As a Philosopher/Theologian, Stephen Hawking is a Good Physicist

Hawking is one of those Famous Scientists who gets treated like an oracle when he holds forth on stuff with viewpoints as informed as my plumber’s views on special relativity. He periodically pops off on metaphysical questions under the deathless materialist faith that when all you have is a scientific hammer every philosphical and metaphysical question is a nail. He also displays all the crude anti-Catholicism of his class. He recently claimed that John Paul II said not to study the Big Bang because it was “holy.”

Watch for this goofy bit of pseudo-knowledge to be become Established Fact among the internet atheist community that always tests truth claims and never credulously listens to the Voice of Authority.

It will come as a surprise to Fr. Georges Lemaitre, the formulator of the Big Bang theory, that studying the Big Bang is forbidden to Catholics.

It’s the sort of thing only believed and circulated by members of the English Chattering Class (and, of course, by Americans who feel an instinctive sense of inferiority both to the English and to guys in lab coats). And since it is common knowledge that the Catholic Church hates and fears science, such a claim doesn’t need to be verified since we’re all, you know, on the same page here. I mean just look at the way the Church has always persecuted scientists such as Galileo and… well, oh, you know everyone!

In related English Secular Upper Class News, Hawking concluded his presentation with a Q&A session, and the the last question he answered earned one of the night’s biggest laughs.

“We’re in an era where we can control machines with our thoughts,” began the questioner, so besides Hawking’s motorized wheelchair, what else would he like to use that for?

“What I’d really like to control is not machines, but people,” the professor responded.

Sometimes the mask slips a little.

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  • Mike

    But people aren’t buying this crude militant atheism anymore. Those days are gone. People are moving on. True many are leaving religion but even less in my experience are joining the atheist brigade.

  • Epicus Montaigne

    It’s funny because originally some atheists, like William Bonnor, *hated* the Big Bang Theory because they claimed it was “Creationism in disguise.”
    He spoke of the BBT as “The underlying motive is, of course, to bring in God as creator” (Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe. Princeton University Press. 1999. pg 259), and then called it “the opportunity Christian theology has been waiting for ever since science began to depose religion from the minds of rational men.” (Bonnor, W., 1964. The Mystery of the Expanding Universe)

    • MarylandBill

      If we are going to list atheists who hated the Big Bang, we simply must include Fred Hoyle. He was responsible for coining the term Big Bang (to deride the theory), and he developed and promoted the Steady State theory as an alternative to the Big Bang for something like 20 years before conceding that the evidence was just not on his side.

      The funny thing now is that in his own sense, Stephen Hawking is trying figure out a way to take a moment of creation out of the Big Bang.

  • Thibaud

    Holy Big Bang, Batman !

    Sorry. Somebody had to send this.

    Well not really, but I wanted to.

  • Pavel Chichikov

    But Fred Hoyle also observed that the cosmos is not explicable except as an artifact of intelligence. And yet, I believe, he remained an atheist.

    In that, there is actually an atheist position worth discussing, perhaps debating.

    I find most if not all of the atheists I argue with on blogs to be fearfully dull.

  • Pavel Chichikov

    The secular non-theistic universe that has always existed is a perpetual motion machine.

    • Noah D

      Which I find vastly harder to wrap my head around than Big Bang/Eventual Heat Death (or Big Rip or whatever). I mean…it’s just always existed? How does that work, especially if things are moving?

      • Theodore Seeber

        Like Pavel said- a perpetual motion machine in which entropy and gravity are at odds. When things crunch enough, they explode and start the cycle all over again.

  • Michael Baruzzini

    Hoyle’s admission that he saw “design” in nature also led him to reject the abiotic origin of life on Earth, but he favored instead the notion of panspermia, so his positions could be complex.

    On the other hand, it was Father Georges Lemaitre, the priest who developed the first form of the theory that came to be known as the Big Bang, who cautioned the Pope against too easily identifying the Big Bang with “the” moment of Creation.

    • Pavel Chichikov

      And right Fr. Lemaitre was too, to warn the Holy Father. God is not testable, nor hypothetical, nor measurable, nor subject to verification or falsification. He is not a subject of study. He is what He is.

    • Beccolina

      I always thought that, if there was a moment when, before that moment there was nothing physical, and after than moment, something physical existed, it would be with a bang. Or maybe a song.

  • Newp Ort

    Hawking is being mischaracterized.

