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A Voyage into Stephen Hawking’s Godless Universe: With Javed Ghamidi, John Lennox, Alan Guth, Paul Davies, John Polkinghorne, Wolfgang Smith, David Albert, Stephen Mumford & other experts on-board (3)
Dr. Junaid Hassan



4. How could Quantum Theory and the law of gravity necessitate a universe out of nothing?


‘To him who is a discoverer in [theoretical physics], the products of his imagination appear so necessary and natural that he regards them, and would like to have them regarded by others, not as creations of thought but as given realities.’

Albert Einstein

 “On the Method of Theoretical Physics.” Essays in Science (2011), 10

‘We are in the habit of talking as if [laws] caused events to happen; but they have never caused any event at all. The laws of motion do not set billiard balls moving: they analyze the motion after something else (say, a man with a cue […]) has provided it. They produce no events: they state the pattern to which every event – if only it can be induced to happen – must conform, just as the use of arithmetic state the pattern to which all transactions with money must conform – if only it can get hold of any money. Thus in one sense the laws of Nature cover the whole field of space and time; in another, what they leave out is precisely the whole real universe – the incessant torrent of actual events which makes up true history. That must come from somewhere else. To think the laws can produce it is like thinking that you can create real money by simply doing sums. For every law, in the last resort, says “If you have A, then you will get B”. But first catch your A: the laws won't do it for you.’

C. S. Lewis

Miracles (1974), 93-94


TGD’s Position

Spontaneous emergence of the universe out of nothing

TGD (139) suggests that ‘we are a product of quantum fluctuations in the very early universe’. To understand quantum fluctuations, we first need to understand what a quantum vacuum is, which TGD (113) explains as thus:

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle dictates that both the position and the velocity of a particle cannot be measured accurately at the same time. The more accurately one is measured, the more uncertain the other becomes. The same applies to the energy value of a field and its rate of change. But empty space would violate this principle because its value and the rate of change would simultaneously turn out to be exactly zero. Thus, there cannot be any such thing in the universe as completely empty space or, in other words, nothing. However, the next closest thing to nothing is a tiny ‘speck’ of space in a state of minimum or lowest possible energy, called the ‘quantum vacuum state’. In this state, the space is unstable, meaning that within it ‘particles and fields quiver in and out of existence’ on a scale as small as the space between the three quarks that make up a proton. The phenomenon is called ‘vacuum/quantum fluctuations’, and the particles spontaneously popping into existence are called ‘virtual particles’[1].

TGD (136-137) argues that since the universe started on an extremely tiny/quantum scale, it is reasonable to assume that it spontaneously emerged as an infinitesimal particle out of a quantum vacuum (or, essentially, out of nothing) and, then, underwent inflationary expansion. Here, the word ‘particle’ may create a false picture of the early universe in one’s mind. So, it needs to be clarified that what abruptly came into existence because of a quantum mechanism was actually spacetime (or, simply, space). This space – the early universe – ‘might typically be 10-33 cm in size’ and was, virtually, void of matter (Davies 1990, 214-215).

The law of gravity necessitating the formation of matter

TGD (179-181) argues that ‘the energy of an isolated body (of matter) surrounded by empty space is positive,’ which means that energy is required to create a body. But energy of a closed system is a ‘conserved’ (fixed) quantity, meaning that it can neither be created nor destroyed – the first law of thermodynamics. If so, then how could the whole universe be created out of nothing, without violating the first law (i.e., without first creating energy)?

As for the energy of a quantum vacuum, it remains constant in spite of spontaneous materialisation of virtual particles (which may further expand into universes), so no new energy is required for this process. But the crucial question here is that the universe which spontaneously materialised as a virtual particle was essentially empty; then, how did countless matter particles appeared within it without violating the first law? In other words, where did the energy come from to create particles – the building blocks of light, matter, or anti-matter, all of which have (positive) energy?

TGD suggests that the answer lies in the law of gravity. Since gravity has negative energy, on the scale of the entire universe ‘the positive energy of the matter can be balanced by the negative gravitational energy’. This has an astonishing implication: the need of positive energy for the creation of all the building blocks of matter could be annulled by their negative gravitational energy. Thus, matter particles could spontaneously come into existence in the empty space of the universe, without requiring any energy. In other words, the net energy of the universe, before and after the spontaneous formation of all the matter particles, could remain zero (conserved) and, therefore, ‘there is no restriction on the creation of the whole universes. Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing’.

Following ‘can’, the ‘will’ of necessity is purposefully added here because of Richard Feynman’s formulation and interpretation of quantum theory. Owing to it, TGD (61-83 & 135-136) claims that if, say, any ten events could possibly take place in the universe, all of them would simultaneously take place in ten parallelly existing histories of the universe (multiverse). Since matter exists in our universe, we know that the probability of its spontaneous formation in the history of the universe observable to us is 100% (i.e., certain). However, in other non-observable universes, there would either be no matter, or completely different stuff with different laws of physics, or some other possible alternative.[2]

Coming back to the spontaneous creation of matter, Hawking (1998, 129) has explained this phenomenon in his book A Brief History of Time as follows:

‘Where did they (1080 particles in the universe) all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs (quantum fluctuations). But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy. However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus, in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero.’ (Parentheses mine.)


Further Explanation of TGD’s Position

Negative and positive energies

Since the idea of negative energy and spontaneous creation of matter particles is quite counterintuitive, we should explore it further with the help of the theoretical physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies[3] (1996), who knows the art of explaining complicated concepts simply and in layman terms:

‘The big bang was the source of prolific energy, enough to make all the matter that constitutes the stars and gases of the galaxies, plus the heat radiation that bathes the cosmos. But we are bound to ask, where did all that cosmic energy come from in the first place?

Totting up the energy of the Universe is a straightforward exercise, except that not all the contributions are positive. Importantly, gravitational energy actually counts as an energy deficit. Using a monetary analogy, the energy of matter represents savings, but gravitational energy represents a debt.

To take a practical illustration, positive energy, such as that stored in a battery, can be used to perform useful work, eg to power a motor. But gravitational energy requires the expenditure of work to overcome it. Thus to pluck the Earth out of the solar system, to which it is bound by the Sun's gravitational force, would require a huge input of energy to work against the Sun's attraction. Conversely, dropping the Earth toward the Sun would release energy.

