"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Twelve "The Vision Of The Time Of The End" concludes with assurance of ultimate victory for Daniel's people (Israel), in words suggestive of the final resurrection (1-3). Daniel is given instructions to seal the book because it pertain to things in the future. Asking when these things will be accomplished, he is given cryptic answers, but is reassured that he himself shall rest and rise to his inheritance at the end of the days (4-13). POINTS TO PONDER * Identifying the "time of trouble" and "time of the end" in this chapter * The instructions for Daniel to "shut up the words, and seal the book" REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The ultimate victory of Daniel's people - Dan 12:1-3 - Final instructions and answers given to Daniel - Dan 12:4-13 2) What events were to occur "at that time"? (1-3) - Michael, the great prince who watches over Daniel's people, shall stand up - There shall be time of trouble, unlike any before - Daniel's people (those whose name found written in the book) will be delivered - Many will who sleep in the dust shall awake, some to life and others to shame - The wise and those who turn many to righteousness will shine 3) What suggests that this "time" is not the Last Day or end of time as we know it? (2) - Only "many" are said to arise, not "all"; thus this text may be figurative (cf. Jn 5:28-29) 4) What instructions was Daniel given, and why? (4,9) - Shut up the words, and seal the book - For the words are closed and sealed until "the time of the end" 5) What questions does Daniel ask of the man clothed in linen? (6,8) - "How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?" - "What shall be the end of these things?" 6) What answers are given to Daniel? (7,11-12) - "It shall be for a time, times, and half a time" - "From the time the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be 1290 days." - "Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the 1335 days." 7) What words of comfort and assurance are given to Daniel? (10,13) - "Many will be purified, made white, and refined...the wise shall understand." - "...you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days."
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Eleven After introductory comments in chapter ten, "The Vision Of The Time Of The End" begins in earnest. A brief prophecy of a Persian-Greek conflict (2-4) is followed by the description of a lengthy Egyptian-Syrian conflict (5-19), with focus on a vile king from the North who will bring blasphemies against Daniel's people, but who will ultimately be defeated (20-45). POINTS TO PONDER * The prophetic detail of the Persian-Greek and Egyptian-Syrian conflicts * The identity of the vile king from the North REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The Persian-Greek conflict - Dan 11:1-4 - The Egyptian-Syrian conflict - Dan 11:5-19 - The rise and fall of a vile king from the North - Dan 11:20-45 2) In the Persian-Greek conflict, who was the mighty king that would rise? (3-4) - Alexander the Great, whose kingdom was divided among his four generals 3) Who were the warring kings of the North and South? (5-20) - The kings of the South were the Ptolemies, based in Egypt - The kings of the North were the Seleucids, based in Syria 4) Based on history, who was likely the vile person introduced in verse 21? - Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who reigned 175-164 B.C. - The "little horn" of Dan 8:9-12,23-25 5) How would he bring blasphemies against Israel? (30-32) - Show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant - Defile the sanctuary fortress (i.e., the temple) - Take away the daily sacrifices - Place there "the abomination of desolation" - Flatter those who do wickedly against the covenant 6) What is said of those who resist valiantly? (32-35) - They shall be strong, carrying out great exploits, instructing many - When they fall, they shall receive aid - Some who fall will be refined and purified, made white 7) In verses 36-45, what three opinions are given about the identity of the king? - It is still about Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.) - The prophecy skips forward to the time of a Roman emperor in the first century A.D. - The prophecy refers to someone yet to come (e.g., the "Anti-christ")
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Ten In the third year of Darius (ca. 535 B.C.) Daniel receives a vision that will affect his people (Israel) "in the latter days" (Dan 10:14), its words to be closed and sealed "till the time of the end" (Dan 12:9). "The Vision Of The Time Of The End" begins with an appearance of a "glorious man" to Daniel beside the Tigris River (1-9), with an explanation for his delay in coming (10-21). The prophecy of the vision continues in chapters eleven and twelve. POINTS TO PONDER * The meaning of the phrase "in the latter days" as used in the vision * The angelic conflict behind the scenes briefly described by the "glorious man" REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The appearance of the "glorious man" to Daniel - Dan 10:1-9 - The conversation between Daniel and the "glorious man"
- Dan 10:10-21 2) Describe the "glorious man" seen by Daniel by the Tigris river (4-6) - Clothed in linen, waist girded with gold - Body like beryl, face like lightning, eyes like torches of fire - Arms and feet like burnished bronze - His words like the voice of a multitude 3) Describe the impact of seeing this "glorious man" on Daniel (8-9) - Left him without strength, his vigor turned to frailty - In a deep sleep, Daniel heard the sound of the man's words 4) How does the "glorious man" address Daniel? (11) - "Man greatly beloved" (cf. Dan 10:19) 5) Why had the "glorious man" delayed his coming to Daniel? (12-13) - The prince of Persia withstood him for 21 days, but then the prince Michael helped him 6) Why was the "glorious man" sent to Daniel? When would the events occur? (14) - To help him understand what would happen to his people (Israel) - In "the latter days", "many days yet to come" 7) Speechless and overwhelmed, how was Daniel strengthened? (15-19) - The "glorious man" touched Daniel, and spoke encouraging words to him 8) What would the "glorious man" do after leaving Daniel? Who would help? (20-21) - Return to fight with the prince of Persia, after that with the prince of Greece - Michael the prince (cf. Dan 10:13; 12:1; Jude 1:9; Re 12:7)
