Featured as a back-of-page article in the CSABC Quarterly Letter of December 2005
Introduced by Richard Peachey
An excerpt from Alex Williams and John Hartnett. 2005. Dismantling the Big Bang. Green Forest, AR: Master Books. pp. 59f.
The theoretical astrophysicist, Professor Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University, in his best-selling book A Brief History of Time, claimed that his big-bang theory was “in agreement with all the observational evidence that we have today.” In the introduction to that book, one of America’s leading astrophysicists of the day, the late Professor Carl Sagan of Cornell University, said, “This book is also about God . . . or perhaps the absence of God . . . a universe with no edge in space and no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a Creator to do.”
Now the casual reader might reasonably conclude from this that Hawking’s big-bang theory explained the origin of the universe. In Hawking’s own words, it agreed with all the evidence (i.e., it explained everything), and Professor Sagan clearly understood this to be Hawking’s meaning as he said it left nothing for a Creator to do — it had all been explained with physics!
Surprisingly, this is not the case. A few sentences after Professor Hawking claimed that his big-bang theory had explained all the evidence, he admitted that among the few remaining unanswered questions was the question of the origin of stars and galaxies.
Now in the universe where we live, if you take away the stars and galaxies there is in effect no universe left to explain. Professor Hawking claimed to have explained everything (his theory agreed with all the observational evidence) and Professor Sagan took this to mean that Hawking had left nothing for the Creator to do, but in fact the essential substance of the universe — the stars and galaxies — remained unexplained. How could the world’s leading scientists possibly get it so wrong?
The answer is that the assumptions they started with determined the conclusions they came to.
Professor Hawking is a theoretician and the universe he is concerned with is the universe inside his own head, not the stars and galaxies of the real universe. He began with a problem in his head and he solved it in his head to his own satisfaction.
Professor Sagan, however, was a practical astronomer, a pioneer in the SETI program (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), and consultant to the NASA Mars landing program, so he was very aware of the real universe. The reason that he came to the “no God” conclusion was because that is what he started with. He made it very clear elsewhere in his prolific writing that he had no time for God. Hawking’s work gave him an opportunity to promote that point of view, even though he had to quote selectively to do so.
For further reading:
" 'Big Bang': The Implausible Explosion!" <http://www.creationbc.org/index.php/big-bang-the-implausible-explosion/>
Eric Lerner. 2004 (May 22). "Bucking the big bang." New Scientist 182(2448):20. This position statement, signed by hundreds of non-creationist scientists, is available for viewing and signing at <http://blog.lege.net/cosmology/cosmologystatement_org.html>.
Jason Lisle. 2003. "Light-travel time: a problem for the big bang." Creation 25(4):48f. <http://creation.com/light-travel-time-a-problem-for-the-big-bang>
"Creation, Evolution, and Speed-of-Light Problems" <http://www.creationbc.org/index.php/creation-evolution-and-speed-of-light-problems/>