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News – Thumbs down for Hawking

November 2010

Thumbs down for Hawking

 

In a recent Premier Christian Radio debate on Prof. Stephen Hawking’s latest book,

     But even more damaging criticism came in another Premier debate on 25 September, with Sir Roger Penrose in dialogue with Alister McGrath, professor of theology at Kings College, London. Penrose is an eminent physicist, who worked alongside Stephen Hawking developing Big Bang theory.

     The grand design maintains that multiverse theory (M-theory) means that ‘God is not necessary’ for creation. Penrose described Hawking’s book as ‘misleading’, adding that M-theory was ‘not even a theory’ and ‘hardly science’, but instead ‘a collection of hopes, ideas and aspirations’.

     He continued: ‘The book is a bit misleading. It gives you this impression of a theory that is going to explain everything; it’s nothing of the sort. It’s not even a theory’.

     Asked whether science shows that the universe could ‘create itself from nothing’ as claimed in the book, Penrose was strong in his condemnation of the ‘string’ theory that lies behind Hawking’s statement: ‘It’s certainly not doing it yet. I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many.

     ‘It’s not an uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto an idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observation. They are just nice ideas’. He added that such ideas are ‘very far from any testability. They are hardly science’.

     As a colleague who worked closely with Hawking, Penrose is the most high profile scientist yet to dismiss Hawking’s views. Premier presenter Justin Brierley said, ‘What’s interesting is that Penrose’s criticisms of Hawking are not driven by any faith position.

     ‘Instead he simply recognises that the science does not justify making statements about God’s non-existence, which is a much more honest position than other well-known scientists, such as Dawkins, who want to equate science with atheism’ (full programme on www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable).

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