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Nine In the first year of Darius (539 B.C.), understanding that Jeremiah's prophecy of 70 years of captivity has been fulfilled (Jer 25:11), Daniel confesses his nation's sins and prays that God will restore them (1-19). In response, Gabriel is sent to give Daniel understanding of key events that will take place in a time period of 70 "weeks" (lit., "sevens"), one of the most challenging prophecies in the Bible (20-27). POINTS TO PONDER * Daniel's prayer, confessing the sins of his people Israel * The difficulty in interpreting the vision of seventy weeks REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Daniel's prayer for his people - Dan 9:1-19 - The vision of seventy weeks - Dan 9:20-27 2) What prompted Daniel to pray with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes? (2-3) - Jeremiah's prophecy concerning the 70 years of captivity which had been fulfilled 3) List some of the sins mentioned by Daniel that Israel had committed (4-10) - Rebellion, failure to heed the prophets, unfaithfulness, failure to walk in God's laws 4) What had come upon Israel for their sin? (11-14) - The curse and oath written in the Law, involving great disaster (cf. Lev 26:27-45) 5) For what does Daniel pray God regarding Jerusalem and the sanctuary? (16-19) - To turn away his anger, cause His face to shine; to hear, forgive, and not delay 6) Who was caused to fly swiftly to Daniel because of his supplications? (22-23) - Gabriel, whom he had seen earlier (cf. Dan 8:16) 7) List six things that were to happen within the period of seventy "weeks" (24) - To finish the transgression - To make an end of sins - To make reconciliation for iniquity - To bring in everlasting righteousness - To seal up vision and prophecy - To anoint the Most Holy 8) What events would occur in the course of this prophecy's fulfillment? (25-27) - A command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, followed by 69 weeks - The coming of the Messiah who would in turn be cut off, but not for Himself - The destruction of the city and the sanctuary with war and desolations - The confirmation of a covenant with many for one week - The end to sacrifice and offering in the middle of the week - The coming of one who with abomination brings desolation upon the desolate
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Eight In the third year of King Belshazzar (550 B.C.) Daniel has another vision: a swift goat defeating a mighty ram. The goat's large horn is then broken into four horns, followed by a little horn that brings desolation to the sanctuary and the host of heaven (1-14). The angel Gabriel interprets the vision which foretells the rise of a fierce and mighty king (Antiochus IV Epiphanes, 175-164 B.C.) that would bring desolation against the holy people (15-27). POINTS TO PONDER * The interpretation of Daniel's vision in this chapter * The meaning of the expression, "the time of the end" REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The vision of the ram and the goat - Dan 8:1-14 - Gabriel interprets the vision - Dan 8:15-27 2) Describe the ram and the goat in Daniel's vision. (3-8) - Ram: mighty and great, with two horns, one higher than the other - Goat: swift, from the west, with a notable horn - The goat tramples the ram, then grew very great - The goat's horn is broken into four, and out of them a little horn 3) List the actions of the little horn that arises from the four horns. (9-12) - Grew great toward the south, the east, and the Glorious Land - Grew up to the host of heaven and cast some of them and stars down - Exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host - Took away the daily sacrifices, cast down the sanctuary, cast truth to the ground 4) How long would the desolation against the sacrifices and sanctuary last? (13-14) - For 2300 days (evening-mornings, v.26); then the sanctuary would be cleansed 5) According to Gabriel, to when did the vision pertain? (15-19) - The time of the end, the latter time of the indignation, the appointed time 6) What did the ram and goat represent? (20-22) - Ram: Media and Persia; Goat: Greece (Alexander and his generals) 7) How is the king who shall rise (the little horn) described? (23-25) - Fierce, mighty, cunning, who will destroy the mighty and holy people - Rising even against the Prince of princes, but will be broken without means 8) What was Daniel told to do with the vision? Why? (26) - Seal up the vision; it pertained to many days in the future
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Seven In the first year of Belshazzar (552 B.C.), Daniel receives two visions. The first is of four beasts from the sea (1-8). The second involves a judgment by the Ancient of Days, and the coronation of the Son of Man (9-14). The interpretation describes persecution by elements of the fourth beast (kingdom), with ultimate victory by the saints of the Most High (15-28). POINTS TO PONDER * The identity of the four kingdoms represented by the four beasts * The identity of the Son of Man and the timing of His coronation * The conflict between the fourth kingdom and the saints of the Most High REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The vision of the four beasts - Dan 7:1-8 - The vision of the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man - Dan 7:9-14 - The interpretation of Daniel's visions - Dan 7:15-28 2) What four world empires do the four beasts likely represent? (1-8) - Lion: the Babylonian empire - Bear: the Medo-Persian empire - Leopard: the Grecian empire - Dreadful, terrible, exceedingly strong beast: the Roman empire 3) In the second vision, what two scenes appear before Daniel? (9-14) - Judgment by the Ancient of Days - The coronation of the Son of Man 4) What takes place between the two scenes? (11-12) - The fourth beast with the pompous horn is slain - The other beasts have their dominion taken away, but live for awhile 5) What is Daniel told is the meaning of the two visions? (15-18) - The four beasts represent four kings (kingdoms, cf. Dan 7:23) - The saints of the Most High will receive and possess the kingdom forever 6) What is Daniel told when he inquires about the fourth beast? (19-27) - The fourth beast represents a kingdom that will devour the earth - The ten horns represent ten kings, but the pompous horn will subdue three of them - The pompous horn will make war with the saints, but will succeed only for a short time - The pompous horn and its kingdom will lose its dominion and be destroyed - The kingdom and its dominion will be given to saints of the Most High, whose kingdom will be everlasting and all dominions will serve Him
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Six Daniel's character, conviction and courage are seen once more in this well known account of "Daniel in the lion's den". Despite his age (nearing ninety), Daniel serves his king with an excellent spirit and his God with unwavering faith. A plot by enemies is set to destroy him (1-9) and he is cast into a den of lions (10-17). God sends an angel to deliver him (18-23), prompting King Darius of the Medes to praise the living God of Daniel (24-28). POINTS TO PONDER * The excellent character and faith of Daniel, the man of God * Daniel as a role model for young and old, statesmen and administrators REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The trap against Daniel is set - Dan 6:1-9 - The trap against Daniel is sprung - Dan 6:10-17 - The trap against Daniel is spoiled - Dan 6:18-23 - King Darius honors the God of Daniel - Dan 6:24-28 2) What position did King Darius give Daniel in his kingdom? What was the king planning to do with Daniel? Why? (1-3) - One of three governors over the kingdom - Set him over the whole realm - Because of his excellent spirit 3) Why did Daniel's enemies have difficulty finding any charge against him? What trap was set against Daniel? (4-9) - Because he was faithful, without any error or fault found in him - To get Darius to make a decree that no one could petition a god or man for 30 days 4) What did Daniel do when he learned the decree had been signed? (10) - He went to his room and prayed toward Jerusalem as he had done since early days 5) What was the king forced to do when he heard of Daniel's prayers? Was the king pleased? (11-17) - Cast Daniel into a den of lions; no, the king tried to save Daniel but he could not 6) How was Daniel protected from the lions? (21-23) - God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths 7) What did the king do to Daniel's enemies? What did the king do next? (24-28) - Cast those who accused Daniel into the lions' den, along with their families - Made a decree that all should fear the God of Daniel, for He is the living God
