A CRITIQUE OF STEPHEN HAWKING’S VIEW OF THE ROLE OF GOD IN THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE by Professor S.P. Singh from Vedic Vision of Consciousness & Yoga by MukeshVeda
When any discipline of knowledge reaches its zenith, it is quite likely to begin to talk of God. This is true, as the foregoing pages make out not only of Whitehead but also of many other scientists, the latest of them being Stephen Hawking, the celebrated author of the best seller, A Brief History of Time. Like Whitehead, he too comes conceptually in the lineage of Einstein. If Whitehead developed the philosophy of process out of Einstein’s theory of relativity, Stephen Hawking evolved his cosmology out of the same theory of relativity. And just as Whitehead struck on the idea of God speculatively while explaining the reality in terms of process, even so Stephen Hawking happened to refer to the idea of God particularly as a matter of protest against the guarded warning of Pope, while tracing the origin of the universe ultimately to the primeval incident known as the Big Bang. In course of attending a conference on cosmology organised by the Jesuits in the Vatican in 1981, and being given an audience with the Pope along with other participants of the conference, Hawking was warned by the latter not to inquire into the Big Bang, “because that was the moment of creation and therefore the work of God.”(p.122)... In this regard, one would like to refer to the Indian cosmology as accepted by most of the philosophical systems almost in common on the Indian horizon and as emerging from the Veda. It is a matter of common knowledge that in this cosmology five basic elements have been accepted. They form below upward are: prthivi, apas, tejas, vayu and akasa. Prithivi is matter solidified, apas is the same in the liquid form prior to solidification, tejas is the same in the fiery and gaseous form preceding the state of liquidity, vayu is the form of the same prior to the fiery and gaseous while akasa is the receptacle as well as source of the last one and via that that of all of them, that is, the prithivi, the apas, the tejas and the vayu. In this context one only needs to draw attention to the fact that the modern scientific cosmology hammering so incessantly on the Big Bang has confined itself until now only to tejas and that also as available to him particularly in one of its possible manifestations. Beyond tejas, there lies vayu, which by its placing in the order of basic stuffs of creation must naturally be subtler and more pervasive than tejas. As such, it must conceivably be nothing less than pure energy, which is another name of space, must, therefore, be much subtler than tejas and vayu both. It is not just the void serving as the receptacle of vayu, etc., as may well be mistaken on the analogy of the pre-Einsteinian idea of space, but is the positive source of vayu, etc., in all their dynamism, heat, liquidity and solidity. Thus akasa, according to the Vedic tradition, is unlike both the pre-Einsteinian and post-Einstenian space. If it is not sheer void on the one hand, it is also not just distancing of configurations of matter produced by the Big Bang on the other. It is the void containing well within it the entire stuff of creation in potential as well as actual form along with the dynamism required for actualising the potential not just once accidentally but on a continuous basis, for to think of any spatio-temporal and numerical limitation in this unlimited source of potentialities is an act of projection of the limitations of the limited on the unlimited. It is indeed the field of operation as well as source of the stuff the cosmos is made of. The same akasa or space itself is inclusive of time also as inherent in it in its continuity. Unlike the pre-Einsteinian Western thought, the central stream of the Vedic thought does not consider time as independent of space. It is implicit in the akasa or space itself in the form of its continuity, since space without continuity is an impossibility. The Vedic akasa indeed is the space-time combined and thus the source of the dynamics of the world represented by vayu and resulting eventually in the emergence of tejas, apas, and prthivi in close succession... The problem that has arisen in Hawking’s way of thinking, of course, is due to taking God as only the agent of creation. In this type of thinking God is supposed to be an agent working on a pre-existing stuff so as to mould it in the form of the world or rather to set rolling the universal process. Obviously here complete dichotomy has been taken for granted between the creator and the original stuff of creation. Working under such pre-supposition, when the scientist somehow sees the possibility of explaining the universal process well within itself, he tends to cancel God as totally irrelevant to the world both as its creator and sustainer. This difficulty, however, does not arise at all in the Vedic and Upanisadic way of thinking, since here no such dichotomy has been allowed to creep in between the creator and the stuff of creation. Here the creator himself serves also as the stuff of creation. When God expands Himself into the space on the one hand and continues to sustain the expansion in the form of time on the other and when space and time as diverse dimensions of one and the same principle conjointly manifest themselves in the form of the universe or the universal process, where is the scope for dichotomy between the creator and the stuff of creation? Under this frame of thinking, the question of the irrelevance of God does not arise at all howsoever advanced we may become in our scientific investigation and explanation. On the contrary, instead of becoming irrelevant, God would gain more in relevance, the more penetrating we get in our understanding of the real nature of the world, for, in that case, we would reach nearer to God through penetration into the mystery of His creation.