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God or gravity—what agent was responsible for creation?

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 5, 2010 | 10:46 am

It’s difficult to understand why this is a story. Frankly, when I saw the headline that Stephen Hawking had said God had no role in the creation of the universe, I assumed a very old story had accidentally been republished online. But it wasn’t. And now there are stories about religious leaders responding (and blog posts about those stories):

“Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” he wrote.

“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going.”

But the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, told the Times that “physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing.”

He added: “Belief in God is not about plugging a gap in explaining how one thing relates to another within the Universe. It is the belief that there is an intelligent, living agent on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence.”

We’ve been down this road before. In general, scientists and theists will differ on whether they think there is a place for both God and science in our understanding of the world in which we live. Some scientists, like Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller, see no tension between the two.

I think that Hawking and Williams are just going to have to agree to disagree.

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