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.

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

  1. Who Made God is up right after I’m finished “The politically incorrect guide to Capitalism.” Three chapters to go. Very informative so far.

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  2. I didn’t know Edgar Andrews was still around! I would recommend “From Nothing To Nature” to anyone, I read it ten years ago and it was the book that shook me out of my complacent Christianity and made me realise how weak the arguments against evolution actually are. I picked it up expecting to find arguments I could use to defend my faith, but instead just found theistic arguments that made no sense whatsoever, mixed in with non-theistic arguments that he was quoting mostly to mock them, but which made much more sense. It didn’t make me an atheist there and then – there was a LOT of reading other apologetics books, still expecting that the next one would have the killer argument that would support my childhood faith – but it started me on the path. I know it wasn’t what the author intended, but it turned out well in the end.

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    1. I am glad it worked out well in the end for you and hold that every human being is entitled to worship (or not), as he sees fit. I myself prefer to believe that God is the creator of our universe and have no doubt that there are others and they have their creator. I just concern myself with mine. It helps me to know that when I die I will be reunited with loved ones in Heaven. If I am wrong, I won’t know about it so I won’t be disappointed. I can’t comprehend that when I exit this earth, there is nothing, and I’m glad because it makes living much more worthwhile. Without my belief in God and what comes after this, I believe out lives would have no meaning. We could then ask ourselves “why are we here?” and the answer would be “for no reason”. I read Lee Stroebl’sw “Case for the Creator” which I loved and is a compilation of interviews with other scientists other than Stephen Hawking, who provide evidense that there is a Creator. Interestingly, I watched a series caled I think “Into the Universe” which was narrated by Stephen Hawking and I heard him make the comment “Does this mean that the Universe was NOT created by a higher intelligence?” and he answered the question himself with “not necessarily” I rewound that manytimes to make sure I heard him correctly. He cannot say definitively that there is no God.

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  3. Why did Professor Hawking wait for over 20 years before acknowledging Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem as ruling out a complete Theory of Everything (TOE)?
    An all-encompassing TOE would not only include a logical derivation of the fundamental laws from a set of root mathematical axioms but would extend this logical derivation to every possible phenomenon in the universe as a mathematical statement.
    This is the definition of the TOE used by Professor Hawking, as evidenced, for instance, by his including the Goldbach conjecture formulated as a physical problem – in terms of wooden blocks – as part of “the theory of the universe”, as he puts it in his website.
    Applying Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem to the root mathematical axioms shows that the mathematical system is either inconsistent, which we can rule out, or that it is incomplete, ie, there are some true statements of the mathematics – manifest as phenomena in our universe – which cannot be deduced from the root axioms and, therefore, which cannot be predicted from the TOE either, since it is, itself, derived from the root axioms.
    The fact that a TOE derived from the root axioms of the type envisaged by Professor Hawking is incapable of predicting all the phenomena in the universe surely deserved a comment!
    In “The Grand Design”, again, no mention is made of Gödel, although this is less surprising if M-theory is regarded as a “conventional” TOE, which does not attempt to explain all phenomena.
    However, there is a final twist to the tale. While Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem shows that an all-encompassing TOE, which predicts all phenomena, cannot be derived from the root axioms, it is nevertheless true that a TOE which does predict all phenomena could, in principle, be written down without deriving it. It would simply not be possible to prove, in this universe, that what had been written down was, indeed, the genuine TOE. This, and other aspects of the TOE, are discussed in my website, http://www.godel-universe.com.

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