Can Laws Like Gravity Create Something from Nothing?


Photo by Tyler Drendel at the Garden of the Gods

I’m not a scientist, and I don’t consider myself a science person, though I have become much more interested in science as an adult than I was as a child. I am more of a philosophical and theological person. My background is English literature, world religions, and American jurisprudence (short for law).

We give scientists quite a bit of deference in our modern society, and so we should. They are peeling back the layers of this universal onion in which we live, and the discoveries are fascinating, life-changing and significantly valuable.

I would be quickly lost in the weeds in a discussion of science among scientists, but scientists are human. They have flaws, and they usually are not schooled in philosophy or theology.

For instance, Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant scientists of our age. In his book, The Grand Design, he says, “In a world in which a law like gravity exists, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing.” Let’s examine that point.

To begin with, a law like gravity is something. If the universe is something, and a law like gravity is something, then we don’t see a law like gravity creating something out of nothing. If indeed gravity created the universe, the universe wasn’t created out of nothing. The premise is flawed.

Gravity is not only something; it exists within the space time continuum. The space time continuum is another term for the material universe in which we live. Hawking is saying, therefore, that gravity, which is part of the space-time continuum, existed before the space-time continuum and created the space time continuum out of nothing.

Does this make sense? Do you see the circular reasoning?

We also need to ask: Where did a law like gravity come from? Scientists may not like to ask these questions, but philosophers and theologians do. We can’t just give it a pass, just because scientists often gloss over it.

As a lawyer, I am schooled in the knowledge that laws have sources. In American jurisprudence, some laws come from legislators. Other laws come from administrative agencies or local governmental bodies. Still, other law comes from the body of decisions and the reasoning of those decisions penned by judges. Laws always come from a source.

Are the laws of nature any different? Well, yes, they are in some ways. Laws that govern the societal structures of people are not exactly like the laws of nature in every respect. Societal laws are subject to change. We don’t see natural laws changing. But, that difference actually goes to the point of this piece.

Gravity doesn’t change. Gravity isn’t the kind of force that is creative. If you drop a ball from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the ball will always fall to the ground, pulled down by gravity, in exactly the same way. Gravity will not say on the millionth try, “I’m tired of always doing the same thing over and over again. I’m going to do something different this time.”

It may seem silly to say this, but gravity is not volitional. It only seems silly because it’s so obvious. We need to recognize and acknowledge obvious fact here: gravity doesn’t and can’t create anything.

In order for gravity to do something different, something creative, gravity would have to have volitional capacity. But, gravity is an impersonal force that doesn’t change. It simply does what it does. It has no creative capacity. It merely acts on what already exists.

Which is another way of saying that gravity can’t create something out of nothing.

For the creation of the material universe, we need to have a source with characteristics that are different than what we see in gravity. In the first place, we need a source or force that is creative, and that requires volition. Matter doesn’t and can’t create itself because matter is not volitional. It just is. Matter acts on matter; matter doesn’t create matter.

One might say, “But, a law like gravity is not matter!” That is true. It is a “law” or force that acts on matter. Without matter, a law like gravity would have no substance. It exists in relation to matter. Without matter, gravity would not exist. But there is a more fundamental problem.

In a million attempts, as we have noted, gravity will not change the way it operates on that rock dropped from the tower. Gravity acts only on matter that already exists. For there to be nothing one moment and something the next moment, requires a volitional, creative act. Creation requires volition. Matter (and a law like gravity) must come from a volitional source.

Things don’t create themselves. A creative force must be greater than the thing it creates. A creative source must supersede and be greater than the thing it creates. In order to have something (matter) out of nothing (no matter), we need a source that is not material (not a material thing). That source must also be immaterial. For matter to be created out of nothing (non-matter), we need an immaterial source.

A volitional source suggests a being (a person), and an immaterial source suggests  mind (intelligence). We need an intelligent being, to create something out of nothing. These two characteristics combined into a single immaterial and volitional source, are what Christians call God.

For these reasons, perhaps, and other reasons perhaps as well, this statement by Stephen Hawking that I have examined in this piece prompted John Lennox, a professor of mathematics at Oxford, to observe that nonsense, even when spoken by an eminent scientist, is still nonsense.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: creation, Philosophy, Science

Tags: , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

One Comment on “Can Laws Like Gravity Create Something from Nothing?”


  1. The implications of the Big Bang are that EVERYTHING… all matter, all energy, all forces (… including gravity) , even the dimensions of space and time came out of the Big Bang. This suggests NOTHING existed before the Big Bang… further suggesting that a source OUTSIDE of the universe had to be responsible for the creation of the universe.

    The most obvious candidate source is an all-powerful intelligent entity. Another popular candidate-source explanation is to imagine the existence of other universes whose interaction somehow caused the creation of the universe we see. This is the explanation famous scientists such as Stephen Hawking advocates. Such an explanation, however, falls in the category of pure science fiction. True science involves creation of theories that can be tested. Multi-interacting-universe theories are not testable.

    For some reason, scientists like Hawking seem to get a “free pass”… that because of their fame and intelligence, their words are seen as fact and they are not required to prove any of their science-fiction kind of ideas. To believe such a theory as multi-interacting universe, you have to have unprovable faith that such a theory is correct… a faith that is in no way superior to faith in believing in an all-powerful intelligent creator source.

    Liked by 1 person


Comments are welcomed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: