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It is curious to note that a eminent Physicist like Stephen Hawking thinks the universe has a beginning. This has some rather startling Religious implications

You can find the link here.

http://www.hawking.org.uk/index.php/lectures/publiclectures/62

Now let us take Thomas Aquinas argument for the existence of God. It in its simplest forms says this.

  • Things do not come into existence uncaused
  • The universe came into existence
  • Therefore the universe must have a cause

  • Whatever this cause it had to exist outside of space and time ie spaceless and immaterial

  • It had to be all powerful and all knowing

Before you know it you have your self something resembling a God.

Now the only two outs the atheist has to that argument is either positing a eternal universe or holding to the idea that things can come into existence uncaused.

Now if the first has been dis-proven by science and the idea of things coming into existence uncaused akin to believing in magic.

Has Stephen Hawking proven God's existance?

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Thomas Aquinas states that things do not come into existence uncaused. Has he just disproved the existence of God, as a logical impossibility? –  Sklivvz Oct 11 '11 at 3:46
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How do you from those premises to the conclusion that the creator was your traditional monotheistic Abrahamic God? What about 10 powerful beings, that when combined are all powerful (but not by themselves)? Still follows the same logic... –  rburhum Oct 12 '11 at 18:30
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This is the Kalaam cosmological argument and Aquinas rejected it, because while he believed that the universe did have a beginning he also believed that this was not amenable to a rational proof, that is, it was a piece of revealed knowledge. In fact, Aquinas famously argues that even if the universe were past-eternal, as his master Aristotle held, there would still have to be a First Cause. –  G. Rodrigues Oct 18 '11 at 23:43
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@Sklivvz - He doesn't say that (the above summary isn't a very good one). If you read his Five Ways, you'll see he works from things in the word to a first cause. –  danielm Nov 23 '12 at 22:16
    
@rburhum - Though the above is not a good summary of Aquinas, Aquinas never concludes that he can arrive at the Abrahamic God through reason alone. He only proves a highest principle and cause. The rest is a matter of revelation. –  danielm Nov 23 '12 at 22:20
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10 Answers

No

There are several problems with your assumption

  • How did God come into existence if things do not come into existence? You would need to alter the first statement to "Created things do not come into existence uncaused"

    This argument can be expanded indefinetely and is known as Turtles all the way down. The Cosmological argument exaplains other objections to this statement.

    Additionally the current sientific census states, that quantum mechanics allows things to come into existence uncaused. The most known example are virtual particles. You can read some more here

  • A first cause does not prove God, especially not the God of Abraham.

    Just because something is unexplainable for us, it does not prove God in any way. Ancient people tried to explain a lot of things with God, don't make the same mistake. Using a supernatural explanation for unknown phenomena is not modern science.

I expand my answer later, I need some research before ;)

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Do I need to explain again why the idea of who created the creator is fallacious? –  Neil Meyer Oct 10 '11 at 16:48
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@Neil: As appealing as it is, comments are not the place to discuss. Take it to chat. –  El'endia Starman Oct 10 '11 at 16:51
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@Neil Meyer: you presume that you have explained it once in the first place; I didn't notice, frankly. –  Niel de Beaudrap Oct 11 '11 at 1:34
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Virtual particles do not come into existence at all. That's why they are called virtual. –  Sklivvz Oct 11 '11 at 3:43
    
@BeatMe: Surely this depends on exactly what you mean by cause? If I ran a program on a computer and I got points randomly appearing and disappearing on a monitor, if someone was then to ask what causes those points to flicker; surely the best answer would be I just ran 'flashing sparks' program. Analogously could I not then say the cause of virtual particles is the 'choice' of physical theory? –  Mozibur Ullah Oct 20 '11 at 3:02
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No, Hawking did not just prove God's existence. Here's why:

  • Even if your argument is true (it's not), it would only imply the existence of something that is capable of causing universes. This "universe-causer" need not even be sentient, and certainly wouldn't have to be a God.
  • The problem with invoking God as the cause through arguing that "nothing is uncaused" is that then logically God himself would require a cause. You cannot say "nothing is uncaused" and invoke an uncaused agent. Either there are things that can be uncaused, or there aren't. In other words, if you want to invoke an uncaused God, then the physicist can just as easily invoke an uncaused universe.
  • Steven Hawking didn't prove anything, he merely hypothesized that it had a beginning. In layman's terms, he essentially made a wild guess, because given the nature of the question this is not something anyone would even begin to be able to answer; it wouldn't matter if you were the smartest man in the world.
  • Thomas Aquinas' argument is a non-sequitur. It nowhere follows that "Whatever this cause it had to exist outside of space and time ie spaceless and immaterial", nor "It had to be all powerful and all knowing". These are just arbitrary assertions.
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I suggest we read Aquinas's original Five Ways. Neil does not provide an equivalent proof. Aquinas proceeds from the premise that all things in the universe are caused, and concludes that in order to avoid an infinite regress would require a first uncaused cause. Also, if we assume that the universe is ALL that is material existing within space and time, then clearly its cause must be not of these qualities. Otherwise, this cause would not have caused the universe as it is defined. A possible point of attack may be the assumed definition of the universe. –  danielm Nov 23 '12 at 22:42
    
