Speaking before a packed audience at California Institute of Technology on Tuesday night, famed and world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking made the case against God creating the universe.
Hawking, who hosted the talk titled “The Origin of the Universe,” said the Big Bang did not require the intervention of God. The talk was attended by over 1,000 people and a separate auditorium with a projector and big screen was arranged so that an overflow crowd could listen to the discussion.
“What was God doing before the divine creation?” Hawking joked, when asked whether God was necessary to the formation of the universe. “Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?”
In presenting his case against God, Hawking outlined a number of major scientific discoveries, each of which he noted seemed to chip away at explanations provided by religion. Hawking pointed to recent observations by space telescopes and other instruments, which show a vast and nearly infinite cosmos that is around 13.6 billion years old.
Hawking addressed a recent study, which seems to suggest that the universe may not have had a beginning or an end, and instead may be the result of a repeating Big Bang. The former Cambridge chair noted that his research shows a definitive beginning to the universe and that data collected by telescopes seems to confirm his findings.
The british scientists said that while science does not have all of the answers, it provides humanity with a path towards unlocking the mysteries of our existence. Hawking specifically pointed to the current research on dark matter and dark energy, which he said will likely provide cosmology with an unprecedented amount of information regarding how the universe functions. Scientists estimate that dark matter makes up more than ninety percent of the known universe and it could account for upwards of ninety-six percent of all matter in the universe.
Hawking said the future of science likely resides in the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, which allowed scientists in 2012 to confirm the existence of the elusive Higgs boson. Hawking, who capture worldwide attention for his work on black holes, also took time to discuss recent findings from the University of California Santa Barbara, which posit that black holes are surrounded by firewalls. Hawking, speaking to the crowd, said he did not agree with the findings, saying the event horizon – the point where the gravity of the black hole is inescapable – is likely little more than empty space.
Hawking also used the lecture to discuss the future of humanity. The physicists have repeatedly urged policy makers and scientists around the world to pursue missions to explore the possibility to humanity traveling to nearby planets and outside of the solar system. Speaking earlier this year, Hawking said he would surprised if humanity existed 1,000 years from now, noting that scientific discoveries — such as the atom bomb — have increased the risk of total annihilation.