Gravitation is a universal force: every object in the Universe pulls on every other object. A rough calculation of the (negative) energy of all this cosmic attraction reveals a remarkable result. Though enormous, it turns out to be very close to the same enormous (positive) energy contained in the material of all the stars. In other words, when the energy of all the matter in the stars is added to the gravitational energy of this same material, the answer comes out to be about zero.

Actually, this is not quite true. The gravitational energy of the stars is only a few per cent of the matter energy. However, astronomers are convinced that the stars represent only a small fraction of all the cosmic matter that exists. They have good evidence that substantial quantities of unseen, or dark, matter lurk in the depths of space. Taking the dark matter into account, it is plausible that the total energy of the Universe is precisely zero!

If this sum is correct, it carries a startling implication: a particle of matter can come into existence without the need for any additional energy. The energy locked up in the material content of the particle is exactly offset by its gravitational interaction with the rest of the Universe. Thus, matter can appear in empty space without actually violating the law of energy conservation. Once again, merely identifying a possibility is not the same as producing a detailed physical theory. However, unlike the situation for the quantum origin of the Universe, there is a considerable body of theory about the origin of matter. This theory goes under the beguiling name of the "inflationary Universe scenario", or simply "inflation”.’

Gravity, inflation, and the spontaneous creation of matter

To understand inflation, we turn to the father of this theory Alan Guth[4] (2001, 68-70). According to the inflationary theory, he explains, the early universe (or, more precisely, 10-33 cm space) created by a quantum fluctuation contained a tiny patch filled with an unusual form of matter. It was unusual in that the matter we are familiar with produces gravity, which we all know is an attractive force, but the matter contained within that patch produced repulsive gravity – sometimes called ‘anti-gravity’. This repulsive gravity fuelled a rapid exponential expansion of the early universe, namely inflation or ‘bang of the big bang’, as Guth (1998, xiv) puts it. The big bang theory, he explains, describes the aftermath of the bang, but not the actual bang. The inflationary theory, on the other hand, describes ‘the first tiny fraction of the second of the history of the universe, and then the description merges with that of the standard big bang theory’. (See Fig. 2, which puts inflation in context of the overall history of the universe.)

Inflation had two peculiar features: One was that, during its ephemeral course, the universe expanded at a much faster rate compared to that at which it continued to expand afterwards. The other is explained by Guth (2001, 69) as follows:

‘Whenever a normal material expands its density goes down, but this [repulsive gravity] material behaves completely differently. As it expands, the density remains constant. That means that the total amount of mass contained in the region increased during inflation by a colossal factor.

The increase in mass probably seems strange at first, because it sounds like a gross violation of the principle of energy conservation. Mass and energy are equivalent, so we are claiming that the energy of the matter within the patch increased by a colossal factor. The reason this is possible is that the […] energies are not always positive. In particular, the energy of a gravitational field is negative. This statement, that the energy of a gravitational field is negative, is true both in the context of the Newtonian theory of gravity and also in the more sophisticated context of general relativity.

So, during inflation, total energy is conserved. As more and more positive energy (or mass) appears as the patch expands at constant density, more and more negative energy is simultaneously appearing in the gravitational field that fills the region. The total energy is constant, and it remains incredibly small because the negative contribution of gravity cancels the enormous positive energy of the matter. The total energy, in fact, could very plausibly be zero. It is quite possible that there is a perfect cancellation between the negative energy of gravity and the positive energy of everything else.’

This leaves us with the question how the, so to speak, ordinary matter (with attractive gravity) finally came into existence. According to Guth (2001, 69-70), the repulsive-gravity matter was unstable and, eventually, underwent radioactive decay. Resultantly, enormous amount of energy was released, which evolved into a hot soup of ordinary matter particles – the building blocks of galaxies, stars, planets, and life.


Fig. 2. A timeline of the major events in the evolution of the universe (A public domain image; descriptions mine.)


This idea that various forms of positive energy can be cancelled out by the equal amount of negative energy present in the universe is called the ‘zero-energy hypothesis’, first proposed by Edward P. Tryon[5] in 1973. To summarise this rather lengthy discussion in Michio Kaku’s[6] (2013) words: ‘It takes no energy to create a universe,’[7] and in that of Guth (1998, 15): ‘It is fair to say that the universe is the ultimate free lunch.’


Quantum vacuum is manifestly not nothing!

In context of the spontaneous emergence of the universe, TGD implicitly[8] takes quantum vacuum as ‘nothing’. A quantum vacuum, however, is far from nothing; it is, indeed, something. The theoretical cosmologist Lawrence Krauss[9] takes the same position as that of TGD in his 2012 book A Universe from Nothing, but he is much more explicit on the idea of ‘nothing’. In one of his talks (2009), hosted by Richard Dawkins, he explained nothing as follows:

‘Nothing is not nothing anymore in physics. Because of the laws of quantum mechanics and special relativity, on extremely small scales, nothing is really a boiling, bubbling brew of virtual particles that are popping in and out of existence on a time scale so short you can't see them.’

Obviously, Krauss is referring to quantum fluctuations here. David Albert[10] (2012) sternly criticised such labelling of quantum vacuum as nothing in one of his articles in the New York Times:

‘Relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical vacuum states – no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems – are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff. The true relativistic-quantum-field-­theoretical equivalent to there not being any physical stuff at all isn’t this or that particular arrangement of the fields – what it is (obviously, and ineluctably, and on the contrary) is the simple absence of the fields![11] The fact that some arrangements of fields happen to correspond to the existence of particles and some don’t is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that some of the possible arrangements of my fingers happen to correspond to the existence of a fist and some don’t. And the fact that particles can pop in and out of existence, over time, as those fields rearrange themselves, is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that fists can pop in and out of existence, over time, as my fingers rearrange themselves. And none of these poppings – if you look at them aright – amount to anything even remotely in the neighborhood of a creation from nothing.’

The word ‘field’ is used here several times. In context of this discussion, its definition is worth considering:

‘The field, although nearly as ethereal as the ether itself, can be said to have physical reality. It occupies space. It contains energy. Its presence eliminates a true vacuum. We must then be content to define the vacuum of everyday discourse as a region free of matter, but not free of field.’ (Wheeler and Ford, 163)

To conclude this section, the correct statement ought to be ‘a universe out of a quantum vacuum and because of the quantum vacuum energy’ which, as Lennox (2011, 30) says, are ‘manifestly not nothing’.

Has physics rendered creatio ex nihilo impossible?

As we have seen, both TGD and Krauss claim that physics (or more precisely Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle) does not allow the existence of ‘nothing’ in the sense the word is understood in philosophy (nihil) or ordinary language (non-being).

