Science and God: considering Stephen Hawking
The main critiques are that Hawking has no understanding of Christian theology, and that if he did, he wouldn’t confuse science and theology the way that he does. The Christian doctrine of creation is not in competition with the scientific explanation for the origin of the cosmos. The fact that Hawking gets this wrong only reinforces the mistaken views of the creationists. The difference is that Hawking is simply naive, while the creationists are intentional about equating science and theology. All of this just makes it harder for intelligent Christians to articulate the truth of the doctrine of creation. Here is what Giberson writes:
[Stephen] Hawking's theological naïveté is almost funny. He appears not to know that the heart of the Judeo-Christian doctrine of creation is that the world derives its being from God, not that God "started" the world, like some kid building a model airplane. Everyone from Augustine and Aquinas to Barth and Pannenberg has addressed this important distinction. The suggestion that a physical theory ruling out a well-defined "beginning" to the universe removes God from creation is the sort of simplistic misunderstanding that might be tolerated in philosophy students' first term papers, but certainly not their second.
And what of Hawking's claim that knowledge of the profoundly misnamed "Theory of Everything" would be like entering into the mind of God? Really? Is this what God thinks about? What God is this? Is there actually a church somewhere that puts equations on a big screen and invites worshippers to view them as a prelude to worship? Is this the same God whose existence Hawking disproved a few pages earlier?
All this would indeed be humorous if it were not in a book that has sold ten million copies. Hawking has done a great disservice to those purchasers of his book who have actually read it. He has misled them about the religious implications of science and the apparent motivations of scientists; he has made bogus claims about theology; he has juxtaposed science and theology as if they compete to explain the same things. Hawking's enthusiasm about doing away with God does not reflect the views of the scientific community, where there is widespread belief in God, and widespread disinterest in using science against religion.
Hawking is a major public intellectual, a leading scientist with a flair for popular exposition and a platform from which to explain science to an educated populace. He and his scientific allies—Richard Dawkins, Edward O. Wilson, Peter Atkins, the late Stephen Jay Gould, Steven Weinberg, Stephen Pinker and so on—shape public perceptions of science through their popular presentations, in books, articles, and public appearances. Their collective message—drilled home in many different ways—is that science is hostile to religion, scientists don't believe in God, and science competes with religion to explain natural phenomena.
None of these statements is true.