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03 September 2010

Christians respond to Hawking anti-creation claim

Christians respond to Hawking anti-creation claim

Christian leaders and scientists have hit back against Stephen Hawking's claims in his new book that science renders God unnecessary in the creation of the universe.

While Professor Hawking previously said that a creator God was not incompatible with science, his new book, The Grand Design, argues that the Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics.

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going," said Hawking, in an extract of the book which appeared in The Times.

A number of leading Christians - including eminent scientists - have responded to his claims.

The Rev Dr Ernest C Lucas is a member of the Evangelical Alliance's Theological and Public Policy Advisory Committee and vice-principal of Bristol Baptist College. He also holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Kent and teaches on Science and Christianity, with books including "Think God, Think Science."

He told the Evangelical Alliance that Hawking assumes that scientific explanations are the only valid and necessary ones, while many fellow scientists disagree.

"Christians and people of other faiths argue that there is good evidence in human history and human experience that a Creator God, not just the laws of physics, is required as the answer to the question: 'Why does anything exist at all'?" he said. Read his full comment here.

Professor John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford, also wrote a response in the Daily Mail.

"Contrary to what Hawking claims, physical laws can never provide a complete explanation of the universe," he said, adding that laws do not create anything in and of themselves.

"What Hawking appears to have done is to confuse law with agency. His call on us to choose between God and physics is a bit like someone demanding that we choose between aeronautical engineer Sir Frank Whittle and the laws of physics to explain the jet engine.

"That is a confusion of category. The laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works, but someone had to build the thing, put in the fuel and start it up. The jet could not have been created without the laws of physics on their own - but the task of development and creation needed the genius of Whittle as its agent."

And the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, told The Times: "Belief in God is not about plugging a gap in explaining how one thing relates to another within the Universe. It is the belief that there is an intelligent, living agent on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence.

"Physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing."