The belief in a Supreme Being (or beings)
continues to shape the lives of billions,
and forms the cultural and social framework of most modern societies, even those
that recognize religious freedom and diversity. Believers will tell you that faith can
provide comfort in times of sorrow, hope in moments of desperation, and strength
against temptation. But religion also defines the common values of many societies,
and provides a sense of group identity. Religious law often forms the basis for civil
law, helping to provide order, structure, and a sense of community values.
Houses of worship the world over serve
as central meeting places, where members
of large and small communities gather to exchange news and discuss politics.
Religious leaders often wield great influence over their congregations, influencing
and informing their opinions on the critical questions of the day. Followers are
urged or encouraged to contribute money or labor to the faith, thereby increasing
and maintaining the power and prestige of their religious leaders.
Since the dawn of civilization, societal
leaders have sought to wield even greater
power by declaring themselves to be super- believers, high priests, or even minor
gods. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt were worshipped as earthly embodiments of
various gods, and the Kings and Queens of medieval Europe claimed to rule by
'Divine Right'. Conversely, Roman Catholic Popes have led armies in battle, lived in
luxurious apartments, kept mistresses, and even had children, behaving very much
like earthly kings.
Even in the most secular modern societies,
religion continues to play a major role in
politics. One of the largest political parties in Germany is the Christian Democrats.
The national flags of most Northern European nations are based on the Christian
Cross. The British monarch is also the titular head of the Church of England. n
America, where freedom of religion is Constitutionally guaranteed, politicians
continue to visit churches to make political speeches, and religious leaders
sometimes run for public office. Indeed, after the terrorist attacks in September
2001, President George W. Bush addressed a grieving nation with a stirring
address from Washington's National Cathedral.
When piety and religious identity are
raised as virtues above all others, however,
the effects can be poisonous and divisive. Religious wars were the curse of
medieval Europe, when heretics and unbelievers were often tortured or burned at
the stake. Christian Crusaders visited terror upon the Arab Muslims in the Levant
for centuries. Strife between Anglicans and Catholics in England led to many
bloody conflicts, and still haunts Northern Ireland to this day. Muslim imams and
mullahs declare jihad against the 'Zionists' and 'Crusaders' that occupy lands they
consider holy. The fundamentalist Taliban in Afghanistan destroyed centuries-old
Buddhist statues, oppressed the local populace, and harbored anti-western
terrorists. A theocratic government in Iran continues to arrest and brutalize those
who dare to oppose their rule.
Stephen Hawking is the most well known
and respected cosmologist of our time.
He has contributed significantly to our understanding of the Big Bang theory by
integrating Quantum Mechanics. His work concerning Black Holes and the Big
Bang theory as a reversal of the development of Black Holes set a milestone for
Science. Almost every scientist now holds that the world began with the Big Bang.
Since Hawking is mainstream and universally accepted,
he has to propagate
commonly held beliefs in society at large.
Hawking sees no necessity of having a
God. The universe could be basically self-
contained and not affected by anything outside of it. Time and Space might form a
closed surface and be endless after all. There might be no need for a beginning
and an end.
If God created the world then he did not
have much choice, otherwise nothing would
have come into being. If there is a God then it is the God who started it all. Then he
left us alone. The question that is there for us to solve is how did he leave it to us?
How does it work. If we would know the initial state of the world then we would have
complete control over its future.
Only God would be able to see the universe
as it operates. For him the universe
would be deterministic since he could see the world without interfering with it. The
uncertainty principle would not be valid for him.
God cannot intervene in the world. If
he is all powerful and all knowing then he would
have foreseen. God should have known what he created and therefore does not
have to intervene.
Contemporary Science asserts that there
was no time before the universe began.
Time of necessity stops with an infinite mass such as present in a black hole or the
Big Bang before it banged.