Robert Barron | – Is Stephen Hawking Right About God?

In Stephen Hawking’s final book, “Brief Answers to the Big Questions,” published just a few months after his death, the famed scientist suggests that God does not exist and the universe does not require an explanation. Is he right? Brandon Vogt and I discuss in today’s episode of the Word on Fire Show.

About The Author

Bishop Robert Barron These are brief and insightful commentaries on faith and culture by Catholic theologian and author Bishop Robert Barron. The videos complement his weekly sermons posted and podcasted at

Comment (50)

  1. Wow what an honest answer to Karl Marx. Liberation Theology definitely shows true Christianity isn't an opiate because you are out there fighting for social justice. Marx must have seen too much of the inauthentic Christianity to come to his conclusion. It can drive a man to depression and social rebellion.

  2. For some reason I understand Hawking did not want to talk about God because, in his mind, that question is unanswerable and he did not think he need it to include it on his work. Correct me if I am wrong but he did not denied God but the question of God, as a valid scientific question. When he says that there is not possibility for a creator, he’s really saying, “who cares, we cannot conceive that question anyway.”

  3. Nothing comes from nothing so for Hawkins to say it does is a complete sell out on his scientific studies. Science is about proof and since he can’t explain it he just makes it up. Nothing can come about from nothing .

  4. Do you think Hawkings was hurting so deeplyp inside by his physical disabilities that he lashed out in such a way to make everyone else feel stupid? In another words, make people feel the mental deficit equal to his physical deficit?

  5. So let’s throw the laws of thermodynamics out the window and put all our hopes religiously in nothing? That’s pretty convenient. In fact as we’re learning that pure nothing is actually crowded with energy….the questions still remain to what pervades beyond this three-dimensional spacetime…etc etc we haven’t even started yet on the mysteries of the universe. And yet Scientism declares pontifically it’s own assumptions while stomping down other sources of knowledge as inferior or inadequate. Funny.

  6. Everyone's just gonna believe a Bishop who reads a 2000 year old book for proof and not someone who dedicated his life to using physics… Real consistent measurable math? People keep "updating" the bible to fit the world. Physics can't be updated… It is constant…

  7. God has truly given us another wonderful gift. Mercifully giving us Word on Fire and igniting your whole self, Bishop Barron and those of your team to aid those of us, ignorant of the depth and the expansive richness of our Catholic faith.
    May our Lord protect and continue to guide you on the path he has placed you. May more of us in the Church, grow in a more intimate relationship of Love with Jesus and reflect the message, you have reopened for us in so many beautiful ways.
    Thank you for your relentless effort and love of. tending to a lukewarm flock, hoping to become on fire for our Lord, Jesus Christ.

  8. Reducing all statements that scientists make to “scientism” does not prove that you are correct and what you offer is not a better alternative. At least scientists admit when they do not know. You can have opinions but that is all. Opinions are not proofs of anything.

  9. How dare he declare the writings of the late Stephen Hawkin's work wrong. I think Phillip Pullman and Stephen Hawking had, or had, a great deal in common; the Republic of Heaven. I was devastated by the news of his death.

  10. 5:12 This is very, very true. As someone who grew up when the internet was really coming into prominence hearing how some of the "smartest people in the world" are atheists can really affect your thinking.

  11. There is one thing the Faith Healer, the village Shaman and the Quack have in common.
    They all hate doctors.
    I'm sorry if What Dr. Hawkings said has hurt your feelings, but its probably time to exchange your cassock for a pair of big-boy pants and get over it.

  12. The way we can observe the planet and universes lends itself to evolution more than God (s). One there is so much radiation out in space earth is home and we couldn't survive anywhere else. Why would god create stuff so deadly to us and why bother creating other celestial bodies? Billions of stars in our galaxy. 100 billion galaxy's until better telescope then that number will increase. Stars? 1 and 26 zeros estimated. Scientific evidence has been replacing the" god made it that way" idea stemming from the primitive people of antiquity who couldn't explain much. People got sick and died from curse or sin. Science people died from bad hygiene. And it's impossible to believe that God from Judaism was such a tyrannical god who because of one species sin and corruption would kill all living things ( Noah's ark). These are simple minded people who study and worship stories of the purest form of man who were eating a plant based diet and choose to not follow this because of the addictive flavors of flesh. Jesus Christ is the Roman Empire Messiah and he has little to no history prior to the acts he'd been involved in. The only evolution of earthlings Christianity believe is that the few animals on Noah's ark became the 8.7 million we have today in a time frame of 4300 years. 5.5 new species a day for 4300 years

  13. I like Bishop Barron, but I think he overstates Stephen Hawking's scientific cred. He unquestionably overcome remarkable limitations to be quite an accomplished scientist, but popular culture gravitated to him and inflated his stature (no pun intended). He's not quite in the company of someone like Einstein, a popular figure himself, but also a truly revolutionary scientist.

  14. Is there a god? who the hell knows, is a god just a feeling? why should there be a god? where was god when we lived in caves? is god the worlds best hide and seek player? if an asteroid hit the earth and destroyed all life where would all the gods go? people need gods so gods exist in the minds of men.

  15. I am absolutely certain that being confined to a chair and having the voice of a robot did nothing to color Stephen Hawking’s views on God. It’s not like he used his emotions to determine the outcome. Which every atheist swears they don’t do until you challenge them.