"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Chapter Five This chapter fast forwards to 539 B.C. and the last night of Babylonian rule. King Belshazzar (grandson of Nebuchadnezzar) throws a drunken, idolatrous feast that is interrupted by a hand writing on the wall (1-12). Daniel is brought in, and explains that it proclaims the judgment of Belshazzar and the fall of Babylon into the hands of the Medes and Persians (13-29) which occurs that very night (30-31). POINTS TO PONDER * The character of King Belshazzar contrasted with that of Daniel * The meaning of the writing on the wall as explained by Daniel REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Belshazzar's feast and the writing on the wall - Dan 5:1-12 - Daniel explains the writing on the wall - Dan 5:13-29 - Belshazzar's fall - Dan 5:30-31 2) What is the setting leading to the hand writing on the wall? (1-4) - A drunken, idolatrous feast using gold vessels from the house of God in Jerusalem 3) What reaction did the king have to the hand writing on the wall? (6) - Countenance changed, troubled thoughts, hip joints loosened, knees knocking 4) Who was unable to tell the king the interpretation of the writing? (7-8) - His wise men (astrologers, Chaldeans, soothsayers) 5) Who counseled the king to call for Daniel to interpret the writing? (10-12) - The queen (likely the queen mother, daughter of Nebuchadnezzar) 6) Before interpreting the writing, what did Daniel tell King Belshazzar? (17-24) - The king could keep his reward (gifts) for himself - He had not learned from what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar - He had failed to humble himself before God, and did not glorify Him 7) What was the inscription written on the wall, and the interpretation? (24-28) - Mene (to number): God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it - Tekel (to weigh): You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting - Upharsin (to divide): Your kingdom has been divided, given to the Medes and Persians 8) What happened that very night? (30-31) - King Belshazzar was slain - Darius the Mede received the kingdom
Does Song of Solomon Mention Muhammad?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Islamic apologists have attempted to bolster the credibility of their beliefs by claiming that the Bible, itself, makes reference to the coming of the prophet Muhammad. Ironically, this claim comes even in the face of the prevailing Islamic contention that the Bible has been corrupted, and thus cannot be relied upon as an accurate record of God’s Word. Nevertheless, Muslim polemicist Zakir Naik claims that Muhammad is mentioned by name in the Hebrew text of Song of Solomon 5:16. The reader is urged to weigh this claim in light of the exegetical evidence surrounding the passage.
In English, the verse reads: “His mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!” (NKJV). A phonetic transliteration of the underlying Hebrew text reads: Kheeco mahm-tah-keem vuh-coollo ma-kha-madeem zeh dodee veh-tseh ray-ee beh-note yerushalayim. Muslims claim that the bolded word, though translated “altogether lovely,” is the name of Muhammad (Naik, n.d.). Consider six linguistic evidences that dispute Naik’s claim:
- The second syllable (kha) utilizes the Hebrew letter heth which has a hard initial sound like the “ch” in the Scottish word “loch.” It is to be distinguished from the Hebrew letter he which is the same as the English letter “h.” If Muhammad was being referred to, the simple “h” would have been more linguistically appropriate.
- Muslims claim that the eem (or im) in ma-kha-madeem in the Hebrew language was “added for respect” (Naik). This claim is untrue and unsubstantiated. The letters constitute the standard form for changing a singular to a plural—like adding “s” or “es” in English (cf. Weingreen, 1959, pp. 35ff.). As the eminent Emil Rödiger (who was professor for oriental languages at the University of Halle and the student of the well-known German Orientalist, H.F.W. Gesenius) noted in his editorial comment in the prestigious Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar: “The use of the plural as a form of respectful address is quite foreign to Hebrew” (Gesenius, 1898, p. 418).
- The meaning of the Hebrew ma-kha-madeem is different from the meaning of the word “Muhammad” in Arabic. According to Sheikh Abd al-Azîz, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the word “Muhammad” is derived from the Arabic root word hamd meaning “praise.” It is the emphatic passive participle of that root and can be translated as “the Oft-Praised One” (n.d.). However, the Hebrew term (makh-mahd) in the passage under consideration has a completely different meaning. It refers to “grace, beauty” (Gesenius, 1847, p. 464), “a desirable thing, delightfulness” (Brown, et al., 1906, pp. 326-327), “a pleasant thing” (Payne, 1980, 1:295), or “precious” (Holladay, 1988, p. 190). English translations render the term “altogether lovely” (NKJV, NIV), “wholly desirable” (NASB), and “altogether desirable” (ESV, RSV). No reputable English translation would render the underlying Hebrew as “praised one,” let alone as “Muhammad.” All Muslims have done is happen upon a Hebrew word that phonetically sounds somewhat like “Muhammad” and have erroneously concluded the word must be referring to him. Such handling of linguistic data is irresponsible—if not deceptive.
- Further, the claim that Muhammad is intended in the verse completely disregards the context and message of the book of Song of Solomon. The book consists of a dialogue between Solomon, his Shulamite bride-to-be, and the “daughters of Jerusalem,” with perhaps even God interjecting His comment (5:1b), as well as the Shulamite’s brothers (8:8-9). The term used in 5:16 that Muslims claim refers to Muhammad is also used in 2:3 to refer to the Shulamite’s beloved—“Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade withgreat delight.” “Great delight” is the Hebrew word also used in 5:16; in both cases the words of the Shulamite refer to her beloved—not Muhammad.
- Forms of the same Hebrew word are used elsewhere in the Old Testament, yet Muslims do not claim that those passages refer to Muhammad. Rightly so, since those verses cannot be forced to fit the notion that Muhammad is under consideration. For example, Isaiah 64:11 mourns the destruction of Jerusalem: “Our holy and beautiful temple, where our fathers praised You, is burned up with fire; and all our pleasant things are laid waste.” “Pleasant things” is a form of the same word in Song of Solomon 5:16. Would the Muslim contend that Muhammad was “laid waste” in Jerusalem? Additional occurrences of the same word—which dispel the misuse of the term by Muslims—are seen in 1 Kings 20:6; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Lamentations 1:10,11; Ezekiel 24:16,21,25; Hosea 9:9,16; Joel 3:5; et al. (Wigram, 1890, p. 687).
