Christian Uses Stephen Hawking to Rebut Alabama Atheists’ Flyers

Earlier this week, I covered the Auburn University-Montgomery Secular Student Alliance‘s vandalized flyers. Since then, there’s been some, ah… creative responses.

“The odds against a universe like ours emerging of something like the big bang are enormous… I think clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the universe.” — Stephen W. Hawking.

Even Mr. Hawking’s who is one of the greatest minds of our time questions the rather ridiculous notion. So what if we are made up on stars? The real question would be where did the stars come from? Possibly a “religious implication”? I don’t know about you but I have never heard of such an unorganized mess of random “explosions” creating an intricate and highly detailed form of matter that we know of as Earth. Stars explode every day and people are born every day, but I was born as a result of an intimate time between my parents. I am sure my mother would disagree (just as any mother would) that the child she carried for nine months appeared from an unknown number of random stars kindly exploding on her child’s behalf. Another thing I am confused about is some “nuclear furnace of stars”? This must be in some faraway magical place where little elves are putting together all these ingredients and then cooking us up. Yeah that sounds to be about right. It also sucks that all of our lives depend on just how kind hundreds of stars decide to be. After all they do express emotions. Right? So, DON’T forget JESUS because He is the only star that died for us. Oh and if “carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life – weren’t created at the beginning of time” When the heck were they created?

I’m going to assume this person has a vendetta against commas.

Also, they apparently missed this memo from Stephen Hawking back in 2010. (Don’t you love it when people take quotes out of context?)

Kudos to AUMSSA for not letting the vandalism keep them down and fighting back!

About Kelley Freeman

Kelley is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina. She is a former president of the Secular Student Alliance at the University of South Carolina and a former intern for both SSA and Foundation Beyond Belief. Kelley is also a board member for both Camp Quest South Carolina and the Carolinas Secular Association, a Volunteer Network Coordinator for the southeastern region for the SSA, runs a vlog series called Secular Start Up, sometimes does stand up comedy and can crochet like a fiend. She's on her way to becoming a Jane of All Trades. Follow her on twitter @ramenneedles

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Am I the only one who wants to see Hawking slap these morons down?

    • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Edgar

       Don’t you mean run over?

      • Artor

        That would be good, but I’d love to see him stand up, tell the morons off, and proceed to kick some serious ass before sitting back down again & muttering, “That was refreshing,” before lapsing into his paralytic state again.

        • randall.morrison90

          Gee, that really funny.

          Not.

          But perhaps that great mind should have devoted itself to a potential cure for  his ailment instead of a “theory of everything” which he has now basically given up on.

          • Artor

            I’m guessing that you don’t know how incredibly condescending it is to second-guess a man’s life’s work. It was his pursuit of theoretical physics that kept him active & gave him the will to live. If he’d gone into medicine, he probably would have died much earlier, and we would have neither his amazing contributions to science nor much to add to medicine.
            In short, Stephen Hawking kicks more ass than Rambo without lifting a finger. 

          • Jessica

            As a rule, I never respond to trolls, but I just can’t help myself.  
            My frustration with your statement really comes down to a couple things: 
            First thing is simple:  Hawking is a theoretical physicist.  He isn’t a medical doctor.  Physics is his passion and his skill set.  One can be a genius at math and another can be equally brilliant at music, but they can’t just swap places because they are both incredibly intelligent. 
            Second of all, Hawking was looking for an answer to life, the universe, and everything because that’s how we grow as a people.  An open minded person may think that Hawking believed the good that can come of his work is greater than his one life.  
            An open minded person can also take an objective look at the results of their work and change their mind with good evidence.  Only a fool would stick to what he believes in in the face of insurmountable evidence just for the sake of not admitting he’s wrong.
            Third, don’t be an asshole.  You essentially said “If he’s so smart, why is he dying?”  Is that really the kind of person you want to be?
            Think before you type.  Especially if you want to come to a forum that is going to largely disagree with your worldview.  
            If you want to come here for an honest discussion, weare all happy to talk.  But if you’re going to come here and make jokes that haven’t been popular since Wayne’s World, there are other places for that. 

            All this being said, I hope desperately you are not a Poe.  Because I just can’t tell anymore. 

          • LesterBallard

            Yeah, it’ll take a great scientific mind to find a cure for his ailment or any other. Prayer sure the fuck isn’t going to do anything.

          • Deven Kale

             Jessica made a very nice reply, but I’d just like to add that Hawking had already received his BA in natural science/physics before he even found out he had ALS. And even then, he was only 20-22 years old and it was very early with very few symptoms. By the time he got his Doctorate at 26 his symptoms were still fairly mild and he was still fully mobile.