  16. I am a physicist and I will provide solid arguments that prove that consciousness cannot be generated by the brain (in my youtube channel you can find a video with more detailed explanations). Many argue that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, but it is possible to show that such hypothesis is inconsistent with our scientific knowledges. In fact, it is possible to show that all the examples of emergent properties consists of concepts used to describe how an external object appear to our conscious mind, and not how it is in itself, which means how the object is independently from our observation.

    Let me show this with an example of emergent property, such as the function of a biological organ, like the heart that has the function of pumping blood. Actually, the function of pumping blood is just an abstract concept through which we approximately describe what is really happening, that is billions of linked chemical reactions and moving molecules. In other words, the function of the heart is only a subjective description of the organ from a macroscopic point of view, which neglect many microscopic details. Besides, the concept of pumping is directly connected to the concepts of force and movement, which are fundamental physical properties. Therefore, the function of the heart is not a new real property, but only a conceptual model through which we approximately describe the reality; this means that the function of the heart is just an idea. Emergent properties are ideas conceived to describe or classify, according to arbitrary criteria and from an arbitrary point of view, certain processes or systems; emergent properties are intrinsically subjective, since they are conceptual models based on the arbitrary choice to focus on certain aspects of a system and neglet other aspects, such as microscopic structures and processes; emergent properties consist of ideas through which we describe how the external reality appears to our conscious mind: without a conscious mind, these ideas (= emergent properties) would not exist at all.

    Here comes my first argument: arbitrariness, subjectivity, classifications and approximate descriptions, imply the existence of a conscious mind, which can arbitrarily choose a specific point of view and focus on certain aspects while neglecting others. It is obvious that consciousness cannot be considered an emergent property of the physical reality, because consciousenss is a preliminary necessary condition for the existence of any emergent property. We have then a logical contradiction. Nothing which presupposes the existence of consciousness can be used to try to explain the existence of consciousness.

    Here comes my second argument: our scientific knowledge shows that brain processes consist of sequences of ordinary elementary physical processes; since consciousness is not a property of ordinary elementary physical processes, then a succession of such processes cannot have cosciousness as a property. In fact we can break down the process and analyze it step by step, and in every step consciousness would be absent, so there would never be any consciousness during the entire sequence of elementary processes. It must be also understood that considering a group of elementary processes together as a whole is an arbitrary choice. In fact, according to the laws of physics, any number of elementary processes is totally equivalent. We could consider a group of one hundred elementary processes or ten thousand elementary processes, or any other number; this choice is arbitrary and not reducible to the laws of physics. However, consciousness is a necessary preliminary condition for the existence of arbitrary choices; therefore consciousness cannot be a property of a sequence of elementary processes as a whole, because such sequence as a whole is only an arbitrary and abstract concept that cannot exist independently of a conscious mind.

    Here comes my third argument: It should also be considered that brain processes consist of billions of sequences of elementary processes that take place in different points of the brain; if we attributed to these processes the property of consciousness, we would have to associate with the brain billions of different consciousnesses, that is billions of minds and personalities, each with its own self-awareness and will; this contradicts our direct experience, that is, our awareness of being a single person who is able to control the voluntary movements of his own body with his own will. If cerebral processes are analyzed taking into account the laws of physics, these processes do not identify any unity; this missing unit is the necessarily non-physical element (precisely because it is missing in the brain), the element that interprets the brain processes and generates a unitary conscious state, that is the human mind.

    Here comes my forth argument: Consciousness is characterized by the fact that self-awareness is an immediate intuition that cannot be broken down or fragmented into simpler elements. This characteristic of consciousness of presenting itself as a unitary and non-decomposable state, not fragmented into billions of personalities, does not correspond to the quantum description of brain processes, which instead consist of billions of sequences of elementary incoherent quantum processes. When someone claims that consciousness is a property of the brain, they are implicitly considering the brain as a whole, an entity with its own specific properties, other than the properties of the components. From the physical point of view, the brain is not a whole, because its quantum state is not a coherent state, as in the case of entangled systems; the very fact of speaking of "brain" rather than many cells that have different quantum states, is an arbitrary choice. This is an important aspect, because, as I have said, consciousness is a necessary preliminary condition for the existence of arbitrariness. So, if a system can be considered decomposable and considering it as a whole is an arbitrary choice, then it is inconsistent to assume that such a system can have or generate consciousness, since consciousness is a necessary precondition for the existence of any arbitrary choice. In other words, to regard consciousness as a property ofthe brain, we must first define what the brain is, and to do so we must rely only on the laws of physics, without introducing arbitrary notions extraneous to them; if this cannot be done, then it means that every property we attribute to the brain is not reducible to the laws of physics, and therefore such property would be nonphysical. Since the interactions between the quantum particles that make up the brain are ordinary interactions, it is not actually possible to define the brain based solely on the laws of physics. The only way to define the brain is to arbitrarily establish that a certain number of particles belong to it and others do not belong to it, but such arbitrariness is not admissible. In fact, the brain is not physically separated from the other organs of the body, with which it interacts, nor is it physically isolated from the external environment, just as it is not isolated from other brains, since we can communicate with other people, and to do so we use physical means, for example acoustic waves or electromagnetic waves (light). This necessary arbitrariness in defining what the brain is, is sufficient to demonstrate that consciousness is not reducible to the laws of physics. Besides, since the brain is an arbitrary concept, and consciousness is the necessary preliminary condition for the existence of arbitrariness, consciousness cannot be a property of the brain. Based on these considerations, we can exclude that consciousness is generated by brain processes or is an emergent property of the brain. Marco Biagini