The premise "all things in the universe are caused" is a difficult claim to justify. Things may appear to be caused but what's to say that they can't arise uncaused as well? Further, it's hard to prove why avoiding an infinite regress is something we ought to do. What gives you the basis to say that avoiding infinite regress is better than not avoiding it? :P –  stoicfury Nov 24 '12 at 4:39
    
Well, first of all, I'm not defending Aquinas, I'm merely correcting a misrepresentation of his actual argument. Second, the above is not the argument you originally presented. In any case, Aquinas assumes the principle of sufficient reason (PSR) which is a commonly accepted induction from observation. You can attack it, but then you're not just undermining Aquinas. Third, Aquinas, again making use of the PSR, argues that an infinite regress of causes itself needs a cause. So really the only assumption one can pick at is the PSR. –  danielm Nov 24 '12 at 18:12
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Aquinas claims that "Things do not come into existence uncaused", but how does he know this to be true? Is there any rigorous way he can eliminate the possibility that every once in a very great while (perhaps just once, in fact), something did arise uncaused?

Second: if he is willing to accept an uncaused God, is there any reason not to accept an uncaused universe? Or, contrariwise, if he is not willing to accept that the universe is uncaused, why does he accept that God is uncaused? (And, saying that the universe is created and God is not simply begs the question; there's no way for him to know that the universe is created or that God is uncreated.)

Finally, Hawking hasn't proved anything-- he's merely hypothesized.

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What Aquinas actually says in the Five Ways is that all things in the world have a cause (and arguably all these things in the world are the world). This is, of course, a commonly accepted induction from observation, and the reason why "proof" is de facto synonymous with "argument". Second, if the universe is all those things which have a cause, and if one is to avoid an infinite regress (which he seeks to do), one must conclude that there must have been a first cause that was itself uncaused. It's a simple argument, and its points of attack are not those given. –  danielm Nov 23 '12 at 22:50
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Not only is the answer an obvious "no" because the premises don't restrict the solution to an entity that would conventionally be called God (e.g. the universe is a forgotten and unattended simulation on a computer in another universe with vastly more computational power than ours), there are other possibilities that haven't even been considered. For example, the universe could be self-causing (e.g. the "end" of the universe causes the "beginning"). This breaks temporal causality, but we don't have much evidence that temporal causality makes sense outside of the universe anyway.

We can conclude that the Big Bang was a unique event, but there is insufficient information to conclude much more.

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Just because the Universe has a beginning does not mean that there had to be a god to create it. There could have been a cause that was not God. Perhaps there was a Universe that Predated our that no longer exists but was the roots of the creation of our universe. As we have no data upon which to evaluate this universe or any other competing or complementing universes there is no reason to think that the laws of this universe were identical or even similar to those of any previous universe.

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"Preceding universes" would be tantamount to infinite regress, though, which Neil Meyer does mention as a possibility (while supposing however that it has been ruled out). –  Niel de Beaudrap Oct 11 '11 at 1:38
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@NieldeBeaudrap - It does not have to be infinite. A single preceding universe that caused ours would be sufficient. –  Chad Oct 11 '11 at 2:28
    
Yes, except that this would not satisfy most people; they would ask where that universe came from. ("Preceding universes" was really meant as a category of object that one might consider; cosmologists would likely extend their definitions to say that what came before was still the universe, and the modern pocket of familiar rules and matter would be called something quite like the "modern pocket" or something.) –  Niel de Beaudrap Oct 11 '11 at 10:04
    
@NieldeBeaudrap - I am not trying to solve the ultimate question just show that it does not prove the existance of god. –  Chad Oct 11 '11 at 14:18
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It's not a counter-argument to Aquinas, but others have already adressed it.