    The press cant tell fizix from shinola, they just love a juicy headline: REALLY SMART GUY SAYS GOD OUT OF JOB

    New atheist evangelicals of course twist it to their purposes and run with “quantum flux = no Sky Father, we r right, in ur face, believers!

    Then you and others, Mark, lump Hawking in with the new atheist faulty reasoning that our universe = all creation.

    Hawking’s scientific theory is that OUR universe, not all existing things ever, is one of MANY universes that pop out of quantum flux.
    If something existed before the big bang that spat out our universe this dovetails nicely with the Thomist non-interventionist God. God is not needed to jump in and spark the big bang out of pre-existing quantum foam just like He isn’t needed to hop back into life on earth and set up a flagellum.

    Creation could be given by God the potential to make the quantum foam that bangs out our universe which then leads to stars, elements, planets, life, humans etc.

    Hawking’s theories regarding pre-OUR universe are suggested by and do not conflict with current cosmological physical theory. The multiverse theory wasn’t created to try to weed out God, its a theory trying to explain things materially based on existing scientific theory.

    Hawkings statement that our universe spontaneously existed without God directly doing it is then about as controversial or incorrect as saying it can rain or that squirrels can make baby squirrels without God’s direct intervention.

    • S. Murphy

      That’s really interesting. Probably, the misunderstanding stems partly from the varying usages of the word ‘universe’…

      Still, Hawking’s willingness to misrepresent JPII for a cheap laugh – along with the fact that he isn’t, or does’t seem to be, making the clarifying distinction that you’re making (although, maybe, as you say, the press is leaving out something that makes that distinction, because they don’t understand it, or are more interested in ‘let’s you and him fight’) – seems to support Mark’s characterization.

    • Pavel Chichikov

      The God of Deism isn’t God.

      Personally, I find preposterous the idea that God keeps hands off the world. Everything is His, even our freedom.

      When thinking about God does not lead to paradoxes, it is a false trail.

      • Newp Ort


        Pavel, work w me ok?

        Deism: god’s act of creation, he cuts out, it runs along like clockwork without him. NOT what I’m talking about.

        I know as much about aquinas as a theology 101 but here’s my possibly all wrong thinking:

        Creation is one single simple sustaining action. Creation isn’t in the past, d is eternal, outside of time, He created time n it is al befoe Him at once. Creation only continues to exist at every instant cuz god sustains it with his power, wills to be so. He’s not a deist god that yanked the starter n has been hands off ever since. Look it up in the catech
        As I understand it (good chance I’m wrong) Thomist theologians don’t like special acts of creation, where God steps back into creation to “fix” it. It implies God’s single act of creation was not perfect.

        This is why many Thomists are ok with evolution (also the pope, or at least the last pope), but not cool with the irreducible complexity lovin’ Intelligent Design proponents. If God had to step into creation and make a flagellum, because its irreducibly complex and couldn’t have evolved, that’s a special act of creation. Makes more sense that God imbued life to evolve from one state to another at the instant of creation, that God gave all natural processes the power to do what they do.

        If I understand the concept creation has a telos, a direction or purpose so it all leads to our existence. Big banged universe to stars, elements planets life then us.

        If our universe is one of many spat out of quantum foam, well that’s part of God’s creation too. The quantum foam is a natural process thas has a telos towards spitting out our universe.

        It’s still all part of gods creation.

        If your a young earther literal six day creation dude you’ll hate all this anyway.

        • Peter Nyikos

          Sorry, your theism is just deism decked out in metaphysics which is incomprehensible to people who have not had a course in the subject. The only pragmatic difference between so-called “theistic evolutionists” and deists that is intelligible on scientific basis is that the former sort allow for God having directly intervened in his creation, starting around the time of Abraham [Adam, Eve, and Noah being mythical].

          That is why I call the former “neo-deists”: not quite the real article, but close.

    • Pavel Chichikov

      Multiverses are an attempt to explain why, without a Creator, there is anything at all.

      • Peter Nyikos

        Well put, Pavel. Multiverses also make it possible to avoid the numerous forms of the Argument from Design by postulating a mind-boggling number of “garbage universes” to justify a universe as well ordered as our “beating the odds”.

        Hawking and Mlodinow deny that this is the motivation for their particular multiverse conjecture, but they are probably being disingenuous.

    • Peter Nyikos

      Correction, NewpOrt: Hawking’s PHILOSOPHICAL theory is that universes spring into existence, not out of quantum flux, but out of nothing. That is the way he and Mlodinow put it in their pop science book, unrefereed like everything Hawking has published in the last decade (or two: I’m not keeping track).