But as we have discussed in Chapter 1 and 3, there is no question of the so-called laws or principles of physics without a prior existence of particulars in nature, whose doings the laws or principles describe. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is no exception; it is an outcome of the presence of particles in the universe or, at least, the primitive quantum vacuum out of which the universe is claimed to have emerged. If such a quantum vacuum itself was created out of absolutely nothing (ex nihilo), Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle was not even there to ‘allow’ or ‘disallow’ that!

Next, we turn to TGD’s (180) conclusion that because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing’. Elsewhere, as we saw in the previous chapter, Hawking put it like this: Gravity and quantum theory cause universes to be created spontaneously out of nothing.’

‘Nothing’, once again, turns out to be something!

To free the conclusion of TGD from the misleading view of laws in nature, we should translate it into Mumford’s (2004) view of causal powers at work in the universe (presented in Chapter 1): Because there is energy or matter with mass (giving it the power to cause, so to speak, craters in the spacetime fabric) and because there is the spacetime fabric with its peculiar structure (giving it the power to curve in the presence of energy or objects with mass), the coaction of the powers of pre-existing energy/matter and space results in gravity.

So, if gravity itself is dependent for its existence on the prior existence of matter/energy and space, then how could gravity cause their self-creation from nothing (Lennox 2011, 31 & 39-44)? Regarding this matter, the text of TGD is vague throughout and lacks necessary details. To make matters clearer, let us go through some explanatory passages found elsewhere:

‘The key idea – the underlying physics – that makes inflation possible is the fact that most modern particle theories predict that there should exist a state of matter that turns gravity on its head, creating a gravitational repulsion. […] Inflation is the proposition that the early universe contained at least a small patch that was filled with this peculiar repulsive-gravity material.’ (Guth 2001, 68)

‘Conceived in the early 1980s, inflation remains the favoured version of the big bang theory. Boiled down to its essentials, the inflationary scenario goes something like this. Shortly after the Universe originated in a quantum process, and before ordinary matter came to exist, space was filled with an exotic type of energy field. This field had the property of producing a gravitational repulsion – antigravity if you like – that caused the Universe to expand faster and faster, so that it jumped in size (inflated) by a huge amount in a split second.’ (Davies 1996)

‘[I]f the quantum properties of matter and radiation end up endowing even an infinitesimally small region of empty space with energy at very early times, this region can grow to be arbitrarily large and arbitrarily flat. When the inflation is over, one can end up with a universe full of stuff (matter and radiation), and the total Newtonian gravitational energy of that stuff will be as close as one can ever imagine to zero.’ (Krauss 2012, 104)

In light of these, TGD’s conclusion can now be explicated as follows (See Fig. 3): The spacetime fabric (baby universe) that spontaneously emerged out of a quantum vacuum contained an infinitesimal patch filled with the repulsive-gravity material. As the repulsive gravity caused this material to explode, the universe (i.e., this material and the boundaries of the spacetime fabric) started to expand with the ‘bang’. During this inflation, the repulsive gravity material maintained its density, i.e., it underwent massive self-replication[12] (producing all the energy required for making up all the matter particles in the universe) without requiring any energy. The energy requirement was bypassed due to the amazing properties of the repulsive gravity material and the spacetime fabric. As this material and space swelled, equal positive energy (matter) and negative energy (gravity) simultaneously resulted, such that the total energy requirement amounted to zero. 


TGD's creation story

Fig. 3. Highlights of TGD’s (The Grand Design) creation story


It now becomes clear that TGD’s ‘from nothing’ here, like in the case of quantum vacuum, once again turns out to be something: pre-existing spacetime and the repulsive gravity material. Regarding how this material came into existence, there are various theories and hypotheses ‘based on ideas ranging from chaotic initial conditions to the creation of the universe as a quantum tunnelling event’ (Guth 2001, 68). However, none of these point to its self-creation out of nothing, such that it becomes self-explanatory. A couple of decades before TGD was published, Paul Davies (1990, 217) was spot on in concluding this story as follows:

‘The “free lunch” scenario claims that all you need are the laws – the universe can take care of itself, including its own creation. […] But what of the laws? They have to be “there” to start with so that the universe can come into being. Quantum physics has to exist (in some sense) so that a quantum transition can generate the cosmos in the first place.’

In light of our discussion of laws, it should be clear that by saying ‘laws’ and ‘quantum physics’, Davies here is alluding to the peculiar properties of the pre-existing stuff.

Even if the zero-energy/free-lunch hypothesis were well-established it, at best, answers how questions, not any fundamental why questions (which essentially are beyond the scope of science). To be precise, it describes how an enormous amount of new matter was spontaneously generated in the universe in an energy-efficient manner. But it does not answer why the quantum vacuum energy possessed such an awe-inspiring potential/tendency to transmute into the self-replicating repulsive gravity matter, elementary particles, atoms, galaxies, stars, heavy elements, planets, water, and, eventually, life. ‘By chance’ is obviously a non-answer here, no matter if it comes wrapped in an exciting proposition like the multiverse, as we shall see. Now when the core of TGD’s creation story lies open in front of us (Fig. 3), we can move on to see what implications it has for the theistic God.


5. Is it time to celebrate/mourn A Personal God’s death?


To the majority of those who have reflected deeply and written about the origin and nature of the universe, it has seemed that it points beyond itself to a source which is non-physical and of great intelligence and power. Almost all of the great classical philosophers — certainly Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Locke, Berkeley — saw the origin of the universe as lying in a transcendent reality. They had different specific ideas of this reality, and different ways of approaching it; but that the universe is not self-explanatory, and that it requires some explanation beyond itself, was something they accepted as fairly obvious.’

Keith Ward

God, Chance and Necessity (1996), 1

‘Both religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations. […] To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.’

Max Planck, Nobel Laureate in Physics (1918)

A lecture on “Religion and Natural Science” in Baltic region (May 1937) Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers (1949), 184


Before coming to this question, it seems appropriate to see how TGD epistemologically interprets scientific knowledge: its validity on the world around us and the question of God.


