I know it seems like they’d all get along so well, right? Science and religion are always skipping around the neighborhood, singing out rhymes – what happened to the love?
Stephen Hawking just made news over excerpts from his book The Grand Design, in which he argues that a creative force like God is not necessary in terms of explaining the origin of the universe. That’s a little different from saying that there is no God, but that’s how the story reads in the news – Hawking’s scowling mug and a headline about jerks who don’t believe in God.
What he says is that as long as there is gravity, a universe would inevitably create itself from nothing. My understanding is, he’s going to spend the whole book explaining that one, since I definitely don’t get it.
In science, you get rid of a concept when it isn’t useful and you can’t prove it – that’s nothing personal.
Stephen Hawking is talking purely about physics and equations. Of course he doesn’t need God to do that. He needs other weird things that we can’t see or even comprehend – thanks pal, that’s helping.
See, this is exactly where you should stop giving a shit what Hawking says, if you are religious, because your faith is almost certainly not about science, and Hawking knows it.
He’s just being a dick because he’s smart, because he can be, and because he knows that the religious community will freak out like a bunch of ducks in a hailstorm when he hits the front page with his Who-Needs-God book.
He’s selling books and everybody who is outraged about it and arguing with him about it and admonishing him on the news, they’re all his army of unpaid salespeople. He’s riling everyone up deliberately to boost sales. Well that, and he apparently thinks God’s a dumb idea.
No need to get too excited. Stephen Hawking also thinks we need to start building warp drives like on Star Trek, and get the hell off this planet. It’s not like everything that comes out of his voice thing is what everyone in the world starts thinking. In fact, I had no idea he had a book coming out until religious leaders began speaking out against it.
Thanks, Churchies, says Stephen Hawking, on the way to the bank.
You know I can pretty much guarantee Hawking is ignoring The Purpose Driven Life even though I bet he thinks it’s stupid. You can go ahead and ignore his physics book, too.
I don’t want to alarm you, but Hawking is not an idiot. He knows that if you’re mad at him for not putting God in his creation theory, then you weren’t going to read his book anyway.
So the religious community goes nuts, right on cue. Here’s a CNN story about it hilariously titled “Religious Leaders Hit Back At Hawking.”
Get ’em boys – you going to let that guy talk about your religious beliefs that way? On Labor Day Weekend?!
The story quotes Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as clarifying: “Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation… The Bible is simply not interested in how the universe came into being.” This part is funny, because I thought there was a whole chapter about Creation called Genesis, but I don’t know – I could tell you more about hobbits.
But even if the Rabbi is correct, then pray tell sir, why on earth do you care what Stephen Hawking says about it? He didn’t say you had to shut down your religion, he said your Creator wasn’t necessary in his scientific explanation of the creation of the universe. What do you care about his scientific explanation? And why should his scientific explanation be compatible with your religion? Damn it, I thought that was the whole point you just made!
It’s really not surprising that the two of you guys don’t see eye-to-eye on this thing. What’s weird to me is the defensive and petulant tone. If Stephen Hawking said, “I found scientific proof there’s a God,” my guess is you’d suddenly place a much higher value on science. You’d say, “Yaaaay, science!”
The story quotes a few other religious leaders, including the head of the Catholic Church who says that he would “totally” endorse what the Rabbi said – sounding a bit Bill-And-Ted to me – and Ibrahim Mogra, leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, who says something on the order of “Nuh-uh” and then refers to “the almighty conqueror.”
Please read the article – I’m not wanting to re-type the whole thing here, but that really seems like a fair summary of their statements as they pile on Hawking and otherwise shovel coal in a great big marketing engine for his book.
They seem kind of panicky to me. What are you guys worried about? I mean half the time they’re saying that religion doesn’t need science so who cares what Hawking thinks, and then the other half the time, they insist that there is plenty of science to back up God.
As for Hawking, he’s proposing eleven dimensions of space-time, vibrating strings, and a whole lot of stuff that makes about as much sense to me as God. So if he’s really trying to make religious folks look like a bunch of rubes, he’s got a lot of nerve. I feel like he’s selling lightning rods out of a really nice truck.
But I think hidden in here, perhaps the root of the outrage, is the debate about evolution and Intelligent Design. So I think that the religious leaders should be careful – if they keep saying that science is about explanation and that the Bible is not interested in the creation of the universe, then they’re starting to sound like they don’t think Intelligent Design ought to be taught in Science class, either.
And Hawking should probably take a moment to reflect on the fact that four hundred years ago, this is exactly the kind of thing gets you tied to something and set on fire. Go easy with these folks, Stephen – they’re jittery and trigger-happy and super duper serious about God.
On the plus side, Catholics, Muslims and Jews all joining forces to sell heathen physics books for Stephen Hawking – it’s inspiring. Give peace a chance.