In this post, I want to share the concluding paragraph of a chapter that changed my perspective on God profoundly, marking the first step in a long line of reasoning that ultimately led to my staunch atheism. In A Brief History of Time (chapter eight), Stephen Hawking speculates on the ultimate origin and fate of the universe we reside in. While his beautiful elucidations of how galaxies and stars formed simply stun the mind, the real profundity of the chapter comes at the end, where he kills the explanatory necessity of God with one concise blow.
The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary also has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe. With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started — it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator? (pg 145-146, my emphasis)
Let that sink in. While it may not turn out to be true, the sheer fact that we can deploy such audacious reasoning is a testament to the ingenuity of humankind and a powerful reminder of boldness from which Enlightenment thinking takes as its guiding hand. It is no longer logically necessary to posit the existence of a creator when contemplating the origin of the universe.
God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?