- Even if the Hebrew word “lovely/desirable” in Song of Solomon were the Hebrew equivalent of the Arabic word “praised one” (which it is not), it still would not follow that Muhammad is being referred to in the Bible. Instead, it would simply be an indication that the underlying word stands on its own as a term used for other applications. For example, the Hebrew word for “bitter” is mah-rah. It is used throughout the Old Testament to refer to the concept of bitter. Yet, due to her unpleasant circumstances in life, Naomi (whose name means “pleasant”) requested that her name be changed to “bitter” (mah-rah) to reflect her bitter predicament. It does not follow, however, that when the Hebrew word “bitter” appears in the Old Testament, it refers to Naomi. If parents today were to name their child John, it would not follow that they intended to reflect an association with others in history who have worn the name John—nor would references to John in the Bible constitute prophecies pointing to their son. Muslims have the cart before the horse. Their claim is equivalent to parents naming their child “wonderful” or “special”—and then claiming that an ancient writer had their child in mind when the writer used the word “wonderful” or “special” in referring to another person contemporary to the writer.
The truth of the matter is that the Bible nowhere refers to Muhammad. All other biblical passages purported to do so may likewise be shown to be misinterpreted and misapplied (Miller, 2003). The Bible contains within itself evidence that all non-Christian religions are false and contrary to the will of the God of the Universe (for more, see Miller, 2005).
Al-Azîz, Sheikh Abd (no date), “The Meaning of the Prophet’s names ‘Muhammad’ and ‘Ahmad,’” Islam Today, http://en.islamtoday.net/quesshow-14-738.htm.
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs (1906), The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000 reprint).
Gesenius, William (1847), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979 reprint).
Gesenius, William (1898), Hebrew Grammar, ed. E. Kautzsch (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
Holladay, William (1988), A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Is Muhammad Mentioned in the Bible?” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=88&topic=46.
Miller, Dave (2005), The Quran Unveiled (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Naik, Zakir (no date), “Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the Bible,” Islam 101, http://www.islam101.com/religions/christianity/mBible.htm.
Payne, J. Barton (1980), hamad in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Weingreen, J. (1959), A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Oxford: Clarenden Press), second edition.
Wigram, George W. (1890), The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint).
Are Jesus’ Words More Important than the Bible Writers’?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Occasionally, Christians will make the statement that “Jesus’ words are more important than the words of the Bible writers.” Allegedly, the words of Christ deserve greater attention, allegiance, and admiration than the inspired words of Paul, Peter, James, and every other Bible writer. Some even go so far as to say, “Jesus’ teachings must be obeyed, while the teachings of the Bible writers could be overlooked.” After all, Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:20). He died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). Hesaves us (Luke 19:10). The Bible writers were merely men—fallible men who made numerous mistakes in their lives, and whose salvation, like ours, comes only through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). So why should we consider their teachings on par with the teachings of Christ?
It clearly needs to be established that no one is on par with God. The Creator and Sustainer of the Universe is infinite in all of His glorious attributes. He alone is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. The Son of God is the only accountable person never to sin (Hebrews 4:15). It has always been wrong to attempt to put men, even Bible writers, on par with God (cf. Genesis 3:5; Ezekiel 28:1-8). Only the wicked try to elevate themselves to the status of deity. King Herod, for example, flirted with self-deification—and died in a horrific manner as a result (Acts 12:21-23). This incident stands in stark contradistinction to the reaction of a Bible writer, Paul, when the heathen at Lystra attempted to worship him. Rather than accept worship that is reserved only for God (Matthew 4:10), Paul and Barnabas refused it and rebuked those who attempted such worship (Acts 14:8-18).
Jesus, as God in the flesh (John 1:1-5,14,17), rightly accepted, and still accepts, His followers’ worship (John 9:35-38; Luke 24:52; Revelation 5:8-14). However, the fact that the words of the Bible writers deserve the same level of attention and allegiance as the words of Christ has nothing to do with attempting to put weak, finite, sinful humanity on par with God. To say that all of the words of the Bible deserve our utmost respect and attention is actually in harmony with what the Bible itself teaches.
First, the only reason we have the words of Christ is because God used men to write them down. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all wrote about the life and teachings of Christ. The apostle Paul also quoted Jesus occasionally (2 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Timothy 5:18; Acts 20:35; 22:7-21). To say that the words of Christ deserve man’s ultimate respect, while the words of the Bible writers warrant less appreciation, is to ignore the fact that God gave us the teachings of Christ through inspired men(Galatians 1:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).
Second, at times in the gospel accounts there is no clear way to know for sure if the Bible writers were quoting Jesus or simply narrating the inspired story. As commentator Leon Morris concluded:
All are agreed that from time to time in the Gospel [of John—EL] we have the meditations of the [e]vangelist, but it is difficult to know where they begin and end. In the first century there were no devices like quotation marks to show the precise limits of quoted speech. The result is that we are always left to the probabilities and we must work out for ourselves where a speech or quotation ends (1995, p. 202, emp. added).
For example, we cannot say for sure if John 3:16—arguably the most frequently quoted Bible verse in the world—is a direct quotation of Jesus or a comment by John. The great thing is, we do not have to know this in order to know the teachings of God. Whether John 3:16 is a direct quote from Jesus or not, it is from God, and thus divinely authoritative. [NOTE: A person should be careful not to assume that red-letter Bibles have all of (and only) Jesus’ direct quotations printed in red. Judgment calls must be made by publishers as to which words they put in red and which words they do not. The fact is, whatever color publishers make the words of Jesus and the Bible writers, all of them deserve our utmost respect because all of them come from God. As the psalmist proclaimed: “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:160, emp. added).]
Third, consider also the fact that Jesus quoted from the Old Testament numerous times throughout His ministry. He quoted from Deuteronomy (6:13,16; 8:3) when tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). When the Pharisees connivingly asked Jesus a question about divorce (Matthew 19:1-10), the master Teacher directed their attention to God’s plan for marriage as recorded in the first book of the Bible (Genesis 1:27; 2:24; 5:2). When dying on the cross (Matthew 27:46), Jesus quoted from Psalm 22:1. Genesis, Deuteronomy, and the book of Psalms did not become authoritative when Jesus quoted from them; they were already authoritative, because they came from God. After quoting from the relatively obscure words in Psalm 82:6, Jesus said, “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). That is, it is impossible for Scripture to be annulled, for its authority to be denied, or its truth to be withstood (see Warfield, 1970, pp. 138-140). “It cannot be emptied of its force by being shown to be erroneous” (Morris, 1995, p. 468). Why? Because it was the authoritative, inspired, inerrant Word of God, even before Jesus quoted from it.
