Friday, May 19, 2006

Sir Fred Hoyle and the Limits of Scientific Inquiry

Greetings all,

I came across this quote in a book by
William Lane
Craig and Paul Copan.
Sir Fred Hoyle is discussing the
steady state theory when he writes:

"To many people this thought process [i.e. that the
universe did not have a beginning] seems highly
satisfactory because a 'something' outside physics can
then be introduced at T = O. By a semantic manuever,
the word 'something' is then replaced by 'god," except
that the first letter becomes a capital, God, in order
to warn us that we must not carry the inquiry any
further."

But Hoyle has carried the inquiry further. Note,
however, that certain physicists have chosen to accept
the steady state model rather than allow "God" as a
possible cause of the universe. They reasoned that
"something" outside physics cannot be part of proper
scientific discourse; even if one has to posit a
universe with no temporal beginning.

Best wishes,
Edgar

2 comments:

Jeff Downs said...

As one of Jehovah's Witnesses, do you believe in Creation Ex Nihilo?

Thanks

Edgar Foster said...

Let me first say that I do not accept an unqualifiedly creatio ex
nihilo theory of the cosmos. For it seems logically absurd to contend that
something can come from absolutely nothing (pace quantum physics).
However, if by "nothing," one means that God did not create the
universe from any pre-existing matter and that He brought forth TA
PANTA from His indefatigable omnipotent resources--then I have no
problem with the formula creatio ex nihilo. That being said, one must
admit that Gen 1:1 does not explicitly say that YHWH produced
creation from nothing. An appeal to BARA admittedly does not
apodictically prove that God made something (the universe) from
absolutely nothing.

Let me conclude by noting that G.J. Wenham makes
an interesting point in his commentary on Genesis:

"That God did create the world out of nothing is certainly implied by
other OT passages which speak of his creating everything by his word
and his existence before the world (Ps 148:5; Prov 8:22-27)
(Ridderbos OTS 12 [1958] 257). Though such an interpretation of Gen
1:1 is quite possible, the phraseology used [in Gen 1:1] leaves the
author's precise meaning uncertain on this point" (_Genesis 1-15_, page
1:14).

We also know that the first explicit Jewish statement of creatio ex
nihilo is found in 2 Macc 7:28, although we must somehow balance this
declaration with Wisdom of Sol 11:17. One NT text that may also
suggest creatio ex nihilo is Heb 11:3.

Regards,
Edgar