      He justifies this by analogy with the scientific theory that quantum fluctuations WITHIN our universe create OUR kind of matter out of nothing, thanks to the existence of an enormous ordered universe in which it happens.

      Hawking is cashing in on earlier, refereed discoveries to lull the public into thinking he is publishing pure science. Those discoveries gave him lots of stature, but that stature no more makes his current writing scientific, any more than Einstein’s great discoveries made “God does not play dice with the universe” scientific.

  • Pavel Chichikov

    The idea of many universes is not testable, and therefor not even a hypothesis.

    Nor would many universes disprove God’s existence and omnipotence. What difference would it make how many universes there are?

  • Newp Ort

    I think Mark is definitely wrong on one point. The only thing I see the least bit philosophical in the first link is:

    Human existence, Hawking said, is the product of chance and considering the size of the universe and variety of all the matter in it, it was just a matter of time before human life showed up.

    “We are the product of quantum fluctuations in the very early universe,” he said. “God really does play dice.”

    Shit, the first paragraph is downright teleological.

    “God really does play dice,” is a response to Einstein’s opposition to quantum mechanical theory and it’s inherent probabilistic nature, of which Einstein once complained “God does not play dice.” It’s not a comment about God.

  • Pavel Chichikov

    Does Hawking consider himself a product of chance? His intellect a product of chance? Mathematics a product of chance?

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    Devotees of Darwin are always at great pains to stress that evolution does not proceed by chance. Go figure.

    • Pavel Chichikov

      I thought it was natural selection acting to produce Darwinian fitness. Chance is sure a lot more difficult to figure than the odds on the sixth race trifecta.

    • Newp Ort

      I don’t get it. I thought they did, you know random unguided process n all that.

    • Newp Ort

      Here’s an idea I’d like to bounce off Ye, specially cuz you prob have a good grip on probability.

      When materialists talk of evolution being unguided, the result of random events, they mean it in a mathematical/physical sense. That’s all they believe in anyway.

      But in an ex nihilo creation scenario, math, physics, probability are all part of creation. It’s not like algebra and the bell curve were just sitting around doing nothing in the nothing before God created everything.

      So if in a strictly material sense the big bang leads to us via random unguided processes, it is still through a natural process created by God.

      So when materialists say unguided process, by which they mean “there’s no God behind this, really, we mean it,” they really aren’t ruling out God at all, unless they mean some weak ass God that’s limited by statistics.

      That make any sense to Ye?

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        a) Mutations supposedly occur at random. But natural selection is directed toward an end. It weeds out the bad one (defects) and so is directed toward the perfection of a species (perfect: “thoroughly made”), i.e., greater adaptation to a niche.
        b) When we think of randomness our thoughts naturally turn to things like casinos and games of chance. But such games need to be arranged precisely to ensure that very randomness. There is no such thing as “probability.” There is only “probability with respect to some given model.” The game of craps does not merely depend on the rules for counting points, but on the fact that two dice are six-sided, with different numerals on each side. There is nothing so artificial as a casino.
        c) Most Darwinian fanboys (and even some scientists) have no true grasp of statistical processes. “Randomness” is not a cause of anything, since it is an abstraction. When they say “chance” they usually mean “unintentional” and “not the common course of nature,” thus putting it in the same category as “miracle.” Even the most luridly chance event is caused, say a man brained by a hammer dropping from the roof while he (the man, not the hammer) is on his way to lunch. Everything in the event is caused. The fall of the hammer and its kinetic energy can even be described in precise Newtonian equations. The man was walking beneath that point because he was hungry, it was his lunch hour, and his favorite diner was just down the block from his office. The hammer fell because the workman on the rooftop nudged it with his foot (material cause) and the geometric placement of the tools (formal cause). So what they mean is “that doesn’t happen all the time,” which it does not, and it was unintentional (which it was). So it is invisible to scientific analysis, not being the common course of nature, a repetitive “law.”
        d) The argument from chance is often made by the vary same people who argue on other occasions that “everything is determined by the inexorable laws of physics” and are blissfully unaware of the logical contradiction.

  • PAUL

    Is it me, or does Mark Shea work for FOX news?

    Nothing but babble talk and rantings.

  • Phil

    Hawking also said something recently about how studying the universe allows us to “control” it. revealing indeed