Indeed, the fact that Jesus quoted extensively from the Old Testament, appealing to it as the authoritative “Word of God” (Mark 7:13; John 10:35), is further proof that all of the Scriptures—not just the words Jesus spoke while on Earth—deserve our utmost respect. It is illogical and without biblical backing to suggest that the “Word of God” (whether the book of Genesis or the book of James) is somehow inferior to the “words of the Son of God.” [NOTE: Since Jesus fulfilled the Old Law (Matthew 5:17), taking “it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross,” God’s people have been amenable to the New Law (Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 8:7-13). Regardless of what law man is under, however, it is still proper to acknowledge that all Scripture should be respected because it is all God’sWord.]
Fourth, Jesus and the Bible writers even referred to narrational comments, and not just direct quotations from God, as being God’s Word. For example, when Jesus reminded His hypocritical hearers of God’s original design in marriage (Genesis 1-2), He quoted from Moses in Genesis 2:24. Yet Jesus explained that “He [God] who made them at the beginning…said” the words (Matthew 19:4-5). How could God have “said” this statement when Moses was not directly quoting God? Answer: If it is in Scripture, it is “God’s Word” (i.e., it was given by inspiration of God). When the writer of Hebrews quoted from the words of the psalmist (95:7-11), where nothing was said about this psalm being inspired by God, the Hebrews writer noted that these words were from “the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 3:7-11). Why? Because the Holy Spirit guided the psalmist in what he wrote.
To treat the words of Moses, Paul, Peter, and other inspired penmen as “second class” Scripture is equivalent to saying that “God’s Word is not as important as God’s Word.” The fact is, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16, emp. added). Paul quoted from Jesus and the God-inspired prophet Moses when writing to Timothy and elevated both as “Scripture” (1 Timothy 5:18). Therefore, whether we are reading a direct quotation from God the Father (Matthew 3:17), or a statement made by God the Son, or a truth revealed by God the Spirit through one of His inspired spokesmen or penmen (1 Corinthians 2:10-16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), all of Scripture should be respected and rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15). “I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!... Consider how I love Your precepts… My heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice in Your word as one who finds great treasure… I love your law… My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly” (Psalm 119:127,159-163,165,167).
Morris, Leon (1995), The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.
Warfield, Benjamin (1970 reprint), The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian & Reformed).
A Review of Discovery Channel's "Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?"
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
Perhaps you saw the advertisements leading up to the commencement of Discovery Channel’s latest television series titled, “Curiosity,” in which things that humans are curious about are featured in each week’s new episode. The first show addressed the question, “Did God Create the Universe?” (“Curiosity…,” 2011). Perhaps you, like me, were hopeful that this often biased media outlet and longtime supporter of the liberal agenda would give the Creation perspective a fair shake. Sadly, hopes were dashed. For one hour, renowned atheist, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist of Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, was given a platform to spread his atheistic perspective.
Throughout the show, Hawking is the speaker, although the voice switches between his computer-generated voice (Hawking has Lou Gehrig’s disease and cannot speak) and that of a man speaking for him with a British accent. The primary thrust of the show was for Hawking to assert the idea that the reasons many people have had in the past for being theists—namely that there are things we cannot explain in the Universe without a Supernatural cause—are no longer relevant. Though people used to attribute thunder and lightning to gods, we now know, scientifically speaking, what is actually occurring. So, a higher being is not necessary as an explanation, according to Hawking. He believes that everything, including origins, can be explained through science and nature without the need for God. While wrapping up the show, after discussing his theory about the origin of the Universe, he says, “So, what does that mean on our quest to find out if there is a God? It means that…you don’t need a God to create it. The Universe is the ultimate free lunch” (“Curiosity…”). Though he boldly and presumptuously makes that claim, he does not even address many of the arguments theists have used for centuries which still stand as proof positive that God exists (e.g., the Moral Argument, Teleological Argument, Aesthetical Argument, Intuitional Argument, and Ontological Argument). He spends his time addressing only one of the arguments—the Cosmological Argument, along with the law of nature closely connected with it, the Law of Causality. His dealings with that argument illuminate the fact that atheism, even in this enlightened age, is still an inadequate worldview.
Much of the first part of the show tap dances around the common logical fallacies known as an “appeal to consequences” and “straw man” (“Appeal to Consequences,” 2009; “Straw Man Fallacy,” 2009). The viewer is subtly encouraged to be an atheist (1) because of the pagan religious beliefs of the Vikings and other religionists of old who erroneously used various gods as a way to explain common natural phenomena, and (2) because of the inappropriate behavior of certain Catholic authorities in antiquity who viewed belief in the laws of nature as a heretical concept. The impression is left that such examples exemplify the nature of theism.
Such individuals in history, carrying the banner of theism, have been sadly misled, but such examples do not exhibit the nature of true theism. The views and practices of such people should not be a factor in the determination of truth, just as the views of the scientific world in the 1400s that spontaneous generation occurs should not be used as a reason to reject science. Likewise, the behaviors of some atheists throughout history, including Hawking himself, should not be used to dismiss atheism. Truth stands on its own, regardless of those who do or do not espouse it or represent it accurately.
“No Cook Needed” for the Universe Recipe
Halfway through the show, Hawking gets to his defense of his primary assertion—God is not necessary for the creation of the Universe. He boldly states, “Despite the complexity and variety of the Universe, it turns out that to make one, you need just three ingredients” (“Curiosity…”). He explains that those ingredients are matter, energy, and space, and further explains that matter and energy, according to Einstein, are ultimately one and the same. So, Hawking revises his cosmic cookbook and asserts that only two ingredients are really needed to make a Universe—energy and space. These, Hawking states, “were spontaneously generated in an event we now call ‘The Big Bang’” (“Curiosity…”).
How can one get these two ingredients from nothing? Hawking uses an illustration involving a man who builds a hill by digging a hole in the ground, thus perfectly balancing out the “positive” hill with the “negative” hole. He then claims, “This is the principle behind what happened right at the beginning of the Universe. When the Big Bang produced a vast amount of positive energy, it simultaneously produced the same amount of negative energy” (“Curiosity…”). But how could a bang “produce” or create something from nothing? A bang has no creative power. It is merely an explosion that is generated from already existing substances. Expansion will occur in an explosion, sometimes resulting in an enormous blast radius in comparison to its initial state, but there must initially be something to explode and expand from. Using Hawking’s analogy, how could a hole or hill be made without first having dirt—or in the case of the supposed Universe creation, energy? Where did the dirt, or energy, first come from?
