The people of Brisbane on ‘spontaneous creation’

09Sep10

The poll results below are from an article on Brisbanetimes.com.au about Stephen Hawking’s ‘declaration’ that a god isn’t required for the Big Bang to occur. My question to the people of Brisbane who voted in this poll: why is spontaneous creation a plausible theory? The article barely went into Stephen Hawking’s argument. How many of you have any knowledge, technical knowledge, at all on cosmology, let alone this extremely specialised topic? Why did 72% of you agree that spontaneous creation is plausible?

Would it be that they have faith in Hawking, a world-renowned expert on cosmology? What would happen if his name was taken out of the question, if this news story hadn’t been released, or if the question were presented differently? Perhaps, ‘do you believe that a divine force created the universe?’? Or ‘do you believe that the Universe was spontaneously created?’? How different would the response be in these cases? What would their responses be based on? My point is that this poll highlights the importance of both the way scientific ideas are framed and the role of public experts, such as Hawking, in communicating controversial science.

Just to clarify, Hawking ‘coming out’ and saying that a god is not required for the universe to have been created is controversial because, remembering ‘Contact’, 95% (90-something percent, my gut tells me it was 95, but I can’t be certain!) of the people in the world believe in some greater being.

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