At about 1:15 in the clip below, Professor Hawking, who suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease, states via his synthesizer that, "The life we have on earth must have spontaneously generated itself. It must therefore be possible for life to be generated spontaneously elsewhere in the universe."
Despite the complete lack of any plausible explanation for how life could have generated itself, Hawking assumes that it must have. Notice the hidden premise in what he says. Put into a syllogism his argument seems to be something like:
1) We don't understand how life began.Premise 2) is implicit in his argument, but it's just nonsense. What grounds does Hawking have for ruling out the possibility that life (or anything else whose beginning we don't understand - e.g. the cosmos) is the product of a purposeful intelligent agent - a mind?
2) Whatever we don't understand the beginning of must be self-generating.
3) Therefore life must have generated itself.
Logically he has none. Psychologically he has only his own metaphysical preference for naturalism. One expects more rigor than this from an intellect as celebrated as is Hawking's.
We can formulate his argument another way:
4) Life exists.Again, 5) is dubious - there's no evidence that life can self-organize - and 6) is simply false. It's certainly possible that a mind exists capable of creating life. Hawking cannot rationally dismiss the possibility, and as long as it's possible that such a mind created life he cannot rationally assert that life must have self-organized.
5) Whatever exists was either self-generated (spontaneously organized) or generated by something else.
6) There is no other possible "something else" which could cause life.
7) Therefore, life must be self-generated.
Are there good reasons to think that a mind is responsible for life? I think so. Stephen Meyer, in his book Signature in the Cell, suggests a third argument. His formulation is much more rigorous, of course, than my summary of it here, and is certainly more compelling than Professor Hawking's effort:
8) Complex, specified information (CSI) is ubiquitous in, and essential to, living things.Casey Luskin has more on Hawking's logic at Evolution News and Views.
9) We have no experience of CSI being produced by random, natural processes (RNP).
10) We have abundant experience of CSI being produced by minds.
11) The conclusion that CSI in living things is best explained by minds comports better with our experience than does the conclusion that it is best explained by RNP.
12) That which comports with our experience is superior, as a scientific explanation, to explanations based on that of which we have no experience.
13) Therefore, the better scientific explanation for CSI in living things is that it is the product of a mind rather than RNP.
14) We should always believe the better explanation rather than the weaker one.
15) Therefore, we should believe that the CSI in living things is the product of a mind.