Although such a contention is logically impossible, Hawking asserts that quantum mechanics provides the answer. According to Hawking, at the sub-atomic level, “conjuring something out of nothing is possible, at least for a short while” (“Curiosity…,” emp. added). Particles “can appear at random—stick around for a while and then vanish again to reappear somewhere else” (“Curiosity…,” emp. added). Since this happens, theoretically, in the sub-atomic world, then according to Hawking, the Universe could have popped into existence from nothing as do these particles. How, exactly, it follows from quantum particle generation that spontaneous Universe generation is possible is a mystery, especially without any empirical evidence to support such a contention. Further, how, exactly, would spontaneous energy generation work without violating the First Law of Thermodynamics—i.e., that energy cannot be created or destroyed in nature, but can only change forms (see Miller, 2007)? If the Universe—all nature with all of its space, energy, and matter—came into existence on its own from nothing, the First Law would be violated.
As will be discussed, Hawking firmly believes in the immutability of the laws of nature and their application to the Universe as a whole. So, he would not wish to contradict his firm reliance on the laws of nature by holding to a theory that would violate one of those laws—and yet, his position (i.e., all energy coming from nothing) requires such a violation. Notice, however, that he contradicts himself on this matter. While he wants to believe that everything came from nothing, as his own statements imply, the alleged popping particles are actually already in existence and merely disappear and “reappear,” jumping around to different places. Thus, the ultimate problem with the atheistic position remains. Where did these particles originally come from? And where’s the empirical evidence that these particles that pop in and out of existence could stick around for the alleged billions of years of our existence, instead of the “short while” he asserts is possible? He does not explain. The truth is,there is no empirical evidence to verify the theory that sub-atomic particles could pop into existence and stick around for long periods of time at all, much less develop into a Universe over billions of years. That being the case, how would we expect Hawking to press the matter further? He cannot press what he cannot prove, and therefore, he moves on without further presentation of evidence. He condescendingly alleges, “Unless mathematics is your thing, this is hard to grasp, but it’s true” (“Curiosity…”). So, we are left to just blindly take his word for it and trust that he has the answer—though he will not share it.
Quantum Mechanics and Universe Generation
|Stephen Hawking in 1999|
Though Hawking does not enter into a discussion of the topic, a review of the scientific literature on the idea of quantum vacuum fluctuations accounting for the creation of the Universe reveals that such a theory does not actually start with nothing and end with something—which is what Hawking needs in order to eliminate the necessity of a higher being. In keeping with the First Law of Thermodynamics, quantum theories start with something and end with something. So, quantum mechanics does not provide an answer as to where the original “something” came from. Prominent humanist mathematician and science writer, Martin Gardner, wrote: “It is fashionable now to conjecture that the big bang was caused by a random quantum fluctuation in a vacuum devoid of space and time. But of course such a vacuum is a far cry from nothing” (2000, p. 303, emp. added). Philip Yam of Scientific American wrote: “Energy in the vacuum, though, is very much real. According to modern physics, a vacuum isn’t a pocket of nothingness. It churns with unseen activity” (1997, p. 82, emp. added). Edward Tryon, professor of physics at Hunter College in Manhattan, proposed the idea that the Universe could be the result of a large-scale vacuum energy fluctuation (1973). Alan Guth, professor of physics at M.I.T., wrote in response: “In this context, a proposal that the universe was created from empty space is no more fundamental than a proposal that the universe was spawned by a piece of rubber. It might be true, but one would still want to ask where the piece of rubber came from” (1997, p. 273). Theoretical physicist Alexander Vilenkin, a professor of physics and director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University, while explaining the problems inherent in Tryon’s work, said:
A more fundamental problem is that Tryon’s scenario does not really explain the origin of the universe. A quantum fluctuation of the vacuum assumes that there was a vacuum of some pre-existing space. And we now know that “vacuum” is very different from “nothing.” Vacuum, or empty space, has energy and tension, it can bend and warp, so it is unquestionably something (2006, p. 185, ital. in orig.).
Vilenkin went on to propose that quantum tunneling could be the answer to the creation of the Universe out of nothing. However, quantum tunneling starts with something and ends with something as well. Particles that can jump or tunnel through barriers still must initially exist to do so. So, the problem remains. There must be an ultimate Cause of the Universe. According to Hawking, in order to create a Universe, “you need” energy and space (“Curiosity…”). Though he boldly claims his theory provides these entities, his claims fall quite short of the truth. His needs simply remain unmet—without a Creator.
“There is No Time For God”
Towards the end of the episode, again without having addressed the multitude of arguments that theists have made over the centuries, Hawking asserts that “[t]he role played by time at the beginning of the Universe is, I believe, the final key to removing the need for a Grand Designer and revealing how the Universe created itself” (“Curiosity…”). According to Hawking, inside a “black hole itself, time doesn’t exist, and that’s exactly what happened at the start of the Universe” (“Curiosity…”). He then claims that since time does not exist in a black hole and the initial moments of the Big Bang were supposedly something of a black hole, there was no time before the Big Bang. He asserts:
You can’t get to a time before the Big Bang, because there was no before the Big Bang. We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me, this means that there is no possibility for a Creator, because there is no time for a Creator to have existed…. Time didn’t exist before the Big Bang. So, there is no time for God to make the Universe in (“Curiosity…”).
Setting aside the unsubstantiated assertion that Hawking can know with complete certainty anything about the true nature of a black hole (and whether they even exist; cf. Muir, 2002 and “New Theories Dispute the Existence of Black Holes,” 2002), and therefore, whether or not he can know the theoretical idea that time does not exist within one, there are still problems with Hawking’s claims. First of all, it is true that Einstein showed that there appears to be a correlation between gravity and time. Perfectly synchronized atomic clocks placed at different elevations on the Earth—and thus, with differing local gravitational accelerations—do not “tick” the same. The higher the gravitational force, the slower time appears to move. So, theoretically, on an entity of infinite mass and infinitesimal volume, and therefore, infinite gravitational acceleration, time would stop. Hawking implies that the initial “cosmic egg”—the “ylem,” as it has been called—was just such an entity. As Robert Jastrow of NASA stated, originally “all matter in the Universe was compressed into an infinitely dense and hot mass” that exploded in the Big Bang (1977, pp. 2-3, emp. added). The problem is that the hypothesis that such an entity was ever in existence is not in keeping with the contentions of Big Bang cosmologists themselves, much less scientific evidence.