I just want to say that Hawking's actual stance on the subject has changed. He argues that the Hawking-Hartle no boundary proposal (which is a way to compute the wavefunction of the universe) can be interpreted to mean that the universe had a beginning and still was not created.

Finally, whatever Hawking thinks about the matter, it is totally irrelevant to the existence of God. There's no sense speaking about God and arguing that some sophisticated piece of math proves or disproves his existence, if you can't even formulate what "God" means in that mathematical framework. In other words, Hawking is just doing very bad philosophy there.

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No. The argument equates having a beginning with having a cause. These are not the same thing.

For example, if all of existence had a first state, it clearly had a beginning (that state). But that first state must have had no cause, because that would imply a state prior to the first state.

Also, this first state of existence is nothing like a god, since it ceases to exist as soon as the second state of existence comes along.

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"that first state must have had no cause, because that would imply a state prior to the first state." - That only works so long as time is absolute and only moves forward. –  Chad Oct 14 '11 at 16:12
    
The OP's argument only works if the notion of a "cause" is meaningful. That doesn't require absolute time, but it does require at least a notion of successive states. –  David Schwartz Oct 14 '11 at 19:07
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Not necessarily. There are facts and arguments one can submit either way regardless of how you believe the universe came to be.

More important than this issue, I think, is the issue of personal beliefs regarding life in general. I think that what you believe about life in general is more likely to influence what you believe the beginning may or may not mean than the other way around.

To put it differently: Your religious (or irreligious, however the case may be) beliefs are more like to dictate your beliefs regarding origins than vice versa.

I believe Aquinas' argument has been brought up to date in the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which has it's roots in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim philosophers. Though most strongly with the Muslims.

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“When people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them that the question itself makes no sense. Time didn’t exist before the big bang, so there is no time for god to make the universe in. It’s like asking directions to the edge of the earth; The Earth is a sphere; it doesn’t have an edge; so looking for it is a futile exercise.” “If the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end.” - Stephen Hawking

If everything has a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just be the universe as God. Some have argued that because the universe is like a clock, there must be a clock maker. This is a slippery argument, because there is nothing that is really perfectly analogous to the universe as a whole, if your question is about the whole, because everything is just a part of universe. Why is there something rather than nothing? And if there were nothing? You'd still be complaining! The concept of "before" becomes meaningless when considering a situation without time. What's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, an outside time God and no God at all? There are an absurdity in to cite a imaginary definition of attributes as proof of existence in real world.Rational argument can not reach the believers because the believers had declared that it can not by his own decree.

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God's existence is beyond any scientific fact, although logic could come to rescue.

As Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal also addressed this issue.

When he chose to believe in God, it was just the most primitive self-preservation instinct manifested as an unconscious rational choice (pretty much a conscious one, in his case).

As Blaise Pascal stated (see Pascal's Wager): He chose to believe in God as there is no proof that God doesn't exist. So, should God exist, his reward would be heaven and eternal joy. Should God not exist, he didn't lose anything.

In our days, insurance works more or less the same way. You choose to have insurance because it's better to have one though you're possibly never going to use it than to need one and not to have it.

Eventually a hypothetical religion could emerge, with a divinity that could create "everything" in such a way that proof of that divinity's existence could never be found. In which case Pascal is 100% right... again. Thus, atheists could not blame believers of that religion, as it is their most rational response to the uncertainty (though believers could blame atheists trying to find out whether God exists, as being somewhat masochistic, from their point of view of course).

Regarding that hypothetical religion one thing is for certain: believers and atheist both could agree that, if such a divinity exist, it is more likely that they're never going to find any proof of its existence.

I'd like to call this hypothetical religion "Religion 2.0", where even science could be considered part of its rituals, and every attempt to prove the non-existence of their God could be celebrated and glorified.

As a premise the question named God, no whose God, so in the case of religion 2.0 (the example above), Hawkings' argument is not sufficient as God could create an eternal universe, in the same way as one with a begining.

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You are not directly referring to the question in your answer. You're touching the subject of proving God, but your idea of a Religion 2.0, which seems fragmentary has nothing to do with the question whether Hawking proved God's existence. –  iphigenie Nov 27 '12 at 23:01
    
As a premise the question named God, no whose God, so in the case of religion 2.0 (the example above), Hawkings' argument is not sufficient as God could create an eternal universe, in the same way as one with a begining. –  rraallvv Nov 27 '12 at 23:30
    
Maybe you should add this to your answer then. –  iphigenie Nov 27 '12 at 23:34
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Thanks, I've added it as you suggested –  rraallvv Nov 27 '12 at 23:38
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