September 3rd, 2010
11:32 AM ET

Letters to the President #592: 'Disproving God . . .or not'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Our money says “In God we trust,” but some scientists say not so fast. So I say, time for another letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

So I was reading this article about how the esteemed physicist Stephen Hawking says there is no God; about how everything that exists can be explained by science, and spontaneous creation; which, I guess, is like spontaneous combustion, only not so messy. And once again I found myself thinking: How the heck would he know?

Scientists get really cranky when religious types start rattling on about how evolution is a lie, and creationism explains everything. To be honest I can’t really blame them. I toured that museum of creationism out in the Midwest some years ago and it was a pretty strange experience. Scientists have spent a lot of time working on their theories about how we all reached this point, so it can’t be any fun to see all their work dismissed with a Barney Rubble depiction of ancient man that is not supported by the fossil record. Plus, they’ve sifted through all those bones, churned out all those papers, and published all those peer-reviewed articles. Frankly if I even had to deal with my peers that often I’d be a little short tempered.

But back to my point. The chief reason scientists have a right to be upset is that the arguments leveled against their work by the church crowd have nothing to do with science, and are not informed by an understanding of it. The professors are talking apples, the prayers are talking oranges. It’s like an auto mechanic arguing that a pro bowler can’t pick up the spare because his turn signals aren’t working.

On the other hand, if scientists want the courtesy of church folks not prattling on about things they don’t understand, then perhaps the research crowd might want to return the favor. After all, how can science prove or disprove a matter of faith? God, by the very definition of many faithful folks, defies measurement, detection or understanding. God is beyond the human intellect’s ability to fully comprehend, let along prove or disprove. God is everything and God is nothing all at once.

Anyway, I don’t expect you to do anything about this. It’s just on my mind. I believe in God. I also believe in science. And I know many wonderful people who, like me, have no trouble fitting the two together.

Speaking of God and science, how are the big peace talks going? I hope well. If you get a moment today give me a call. Any big weekend plans?


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Branden

    Physicist Stephen Hawking has spent the majority of his life researching the origins of the physical cosmos in which we live, his opinion should and does mean a lot. Lets not judge to early considering no one has even read the book which doesn't come out for a few more days.

    Religion impedes on Prof Hawking's work. God as an abstract that can not intervene or create is fine but as soon as your saying god intervenes or creates then you are talking physical, Prof Hawking's field. To think that the bible could even explain the universe is absurd, it was written when men thought the earth flat, they had no idea what gravity is, nor a particle, an atom, dark matter, dark energy and the greatest technology of their time was the plow.

    As a student studying astrophysics i understanding that people refute Hawkings claims because the simply don't understand them, they are complex, to complex to be summed up in a sentence from a book.

    September 4, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
  2. bigdoggy

    So you believe in god. Which one? Thor, Vishnu, Allah, Mumbo Jumbo?
    Whichever one it is, it still means that you are an atheist when it comes to the other, equally valid gods. We are both atheists, but I believe in one less god than you.

    On another note, we don't need to prove that gods don't exist when we can demonstrate time and again that praying to them doesn't work. It has no effect at all. Therefore, what use is a god if there's no point praying to it?

    September 4, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  3. Michele Gomis

    Interesting essay but how it should belong to this series of letters to the President escapes me....the dreary debate about "Is he or isn't he" belongs to a POTUS blog.

    Perhaps CNN should set up a faith versus reason forum? Logic versus emotion? (Making sure to vet comments that are clearly specious I would hope.)

    September 4, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  4. C

    Mr. Foreman,
    yes, when I read his statement, I thought how would he know? I believe science is a phenomenal thing as well as faith. We are beings of belief and pursuit which I think bridges the two together. in this case, we have two different experts speaking in different languages to each other...but that doesn't mean that they both aren't pursuing something bigger than themselves.

    I think one thing we can agree on is that we can't master anything but we could try to work together to get a little closer...yeah I hope the peace talks certainly work out for the best.


    September 4, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  5. Vynn

    Hawking made the comment years ago that if we found what created the universe, it would end the inquiry as to whether there was a god or not. Needless to say, but Hawking has 'found" that smoking gun that created the universe. It's the ominous M-theory...the theory of multiverses, bubbles that bud into new universes, 11 dimensions of space-time, strings. An intelligent creator is no longer necessary to explain the the former mystery of creation.

    The good news is that you have a new god to worship....the multiverse. Granted, like the god of the Deists, this god does not intercede in the natural course of events, or act on human prayers. It is the god of Einstein and Spinosa...an unintelligent creator who is everywhere and in everything.

    September 4, 2010 at 10:20 am |
  6. Mary

    Thank You Tom. I was so sad to see the "new view " of Hawkings. I have been trying to put words to my thoughts and you did it for me. Don't get me wrong there is more that I could say, But Thankfully the Power of God says it all.

    September 4, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  7. Gene

    Tom, if science and religion didn't overlap then Hawking's comments would generate as much interest as the car mechanic's. So there it is. And it wouldn't be a problem if science and religion agreed in some general way, but they are so far apart on the gross generalities that it makes one or the other look pretty stupid.

    Unfortunately for religion, you gotta take it on faith. It is as you say their big thing. The kind of faith that teaches you to ignore the facts. To "believe" in spite of the facts. And that is just not the kind of world that people live in these days. And it certainly is not how science is done.

    September 3, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  8. Katherine Pierce

    I am profoundly disappointed in Stephen Hawking's statement that God did not create the universe as we know it. In all religions, I believe the argument can be made that the creator's touch is in every cell of all living things. By making such a statement, this brilliant scientist is excluding the wonder and inspiration which motivates humanity, reflected in all regligions worldwide. Even if, as he claims, matter can spontaneously generate life under certain conditions, he is missing the point of being alive. We all exist in a fragile balance because of God's miraculous power, no matter how we envision that power, or how we worship and respect it. I hope he has an epiphany soon, and realizes the gravity of his comments, or rather, the emptiness of them.

    September 3, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  9. Ronnie

    Good piece Tom – thank you...

    September 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm |