by Patrick Călinescu
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Stephen Hawking’s argument against God is strikingly similar to the traditional cosmological argument for the existence of God.
Both sides rely on the concept of causality when investigating God. Both sides understand the concept of causality in quite the same way. Basically, both sides argue that there must be an uncaused cause by means of which the otherwise inevitably infinite series of efficient causes is put an end to.
Those in favour of the cosmological argument say that this uncaused cause, at which the causal regress definitely stops, can only be God. So God is the ultimate cause stopper in the Universe.
Those in favour of a God-free Universe (which by the way is strikingly similar to a clock mechanism in need of no winder) say that this uncaused cause, at which causality itself stops, can only be the infamous Big Bang, which of course brought the whole Universe into being. So this Big Bang is, in their view, the ultimate cause stopper in the Universe.
Basically, as we have so far seen, both sides understand by the end of causality the beginning of the world. It’s only at the point at which the recourse to causality is no longer functional (pragmatically functional, I should say) that the world begins to be fully functional.
So the Aristotelian unmoved mover, or this generic uncaused cause, has lately been transmogrified into the Big Bang, which both began the world and ended causality.
The difference between these two sides thus lies not in the understanding of causality, but in how they apply the understanding of causality to God.
Those in favour of the cosmological argument argue that it’s God who ends causality’s infinite regress in order that he may begin the world’s finite progress, but nowhere along these lines of thinking does appear the idea that there also must be a time before God’s actions. His actions actually seem synchronous, and there’s no clue of a time before the time when God decides it is high time that he, in absolute simultaneity, ended causality and began the world. So, what was he doing before all this? Did he even exist? Until recently, no one seemed to know exactly.
This is however quite satisfactorily explained by those in favour of the Big Bang theory. According to them, that primordial explosion is the very moment when time itself came into being. So God could not have existed before the cosmic invention of time unless he can exist outside of time. Therefore, he could not have made the world because there was no time before the Big Bang in which he could have made it. And if there was no time before the Big Bang in which he could have completed his actions, there was also no time, before the time in which he would have made the world, in which he could have done anything else. So he was doing nothing before he made the world because he didn’t exist. And he could not have existed in that before before-time as time itself did not yet exist. Unless, of course, God can exist outside of time. In which case, there’s no need for time in order for God to exist. (But that would be problematic even in theological terms: How can time exist at all when there’s no need for time in order for time to exist?)
Thus the problem of temporal anteriority has been solved by the elimination of temporal anteriority from the birth of the Universe. Paradoxically, the birth of the Universe is both temporal and atemporal. It is temporal because it brought time into being; and atemporal because it came into being from outside of time. So the sequence must be only this-the birth of the Universe; then the birth of time. The birth of time out of the birth of the Universe. So, the birth of temporal posteriority out of the birth of the Universe out of the birth of time. Therefore, the birth of causality out of the birth of temporal posteriority out of the birth of the Universe out of the birth of time.
So the birther of time is God. As there’s no birther of time, there’s also no God.
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