Model-dependent realism

TGD’s Position

TGD (39-59) argues that modern physics neither supports ontological realism (the position that a concrete universe exists independent of us, the observers) nor subjective idealism/anti-realism (suggesting that there is no external universe, and all that exists merely exists within our minds). Therefore, TGD adopts a view called ‘model-dependent realism’. The term is coined by the authors to represent the idea that what we see as, for example, a chair is actually only a picture/model created by our brain, as it interprets the visual data. There is no way we can reach the actual chair (if any) independent of our brain-model to pass any verdict about its ontological status: we cannot tell if the visual data is originating from a real chair existing independent of us out there (and is modelled sufficiently well by our brains) or it is fed into our brains through some other source[13]. Ontological questions, therefore, are beyond the reach of our knowledge and are pointless.

In addition to the involuntary models our brains create as a routine, we also make models (laws or theories) in science to explain observations and make predictions. One such model is the famous equation based on Einstein’s special theory of relativity: E = m × c2, where E represents energy (potential to do work), m mass, and c the speed of light[14]. This elegant (i.e., concise and simple) model explains the relationship between mass and energy, has the ability to explain complex observations, and make scientifically useful predictions. For example, if we want to know how much energy an object of specific mass will contain on Mars, we can confidently employ this equation. TGD (ibid.) suggests that all such scientific models should be discussed in the framework of model-dependent realism. That will require us to avoid ontological questions about scientific models[15] and encourage us to judge them on the basis of their elegance[16], utility to explain existing observations, and ability to make experimentally testable predictions. If two or more such models live up to this criterion while attempting to describe the same phenomenon, they will be accepted as equally valid.[17]


Model-dependent realism leaves no room for truth or ontological claims, such as ‘God does or does not exist’.

‘Realism’ in ‘model-dependent realism’ is a rather misleading term because, as mentioned above, TGD does not take as real or absolute truth what our mental and scientific models tell us. Rather, it takes an idealist approach where the external reality is neither negated nor affirmed [Lennox (2011, 57) correctly refers to TGD’s position as anti-realism].

So when it makes ontological or truth statements, model-dependent realism restricts us not to take them literally. For example, when TGD (59, 136, 153, 154 & 165, respectively) claims that ‘every possible version of the universe exists simultaneously’, ‘in fact, many universes exist with many different sets of physical laws’, ‘planets of all sorts exist’, ‘our own knowledge of our existence’ and ‘the fine-tunings in the laws of nature can be explained by the existence of multiple universes’, all it implies is that according to our perception or scientific models, things exist in such and such manner. As for reality, model-dependent realism fully endorses the possibility that our brain and scientific tools might be showing us a completely false picture of it. Thus, any truth claims by definition are beyond the scope of TGD, and that includes the existence/non-existence of God. That is why TGD does not go as far as to claim that God does not exist. During Larry King Live (2012), Hawking explicated his position in this regard saying, God may exist, but science can explain the universe without a need for a creator.’ At one place, TGD (42) says:

‘How do we know we are not just characters in a computer-generated soap opera? If we lived in a synthetic imaginary world, events would not necessarily have any logic or consistency or obey any laws. The aliens in control might find it more interesting or amusing to see our reactions, for example, if the full moon split in half. […] But if the aliens did enforce consistent laws, there is no way we could tell there was another reality behind the simulated one.’

This exactly is the scope of TGD’s science, which has got nothing to say about the ultimate reality. Even if it can show that the universe is self-explanatory, it is mute to go on and claim that a creator is unnecessary, let alone does not exist.

TGD’s position is quite understandable for only a creator (if any) can answer the ultimate questions and reveal the ultimate knowledge. This highlights the importance of divine revelation (if such exists) as a source of knowledge and invites every sincere seeker of truth to seriously investigate this matter, rather than outrightly rejecting such a possibility or showing antipathy to religion because of naïve claims and attitudes of people who carry its name.

Next, we shall anyway go through important passages of TGD with direct implications for the question of God and see how TGD defends its claim that science can explain the universe without a need for a creator.


Are laws self-explanatory?

TGD’s Position

TGD’s ultimate explanation of the universe boils down to the so-called laws of physics. Are laws self-explanatory, such that they do not need any further explanation? TGD’s answer, at least regarding the fundamental laws of nature, is in the affirmative. Presenting John Conway’s Game of Life[18] as an example, TGD (179) argues that ‘even a very simple set of laws can produce complex features similar to those of intelligent life. There must be many laws with this property. What picks out the fundamental laws (as opposed to the apparent laws) that govern our universe? As in Conway’s universe, the laws of our universe determine the evolution of the system given the state at any one time. In Conway’s world we are the creators – we choose the initial state of the universe by specifying objects and their positions at the start of the game.’


In his critical response to TGD, Lennox (2011, 71-72) quotes the same paragraph and wittily responds to it as follows:

‘At this point Hawking diverts from the Game of Life, and leaves the reader uncertain as to exactly how he is applying it. Nevertheless, one can surely say that the impression has been communicated to the reader that, just as in Conway’s world a simple set of laws can produce lifelike complexity, in our world a simple set of laws could produce life itself.

However, the analogy shows nothing of the sort, but rather the exact opposite. First of all, in Conway’s world the laws do not produce the complex self-replicating objects. Laws, as we have constantly emphasized, create nothing in any world: they can only act on something that is already there. In Conway’s world the immensely complex objects that can self-replicate under the laws have to be initially configured in the system by highly intelligent mathematical minds. They are created neither from nothing nor by chance, but by intelligence. The same applies to the laws.

Secondly, Conway’s world has to be implemented, and this is done using sophisticated computer hardware with all its attendant software and high-speed algorithms. The alive and dead cells are represented by pixellated squares on a screen, and the laws governing their behaviour are programmed into the system. It should go without saying – but it clearly needs to be said – that all of this involves massive intellectual activity and input of information.

In this way, even though he is allergic to the notion of intelligent design, Hawking has just given an excellent argument in its support. Ironically, he actually admits this by saying that, in Conway’s world, we are the creators.

And in our universe the Creator is God.’


God or the multiverse?

