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Who or what created the universe?

The Big Bang
Early Universe
Life and Death of Stars
Galaxy Formation
The Solar System
Exotic objects
End of the Universe
Who created the universe?
What is Time?
Life beyond Earth
NASA Missions
Particle Map
Who or what created the universe?
This essay is based on Stephen Hawking's Science Channel TV series, "Curiosity. Did God Create the Universe?"

A man decides to build a hill on the ground. He starts digging into the Earth and placing the dirt on his shovel next to the hole he is creating. After a while he has a hill of freshly dug earth and a pretty deep hole right next to it. According to Stephen Hawking, the laws of physics require the existence of negative energy as well as positive energy and you can get positive energy simply by balancing it with negative energy. So, the hill and the hole, which are by definition of equal size add up to precisely nothing and you can have a hill simply by digging a hole.

Hawking goes further by saying that space is the plane where our positive energy hills and negative energy holes are balanced out. In other words, space is a vast store for negative energy, and not just a store for what we see and experience, positive energy. Space balances out positive energy with negative energy. Hawking concludes that if the universe adds up to nothing, then you donít need a god to create it.

Imagine a river. What makes its conditioned existence (existence that depends upon a prior condition) possible? Rain. And what makes the rainís conditioned existence possible? The sun evaporating water from oceans, turning it to clouds. And what makes the sun possible? Hydrogen. And where did hydrogen come from? The big bang. If we assume that the Big Bang really did occur and was the beginning of the universe as we know it. Then the question arises, "what came before the Big Bang?" Well, the answer seems to be, nothing. The Big Bang had an independent, not a conditioned, existence.

What caused the big bang? This is the reason for Hawking's atheism: the singularity that popped into existence out of the quantum void and that banged started off smaller than a proton. The singularity from which the Big Bang arose was the original Black hole. Time stops in a black hole. There is no time in a black hole. Since there is no time in a black hole, there was no time (no "when") before the Big Bang which means there was no "when" for a precursor (creator) of the Big Bang to exist. Hence, there was no creator of the Big Bang and no creator of the Universe. Thatís Hawkingsís reasoning. The quantum laws make everything possible without requiring prior causation. Collectively they constitute the sole unconditioned reality. These laws operate on probabilities, and make all conditioned realities possible. In an infinite reality, anything that is possible is also probable because within infinity there exist unlimited opportunities for everything that is possible to eventually exist.

In short, for Hawking, all chains of causation and condition ultimately trace to physical laws and quantum fluctuations, the greatest quantum fluctuation being the big bang itself. There are no miracles in nature, only scientifically explainable occurences. And, since time also begins with the big bang, there was no prior time for God to contemplate creation, or to do anything else for that matter. There was no miracle of creation and no need for one. Just as a dramatic event like an eclipse is in fact not a miracle, but is governed by physical laws, so the big bang, though a dramatic event, is also not a miracle, but is governed by physical laws.