From his desk at Cambridge University and beyond, Stephen Hawking sent his mind spiraling into the deepest depths of black holes, radiating across the endless cosmos and swirling back. He is looking for creation as a scientist, and when he is called to discuss creation's biggest puzzles – Where do we come from? What is our purpose? Are we alone? – he answered as a scientist, often to the chagrin of religious critics.
In Stephen Hawking's final book, "Letter Answers to Big Questions," published by Bantam Books essays by addressing life's most religiously fraught question of all: Is there a God? [Big Bang to Civilization: 1
Hawking's answer – compiled from decades of prior interviews, essays and speeches with the help of his family, colleagues and the Steven Hawking Estate – should come as no surprise to whoever he is, he, religiously.
"I think the universe is spontaneously created out of nothing, according to the laws of science," Hawking, who died in March, wrote. In life, Hawking was a vocal champion of the Big Bang.
In life, Hawking was a vocal champion of the Big Bang theory – the idea that the universe began by exploding suddenly out of an ultradense singularity smaller than an atom. From this speck emerged all the matter, energy and empty space that the universe would ever contain, and all that raw material evolved into the cosmos we perceive today by following a strict set of scientific laws. To Hawking and many like-minded scientists, the combined laws of gravity, relativity, quantum physics and a few other rules could explain everything that ever happened or ever will happen in our known universe.
"If you like, you can say existence, "Hawking wrote."
With the universe running on a scientifically guided autopilot, the only role for an all-powerful deity might
"Did God create the quantum laws that allowed the big bang to occur? " Hawking wrote.
Hawking's explanation begins with quantum mechanics, which explains how subatomic particles behave. In quantum studies, it's common to see subatomic particles like protons and electrons seemingly appear out of nowhere, stick around for a while and then go back to a completely different location. Because the universe itself, in all its mind-boggling vastness and complexity, could simply have popped into.
That still does not explain the possibility that God created that proton-size singularity, then flipped the quantum-mechanical switch that allowed it to pop. But Hawking says science has an explanation here, too.
Black holes, like the universe before the big bang, condense into a singularity. In this ultra-packed point of mass, the gravity is so long that it's time to get as well as light and space. Simply put, in the depths of a black hole, time does not exist.
Because the universe began as a singularity, time itself could not exist before the Big Bang. Hawking's answer, then, to what happened before the Big Bang is " before the Big Bang."
"We have finally found something that does not have a cause, because there What does not exist for a cause, "Hawking wrote.
This argument will do little to persuade theistic believers, but that was never Hawking's intent. As a scientist with a near-religious devotion to understanding the cosmos, Hawking sought to "know the mind of God" by learning everything about the self-sufficient universe around us.
"We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, "Hawking concludes the first chapter of his final book," and for that I am extremely grateful. "
Originally published on Live Science.