TGD’s Position

TGD puts forward the multiverse hypothesis as an alternative to that of a personal God. It presents its case as follows:

‘Our universe and its laws appear to have a design that both is tailor-made to support us and, if we are to exist, leaves little room for alteration. That is not easily explained, and raises the natural question of why it is that way. Many people would like us to use these coincidences as evidence of the work of God.’ (162-163)  

‘But the discovery relatively recently of the extreme fine-tuning of so many of the laws of nature could lead at least some of us back to the old idea that this grand design is the work of some grand designer. […] That is not the answer of modern science. […] Our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws. That multiverse idea is not a notion invented to account for the miracle of fine-tuning. It is a consequence of the no-boundary condition as well as many other theories of modern cosmology. But if it is true, then the strong anthropic principle can be considered effectively equivalent to the weak one, putting the fine-tunings of physical law on the same footing as the environmental factors, for it means that our cosmic habitat – now the entire observable universe – is only one of many, just as our solar system is one of many. That means that in the same way that the environmental coincidences of our solar system were rendered unremarkable by the realization that billions of such systems exist, the fine-tunings in the laws of nature can be explained by the existence of multiple universes. Many people through the ages have attributed to God the beauty and complexity of nature that in their time seemed to have no scientific explanation.’ (164-165)


Firstly, there are top-level scientists who, rather than rejecting ‘the old idea’[19] of God on the basis of scientific evidence, use this evidence to argue for God (See Lennox 2009). Therefore, the statement that God ‘is not the answer of modern science’ is misleading as if it is a well-established fact within the scientific community. Secondly, it is rather a lame philosophical speculation that the fine-tuning[20] of the universe is a coincidence, not a scientific hypothesis. The multiverse concept does not make it any better because, for one, it is far from being verifiable. (Verifiability is important in that it is a basic requirement for any hypothesis to be called scientific.) The prominent quantum theorist John Polkinghorne (2007, 95) writes:

‘Let us recognize these speculations for what they are. They are not physics, but in the strictest sense, metaphysics. There is no purely scientific reason to believe in an ensemble of universes. By construction these other worlds are unknowable by us. A possible explanation of equal intellectual responsibility – and to my mind greater economy and elegance – would be that this one world is the way it is, because it is the creation of the will of a Creator who purposes that it should be so.’

Even if the idea of the multiverse is accepted, it neither explains the fine-tuning[21] of the universe in scientific terms nor does it remove the need of God as the ultimate explanation of all there is (Lennox 2011, 47-66). To illustrate the point, let us make use of an analogy. If among 10500 heaps of stones (whatever that number means), one happens to be an automatic plant producing the latest generation of Mercedes Benz, would it not immediately remind us of some highly sophisticated work of engineering behind it, even if there is no such engineer anywhere to be seen? Would the brilliance exhibited by that plant be explained away or become ‘unremarkable’ by the presence of a huge number of worthless heaps of stones around? Of course, not.

Now, how various processes in that plant work would be a subject of our scientific inquiry, and science may reveal that the plant slowly self-assembled (evolved) over time from some primitive material. However, what science would not explain is why, in the first place, that primitive material carried all the extraordinary potentials within it that enabled it to evolve into an awe-inspiring automated plant, and why all the other conditions/factors were readily present for a harmonised evolution of the plant to take place. What is beyond science, however, is not necessarily beyond reason and rationality.[22] If through abduction (inference to the best explanation), one infers an intelligent mind behind the plant, of course, it will not be ‘the answer of science’; not because science has invalidated it or is in conflict with it, but because, in the strictest sense, such a supernatural inference is beyond the scope of the scientific method.

In the above analogy, we presumed that only one out of 10500 heaps of stones happened to be a brilliant plant. From the naturalist’s perspective, this presumption may colossally increase the margin of error for the nature (whatever that agent means) to eventually come up with the right plant, fine-tuned to produce Mercedes Benz. Regarding 10500 universes postulated, however, it is by no means obvious that they are not fine-tuned for life or some other purpose (Lennox 2011, 49). In that case, the multiverse concept would colossally augment the need for an intelligent and wise creator, rather than eliminating it.

Post-script: Just before his death, Hawking endorsed the point I made in the last paragraph, written sometime in 2014. Philip Goff[23] (2018), thus, reports the following in the Guardian:

‘In Hawking’s older version of the multiverse hypothesis, there is great variety among the laws in different universes. […] [I]n his final paper, “A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation?”[24], Hawking and his co-writer, Thomas Hertog, formulate strict limits to the kind of universes that populate the multiverse.

The problem is that the less variety there is among the universes, the less capable the multiverse hypothesis is of explaining fine-tuning. If there is a huge amount of variation in the laws across the multiverse, it is not so surprising that one of the universes would happen to have fine-tuned laws. But if all of the universes have exactly the same laws – as in Hawking and Hertog’s proposal – the problem returns, as we now need an explanation of why the single set of laws that govern the entire multiverse is fine-tuned.

Hertog seems not to agree, arguing that the paper does make progress on fine-tuning: “This paper takes one step towards explaining that mysterious fine-tuning… It reduces the multiverse down to a more manageable set of universes which all look alike.” However, this merely puts off the explanation of fine-tuning, for the result is that the laws underlying the generation of the multiverse are fine-tuned. We now need to explain not only why our universe is fine-tuned but why every universe is fine-tuned! In terms of explaining the fine-tuning, this is not a step forward but a step back.’


Why is there something rather than nothing?

TGD’s Position

 ‘Spontaneous creation,’ says TGD (180), ‘is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.’ (For details, see Chapter 4.)


It’s the question of potentials!

By appealing to spontaneous creation, TGD is attempting here to eradicate the need of God as the so-called ‘First Cause’. This does not work because it is, in fact, spontaneous creation out of a quantum vacuum (spacetime and energy) and, then, the repulsive-gravity material, which raises the obvious question: who or what caused the quantum vacuum and the repulsive gravity material, if not God?

Why God? Because whether it was out of a quantum vacuum or ex nihilo creation, the primitive vacuum energy already came loaded with an awe-inspiring potential/tendency to produce the self-replicating repulsive gravity matter, normal matter particles, atoms, attractive gravity, galaxies, stars, heavy elements, planets, water and, eventually, life. Such evolution was simply impossible if the primitive energy did not have the potential to transform into new existents with splendid properties (such as those necessary to produce gravity). All these existents then proved to be perfectly complementary to form a universe exhibiting thorough planning, diligence, deep wisdom, meaning, beneficence, beauty, mathematical order, control, self-sustainment, and so on. This grand design is obviously impossible without knowledge, wisdom, will, and volition, but energy/matter/space is void of these.[25] That is what compels us to postulate an external mind – the grand designer – behind our universe. It is also noteworthy that when even a small automated system cannot be run without continuous supervision, how can such a magnificent and complex universe go on, on its own? Thus, our universe not only ought to have an all-wise and all-powerful creator (the First Cause) behind it, but a creator who is constantly supervising it, as claimed by revealed religion (See Ghamidi 2018, 90-123 and the Quranic references therein).[26]

As for who that creator is and why he has kept himself hidden, these metaphysical questions are beyond the scope of science. However, they are unanimously answered by revealed religion, such that these answers have become a common heritage of humankind (Ghamidi 2006). If one intends to challenge this heritage, one has to refute the arguments and evidence provided by religion in this regard and enlighten the world with an alternative answer (See Hassan 2018a, where I have presented a Quran-based argument for God in a little more detail). The only alternative answer available so far, as we have seen, is the absurd and self-contradictory claim that the universe itself is its own creator (See Lennox 2011, 30-31).

