Why would a preeminent physicist make the claim that “the universe can come from nothing?” This is precisely what Dr. Stephen Hawking has done in his new book, “The Grand Design,” when he notes, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.”
This statement betrays Hawking’s fundamental assumption about the universe, namely that it came from nothing. But why would a preeminent physicist assume that the universe came from nothing? Presumably, because he believes that there are reasons for thinking that the universe had a beginning.
Let me put it in reverse: If one believes that there is significant evidence for a beginning of the universe then one is confronted with the question, “what was the universe before the beginning?” If the beginning is truly a point at which the universe came into existence then one is confronted by the fact that prior to the beginning, the whole physical universe was nothing.
What’s my point? If Dr. Hawking does not believe that there is any reason to think that the universe had a beginning (from physics or philosophy), then why does he even bother to speculate about how the universe could spontaneously create itself from nothing? I am left to assume that Dr. Hawking does believe there are reasons for thinking the universe had a beginning – otherwise his contention about “the universe coming from nothing” makes no sense.