In The Grand Design, co-authors, Stephen Hawkings and Leonard Mlodinow want us to believe that, “…the latest advances in cosmology explain why the laws of the universe seem tailor-made for humans, without the need for a benevolent creator.” In their book (described by the New York Times as “provocative pop science”), the authors use a series of examples to suggest that, “The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned.” But they question, “What can we make of these coincidences?” “It raises the natural question of why it is that way.”
Although “Many people would like us to use these coincidences as evidence of the work of God,” Hawkings and Mlodinow believe that, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.” They prefer a theory that says, “Our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws. The multiverse idea is not a notion invented to account for the miracle of fine tuning. It is a consequence predicted by many theories in modern cosmology. If it is true it reduces the strong anthropic principle 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 just one of many.”
“Each universe has many possible histories and many possible states. Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist. Although we are puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in a sense the lords of creation.”
It is audacious for Hawkings and Mlodinow to suggest that a multi-universe theory can solve the puzzle of life’s origin. It’s something like saying, “Since we hold the winning Lotto ticket of universes, there must be billions of Lotto tickets out there — thus explaining why there is at least one winner: us.”
But intellectual honesty (and a dose of humility) should lead one to admit the extreme improbability that high levels of complexity found in most life forms could have resulted from chance occurrences–no matter how much time or how many universes one allows.
Hawkings and Mlodinow simply follow the long-standing expectations of philosophical naturalism. This is the view that the physical world is a self-contained system that works by impersonal, blind, unbroken natural laws. Supported by a ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology, naturalistic philosophy declares that nothing beyond nature could have any conceivable relevance to what happens in nature.
The really big problem with this conclusion is that there is not one shred of scientific evidence to support it. Only faith could allow you to believe it (which changes the entire direction of the discussion). Stretching science into philosophy (or into religion) gives people the misleading impression that the science of evolution offers more than it is capable of rendering. Whether one embraces philosophical naturalism or “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), both are faith-based conclusions.
The scientific evidence offers more logical support for a personal designer than the notion of impersonal and unbroken natural laws. But let’s not pretend that the science is capable of offering conclusive evidence on life’s origin.
Note: Honest scientists (and there are plenty of them in the Academy) know that it’s simply outside the function of science to resolve matters Hawkings wishes to resolve. Science can describe in fascinating detail what is within the universe. Science can speak of purposes related to adaptability and survival in the physical world. Only God can prescribe what is beyond the descriptions of scientific inquiry and speak to purposes of eternal significance beyond the limitations of the physical world.
See also: A World without windows