Just as time is, credibility is relative. Stephen Hawking is widely known across the globe and recognized as one of the most brilliant minds of our time. He is ranked among the greats of astrophysics next to Einstein and Newton, and he has been formally recognized for his great accomplishments. These accomplishments though, are only as credible as we assume them to be. As of now, it is impossible to explore and examine black holes close enough to prove Hawking and his theories to be correct or not. Therefore, because his theories lie within the confines of physics, his word is taken as fact because he is so highly regarded. At the end of the day, Hawking is merely a human, and humans will always make mistakes.
It is no lie that Hawking is absolutely brilliant and deserves the utmost respect for his incredible dedication to the study of astrophysics and cosmology. He has been awarded with several medals including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Albert Einstein metal, the Albert Einstein award and so many more. Even with all these, well deserved, awards, it is very likely that Hawking was not correct in all of his theories on the basis that he is human. Hawking himself has shown signs of doubt about his own theories.
One example involves his multiverse hypothesis and fine tuning. Fine tuning, as BioLogos describes it in What do Fine-tuning and the multiverse say about God, “refers to the surprising precision of nature’s physical constants and the early conditions of the universe.” Certain values in our universe are so precise that if they were changed even slightly, life would never have been possible. A few of these include gravity, the formation of carbon, and the stability of DNA. For example, Philip Goff in Did the dying Stephen Hawking really mean to strengthen the case for God, explains how gravity could have affected life as we know it: “if gravity had been slightly stronger, stars would have lived for thousands rather than billions of years, not leaving enough time for biological evolution to take place.” Luckily, all of these tedious details came together to allow life in the milky way. The problem with this arises within Hawking’s multiverse theory.
The multiverse theory basically describes that if there are an infinite number of universes, there is a very high chance that the conditions for life exist within another universe, if not several. With such a huge number of universes there is also a very good chance that some of these universes infringe upon the fine-tuned laws of the universe. Goff again explains, “Stephen Hawking defended a naturalistic explanation of fine-tuning in terms of the multiverse hypothesis. According to the multiverse hypothesis, the universe we live in is just one of an enormous, perhaps infinite, number of universes. If there are enough universes, then it becomes not so improbable that at least one will chance upon the right laws for life.” With at least some universes defying such precise laws, the multiverse theory conflicts with that of fine-tuning.
Hawking’s own multiverse theory has changed over time. The older version had large varieties among to universes, but, the laws of fine-tuning have forced that theory to change. In his latest paper on the multiverse theory, Hawking himself doubts the multiverse theory’s ability to explain fine-tuning. Other physicists also have these concerns and have begun looking to quantum physics to explain what the multiverse theory could not. It is known that Stephen Hawking is a very adamant atheist, and the inability if his theory to explain fine-tuning leaves only quantum physics to explain, allowing more room to justify a Godly being, and possibly nullifying what Hawking believes in most strongly.
Another topic that is widely controversial is that of alien life. Hawking was a strong believer in alien life and conducted a one hundred million dollar hunt for aliens. When examined mathematically, there should be about ten thousand planets with alien life that we could communicate with. This does not necessarily mesh well with reality, though. As Sarah Kaplan points out in Scientists believe there’s other life in the universe. Why haven’t we found it yet? “If the universe is so full of the ingredients for alien life, why haven’t we found it yet? Or, more pertinently, considering how young humans are (100,000 years) compared to the age of the universe (13.8 billion years), why haven’t the aliens found us?” With the given age of humanity compared to the rest of the universe, if there is alien life there is a very good chance that it developed way before we did. If that is the case, their advanced technology would have the capability to not only find but communicate with us. Not only have we never made contact with, or received contact from any kind of alien life, but the one hundred million dollar search has been unsuccessful as of yet. It is not a stretch to claim that Hawking could be wrong in his theory about alien life. If Hawking could be wrong about this, and even doubts his own theory’s ability to explain fine tuning, there is always the possibility that he could be wrong in any of his theories.
Topics like black holes, that are much more complicated both mathematically and conceptually, challenge the mind even the of the most virtuoso people. The likelihood that Hawking was in fact wrong about his theory of Hawking radiation is strong. Not just because black holes are so hard to understand, but also because he has made changes to his previous theories and beliefs several times. There have been numerous times that Hawking has changed his mind and made contradictory statements about his theories. One time he even stated that black holes do not exist at all. As it is a common part of the thought process to change one’s mind, this is a drastically different stance than what he had theorized before. Stephen Hawking was an incredible man with a brilliant mind, that being said, even he made mistakes. If he happens to be wrong about his theories, that could change everything that we know about black holes and the universe as it is today.
BioLogos. “What Do ‘Fine-Tuning’ and the ‘Multiverse’ Say about God?”, biologos.org/common-questions/gods-relationship-to-creation/fine-tuning.
Goff, Philip. “Did the Dying Stephen Hawking Really Mean to Strengthen the Case for God? | Philip Goff.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 7 May 2018, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/07/stephen-hawking-god-multiverse-cosmology.
Kaplan, Sarah. “Scientists Believe There’s Other Life in the Universe. Why Haven’t We Found It Yet?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 21 July 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/07/21/scientists-believe-theres-other-life-in-the-universe-why-havent-we-found-it-yet/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.187bb5fc57ea.
“Stephen Hawking.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Oct. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking.