Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Book review of Stephen Hawking’s “The Grand Design” by Edgar Andrews

First, who is Edgar Andrews?

Professor Edgar H. Andrews (BSc, PhD, DSc, FInstP, FIMMM, CEng, CPhys.) is Emeritus Professor of Materials at the University of London and an international expert on the science of large molecules. In 1967 he set up the Department of Materials at Queen Mary College, University of London, and served both as its Head and later as Dean of Engineering. He has published well over 100 scientific research papers and books, together with two Bible Commentaries and various works on science and religion and on theology. His book From Nothing to Nature has been translated into ten languages.

Edgar Andrews was an international consultant to the Dow Chemical Company (USA) for over thirty years and to the 3M Company (USA) for twenty years. He was a non-executive director of Denbyware PLC throughout the 1970s and for five years a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Neste Oy, the national oil company of Finland.

And now an excerpt from the book review: (H/T Apologetics 315)

Hawking and Mlodinow declare: ‘According to M-theory, ours is not the only universe. Instead, M-theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god. Rather, these multiple universes arise naturally from physical law. They are a prediction of science’ (p.9).

So what is this magical M-theory? The authors are rather coy about it. ‘M-theory’, they say, ‘Is not a theory in the usual sense. It is a whole family of different theories, each of which is a good description of observations only in some range of physical situations’ (p.8). Theoretical physicist Lee Smolin is more explicit: ‘… we still do not know what M-theory is, or whether there is any theory deserving of the name’ (The trouble with physics, Allen Lane, 2007, p.146).

The fact is that M-theory is an untestable mathematical construction which many scientists believe has no bearing on physical reality. But that doesn’t deter our authors because they don’t believe in ‘objective reality’ anyway. What we think is ‘real’, they say, is simply a model assembled in our brains from raw data input by our senses. But, confusingly, the authors then claim that the best models are those that reflect the way things really do happen in the real world — appealing to the very objective reality they say does not exist! Confused? Me too.

But it gets worse. They claim that M-theory (whatever it might be) predicts not one universe but a multiverse — a vast collection of universes which cannot be observed or known to us in any way. On their own criterion, this makes M-theory a very bad model indeed. So it’s hardly a useful replacement for God.

Here’s a better book to read if you want to understand how belief in God relates to experimental science.

My Dad just finished reading his book “Who Made God?” and called me up to tell me how much he liked the book. My Dad is not a scientist, yet he read the whole thing and learned a lot about science. This is the book for people who haven’t read a thing about science and religion. It’s easy to understand because he explains the same thing over and other giving more and more detail. Even a child can understand the first explanation, and then he keeps layering on details until he gets up to the state-of-the-art.

Remember Brian Auten of Apologetics 315 picked this book as his favorite of 2010. You can’t go wrong!

My Dad is now reading my copy of “Is God Just a Human Invention?” by Jonathan Morrow and Sean McDowell. I’m working on “Is God a Moral Monster?” by Paul Copan. I like books where difficult questions are asked and then careful answers are given. Then when people ask me the same questions, I can answer them using what I’ve learned – and often phrase the question even more clearly and forcefully than they did when they asked me.

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