Stephen Hawking presented his own theory to millions of viewers Sunday on how the universe came about – without God.
The famed physicist and cosmologist is convinced that a "grand designer" was unnecessary in the creation of the universe. He made his case on the Discovery Channel as he sought to answer the question "Did God Create the Universe?"
Hawking essentially argued that it is possible that something can come out of nothing.
"The laws of nature themselves tells us that not only can the universe have popped into existence like a proton and have required nothing in terms of energy but also that it is possible that nothing caused the big bang," he said on the show.
The Sunday night episode, part of the new "Curiosity" series, took viewers back in time to eras when many saw God or gods as the only explanation for natural phenomena like lightning or for the origin of the universe.
But Hawking sought to disprove the need for a Creator and instead explain everything through science – or what he considers the truth.
He offered, "It's not quite as difficult as it seems."
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You only need three ingredients to make a universe, he contended. Those ingredients are matter or mass, energy and space. But using Albert Einstein's famous equation, Hawking argued that mass and energy are basically the same thing.
The big bang created the now two necessary ingredients for a universe: energy and space.
While some argue that this is where God comes into the picture because you can't create something out of nothing, Hawking argued that it is entirely possible.
Particles such as protons, he said, behave according to quantum mechanics and can appear at random, then vanish, and then reappear somewhere else.
Still, the question remains, did God create the quantum laws that allowed the big bang to occur?
"In a nutshell, do we need a God to set it all up so that a big bang could bang?" Hawking posed. "I have no desire to offend anyone of faith but I think science has some more compelling explanation than a Divine Creator."
Enter: the black hole.
The black hole, which floats in space, is a star so massive that it has collapsed in on itself. Nothing, including light, can escape its gravity.
"Its gravitational field is so powerful it doesn't only warp and distort light but also time," he explained. Time, thus, doesn't exist in the black hole.
Using this as the final key to revealing how the universe created itself, Hawking explained that if you travel back in time toward the moment of the big bang, the universe gets smaller until it comes to a point where the whole universe is in a space so small that it is "in effect a single infinitesimally small, infinitesimally dense black hole."
He concluded, "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 there is no possibility of a Creator because there is no time for a Creator to have existed."
"Since time itself began at the moment of the big bang, it was an event that could not have been caused or created by anyone or anything."
Hawking presented his theory as scientific arguments, saying "science has given us the answer we set out to discover."
But others saw it more as a faith statement, than science.
Dan Wilt, conference speaker and founder of worshiptraining.com, observed that scientists who were interviewed after the show were uncomfortable with Hawking's claims.
"He (Hawking) was explicitly changing the scientific game, and taking it into the realm of fact statements about unknown metaphysics," Wilt wrote on his blog, summing up what the panel of scientists argued.
Atheism, Wilt maintained, takes faith just as theism takes faith.
"A meaningless 'popping into existence' or a meaningful 'popping into existence' (a naturally occurring phenomenon or a naturally occurring phenomenon catalyzed by the Will of God) both take faith to embrace," he wrote.
"[T]o say 'I don’t know that God exists, therefore He doesn’t,' and to say 'In the face of my limited science, I declare that there is no afterlife,' in the face of the limited knowledge we have (brilliant as we can be), is actually a faith statement as 'ignorant' as some scientists accuse others of being."
Wilt also contended that what Hawking has presented is simply an alternate way of explaining the origin of the universe.
"And an alternative way of speaking about the big bang, or creation, or origins doesn’t mean it’s true – it just means that it’s an alternate way (compelling as it may be)."
"In my mind, Stephen’s story is compelling, but not in contradiction to faith," Wilt highlighted. "For my part, Hawking’s discussion actually led me to greater belief in God, not away. Go figure."