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Stephen Hawking
quotes on God and Religion

Stephen Hawking God & Religion quotes

Picture of Stephen Hawking author of these quotes on God, Religion and Religious Beliefs

picture of man in a white coat scientifically examining - The Hand of God

The image above appeared in The Economist magazine in early September, 2010, in association with the release of Stephen Hawkings' work The Grand Design -
(which was actually co-authored with another physicist named Leonard Mlodinow).

It is a parody of an original that appears on the ceiling of Rome's Cistine Chapel

Michelangelo's - The Creation of Adam - was painted circa 1511 :-
Picture of Michaelangelo's original painting demonstrating the parody in relation to Stephen Hawkings - The Grand Design

Michelangelo's - The Creation of Adam is, in fact, often parodied :-
picture showing a parody of Michaelangelo's painting in relation to Darwin and evolution

Professor Stephen Hawking is one of the most famous physicists of recent times.
The Times of London issue of 2 September 2010, a week prior to the publication of ~ The Grand Design ~ (and some two weeks prior to an high-profile papal visit to Britain), made front page news of Stephen Hawkings upcoming work and of his views on God and Creation.

Picture of the headline section of 'The Times' front page on the day in question.

Picture of the headline section of 'The Times' front page

The Times article then continues:-
Modern physics leaves no place for God in the creation of the Universe, Stephen Hawking has concluded.

Just as Darwinism removed the need for a creator in the sphere of biology, Britain's most eminent scientist argues that a new series of theories have rendered redundant the role of a creator for the Universe.

In his forthcoming book, an extract from which is published exclusively in Eureka, published today with The Times, Professor Hawking sets out to answer the question: "Did the Universe need a creator?" The answer he gives is a resounding "no".

Far from being a once-in-a-million event that could only be accounted for by extraordinary serendipity or a divine hand, the Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, Hawking says.

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There was widespread publicity about the new book in early September, 2010, with many print and on-line media outlets covering the story.

A page that appeared on the BBC website on 2 September, 2010, the day the story about the imminent publication of The Grand Design made headline news, featured these quotes as background text:-
There is no place for God in theories on the creation of the Universe, the physicist and mathematician Professor Stephen Hawking has said.

He had previously argued that belief in a creator was not incompatible with science - but in a new book The Grand Design, he concludes that the Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics.
The following quotation, delivered by Stephen Hawking during a very brief appearance on an accompanying on-line video about the new book, was explicitly announced, by the presenter of this news item, to be The Key Conclusion of The Grand Design:-
"Because there are laws such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going."
(The expression "to light the blue touch paper" is possibly something of an anglicism and is to do with the custom of lighting the fuses of fire-works in a garden setting).
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An earlier and quite famous work by Stephen Hawking - A Brief History of Time - contains several revealing quotes on God and Religion.

A Brief History of Time's bookcover

"As we shall see, the concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: What did God do before he created the universe? Augustine didn't reply: He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions. Instead, he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe."

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 8

"One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang, or even afterwards in just such a way as to make it look as though there had been a big bang, but it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!"

A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), pp. 8-9.

"With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started -- it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?"

A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 140-41.

"However, if we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just by a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we should know the mind of God."

A Brief History of Time - (page 193 - actually the concluding paragraph!)
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In a later work Black Holes and Baby Universes and other Essays Stephen Hawking revealed that A Brief History of Time remained on the bestseller list of The New York Times for fifty-three weeks, that as of February 1993 it had been on The Sunday Times best seller list for 205 weeks, and that translations into 33 languages other than English had already been published.
Also in Black Holes and Baby Universes, Hawking goes so far as to attribute a marked increase in sales to this - discovery of a complete theory of everything means knowing the mind of God - quotation which was probably from his point a view nothing more than a metaphor indicative of an understanding of the universe which was complete and objective.
"In the proof stage I nearly cut the last sentence in the book... Had I done so, the sales might have been halved."
As sales of A Brief History of Time currently stand at over nine million copies Prof. Stephen decision not to edit out that sentence may have had notable consequences.

'Intelligent Design' has featured on the cover of Time magazine
'Intelligent Design' featured on the cover of Time magazine

Stephen Hawking, alongside holding skeptical views on God and Religion, is also deeply skeptical about the value of Philosophy!!!

Stephen Hawking even goes so far in The Grand Design as to suggest that "Philosophy is Dead".

Chapter I ~ The Mystery of Being ~ actually begins on this theme:-
We each exist for but a short time, and in that time explore but a small part of the whole universe. But humans are a curious species. We wonder, we seek answers. Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at the immense heavens above, people have always asked a multitude of questions: How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator? Most of us do not spend most of our time worrying about these questions, but almost all of us worry about them some of the time.

Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge. The purpose of this book is to give the answers that are suggested by recent discoveries and theoretical advances. They lead us to a new picture of the universe and our place in it that is very different from the traditional one, and different even from the picture we might have painted just a decade or two ago.

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At Age-of-the-Sage we see relevance in God, Religion and Philosophy!!!

