‘The Grand Design’

I just got my copy of Stephen Hawking’s “The Grand Design”. I’ve only looked at it briefly, so a full report is not possible at this time. However, I think it’s worth quoting a section he has on miracles.

It is Laplace who is usually credited with first clearly postulating scientific determinism: Given the state of the universe at one time, a complete set of laws fully determines both the future and the past. This would exclude the possibility or miracles or an active role for God. The scientific determinism that Laplace formulated is the modern scientists’s answer to question two (‘Are there any exceptions to the laws, i.e., miracles?’). It is, in fact, the basis of all modern science, and a principle that is important throughout this book. A scientific law is not a scientific law if it holds only when some supernatural being decides not to intervene. (Page 30)

Emphasis mine.

This is a concise account of why the belief in miracles is so anti-science: science tells us ‘These are laws which are true at all points and all times within the observable Universe’ whereas a believer in miracles inherently says, ‘No, no. These aren’t laws at all. They can be made untrue at any point and any time, and in fact some of them have not been valid in certain places and at certain times.’ Of course, the believer doesn’t actually say that. But his belief in miracles means that.

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2 comments on “‘The Grand Design’

  1. I ordered a copy of The Grand Design but it won’t be delivered until they also ship Sam Harrris’ The Moral Landscape in mid October.

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