Monday, 16 May 2011

Science and Religion

"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” ~ Professor Stephen Hawkings

"Does God exist? Sorry, computer says no..."

Is it me or is the average modern quote really quite dull and ignorant? Professor Stephen Hawkings has been giving his considered opinion to the media concerning God and Religion.

It is worth recalling that, at the end of the day, Hawkings offers us only his private opinion, an opinion which it goes without saying, is fallible, unlike that of the Church, but that, in the media's eyes at least, we are meant to believe that his private opinion carries weight because...wait for it...he's a genius scientist!

Would someone tell me...why is the opinion of a genius scientist more credible than that of a genius poet or a genius mathematician, or, even better, a genius theologian like our man on the left?

Hawkings could, after all, penetrate the vast, dark recesses of the whole Universe, search every corner of it, write reams of equations about it and still never discover God. So, here's a formula for you, Professor:

Faith = human being + divinely inspired encounter with Maker and Redeemer wrought through prayer 

In fact, I got half-way through reading Professor Stephen Hawking's statements on God and Religion and began to wonder why it is that the media actually believes a physicist to be any more qualified to speak on such matters than a mechanic, an English teacher, a plumber or a doctor, like St Augustine of Hippo, for example.

After all, we are talking about two different fields of human inquiry, two different spheres of learning, two different academic studies that do perhaps overlap, but no more so, really, than other fields because, as any believing Geography teacher will tell you, God made the water cycle and it is a marvel in our eyes.

Physics is asking and seeking to answer how the Universe works, studying the laws of nature and the laws of the Universe. Theology is asking and seeking to answer why there is a Universe, a Creation, why we are here, why there are natural laws and moral laws. Yes, indeed, theology actually deals with that awfully inconvenient moral sphere, a field of learning quite alien to modern, popular scientists, many of whom threw any concept of a universal morality out of the window long ago, shortly after embracing atheism as a creed.

According to The Telegraph...

'Asked how we should live he replied: "We should seek the greatest value of our action."' 

That's great, Professor, absolutely great, but what should we do when we're dead? Tell us, O wise physicist!

The article continues...

'He is due to speak at the Google Zeitgeist meeting in London, in which he will address the question: "Why are we here?"'

"Why are we here?"...Indeed! "Why are we here" at a meeting in London listening to a genius astrophysicist who enjoys number-crunching and formulas longer than the great wall of China tackling the theological or philosophical question, "Why are we here?", because, as far as I can see, given his field of expertise, he's just going to spout a load of indecipherable astrophysics equations? Or maybe not, eh? Maybe he'll just his private opinions on our existence which are of no more interest than those of my postman. This is the problem with the cult of celebrity, you see, Professor. You begin to think your opinion is extremely important even though you slip into areas that are not really your specialist subject. Just look at that Stephen Fry.

Anyway, if Heaven is a 'fairytale' that keeps believers from sleeping with the lights on, then what on Earth are the doctrines of Purgatory and the everlasting torments of Hell?! It's not all happy, cheery stuff, Stephen! We fools just enjoy scary bedtime stories and nightmares, I guess!

Personally, I find it a little disappointing when one of the biggest brains on Earth thinks aloud to the media and all he comes up with is: "People who believe in God are childish and thick." Uh-huh. That Shakespeare was a right thicko, wasn't he? God spare us from people who think people are computers!

The simple truth is that the believer doesn't need Miracles to believe God exists. The believer can look at the laws of nature and of the same Universe that obsesses a genius astrophysicist and sees something totally different. The believer sees a glimpse of the 'Love that moves the sun and other stars'. That Dante, eh? Well thick!

Now where was I? Ah, yes, chapter 2 of The City of God...Ah, now this looks interesting...St Augustine on 'whether it is possible for bodies to last forever in burning fire'....Gosh! That should make for comfortable bedtime reading!

Beware of false prophets who come to you in technologically advanced wheelchairs.


Patricius said...

If Stephen Hawking didn't exist would he have to be invented?

Mr Mallon said...

Super post.

Christopher said...

Stephen Hawking is just a normal person, just like any one of us. Its his opinion, but an opinion doesnt not necessary be true. There are a lot of things in the world unexplained that makes us believe that there is some other place after we die. We trust so much in Stephen Hawking, but isnt his work is very much based on einstein ? Einstein said that its imposible that we exist from coincidence, because everything its to perfect.

People dont loose God because of Stephen Hawking or Religion,trust what you feel.

Ann-Marie said...

Where is your empathy Laurence!

Patricius. I think Hawking would have preferred being invented by a more efficient inventor in his case.

Christopher. "Stephen Hawking is just a normal person..." I hope not. God Forbid that Motor Neurone Disease is the norm!

How difficult to have any conception of a God, or a beneficent universe when you are forced to live as Stephen Hawking.
The wheelchair jibe is beneath you Bones.
Perhaps a post researching theodicy on the new, Catholic bloggers guild might be helpful.

Remember, agnostics and non-church goers are the majority, including the other Stephen who himself suffers from an incapacitating illness.

Steven Hawkin'sFootball Boots said...

Christopher, you're failing to see the significance of these comments for physics. It is precisely because Einstein used the METAPHOR of God to explain the laws of physics that these comments take on a particular relevance. Hawking is saying that the consensus view of theoretical physicist is now that the properties of matter and existence can be fully explained in reference to blind properties of matter and energy. We no longer need to say 'doesn't it look like a god planned it all'.

Incidentally, people often say Einstein was religious because he used the METAPHOR of god to explain cosmic order (which we now know requires no such arbitrary hypothesis). Here's what Einstein actually said about god(in a letter to Eric Gutkind):

"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can change this."

Amen brother! You can add as much spin as you like, Christianity is at heart a fable of feeble people, a little less convincing than the pagan myths even

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