"Human Being" may be more truly Metaphysical than Physical?
Diagram suggesting a Spiritual, Materialist and Ethnic 'Tripartism' to Human Nature
There may be "something of" a Spiritual, Materialist and Ethnic 'Tripartism' to Human Nature?

You can find key insights here at Age-of-the-Sage,
(from the Great Faiths, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras, Shakespeare and Emerson!!!),
that give convincing support to this view of Human Nature!!!
Believe it or not even SCIENCE seems to agree with this view!!!

More science-related quotes unsympathetic towards explanations of existence associated with religion attributed to Professor Stephen Hawking will now be presented. The content of this page then turns towards stating some intriguing insights related to Human Nature and Human Spirituality such as the "metaphysical" depiction of "Human Being" just presented might be held to suggest.

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"What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary."

Der Spiegel (17 October 1988)

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In October 2001 an article appeared in the London-based Telegraph newspaper wherein Prof. Hawking was represented as being interviewed "about life, the universe and everything".
In this article the Prof. was asked the following:-

You use God as a metaphor for the laws of nature but, from what I remember, you are not religious in any way. Is this still the case?

And Prof. Hawkings reply was:- "If you believe in science, like I do, you believe that there are certain laws that are always obeyed. If you like, you can say the laws are the work of God, but that is more a definition of God than a proof of his existence."
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In June of 2010 Channel 4 aired a series themed as "Genius of Britain" where, according to Stephen Hawking, several British figures prominent in scientific fields sought "to tell the stories of the British scientists who changed the world, and to put science back on the map."

During the recording of this series Professor Hawking was asked whether he thought God existed.
Hawkings reply, which like most of his statements had to be painstakingly pre-prepared and installed for playback through his voice synthesiser, was as follows:~
"The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can't understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second. If you like, you can call the laws of science 'God', but it wouldn't be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions."

Human Existence

 ... you must take the whole society to find the whole man. Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier. In the divided or social state these functions are parcelled out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work, whilst each other performs his.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Pythagoras also, in earlier times, advanced a similar view of human nature.

 In 518 B.C. Pythagoras travelled west and during his journey reputedly had a significant interview with the prominent ruler Leon of Philus whilst both were attending some public Games.
 King Leon was most impressed by Pythagoras' range of knowledge and asked which of the arts he was most proficient in. Pythagoras replied that, rather than being proficient in any art, he regarded himself as being a philosopher.
 King Leon had never heard this term before and asked for an explanation.
 This is the recorded reply:-

 Life, Prince Leon, may well be compared with these public Games for in the vast crowd assembled here some are attracted by the acquisition of gain, others are led on by the hopes and ambitions of fame and glory. But among them are a few who have come to observe and to understand all that passes here. It is the same with life. Some are influenced by the love of wealth while others are blindly led on by the mad fever for power and domination, but the finest type of man gives himself up to discovering the meaning and purpose of life itself. He seeks to uncover the secrets of nature. This is the man I call a philosopher for although no man is completely wise in all respects, he can love wisdom as the key to nature's secrets.

  Ancient, classical, Greek philosophy also evidences cogent suggestions that human nature is complex:-

 Plato was a pupil and friend of the greek philosopher Socrates. Amongst the many works attributed to Plato's authorship is his "The Republic" wherein is set out a series of discourses that allegedly took place between Socrates and a number of other persons who variously arrived and departed as the discussions continued.
 It is in this record, made by Plato, of "Socrates? " philosophising that most intriguing themes are developed -

 ...can we possibly refuse to admit that there exist in each of us the same generic parts and characteristics as are found in the state? For I presume the state has not received them from any other source. It would be ridiculous to imagine that the presence of the spirited element in cities is not to be traced to individuals, wherever this character is imputed to the people, as it is to the natives of Thrace, and Scythia, and generally speaking, of the northern countries; or the love of knowledge, which would be chiefly attributed to our own country; or the love of riches, which people would especially connect with the Phoenicians and the Egyptians.
 This then is a fact so far, and one which it is not difficult to apprehend.
 No, it is not. ...

Brilliant persons of recent times may be thought to have something to say in relation to such matters:-

"You will hear things like, "Science doesn't know everything." Well, of course science doesn't know everything. But, because science doesn't know everything, it doesn't mean that science knows nothing. Science knows enough for us to be watched by a few million people now on television, for these lights to be working, for quite extraordinary miracles to have taken place in terms of the harnessing of the physical world and our dim approaches towards understanding it. And as Wittgenstein quite rightly said, "When we understand every single secret of the universe, there will still be left the eternal mystery of the human heart."
Stephen Fry quoting Wittgenstein during a Room 101 TV program

Metaphysical Human Nature versus 'Darwinist?' physical evolutionism.
Metaphysical Human Nature versus 'Darwinist?' physical evolutionism

You can find key insights here at Age-of-the-Sage,
(from the Great Faiths, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras, Shakespeare and Emerson!!!),
that give convincing support to this view of Human Nature!!!
Believe it or not even SCIENCE seems to agree with this view!!!

