When Steven Hawking wrote, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” (“The Grand Design“), he was concluding that God did not create the universe and the “Big Bang” was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics. Ironically, he was arguing against a pagan “god of the gaps,” not the God of the Bible.
What’s also ironic about his statement is that when Sir Isaac Newton first discovered the law of gravity, he didn’t say, “We understand gravity now, we don’t need God.” He attributed his discovery to a creator who designed gravity to work that way:
“Gravity may put the planets into motion, but without the divine Power, it could never put them into such a circulating motion as they have about the Sun; and therefore, for this as well as other reasons, I am compelled to ascribe the frame of this System to an intelligent Agent.”
What Newton understood seems to be lost on modern atheists, as the great philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein succinctly put it:
“The great delusion of modernity is that the laws of nature explain the universe for us. The laws of nature describe the regularities. But they explain nothing.”
For instance, while Newton’s law of gravity can successfully send a rocket to the moon and back, it cannot tell us what gravity actually is.
This “science supplants God” argument seems to be the mindset of many atheists. Whatever we can explain with science eliminates the need for God. But it’s a false dichotomy that only refutes gods of Greek mythology and other pagan deities. These ancient cultures didn’t have modern science to explain phenomenon like thunder or tsunamis, so they created gods, like Zeus and Neptune, to explain what they didn’t understand. These are the “gods” that science displaces, but it has nothing to do with the theist’s argument for a creator.
Here’s an analogy to explain what I mean. In my younger engineering days when I was working for a computer company in Chicago, my job was to reverse-engineer midrange computer systems (this was before pc’s took over the corporate world) so that we could fix these multi-million dollar systems more cheaply than buying very expensive circuit boards from the manufacturer. I eventually learned all there was to know about these system’s hardware, how they worked, how to fix them, and I created standard operating procedures for our techs to follow. All mysteries had been solved. But not for one minute did I ever think that because I now fully understood these massive computer systems that they weren’t designed by companies like Wang, Xerox, and IBM. My point is, even if we eventually know all there is to know about the natural world, it does not displace God as creator and sustainer of all things.
And it doesn’t really matter if the biological process is blind, as John Lennox said to Richard Dawkins in a debate at Oxford, referring to Dawkins’s “blind watchmaker” analogy:
“Just because we can show that something is blind, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t designed. My watch is blind but it was designed. You don’t argue away an agent by showing that there is a mechanism. God is not the mechanism, He is the agent behind the mechanism. God and science are not alternative explanations.” (You can see the debate here).
“Genesis doesn’t begin by saying that God created the “bits” we don’t understand. He created the whole show, the bits we don’t understand as well as the ones we do understand.”
The whole discussion is good, but you can watch the part where Lennox talks about the “God of the gaps” fallacy in the clip below: