Sunday, October 10, 2010

There is no God

Some of you might have heard of the recent brouhaha surrounding Stephen Hawking's announcement that we don't need God any more. I am always surprised how what is taken to be novel and revolutionary has in fact been said before, and countless times before. Didn't Laplace once reply to Napoleon, many years ago, that God was a hypothesis that we no longer required? Has it taken this long to be heard by our newspapers?

Of course this is absurd thought. No it isn't even absurd. It is just plain stupid. Unfortunately, being a physicist does not make one a good philosopher (or a philosopher of any sort), and it is equally unfortunate that Professor Hawking thinks that philosophy is dead (the 'love of wisdom' dead? Who would wish such a thing?), for he might have otherwise actually bothered to read some philosophy.

The scientific idea (and that is what it is) that the universe requires God to exist probably has its origin, at least in our culture, more in Aristotle's Physics, than it does it any religious text. Does Hawking serious think that the first book of Genesis, for example, is meant to be read as a cosmology? (but then since he thinks philosophy is not worth reading, he's not likely to read theology either).

Just as much as we shouldn't trust a creationist's statements on physics, we should not take it for granted that a scientist knows much about anything accept science, and the belief that science knows everything, or that a 'theory of everything' really does contain everything, is precisely that a belief and not a scientific theory at all.

For those of you who want to think (and our students on RPE 201, Religion, Science and Belief might want to) about these issues a bit more, and might even have the slight feeling that philosophy is not quite as dead as Hawking wants it to be, would not be wasting their time in reading this article by Carlin Romano in The Chronicle.

1 comment:

  1. Janie Hope9:05 pm

    While quoting Chapter and Verse is not normally my 'thing', this did spring to mind as fitting. Although maybe not, since Hawking says we don't need God anymore. It's jolly good that he pointed this out, it would never have occurred to this RPE student to ponder the matter otherwise!

    1 Corinthians 12
    One Body, Many Parts
    12.The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.... 14.Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15.If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16.And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17.If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18.But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19.If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20.As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
    21.The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”.... that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26.If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
    27.Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28.And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29.Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30.Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?