A desperate measure to get rid of God

What if we take for granted the existence of a tiny patch of repulsive-gravity material, about one-billionth the size of a proton (Guth 2001, 69), and accept that it caused the early universe’s space to inflate? Can we, then, not go on to argue that this material played no role as a cause in the emergence of new such material during inflation and that the new material did not emerge out of it, but independently emerged out of nothing? Since the new material provided the raw-material for essentially all the matter in the universe, can we not say that the whole universe emerged from nothing, without any cause?

As for the cause, we cannot sidestep the repulsive gravity material because its enormous replication would simply have been impossible if its infinitesimal amount, with the potential to expand with a constant density, was not already there. However, it may be argued that the new material did not already exist within the infinitesimal primitive material and, thus, it emerged out of nothing without any further material cause; the non-requirement of energy for this process sidestepped the need for such a cause. But is the material cause, which is only partially sidestepped, the only necessary cause for such a phenomenon, such that it makes God unnecessary? To answer this question, let us turn to Lennox (2011, 36-39) once more:

‘Suppose, to make matters clearer, we replace the universe by a jet engine and then are asked to explain it. Shall we account for it by mentioning the personal agency of its inventor, Sir Frank Whittle? Or shall we follow Hawking: dismiss personal agency, and explain the jet engine by saying that it arose naturally from physical law?

It is clearly nonsensical to ask people to choose between Frank Whittle and science as an explanation for the jet engine. For it is not a question of either/or. It is self-evident that we need both levels of explanation in order to give a complete description. It is also obvious that the scientific explanation neither conflicts nor competes with the agent explanation: they complement one another. It is the same with explanations of the universe: God does not conflict or compete with the laws of physics as an explanation. God is actually the ground of all explanation, in the sense that he is the cause in the first place of there being a world for the laws of physics to describe.

Offering people the choice between God and science is therefore illogical. In addition, it is very unwise, because some people might just choose God and then Hawking could be accused of putting people off science!


The laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works, but not how it came to exist in the first place. It is self-evident that the laws of physics could not have created a jet engine on their own. That task also needed the intelligence, imagination, and scientific creativity of Whittle. Indeed, even the laws of physics plus Frank Whittle were not sufficient to produce a jet engine. There also needed to be some material that Whittle could use. Matter may be humble stuff, but laws cannot create it.

Millennia ago Aristotle thought a great deal about these issues. He spoke about four different “causes” that we can, perhaps, reasonably translate informally as “levels of explanation”. Thinking of the jet engine, first there is the material cause – the raw material out of which the engine is crafted; then there is the formal cause – the concept, plan, theory, and blueprint that Sir Frank Whittle conceived and to which he worked. Next there is the efficient cause – Sir Frank Whittle himself, who did the work. Fourthly, and last in the list, there is the final cause – the ultimate purpose for which the jet engine was conceived and built: to power a particular aircraft to fly faster than ever before.


Much as I find it hard to believe, Hawking seems to wish to reduce all explanation to formal causes only. He claims that all that is necessary to create the universe is the law of gravity.’


Does the ‘no boundary condition’ render God unnecessary?

TGD’s Position

 ‘No-boundary condition’ or, alternatively, the ‘Hartle-Hawking state’, is explained in TGD (134-135) as this: ‘In the early universe […] there were effectively four dimensions of space and none of time’, since ‘time behave[d] like another dimension of space’. ‘That means that when we speak of the “beginning” of the universe, we are skirting the subtle issue that as we look backwards towards the very early universe, time as we know it does not exist!’ So, ‘the question of what happened before the beginning of the universe is rendered meaningless’. No-boundary condition ‘removes the age-old objection to the universe having a beginning, but also means that the beginning of the universe was governed by the laws of science and doesn’t need to be set in motion by some god’.


Again, TGD is attempting here to eradicate the need of God as the First Cause and, again, it fails to do so, even if we ignore the technical problems associated with the no-boundary condition and accept it at face value. That is because, irrespective of the existence/non-existence of time, the primitive space/energy came equipped with the potential to create the entire universe, including time. This potential and its subsequent manifestation, which made the evolution of a breath-taking universe possible, clearly points to a mind behind it. It cannot be explained away by a ‘horizontal’ (scientific/physical) reasoning or causation, but necessarily requires a ‘vertical’ (metaphysical) explanation, to borrow the terms of Wolfgang Smith[27]. Smith (2011, 29-31) elucidates with utmost clarity that these two modes of explanation are complementary, not contradictory.

Smith (2011, 31-34) goes on to argue that the removal of time has no implication for God’s act of creation, for that does not take place in time. Time, as St. Augustine (354–430) points out, is a created phenomenon and, therefore, does not apply to the Creator Himself. Boethius (480–525) followed him in this view, maintaining that God does not exist in time, but is timelessly eternal. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2017) explains his view as follows:

‘All temporal events are before the mind of God at once. To say “at once” or “simultaneously” is to use a temporal metaphor, but Boethius is clear that it does not make sense to think of the whole of temporal reality as being before God’s mind in a single temporal present. It is an atemporal present in which God has a single complete grasp of all events in the entire span of time.’

Following in Boethius’ footsteps, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) writes:

‘[A]lthough corporeal and temporal particulars do not exist simultaneously, God surely has simultaneous knowledge of them. For He knows them according to His manner of being, which is eternal and without succession. Consequently, as He knows material things in an immaterial way, and many things in unity, so in a single glance He beholds objects that do not exist at the same time. And so His knowledge of particulars does not involve the consequence that anything is added to, or subtracted from, His cognition.