            By the time his symptoms were bad enough that he couldn’t do things on his own anymore he was 34. I would imagine that if he ever did regret not going for a medical degree, it would be right around then, but at that point it was too late in his career to start studying medicine. It’s more likely to me though, that he recognized that he could make a better contribution to society as a physicist, especially considering the fact that he was never expected to live long enough to finish the retraining.

            Oh and please, give us proof that he’s given up on the theory of everything.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Hell, I’d pitch in for some spiked tires just to see that.

    • banana_slug

      What we need more of is science.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89jt7zJzkNQ

  • nakedanthropologist

    What an idiot.  I guess whoever sent that laughable piece of non-information in doesn’t have access to a library or google?  I must be so…

  • jose

    Googled quote. Can’t find it anywhere except religious websites. I think I need the story behind this quote.

    • viddy_well

      It’s in this book: http://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Hawkings-Universe-John-Boslough/dp/0380707632

      Click “Search inside this book” and query “odds against”. It’s on page 109.

      • jose

         It says not included in preview. It’s not in google books either. Guess the quote will remain context free. :-/

        • viddy_well

          Heidi took a screenshot: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/09/27/christian-uses-stephen-hawking-to-rebut-alabama-atheists-flyers/#comment-665098394

      • aumious

        oh ok, ninja’d then. 

        but this looks handy.
        if anyone has an account on amazon I’d love to see what the page says. 

        • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

          I took a couple screenshots.

          • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure
            • jose

               Thank you!

              Still, first hand (and up-to-date) material trumps “he told me this and that” testimonies, so still no cookie for the guy who put that on the wall. Nice try though.

            • jdm8

              Thank you. Doesn’t seem to cite where and when Hawking said that, and doesn’t reference a footnote.

    • aumious

      from the AUMSSA facebook page: 

      I thought I’d try and track the quote down myself, and here’s what I found:
      Apparently it’s from a book “Stephen Hawking’s Universe”
      …by John Boslough.
      http://books.google.com/books?id=lkntNIwunAAC
      (can’t view it, though. it’s described as a watered down version of “A Brief History of Time” apparently, which is telling, but I can’t see anything for myself.)

      if you happen to have the book (or can be assed to find it in a library), the quote is on page 109. supposedly. 

  • jdm8

    Don’t you feel the love?  /s

    Hawking’s Discovery special said he doesn’t need a God to explain the universe.

  • Guest


    This must be in some faraway magical place where little elves are putting together all these ingredients and then cooking us up.”  I always love this argument.  What, then, would you call heaven and god????  

    “. I am sure my mother would disagree (just as any mother would) that the child she carried for nine months appeared from an unknown number of random stars kindly exploding on her child’s behalf. ”   I’m pretty sure we all know that babies come from a sperm and egg (2 fairly simple things) “colliding” and coming together to make something much bigger and complex and not by some creator waving his hand and bam, there you are in your mother’s womb.  So why is it so hard to believe the universe was created by a similar process???  Seriously, these people need to learn how think critically…or at all, before they start arguing. 

    • Helanna

      Pssshh, it would be RIDICULOUS for little elves to be putting us all together! That’s why I firmly believe that some magical, presumably non-elf being put us all together and watches over us, sending good people to heaven and horribly torturing evil people plus anyone who doesn’t believe in him or doesn’t do exactly as he says! Also he sent his son who is also himself down to die for our sins so that he doesn’t have to send us all to hell, even though he presumably has control over that in the first place, so don’t forget Jesus.

      This is all so obvious guys, come on. What’s YOUR explanation, that it was all just a ‘coincidence’?

      • Martin

        What are you guys going on about, everyone knows the universe is just a byproduct of unicorn farts!

        • Coyotenose

           Taste, er, Sniff the Rainbow!

        • RobertoTheChi

          Actually it’s a byproduct of sasquatch farts and fingernails. Please stop spreading lies about unicorns existing, everyone knows it’s all about the sasquatches.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    The rebuttal sheet deserves a big, giant “[citation needed]” sticker over it.

  • Troels Jakobsen

    Ha ha ha, it’s the last sentence that really makes this funny.

  • HartleState

    I am reminded of this common quote mining of Hawking.

    http://debunkingdenialism.com/2011/11/16/the-creationist-quote-mine-of-hawking-on-expansion-rate-of-the-universe/

    A giant red flag really should go up in these people’s minds when they google Hawking and find out that he is one of the leading Big Bang cosmologists, and that he, of course, believes exactly that the big bang can produce the universe we see today.

