Hawking's Blind Spot

I mentioned the other day that Stephen Hawking's pronouncement in his upcoming book that God didn't create the universe - that it was the inevitable result of the laws of physics - was an example of a brilliant man saying a dumb thing.  The reason smart people can say foolish things is because their presuppositions blind them.  And in Hawking's case, his commitment to materialism blinds him to alternative explanations.

For Hawking, the physical is all there is so that is the only possible kind of explanation.  So despite how silly and counter-intuitive it is to say that physical laws created the universe - physical laws that couldn't have existed prior to the physical world (in this universe or any other prior multi-universe) - it's the only alternative open to him so it's more reasonable to him than any other kind of explanation.  The other sorts of explanation are dismissed a priori because the physical is all there is.  Therefore, as Sherlock Holmes said, the remaining explanation, no matter how implausible, must be the answer.  It's logical.  So to physicalists, a physical explanation is logical because it's the only alternative left to them.

J.P. Moreland has said that theism allows theists to be more open-minded than physicalists.  It's fashionable these days to presume the opposite.  But theists have at least two kinds of explanatory alterantives - natural and supernatural.  Theists can consider either kind of explanation that best fits the evidence.  Physicalists, on the other hand, have only one alternative.  And that's why Hawking can say something silly.

The power of presuppositions to blind us is a caution all of us need to take stock of in how we form our beliefs so that we check for blind spots.

BTW, William Lane Craig will be Greg's guest on the radio program on September 19 to discuss Hawking's new book after it's released.

Melinda Penner