This also makes it clear that He has certain knowledge of contingent things. Even before they come into being, He sees them as they actually exist, and not merely as they will be in the future and as virtually present in their causes, in the way we are able to know some future things. Contingent things, regarded as virtually present in their causes with a claim to future existence, are not sufficiently determinate to admit of certain knowledge about them; but, regarded as actually possessing existence, they are determinate, and hence certain knowledge of them is possible. Thus we can know with the certitude of ocular vision that Socrates is sitting while he is seated. With like certitude God knows, in His eternity, all that takes place throughout the whole course of time, for His eternity is in present contact with the whole course of time, and even passes beyond time. We may fancy that God knows the flight of time in His eternity, in the way that a person standing on top of a watchtower embraces in a single glance a whole caravan of passing travelers.’[28] (Aquinas 2012, 142)

All this implies that time did not exist at the outset of the universe or came to be with the existence of the universe as a local phenomenon, exactly as TGD claims.

But then, according to TGD, ‘the beginning of the universe was governed by the laws of science’. These laws, as we have seen, call for an explanation for their existence, which only means that the inaugural act of the universe’s creation could not be ‘mediated by a temporal (horizontal) sequence of events’ but necessarily had a vertical (timeless or transcendent) cause. And this is exactly what Judeo-Christo-Islamic tradition maintains.


Who created God?

TGD’s Position

 ‘It is reasonable to ask who or what created the universe,’ argues TGD (172), ‘but if the answer is God, then the question has merely been deflected to that of who created God. In this view it is accepted that some entity exists that needs no creator, and that entity is called God.’


Indeed, revealed religion introduces God as an uncreated, self-explanatory agent. The insistence of atheists on the impossibility of this proposition is mere anthropomorphism, as the physicist Edgar Andrews[29] (2012, 25) in his book Who Made God? points out:

‘Cause and effect do indeed reign supreme in the physical realm – both science and normal life would be impossible unless they did. But why should they operate in the same manner in a spiritual realm (if such exists)? We have a choice. Firstly, we can assert a priori that there is no such thing as a spiritual realm – that nothing exists that is not physical and open to scientific investigation. On this basis we can proceed to claim, with some logical justification, that every possible effect must have a cause, because that is how the physical world works. But what we cannot do is use this claim to disprove the existence of God on the grounds that he doesn’t have a cause! Why not? Because our argument would be completely circular. We begin by assuming that no spiritual realm exists and conclude by ‘proving’ our initial assumption.’

Furthermore, the ‘reasonable’ question ‘who or what created the universe’, as TGD puts it, arises because the universe cannot explain its own existence. If, like our universe, God does not happen to be self-explanatory but made, only then would the hypothetical question ‘who made God?’ become valid (Ghamidi 2006). In that case, we shall try to settle this question, too. But how can we, for the sake of avoiding a hypothetical question, endorse a self-contradictory position that the universe itself is its own creator?



‘Have they come into being without any creator? Or are they their own creators? Or have they created the heavens and the earth? Nay, they do not believe (for doubt has blinded them)!’[30]

The Quran (52:35-36)


We embarked upon this fascinating voyage into the Stephen Hawking’s universe (or rather multiverse) to discover that ‘because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. [...] Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going’ (Hawking and Mlodinow 2010, 180).

However, with each passing mile, as darkness slowly turned into light, didn’t we become more and more certain that we were heading towards the same Grand Designer we were told to leave behind in our outmoded universe? It is time to say goodbye to Hawking’s universe which, after all, turned out to be the exact opposite of godless. I am pretty sure that I am not the only one who feels this way. We can now go back home to our conventional universe and embrace the conventional wisdom with even more conviction, suggesting that creatureliness is so profoundly interweaved with us and our universe that it is impossible to get rid of a personal Creator.[31]



I am deeply grateful to Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and Sajid Shahbaz Khan (aka Sajid Hameed) for their readily available guidance, valuable input, and constructive advice.

I must thank Dr. Rani Lill Anjum and Dr. Fredrik Andersen (Norwegian University of Life Sciences) for inspiring me to do philosophy, encouraging me to start drafting the present work as a term paper in their philosophy course, providing useful literature, interesting discussions, and a very happy time together. 

My thanks are also due to my wife, Selina Köhr, for her encouragement and support, despite my philosophical wanderings, absent-mindedness, and lack of response.




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[1] Virtual particles cannot be observed, but their effects can be very precisely measured. 


[2] As we saw in Chapter 3, this so-called ‘many-worlds interpretation’ is just one of many proposed interpretations of quantum mechanics. The other (equally valid) interpretations do not support the multiverse. So, hard quantum mechanical facts per se do not make it necessary for us to believe in the multiverse.


[3] Professor at Arizona State University


[4] Victor Weisskopf Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology


[5] Professor of Physics at Hunter College, New York


[6] Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York


[7] Like zero net matter-energy content on the scale of the whole universe, Kaku explains, other stuff in the universe will also cancel out to give zero; for example, net negative and positive charge of all the particles in the universe will yield zero and the net effect of the spin of galaxies in various directions will also be zero. This has led some to believe that the universe is both something as well as nothing, which is false. Zero energy before particles came into existence and zero net-energy after their formation is not the same: zero energy before the particles existed means absence of energy, but zero net-energy after their existence means the presence of equal amounts of positive and negative energies. The same goes for all other balancing/opposite forces in the universe.


[8] The way TGD’s narrative is put together and explained above has already explicated many things. However, the original text is quite vague, indirect, and incoherent, especially regarding the topics covered in this chapter.


[9] Professor of Astrophysics at Arizona State University


[10] Ph.D., theoretical physics; currently a professor (engaged in philosophy of physics and science) at Columbia University, New York 


[11] I would like to add the absence of space too, since space has certain measurable properties.


[12] This self-replication is what TGD refers to as spontaneous self-creation of the universe (out of nothing), as a consequence of gravity.


[13] For example, as for a chair we see in a dream, its data is not fed into our brains from what we call the ‘external world’. Similarly, while being awake, we might be conscious characters in a dream-like (or a virtual reality-like) situation, who are fed with mere data without any concrete reality behind it.


[14] E = m × c2 implies that the amount of energy in an object is equal to its mass times the speed of light squared; for example, if we want to know the amount of energy in a stationary stone with mass of 2 kilograms (kg) we can find it out using this equation: 


m = 2 kg


c = 299,792,458 meters per second (m/s) 


E = 2 kg × (299,792,458 m/s)2 = 599,548,916 kg × m2/s2 


Since 1 kg × m2/s2 = 1 joule, a 2 kg stone will contain 599,548,916 joules of energy in it.


[15] For E = m × c2, for example, it will be irrelevant to ask whether mass and energy are particulars or properties of particulars, present in the real external world. Instead, we shall start our discussion from the point that the relationship between mass and energy is so, according to our perception.


