New Statesman: famous atheists explain why they don't believe in God...what is Hawking saying?

by unshackled 72 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • bohm

    Hawkins is a physicist. in his world equations and laws refer to eg. the standard model and more exotic stuff. Take just basic quantum mechanics (the schrödinger equation) it is an extremely well-known phenomona that writing up an appropriate hamiltonian of a system is very easy, but one allways end up with equations which are impossible to solve.

    An obvious example is the helium atom which is a very frustrating thing: Any random pot-head can halfway through QM101 guess the appropriate form of the Hamiltonian of a helium atom (you think hydrogen, hit the bong and see double and include an electron-electron interaction term), but the equations are notoriously hard and can only be approximated, and even here you need to do exotic stuff and the result is not even very good after you do that.

    For exotic physics like Hawkins is doing the problem is even more pronounced: You got the standard model and could in principle very easily describe anything which go about in the brain as a crazy operator equation, but it get you nowhere because you cant solve the equations at all. Remarkers similar to this is made quite often by professors because its a remarkable property of nature (and physics!) you mainly try to figure out details of a problem which is allready "solved" in principle.

    Hawkins remark should be seen in that context... and in particular because Hawkins have made the analogy of the mind with a computer quite often I think what he is trying to say is that we have allreadysolved the problems religion try to tell us about, we just havent figured out the details. Resorting to a crappy model like god, souls, free will etc. is not the answer.

    I also think its very unlikely he refer to "laws" in softer sciences because it would be unusual he regard them as such or think they are relevant in the context.

    At any rate, i think Hawkins is very clear (and much more eloquant) at other places in what he belive (and do not believe!), and it is unlikely he took the oppertunity to change his mind for this interview.

  • OnTheWayOut

    Hawking talks through a machine, so we cannot hear the inflections, accents in what he is saying. He also seems to think he is a funny guy, but on a higher level. Plus these guys are all talking with absolute confidence about anything connected with the Big Bang and it's importance and what Science now "knows." I really think it has to do with building confidence in the reasons for continuing research with the Supercollider at CERN.

  • sizemik
    if ANYONE on the planet can show us that we're NOT just our physical bodies... Dr. Stephen Hawking would be it.

    Now I know . . . you're just toying with us Shelby


    Most atheists would say that there may be a god or gods. It's just that they have not found sufficient evidence to support such a belief at the present time. Until they do they will continue with their short life and take the cash in hand.

    Personally, I rule nothing in and nothing out - I just shake it all about!

  • Twitch
    While there are lamentably zero times in my life when I'm invited into the water by women I will decline having had my own god pool once where I splashed about quite merrily. This debate is one reason why many are puzzled by his words. In the world of the sophisticated magic believer lack of clarity, precision or exactness in statements will be spun rapidly into evidence for the magic position. Somewhere a Hari Krishna devotee is offering incense and banging a drum quite convinced that Hawkins has validated the eastern mysticism while a CoE granny is knitting a scarf with the words 'True Believer' while googling his home address.


    Sometimes I see no difference in the spin doctoring by theoists on these threads than in the logic offered by the WTBS, which is also adept at twisting things in their favour. Inferring meaning to arrive at the conclusion that fits a belief. I don't think Dr Hawking is a theist but somehow his theories support those that are, with but a twist of wishful thinking. This somehow validates the christian belief, indeed, the christian god MUST exist, and not just because I believe it so. All those other beliefs and gods need their own scientific sponsor,


  • AGuest

    For me, the discussion here regarding what Dr. Hawking said/meant is the exact same "exercise" as that of the WT "saying" that Armageddon was coming "in 1975"... for which the GB and other WTBTS leaders subsequently want folks to believe it/they didn't "actually" so say... and the R&F believing they never said it... and wanting YOU to believe it, too.

    Seriously, dear ones... I see absolutely NO difference.


    A slave of Christ,


  • Twitch

    We could compare the number of times science has been right about its theories with the number of times the WTBS has been to see if there is truly a difference. Indeed, why stop there? Let the comparison be made to all religions and see which of them has been right the most often in their proof and nature of god. Show me one instance where a belief trumps reason and evidence. So science has been wrong and presents a case as truth; big deal. Religion and belief have yet to prove anything conclusive at all.

  • unshackled

    Just catching up on the thread now...thanks for all the great comments. As we speculate and dissect the meaning of Hawking's rather compact comment, looking at his expanded thoughts would help reveal where his mind is at. Thanks to OTWO and Bohm for already touching on some of that. So here's a couple more comments from Hawking regarding "God".

    In his latest book The Grand Design (which I have yet to read) Hawking states:

    “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.

    It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”

    Below is a quote taken from an article in The Telegraph, Stephen Hawking: God was not needed to create the Universe

    In June this year Prof. Hawking told a Channel 4 series that he didn't believe that a "personal" God existed. He told Genius of Britain: "The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can't understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second. If you like, you can call the laws of science 'God', but it wouldn't be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions."

  • bohm

    Well, it can hardly be said any clearer than that.

  • unshackled

    Pretty much bohm. But if not clear enough...a few more comments, a bit on M theory.

    Pulled from this article on New Scientist: Hawking hasn't changed his mind about God

    Likewise, in 2001 I interviewed Hawking and he made a telling remark underlining how he was not religious. He told me: "If you believe in science, like I do, you believe that there are certain laws that are always obeyed. If you like, you can say the laws are the work of God, but that is more a definition of God than a proof of his existence."

    And in a piece by him that I edited in 2008, he described how he attended a conference on cosmology at the Vatican, where the pope told the delegates they should not inquire into the beginning of the universe itself, because that was the moment of creation and the work of God.

    Hawking joked, "I was glad he didn't realise I had already presented a paper at the conference investigating precisely that issue: I didn't fancy the thought of being handed over to the inquisition like Galileo."

    As Hawking's long-suffering assistant dealt with a deluge of enquiries from journalists from around the world, she told me how the furore says more about the silly season than any change of mind. It also says much about how God is used to sell science to the public. The Higgs boson, labelled the "God particle" – a moniker that Peter Higgs himself finds embarrassing – springs to mind. And after all, The Times is serialising Hawking's book, which he wrote with Leonard Mlodinow.

    In it, Hawking describes how M-theory, a candidate ultimate theory of everything, may offer answers to the question of creation. "According to M-theory, ours is not the only universe," Hawking writes. "Instead M-theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god."

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