Has Science found what it would itself consider to be adequate ways of accounting for Humanity's Sense of the Divine?
A Sense of the Divine that has raised countless Cathedrals, Churches, Mosques, Shrines, Synagogues and Temples across the millenia. A Sense of the Divine which has often resulted in the spontaneous establishment of faith-related civilisations, or the conversion-to-faith of existing civilisations, such that it would not be too much of an exaggeration to depict Human Beings, across recorded history, as frequently living out their lives within faith-based cultural atmospheres!

Our Home Page is about the Faith vs. Reason Debate and features the following quotes from Vivekananda, (actually a name-in-religion suggestive of "the bliss of discerning wisdom"), who lived between 1863-1902 and is credited with having been a key figure in the broader introduction of Indian philosophy to the Western world following on from his own acclaimed contribution to a "Parliament of World Religions" held in Chicago in association with the World's Fair of 1893.

Religion deals with the truths of the metaphysical world just as chemistry and the other natural sciences deal with the truths of the physical world. The book one must read to learn chemistry is the book of nature. The book from which to learn religion is your own mind and heart. The sage is often ignorant of physical science, because he reads the wrong book - the book within; and the scientist is too often ignorant of religion, because he too reads the wrong book - the book without.

There are two worlds, the microcosm, and the macrocosm, the internal and the external. We get truth from both of these by means of experience. The truth gathered from internal experience is psychology, metaphysics, and religion; from external experience, the physical sciences. Now a perfect truth should be in harmony with experiences in both these worlds. The microcosm must bear testimony to the macrocosm, and the macrocosm to the microcosm; physical truth must have its counterpart in the internal world, and the internal world must have its verification outside. Yet, as a rule, we find that many of these truths are in conflict. At one period of the world's history, the internals become supreme, and they begin to fight the externals. At the present time the externals, the physicists, have become supreme, and they have put down many claims of psychologists and metaphysicians.

In Philosophy "Metaphysics" is the branch of Philosophy dealing with "being": How things exists, what things really are, what essence is, what it is 'to be' something, etc.
The word comes from a "book" of some thirteen treatises written by Aristotle which were traditionally arranged, by scholars who lived in the centuries after Aristotle's life-time in the fourth century B.C., after those of his "books" which considered physics and natural science.

The principal subject of Aristotle's thirteen treatises is "being qua being", or being understood as being.

At the heart of the book lie three questions:-
What is existence, and what sorts of things exist in the world?
How can things continue to exist, and yet undergo the change we see about us in the natural world?
And how can this world be understood?

It may be that for want of other terminology directly suited to reference such elusive subject matter the term MetaPhysica, (in Greek it means "after physics" or "beyond physics"), was adopted in relation to Aristotle's "book" of "metaphysical" treatises.

A speculative representation of 'Tripartite?' Human Nature :-
A diagram showing speculative representations of 'Tripartite?' Human Nature

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that :-
" is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots,
whose flower and fruitage is the world..."

Should that be true it would follow that individual Human Nature 'metaphysically' underpins, and is generally associable, with the 'Nature' and 'Form' of most 'Human' societies!
A diagram suggesting that Human Societies often demonstrate capacities for Spiritual, Materialistic and Tribal / Ethnic 'Tripartism'

Could it really be the case that individual Human Nature is

'metaphysically associable'

with the 'Nature' and 'Form' of most, non-doctrinaire, 'Human' societies!

Some of the most influential philosophers in the history of thought in "The West" have suggested their personal acceptance of this possibility!!!
Immanuel Kant, perhaps the most celebrated philospher of recent times, has something to say on this:-
"Whatever concept one may hold, from a metaphysical point of view, concerning the freedom of the will, certainly its appearances, which are human actions, like every other natural event, are determined by universal laws. However obscure their causes, history, which is concerned with narrating these appearances, permits us to hope that if we attend to the play of freedom of the human will in the large, we may be able to discern a regular movement in it, and that what seems complex and chaotic in the single individual may be seen from the standpoint of the human race as a whole to be a steady and progressive though slow evolution of its original endowment."
Immanuel Kant
Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View (1784)

Or to quote Emerson, from his famous Essay ~ History more fully:-
"In old Rome the public roads beginning at the Forum proceeded north, south, east, west, to the centre of every province of the empire, making each market-town of Persia, Spain, and Britain pervious to the soldiers of the capital: so out of the human heart go, as it were, highways to the heart of every object in nature, to reduce it under the dominion of man. A man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots, whose flower and fruitage is the world. His faculties refer to natures out of him, and predict the world he is to inhabit, as the fins of the fish foreshow that water exists, or the wings of an eagle in the egg presuppose air. He cannot live without a world."

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  "There is one mind common to all individual men....
....Of the works of this mind history is the record. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. All the facts of history pre-exist as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of this manifold spirit to the manifold world."

From Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essay ~ History

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"What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or strange in this particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature."
David Hume
We have prepared some fairly meaty, but hopefully entertaining, pages about a most informative episode in European History in the spirit of attempting to learn worthwhile lessons of history about The Human Condition!!!

European History pages