief in an omniscient Creator whose hands guide the working of the cosmos.” I reject that theological view as well. It’s a finite theology of an infinite God.

The idea of God Hawking (and I) reject is sometimes called “the God of the gaps.” In this perspective, the idea of God ‘fills in the gaps’ in scientific knowledge. As scientific knowledge advances, this God retreats, getting smaller and smaller.

These ideas of God are too small, both for faith and for science. A God reduced to filling in gaps, or to being an electronic starter for the engine of creation is a finite God. This God-idea is limited in form and function to what finite human brains can grasp.

Even physicists who spending their time contemplating “M theory” in the search for a “theory of everything “ like Stephen Hawking, are still finite. A “theory of everything,” even aided by computer calculations, won’t be everything. If human beings can make a graphic of it, it is finite.

Contemplating God in this equation will never work as the elements of awe and mystery have been removed. There remains a kind of cold functionality that can lead to serious ethical errors.

Here is one such troubling error in Hawking’s thought on display in the interview. He says, “We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those societies most likely to survive. We assign them higher value.”

No, Mr. Hawking, I refuse to do that. I believe all human beings, and the societies they make, are of infinite value and ultimate worth.

This is where modern science tends to lose people of faith. They wonder if science values them as precious and unique, or sees them only as a cog in an impersonal and uncaring universe.

In my view, an infinite God already encompasses all permutations of possibilities that science investigates, and welcomes the freedom of creations’ processes. But this God is also infinite in mercy and would never rank some as of more value than others because of “survivability.”

Remember, Mr. Hawkings, Christians pray “on earth as it is in heaven.” Work on your earth ethics more and let heaven take care of itself.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/stephen-hawking-and-i-reject-the-god-of-the-gaps/2011/05/17/AFYwqi5G_blog.html or http://wapo.st/juQote or http://tinyurl.com/3stw79q

Permanent link to this article: http://levantium.com/2011/05/18/refuse-to-do-that/

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