[16] Elegance here refers to simplicity and conciseness (of the sort we find in E = m × c2). It further implies that the model need not be adjusted on ad hoc basis to fit with observations and contain only a few (if any) arbitrarily adjustable elements. E = m × c2 would have been an inelegant model if, for example, the value of c needed to be arbitrarily altered to conform to or explain the observations.


[17] To further illustrate the point, TGD (39-46) asks us to think of fish kept within a spherical bowl. Due to the curved surface of the bowl, the fish will have a distorted view of the world outside the bowl; for example, an object moving in a straight line will appear to the fish to take a curved path. But if one such fish happens to be Newton, it can still formulate laws of motion from its point of reference, which will agree with observations of moving objects from within the bowl and also make correct predictions about their motion. The laws of motion formulated by the fish will be different to ours; nonetheless, they will be completely valid from the fish’s perspective, and leave, at least, the realist fish with no reason to doubt its picture of reality. Our laws and the fish’s laws of motion both will model the motion of the same objects adequately but from different frame of references, and both will be useful and valid – ours outside the bowl and that of the fish within it. Similarly, if we ourselves happen to be inside some invisible spherical bowl distorting our view of ‘reality’, that will have no bearing on the validity of our laws from the perspective of model-dependent realism.


[18] Lennox (2011, 69-70) has produced a useful summary of Conway’s Game of Life as follows:


‘Conway envisioned a “world” consisting of an array of squares like a chess board, but extending indefinitely in all directions. Each square can be in one of two states, “alive” or “dead”, represented by the squares being coloured green or black respectively. Each square has eight neighbours (up, down, left, right and four on the diagonals). Time moves in discrete steps. You start with any chosen arrangement of alive and dead squares; there are three rules or laws that determine what happens next, all proceeding deterministically from the initial chosen state. Some simple patterns remain the same, others change for several generations and then die out; yet others return to their original form after several generations and then repeat the process indefinitely. There are “gliders”, consisting of five alive squares, which morph through five intermediate shapes and then return to their original shape, albeit displacing one square along the diagonal. And there are many more sophisticated forms of behaviour exhibited by more complex initial configurations.


Part of Conway’s world (remember that it is assumed infinite in all directions) can be modelled on a computer, so that one can watch what happens as generation succeeds generation. For instance, “gliders” can be observed crawling diagonally across the screen (To see what this looks like visit


This world with its simple laws holds great attraction for mathematicians, and has been instrumental in the development of the important theory of cellular automata. Conway and his students, as Hawking points out, showed that there are complex initial configurations that self-replicate under the laws. Some of them are so-called Universal Turing Machines that can, in principle, carry out any calculation that could be carried out on a computer. Configurations of alive and dead squares in Conway’s world that are able to do this have been calculated as being of enormous size – consisting of trillions of squares (See’


[19] Lennox (2011, 48) correctly points out that the word ‘old’ here gives a wrong impression as if the idea is false and replaced by something better.


[20] To get a glimpse of how remarkable the fine-tuning is that has made possible the universe and its sentient beings, see a sub-section devoted to this in Lennox’s ‘God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (2009, 68-73). 


[21] It needs to be appreciated, but is often overlooked, that the ‘miracle of fine-tuning’ is not the occurrence of a few extremely improbable events that have made possible the universe and life herein; instead, it is a tale of countless such events.


[22] This sentence is inspired by the title of Epilogue in Lennox 2009, 207.


[23] Assoc. Professor of Philosophy at Central European University, Budapest 


[24] Available from


[25] Even if the universe possessed all these attributes, it is absurd and self-contradictory anyway to postulate that the universe (or anything else for that matter) can create itself, out of nothing (See Lennox 2011, 30-31).


[26] Here, we have inferred the existence of God to explain the existence of the universe. Such an inference to the most likely or best explanation of some observation(s) is formally called ‘abductive reasoning’ or ‘abduction’. Abduction is ubiquitous in all fields of study, including science. The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (2017) states: ‘Philosophers of science have argued that abduction is a cornerstone of scientific methodology; see, for instance, Boyd 1981, 1984, Harré 1986, 1988, Lipton 1991, 2004, and Psillos 1999. According to Timothy Williamson (2007), “[t]he abductive methodology is the best science provides” and Ernan McMullin (1992) even goes so far to call abduction “the inference that makes science.”’ An example of abductive reasoning is the theory of evolution, wherein common descent is inferred as the most likely explanation of available data (showing variation within species; homologous structures among species; and similar or, sometimes, identical genes across species etc). Another example is the discovery of sub-atomic particles, whose existence cannot be directly perceived but inferred from their effects. Yet another interesting example is the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI), wherein radio signals are monitored from the outer space for semantic messages. The underlying idea here is based on abductive reasoning that if such a message is received or intercepted, it would be indicative of other intelligent beings in the universe. In 1982, a petition from Carl Sagan (426) advocating SETI was published in one of the most prestigious scientific journals, Science. The petition was signed by 68 scientists, with seven Nobel Prize winners among them. Since then, many expensive projects have been undertaken and much collective effort is dedicated to SETI. In 2015, a Stephen Hawking-backed programme, ‘Breakthrough Initiatives’ (2017), was launched for this purpose with $100 million cash investment. One project of the programme, ‘Breakthrough Listen’, is dedicated to probe over one million stars for radio or laser signals in anticipation of intelligent life.


[27] A senior mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and metaphysician


[28] Such views are brilliant but humble attempts to understand the mind of God. Are they true? We cannot know, unless God Himself reveals to us how He is beyond time and, so to speak, experiences our time. However, these views are extremely useful for the purpose of stretching our minds and appreciating new possibilities that we often fail to see due to our rigid religious or scanty scientific spectacles.


[29] Emeritus Professor at Queen Mary, University of London


[30] Originally, the Quran put these questions to the Meccan Polytheists, who believed in God but denied the Hereafter. The implication is that if they believed in God, they also had to believe in the Judgement Day because that is a necessary consequence of a just, wise, omniscient, and omnipotent Creator (Ghamidi 2014, 58). These questions, however, are so fundamental, natural, and universal that all of us can be their addressees, especially those who deny the existence of God.


[31] As a final remark, I would like to add that if it is truth we are after (as many of us claim), then we ought to scrutinise religious texts also with the same zeal with which we have scrutinised TGD’s narrative here, especially, the interpretations of religious texts that make many of us do or support evil in the name of God.




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