I’ve been reading an article by Stephen Hawking on his theory of the “Spontaneous Quantum Creation of the Universe” and would love to hear your comments and a way of refuting this theory. I know you have a greater knowledge of science than I do, so I believe you are in a good position to help. I think it’s a way to get around the implications of the Big Bang — that something (someone) must have caused it all.
Answer from Doug Jacoby:
Fluctuations in a quantum vacuum? But a quantum vacuum isn’t nothing. It is something. Hence not creatio ex nihilo.
Answer from John Oakes:
I do not have a lot to add to Doug’s comments. Stephen Hawking’s spontaneous quantum creation idea is really nothing more than an ad hoc hypothesis. In other words, he has a problem, which is that the universe exists, but it did not always exist. There are two possibilities. Either it was created by a purposeful Creator, or it just “happened.” Anyone using common sense will prefer the former, but Hawking moved toward a strong atheism in his last few years, which made this possibility ruled out a-priori by him. Of course, this left him with the problem which is that something cannot come from nothing. Therefore he chose this quantum fluctuation theory, not because of evidence, but for philosophical reasons.
The problems with his explanation are many-fold. First, there is no evidence for it. This is always a problem in science!!! Second, it is an irrefutable hypothesis. Also a problem in science!!! This is why neither Doug nor myself needs to “refute” such a theory which, almost by definition in science, is not even a theory. It is a wild and unsupported speculation which comes, not from observation or theory, but from the need to fill a philosophical need, which is to explain how, literally, something could come from nothing.
It is true that quantum mechanics does predict the spontaneous creation of particles out of space, but, as Doug is pointing out above, space is not nothing (please forgive the double negative). Space is something. It is a place within which a quantum fluctuation can happen. The problem for Hawking’s speculation (I will not honor it by calling it a theory), is that he is proposing something nearly absurd, which is that something could come, literally, from nothing at all. To propose that a tiny particle can be spontaneously “created” within the vacuum of space is indescribably far from proposing the spontaneous creation of an entire universe within literally nothing. This is an extrapolation of unbelievable dimensions. We should not even give it a serious thought as being scientific. Into what was this universe spontaneously generated?
This idea is coming, not from science, but from an atheistic world view. It is pretty much self-refuting.