First of all, Jastrow’s statements, “all matter” and “infinitely dense,” are contradictory. “All matter” implies that there is a quantifiable amount of matter in the Universe, while “infinitely dense” implies that the amount of matter cannot be enumerated. If matter is quantifiable, then the spatial volume that contains that matter must also be quantifiable, and therefore, its density has a finite value. So, as one should expect, cosmologists do not technically define the ylem as infinite in density, but rather, justreally, really dense. The initial cosmic singularity is thought to have been 1014 times the density of water, yet smaller in volume than a single proton. Rick Gore, writing in National Geographic, said, “Astonishingly, scientists now calculate that everything in this vast universe grew out of a region many billions of times smaller than a single proton, one of the atom’s basic particles” (Gore, 1983, 163:705). Karen Fox, physics and astrophysics science writer, said the ylem was a “mind-bogglingly dense atom containing the entire Universe” (Fox, p. 69). So, the singularity is thought to be of a specific size and density—not infinitesimal or infinite, respectively. So, the “cosmic egg” is really not thought to be infinitely dense. Big Bang cosmologists loosely use the term “infinitely” as an approximation for “really, really dense.” Now, don’t miss the ultimate point. In theory, in order for time to completely stop,infinite gravitational acceleration would be necessary, but the hypothetical ylem does not provide that. Thus, time would tick on, albeit, theoretically very slowly. Bottom line: Stephen Hawking’s contention that time did not exist before the Big Bang is without merit—even if the Big Bang were true or even possible, which it is not.
A second problem with Hawking’s statement is that he strongly acknowledges the immutability of the laws of nature, as will be discussed further. These laws, according to Hawking, cannot be violated. They are fixed. The Law of Cause and Effect is no exception. And yet, Hawking contradicts himself by claiming that it was, in fact, violated at the beginning. He has no empirical evidence to substantiate such a claim. Instead, we are to take him at his word, although he claims that science, which is based on empirical evidence, can explain everything. If he, being a scientist intent on finding all of the origin answers without the need of the supernatural, is intent on basing his decisions on only the scientific evidence, then he must find empirical evidence that proves that the Law of Cause and Effect—a law of nature, which he says is immutable and fixed—has ever been violated. Until such evidence can be found, he is unjustified in theorizing such a violation. There is no such evidence—only his conjecture. According to the Law of Rationality, Hawking is guilty of being irrational since he has drawn conclusions that are not warranted by the evidence. To hold to that view is, therefore, illogical and unscientific. By definition, he has abandoned his premise. Science and its natural laws cannot explain the Universe without a Supernatural Creator, because the laws of nature are not in harmony with any theories that require a purely naturalistic origin.
Third, Hawking believes that the Creator would have to exist prior to the Big Bang, assumedly because of his interpretation of the Law of Cause and Effect. He believes that if the Big Bang is true, then time would not have existed before the Big Bang because of Einstein’s findings, and therefore, there could be no prior existence of a Creator and, therefore, no cause. We have already examined the false idea that time would have ceased to exist in the hypothetical “ylem.” However, even granting him his assertion that time could not have existed before the Big Bang, he is incorrect in claiming that the Law of Cause and Effect would prohibit the existence of a Creator. Such a contention illustrates Hawking’s ignorance concerning the true nature of the Law of Causality.
Even if the Big Bang were true (which it is not), the work of a Creator would not be in violation of the Law. First of all, the Law of Causality as a law of natural science only applies to that which can be empirically observed—namely, the natural Universe, not supernatural entities. So, it does not even apply to God. Second, even if it did apply to the Creator, Hawking’s belief that there’s no room for the Creator since the Law of Causality requires a previous cause—which could not be if time did not exist before the Big Bang—is erroneous. The Law of Cause and Effect (or Law of Causality) states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause (see Miller, 2011a). When one sits in a seat, his legs form a lap. The cause of the lap is sitting, which occurs simultaneously with the creation of the lap. So, causes can take place simultaneously with their effects. A proper understanding of the Law of Causality reveals that the Law does not rule out the existence of a Creator even if the Big Bang were true, since the effect of the Universe could occur simultaneous with its causal activity. Again, though Hawking is inaccurate in his use of the Law of Causality, it is ultimately irrelevant since the Big Bang is unscientific and logically impossible.
A fourth problem with his statement is that a black hole is still something—not nothing. In order for time to theoretically not exist in a black hole, there has to be a black hole to start with. The question remains: where did the black hole come from? The Law of Cause and Effect cannot be dodged. A cause is always necessary in nature.
A fifth problem is that Hawking incorrectly assumes that spiritual entities are even bound by time as we know it. The nature of the Creator is such that He is omnipresent (cf. Exodus 3:14; John 8:58; Psalm 90:2,4; Psalm 139:7-8; 2 Peter 3:8; Hebrews 13:8). He is simultaneously everywhere and everywhen. Time is irrelevant to God. The temporal existence we reside in—one in which black holes may exist—came into being a few thousand years ago when God created it. However, He existed long before time came into being. Stephen Hawking betrays his ignorance of true theism by such assertions. Truly, the episode makes it clear that Hawking’s entire perspective on theism has been formed by various false religions—not by true Bible theism.
The Immutable Laws of Nature
Throughout the episode, Hawking ironically comes out strongly in support of the immutability of the laws of nature. He says,
[T]he Universe is a machine governed by principles or laws—laws that can be understood by the human mind. I believe that the discovery of these laws has been humankind’s greatest achievement…. But what’s really important is that these physical laws, as well as being unchangeable, are universal. They apply not just to the flight of the ball, but to the motion of a planet and everything else in the Universe. Unlike laws made by humans, the laws of nature cannot ever be broken. That’s why they are so powerful (“Curiosity…,” emp. added).
The implications of the immutable laws of nature have long been a strong contention of creation scientists in support of theism. Sadly, though Hawking acknowledges the immutability of the laws of nature, he does not allow his brilliant mind to follow the implications of such strong statements in support of the laws of nature. The laws of nature—specifically the Laws of Thermodynamics (see Miller, 2007), Law of Biogenesis (see Thompson, 2002), Law of Causality (see Miller, 2011a), Laws of Probability (see Miller, 2011b), and Laws of Genetics (see Thompson, 2002)—point unequivocally to the existence of a Supreme Being. With the exception of the Law of Causality, Hawking leaves these laws untouched in his lecture. How presumptuous to assert that science has answered all of life’s questions without the need of God, while not even addressing many of the arguments that theists have used through the millennia to highlight the need of a Supreme Being in the origins equation.