  • C Peterson

    Hmmm… how was the Universe created? Shall I look to modern physics, or Bronze Age mythology. That’s a tough one. Decisions, decisions.

    • randall.morrison90

      I am not sure there is all that much difference.  The “laws” of Physics as currently represented breakdown at the point of the so called “big bang”.

      • Ouigui

        What an incredibly silly thing to say. Even if we know little about the instant of the Big Bang itself, the known laws of physics explain everything from a fraction of a femtosecond after pretty well.

        My money’s on the women and men with the pocket protectors, not the collected ramblings of Levantine tribesmen.

      • TheBlackCat

         Not much of a difference between saying the world is a few thousand years old and being able to understand the history of the universe down to a few femtoseconds?  As Asimov said (I can use quotes too!):

        …when
        people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people
        thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think
        that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the
        earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put
        together.

      • RobertoTheChi

        Hmmm… I’ll stick with science for answers and not some book of fairy tales written by Bronze Age sheep herders.

      • C Peterson

        That really demonstrates the difference. Physicists recognize the limits of their knowledge, understand where it can and cannot be applied, and where it remains inadequate they seek new understanding. What they don’t do is just make something up to fill a gap in knowledge.

        Ten years from now, physicists will have a broader (although still incomplete) understanding of the Universe. No religion will have changed its primitive creation story, though.

  • Stev84

    Hawking is well known for being very cool about being wrong or for changing his opinion on certain matters.

  • Tainda

    Jesus is a SUPERSTAR! (said in her best Molly Shannon voice)

    If he were alive today, how do you think he would handle TMZ?

  • Amakudari

    Another thing I am confused about is some “nuclear furnace of stars”? This must be in some faraway magical place where little elves are putting together all these ingredients and then cooking us up.

    I love it.

    To hold his worldview, he can’t believe in fusion or supernovae.

    • RobMcCune

       Believe in them? I doubt he can pronounce those words.

  • Scififan

    I must admit that it wasn’t until I was 25 or so and read it in a Stephen Baxter or Greg Egan or Gregory Benford book that I found out about the first generation stars and how C, N, O etc are the ash of their fusion, scattered through the universe when they went nova. And I’d been correcting teachers on the finer points of evolutionary theory since I was 14. So it’s not crazy that the graffitist doesn’t understand.

    But I doubt this bonehead would react to an explanation the way I did.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I get the impression that the “respondent,” for want of a better term, is a freshman who has lived a rather sheltered life, not exposed to a wide variety of ideas and beliefs that take any variance from those of his immediate family, and possibly his small home town.  Perhaps he either didn’t pay much attention in his science classes in high school, or he was cheated out of a good education with watered-down science classes that would not contradict his Biblical world view.  

    Now he’s at a college, surrounded by people who look, speak, act, and think differently than he does, and he’s in culture shock. So he’s arguing with the ideas that he finds threatening. BUT the encouraging thing is that he’s arguing. He’s not just tearing down the fliers, he’s engaging in conversation. If the SSA students keep the dialogue going, and they remain polite and good-natured, they might not “deconvert” him, but they will be part of the cumulative experience that quite possibly could open his eyes to science and reason before he graduates.

  • Eric M Boucher

    “Oh and if “carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life – weren’t created at the beginning of time” When the heck were they created?”
    For someone who quoted Hawking they have a poor grasp of how atoms work.  Or what happens in stars.  Or what a proton is.  Or what elements are.  If this poster somehow finds this just look at Wikipedia entry on chemical elements.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_element

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      The saddest thing is that this was probably a college study who wrote these — Someone who should have some education.   How the hell did they pass high school physics?

  • Aguz

    The Big Bang wasn’t the “beginning” of the Universe, just a particular point in time. That doesn’t prove that God exist, just that maybe the laws of physics back then were radically different. Or that there are multiple universes. We don’t really know as of now, that’s why we keep investigating instead of just yelling “God” and calling it a day. 

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    Why is this person in college?
    - doesn’t understand what implication means in this context.  When you study modern physics, the implications for religion are all bad.
    - somehow has missed out the bit about the universise being billions of years old, and apparently thinks babies are made of stars that exploded just hours before the parents make whoopee.  

  • Kaydenpat

    Instead of mocking “this person”, shouldn’t we hope that he’ll learn about science while at AU?  He probably comes from a religious background and had little or no access to a proper scientific education. Just like too many Americans.


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