Friday, September 3, 2010

Did God Create the Universe?

Did God create the universe?
I'm pretty sure that He did. It's a pretty strong tenet of Judaism, and every other religion as well.
Rambam opens his Mishnah Torah (Laws of the Foundations of the Torah 1:1) addressing precisely this point.
יסוד היסודות ועמוד החכמות, לידע שיש שם מצוי ראשון.
It is the foundation of foundations and the pillar of all wisdom, to know that there is a first presence.
(Question for discussion - and there's a lot of it - how can Rambam tell us that we must know that God exists? Isn't that a belief? Shouldn't he write, "to believe"? Also note that the first letter of the first four words spell out the name of God - yud - hey - vav - hey. Not a coincidence.)

Rambam's statement serves as a fundamental tenet of every other religion as well. That is, every religion except one: the religion of science.
That's right - science.
Why do I call science a religion? Because it has somehow evolved into a system of belief. The latest evidence: Physicist Stephen Hawking's new book in which he declares that, "God did not create the universe." Reuters reports:
In "The Grand Design," co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts Thursday.
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," Hawking writes.
"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."
Here's what I don't understand: who made gravity? No matter how far back you go, there's a point at which you simply can't answer the question, "and who made that?" unless you invoke a higher being.
These theological pronouncements leave me baffled for another reason. I always understood science to be the study of something that you can prove. Wikipedia defines science as,
any systematic knowledge that is capable of resulting in a correct prediction or reliable outcome.
You observe something, posit a theory about it, and then go about the business of trying to prove whether the theory is true or not. Until it's been proven, it's just a theory.
Yet, for some reason, theory now takes on the role of truth. As soon as science postulates a theory that it really cannot empirically prove (evolution, big bang, etc.), the scientific world immediately accepts that theory as truth, especially when that theory challenges religious dogma.
Why do scientists feel so threatened by God? Why does Stephen Hawking feel the need to deny the existence of God due to his latest theory of M (which I'm sure I'd never understand)? Why is science on such a crusade against God? Even more to the point, if Stephen Hawking is willing to define truth despite the fact that he cannot prove his assertion, the according to my understanding, he's not acting like a scientist.
No, he's a theologan. And not a very good one.