Hawking goes on to say, “If you accept, as I do, that the laws of nature are fixed, then it doesn’t take long to ask what role is there for God” (“Curiosity…,” emp. added). Quite a presumptuous statement to make, to be sure. There are hundreds of creation scientists, myself included, who have come to the exact opposite conclusion. The laws of nature attest to the existence of God. A list of just 186 of those credentialed scientists has been posted on-line by Creation Ministries International (cf. “Creation Scientists…,” 2010; Miller, 2010).
Ironically, though Hawking claims that science can explain our existence without the need of a Creator, in the show he actually acknowledged a significant problem with that claim which is inherent in the laws of nature for which science still cannot even attempt an answer. He said, “Did God create the quantum laws that allowed the Big Bang to occur? In a nutshell, did we need a god to set it all up so that the Big Bang could bang?” (“Curiosity…”). He, of course, made it clear that he did not believe that to be the case. However, he did not even attempt to offer an alternative option, much less any proof for his assertion. He moved on to discuss other matters, never to return to that question. Though he believes science has eliminated the need for a Creator, he simply did not address one of the most powerful proofs that attest to the need of a Supreme Being to explain what we see in nature.
How can there be law without a lawgiver? The eminent atheistic, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist of Arizona State University, Paul Davies, noted that very thing in the “round table discussion” on the Discovery Channel following “Curiosity,” titled, “The Creation Question: a Curiosity Conversation.” Concerning Hawking, Davies said, “In the show, Stephen Hawking gets very, very close to saying, ‘Well, where did the laws of physics come from? That’s where we might find some sort of God.’ And then he backs away and doesn’t return to the subject” (2011). In response, concerning the laws of science, Davies further said, “You need to know where those laws come from. That’s where the mystery lies—the laws…. I think the key point here is that these very laws that we’re talking about…are simply, for most scientists, unexplained. So, either you have an unexplained God or you have unexplained laws” (“The Creation Question…”). Davies, at least, is partially correct. The laws of nature are unexplained without God. The question is, who among the atheists are willing to drop all preconceived notions and bias and accept where the scientific evidence points? The answer to that question highlights the fact that most atheists, as well as most people on the entire planet, simply are not interested in the truth—no matter how much they claim that they are. Could it be that most people want to do what they want to do, without having to have a guilty conscience due to disobeying authority—especially the Ultimate Authority?
Unintentional Concessions in Favor of Theism
Though he certainly would not embrace several implications that follow from his statements, in this episode Hawking ultimately concedes the main thrust of at least three of the classical arguments for the existence of God. First of all, he acknowledges the “complexity and variety of the Universe” (“Curiosity…”), which creationists have long contended is evidence of a Designer. An explosion is not capable of the complexity and variety in the Universe. Intelligent design is necessary. Further, he makes the statement,
I believe that the discovery of these laws has been human kind’s greatest achievement. For it’s these laws of nature, as we now call them, that will tell us whether we need a god to explain the Universe at all…. Did God create the quantum laws that allowed the Big Bang to occur? In a nutshell, did we need a god to set it all up so that the Big Bang could bang (“Curiosity…”)?
So, he concedes the need for a law writer, but offers no explanation—other than “a god.” Therefore, by his lack of an alternate explanation, he concedes that there is no other. So, he tacitly concedes the validity of the Teleological Argument for the existence of God. There is evidence of design in the Universe, especially in the design of the laws of nature. Therefore, there must be a Designer—a law Writer.
Early on in the episode, Hawking states, “For centuries it was believed that disabled people, like me, were living under a curse inflicted by God” (“Curiosity…”). He is correct that many people throughout time have incorrectly believed that suffering and misfortune are necessarily a result of displeasing God or a god (consider Job’s friends, who were ultimately proven wrong in their contention). However, by this statement, Hawking acknowledges that the world, “for centuries,” has largely embraced some form of theism—believing in a god of some sort. This admission is the thrust of the Intuitional Argument for the existence of God. Humans have a religious inclination—a tendency to be religious and worship something. We may suppress it or ignore it, but it is there and has historically been so. People have always worshipped something. In fact, though he used the past tense “believed,” as though it is not the case anymore, human inclination to believe in Something and be religious is clearly still in our nature. In fact, according to Adherents.com, 92% of the world believein some form of theism (“Major Religions of the World…,” 2005). Our intuition tells us to be religious, and neither evolution nor a random explosion can account for that religious inclination. After this statement, Hawking went on to say, “I prefer to think that everything can be explained another way: by the laws of nature” (“Curiosity…”). As you will recall, he then attempted to prove that statement, and his explanation was shown above to be inadequate, logically and scientifically, in accounting for the existence of the Universe. So, we are left with his stated alternative. Belief in God is the logical choice. Human intuition to be religious still stands as the sensible viewpoint. No adequate explanation exists for our religious tendency without the existence of a Creator.
Recall also that Hawking stated the following:
So where did all this energy and space come from? How does an entire Universe full of energy—the awesome vastness of space and everything in it—simply appear out of nothing? For some, this is where God comes back into the picture. It was God that created the energy and space. The Big Bang was the moment of creation (“Curiosity…”).
This is the thrust of the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God. The Universe (i.e., the cosmos) is here and a Cause is needed. Hawking tacitly acknowledges that a Creator is needed in the equation if there is not an adequate explanation for the Universe without Him. He believes that science and nature provide that explanation, but again, that explanation has been shown to be scientifically unfeasable. So, again, the alternative that he raises—the existence of God—is still the best option for explaining the existence of the Universe. The Cosmological Argument stands unscathed as a testament to the existence of the Creator. The cosmos is here. Who made it?
In the end, Hawking’s assertions are just that—assertions. Before his claim that the power of science can eliminate the need for a Creator has validity, Hawking has a lot of answering to do. The truth is, science cannot explain our existence without a Creator. Quite the opposite is true. Science proclaims the Creator. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1, emp. added). “For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they arewithout excuse…. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:20,22, emp. added). “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, emp. added). Stephen Hawking would do well to realize thatthere is a God in heaven, and according to Him, it is the fool that “has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” (Psalm 14:1), not the man who believes himself to be more enlightened because of his atheistic mindset. Sadly, “not many wise according to the flesh…are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26).
We close with another quote from Paul Davies concerning Hawking and his wild assertions in “Curiosity”: “I think science can get a bad press by scientists appearing to be too arrogant and taking on more than perhaps they should. So, it’s as well to lace definitive statements with a certain amount of humility, I think” (“The Creation Question…”). Someone had to say it. Perhaps Hawking will hear it since it came from a fellow atheistic cosmologist.
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