At the end of his piece Why God Did Not Create the Universe, Stephen Hawking makes the following statement:
Although we are puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in a sense the lords of creation.
This statement is part of a long train of inconsistent thinking on this subject.
Let’s go back to the days when the Ptolomaic universe ruled the roost. Readers of Dante remember that earth-centred business. Since man lived on earth, man was at the centre of the universe, which made him feel good about himself.
Then Copernicus came along and demonstrated that the solar system orbited around the sun. Earth–and thus man–was no longer at the centre of things. The church was upset at the idea, but that’s because it tore up its Aristotelian playhouse. The church got over it, but Renaissance humanism didn’t grasp that man wasn’t the yardstick they thought he was.
We move on to the nineteenth century, when both geology and later Darwin showed that the earth–to say nothing of the universe–were far older than Usher’s 6,000 year chronology, which man occupied the entirety of. Man was the “johnny come lately” par excellence. A few people picked up on that necessary implication. This led to charts such as below, which appeared in our government’s publication Coastal Geology:
But many did not. The nineteenth century saw the development of ideologies such as Marxism which reduced man’s worth further. But that didn’t stop the followers of Karl and Fred from trying to conquer nature in the following century, the result of which was turning places such as Russia and Ukraine into environmental basket cases.
Now we have Hawking, while waxing melodically on how we live in a cosmos of multiple universes of which we are but one and that there is no need for a creator to explain how they arrived, informing us that our race are “lords of creation.” Creation!
It never occurs to these secular worthies that, the more they show how diminutive our race is by comparing it with their expanding view of the universe, the more they attempt to swell themselves up with the importance of our race. It never occurs to them that the sensible response to this kind of thing is humility, but that’s the key problem with secularism these days: for all of their obsession with reason, the conclusions they come to don’t follow the premises they set down.
Christians are aware that finite humans cannot compare to an infinite God. There are many places in the Scriptures that set this forth; probably the most sustained discourse on the subject is found in Job 38-41. Part of the idea behind that is to inspire humility, a decidedly Christian virtue. But modern and post-modern people cannot bear humility, and that in turn is the cause of much of the sour blowback from our advances. They would sooner see our planet vaporised than be humble about anything, especially themselves.
And then we’d really be insignificant.