Friday, September 3, 2010

Why Bother

It’s the #1 and #2 story on Reuters, and it has to do with God, but I have trouble caring.

Stephen Hawking dropped the poetics and made his feelings unambiguous when it comes to the formation of our universe. The statement below, from his 1988 “A Brief History of Time,” is arguably one of the most cited quotes among theists who understand little or nothing about science:

If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we should know the mind of God.

For some odd reason, Christian creationists have trouble understanding metaphor (Christians with poor reading comprehension skills… shocking). Hawking’s new book supposedly leaves little doubt regarding his stance on the matter.

Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist… It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Frankly, I don’t know how mathematical physics can determine this, but it’s always nice to see someone in public saying God does not need to be part of the equation of creation.

Does this mean creationists will cease being stupid? No. Does this mean creationists will stop quoting Hawking out of context? Certainly not. Will this cause more people to be skeptical of religion? I honestly don’t know. This is why I don’t understand why this story is so big.

Are people reading it and taking it to heart? As popular as it is, it has to be predominantly read by theists, so what are they getting from this story? Do they see just another elitist intellectual criticizing their sacred and cherished beliefs?

I’m left with more questions than actual understanding. But, I guess that’s science for you. Science can only explain things, it cannot come up with the answers. Religion has always been a great source of answers, even if they’re wrong, while science can only explain things to the best of our ability. Answers are meant to be final, while explanations lead to further questions and explanations, a sort of ever-increasing complexity of information.

In any case, Hawking has some explaining to do regarding his new work’s title: “The Grand Design.” It is doubtful this work will even cause creationists to pause, let alone stop in their tracks. If anything, they jump on any mention of a word that implies a creator (like “design”). I think a more appropriate title might have been, “The Grand Scheme.”


  1. When I read this earlier, my first thought was...and still we really give a shit what Hawkins thinks regards God? I certainly do not. But of course religion needs constant re-enforcement because we all know in the recesses of the mind that it is poppycock.

  2. I disagree. If it was titled "The Grand Scheme" then religionists would simply remind you that only a mind could devise a scheme, only a thinking conscious being could be scheming. Ah-ha! Therefore a personal God!

    But we already know that the appearance of design can arise naturally.

    The theory of evolution explains it in biological terms.

    Patterns in mathematics can arise out of arbitrary random systems, just take the Mandelbrot set for example--in which we get beautiful patterns (all seemingly designed) out of random chaos.

    Also I don't think Hawking is suggesting science can prove God does not exist. Perhaps he is echoing Pierre-Simon Laplace's sentiments that a personal being is not required to predict the universe we see. And if it doesn't fit into the equation for describing the universe, what use for the God hypothesis?

    At least that's how I read it.

  3. Wow, do I get some sort of award for writing a post DM responded to in the proper traditional manner?

  4. Tristan: Too right.

    I don't think Hawking was trying to "disprove" God in any fashion, merely saying that God is not necessary for explaining the origin of the universe. There's still plenty of other unexplained things God could do... like... um... have we explained lightning yet? Or what about belly button lint?

  5. hawking is WRONG

    science cannot explain NOTHING!


  6. who is this DM guy, he's started posting on my blog too (I suppose I asked for it), but is he just a spambot, or an idiot?

  7. I'm pretty sure he's a person, but he might be using some sort of spam software. He's a Canadian computer programmer who lives near Montreal and spams the comments of people on the Atheist Blogroll and apparently who link through my site (how flattering, right?).

    I know he's threatening lives and all... but I'm really big on free speech, so I even let him keep some of his better threats up. I've been "going to die tomorrow" for months now, so it's really not a big deal to me anymore.

    I mean come on... he's Canadian. What is he going to do, "Please" and "Thank you" me to death?

  8. Hey, I'm Canadian! Not all of us are polite! However please accept my Canadian-Apology on behalf of this idiot. Most of us would gladly pack him up and ship him to Darfur, where his views might find a better audience.

    And if he's threatening lives, well I live in Montreal too. He can come try his luck (my "pleases" and "thank yous" are far more powerful than you could ever imagine!).


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