So, here’s a thing. Today, one of the people I follow on Facebook posted the following update:
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” – Charles Darwin
One of his other followers posted this (almost eerily) prescient followup:
“…to argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.” – Thomas Paine, The Crisis
Then, as if by plan, a theist chimed in with this bit:
“It is quite possible that God acts in ways that cannot be described by scientific laws.” – Stephen Hawking
I, being the smartass I am, posted this twist:
“It is quite possible that Zeus acts in ways that cannot be described by scientific laws.” – paraphrase of Stephen Hawking
Out of the complete blue comes this response:
Golly Dan. You’re right. This Stephen Hawking fellow must be an ignorant doofus. We should discredit all of his contributions, discard his ideas, strip his books from the shelves, burn them, and not allow any of his theories to be taught in our schools. That would teach supposed scientists what will happen if they mention the “G” word in public. Wouldn’t it?
Whoa. I hadn’t thought that would be the logical conclusion to what I had posted, but clearly the link between merely substituting one god’s name for another and expecting a critical mind to see the inherent fallacy in the statement illuminates my own (heretofore unknown) desire to trash Hawking and all he ever did in an almost Inquisitional fashion. Led by the overwhelming majority that we atheists are, of course.
So, I bore down intellectually, rifled through all my apparent hatred of all things Hawking (and presumably everything he’s ever said that overwhelmingly refutes the large part of non-scientific opinion on stellar evolution and the nature of the universe), and finally came up with this diatribe – nay, this thesis, this MAGNUM OPUS:
… and I was exhausted from the struggle. But then, some yahoo comes along and throws my anti-Hawking bigotry for a loop!
“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” – Stephen Hawking
Dammit! Now I have to throw the baby out with the primordial bathwater!
From the Wikipedia entry on Stephen Hawking:
Hawking takes an agnostic position on matters of religion. He has repeatedly used the word ‘God’ (in metaphorical meanings) to illustrate points made in his books and public speeches. Having been described as an atheist by various people, including his former wife Jane, Hawking has stated that he is “not religious in the normal sense” and he believes that “the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws.”
So, using Hawking (or Flew, or Einstein, for that matter) to buttress a belief in the divine is ill-conceived, or merely shows a lack of study on the subject.
“Consistency” was all I was bringing up. Those who believe that science is somehow flawed since it cannot answer every question, all the time, and subsequently write off the “gaps” to theistic influence never seem to apply their own standard to other named deities – many of whom have far longer histories than the Judeo-Christian one (assuming it wasn’t modeled after the previous ones), texts that proclaim themselves accurate, and the testimonies of “witnesses” to miraculous events. The quote I leave with is logical in its form. Regardless of who said it, it is a question that should be asked by every believer; then (and only then) can one really be said to “believe:”
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen Roberts