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

by unshackled 72 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • bohm

    wouldt like for hawkins to turn to god for the same reason i wouldnt like a relative to turn to astrology... it would be wrong and harmless and not inform my oppinion.

    the later idea is not exactly something which keep me up at night.

  • binadub

    To unshackled:

    Stephen Hawkings seems to believe in a supreme intelligence, due primarily to the scientific theory of the universe having a begiinning ("big bang").
    This was true for Einstein as well when his own broad formula for relativity proved the universe was not "steady state," but in fact had a beginning at a center point from which it was expanding. They, and other scientists are classed as "deists," who believe in a God but not a personal god as the religious folks believe in.

    With reference to the link you provided naming famous scientists who ARE believers, two VERY notables they failed to mention:

    DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, one of the foremost scientists of our time in human DNA (Genome) and biohealth research is a faith believer:

    Or PROF. ANTHONY FLEW (rip), the Oxford professor who was one of the renouned outspoken atheist phylosophers of our time until he made a sudden conversion to deism and wrote about it before his death. It was a shocker to the atheist community. Again, he was a deist, not a believer in a personal god they way Christians believe.


  • unshackled

    Tammy...thanks again for your thoughts. Wasn't sure if you were originally directing your "Hawking in your corner" comment to myself. As Nickolas often points out, these are the limitations of text only communication. Reading through all the comments again I see where you were coming from. There was the unfortunate divide of theists on this side, and atheists on that side happening in the discussion.

    I should mention that I thought your interpretation of those 3 sentences by Hawking was bang on. With no other context assumed, that is how it reads. But we do know from Hawking's other comments on the subject, that he is an atheist. Hence, which is likely why Harris said he "had no idea what he was talking about". His 3 sentences left room for interpretation on where he stood. Who knows, maybe there is some truth in what bohm wrote...

    "i dont think he aimed for zen or didnt think it through.. i think he got tired of writing the same blurb once again with one muscle..."

    And I'm certain many atheists do take pride in having famous scientists in their "corner". But also many don't. Same applies to some theists as well. This is fairly typical human behavoir though, otherwise companies wouldn't use celebrities to endorse their products.

    Thanks for the cross-country tip. I agree, a road trip with no hard timetable is always more enjoyable. Cheers.

  • unshackled

    Hi binadub...I was going to say welcome but you've been on JWN since 2001. Thanks for the links to those theists that were not in the New Statesman article. I'm sure they put out a request to the many well-known public figures on both sides of the argument, and published all the responses they received. But can't know that for sure. On the non-belief side it was disappointing that Christopher Hitchens was not in there. I always find his comments both informative and entertaining.

    As for labelling Hawking and Einstein deists...not so sure about that. It depends on the definition used for "god". Here is a Hawking quote I posted earlier...

    "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."

    If I'm not mistaken, deism is belief that the universe is a creation, with a creator. A supreme being that doesn't interfere with the affairs of mankind, or the laws of nature once they were set in motion. From what I've read by Hawking, I don't think he fits that description. But IF you take his 3 sentences from that article, one might get that impression.

    Here is a quote from Einstein:

    “My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment.”

  • unshackled

    ...and thank you Twitch. Your comments and input are very much appreciated.

  • binadub

    Hi again unshackled:

    Yeh, I go back to the migration here from the old H2O forum where I posted as "Ros". I don't participate often anymore and don't know most of the names anymore. I happen to be interested in atheist/agnostic/faith discussions. Hope it doesn't seem argumentive--just interesting. :-)

    I may not have a clear view of agnosticism, but I have always viewed it as "I don't know" which gives it a much broader range for interpretation than labels of atheist, theist, or deist. Generally, the agnostics I've talked with are more between atheism or deism and theism; they don't totally reject theism, though they have doubts about religion. Pantheism and atheism are similar.

    I agree that deist tends belief in a creator of all that we see, but not the god personality of religion.

    Most atheist persuasions I have heard argue with religion as the reason they are atheists. (i.e., Why would a loving God permit evil?). They're just so fed up with religion that they reject the whole concept of a God in any form, even as an impersonal creator.

    I can see Einstein identifying with agnosticism, but that clearly did not for him include atheism.
    Here are a few more quotes that you might find of interest (if you haven't seen them before):

    "In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views."

    "I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangements of the books, but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws."

    When interviewed by the Saturday Evening Post in 1929, Einstein was asked what he thought of Christianity.

    "To what extent are you influenced by Christianity?"
    "As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew,
    but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene."

    "Have you read Emil Ludwig’s book on Jesus?"
    "Emil Ludwig’s Jesus is shallow. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers,
    however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot!"

    "You accept the historical existence of Jesus?"
    "Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus.
    His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."

    The Encyclopedia Britannica says of him: "Firmly denying atheism, Einstein expressed a belief in "Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the harmony of what exists." This actually motivated his interest in science, as he once remarked to a young physicist: "I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details." Einstein's famous epithet on the "uncertainty principle" was "God does not play dice" - and to him this was a real statement about a God in whom he believed. A famous saying of his was "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."


    I think the confusion about Einstein's belief stems from the fact that he did not believe the body has a soul or an after life for humans.
    Many Christians would consider this to be atheism.

    As an aside, isn't it rather remarkable that Einstein, being a pacifist, his scientific discoveries and work with the Manhattan Project led to development of the atomic bomb.

    Thanks for a good discussion.

  • AGuest

    Just a question, if I may, dear Unshackled (again, peace to you!):

    Wouldn't it be... I dunno... "better"... to take the most recent statement of what someone "believes"... as their current "belief"... versus what they may have said [they believed] previously? I do understand that sometimes one's previous statements can... clarify something said later. But I ask this because I am not sure that looking to what Dr. Hawking said before accurately reflects what he may be saying now. Unless, of course, the quote was made sometime prior to 2011 and the others cited were made since. I could be wrong but the dates and context of the article and TV presentation don't seem to indicate that.

    Please note, this is not a question regarding what Dr. Hawking believes as to science or "God"... but, rather, whether perhaps the sequence of his statements should be taken into considerion.

    Just a thought...

    Again, peace to you!

    YOUR servant and a slave of Christ,


  • talesin

    I watched Hawking on TV last week.

    I'm paraphrasing, I do not have a tape recorder in my head, but he said "I apologize to any Christians who may take offense at this, but there was no intelligent design; before the Big Bang there was nothing."


  • tec

    "I apologize to any Christians who may take offense at this, but there was no intelligent design; before the Big Bang there was nothing."

    LOL... its not offensive at all. Its just... (and I apologize to any who hold this belief)... absurd. Not the idea that there was nothing (though I find that rididulous, personally... but hey, who am I?). But that he can state something like that as if it is a fact. How could he possibly, possibly know?

    Perhaps he said in all likelihood there was nothing, or in his opinion? (You did say you were paraphrasing.)



  • AGuest
    Its just... absurd. How could he possibly, possibly know?

    Yet, that really is pretty much what he said, dear Tec (the greatest of love and peace to you!). I probably should have just said what YOU said, here, though... on another thread. Already know, though, that that wouldn't have gone over, either - LOLOLOLOL! Thank YOU, though, for your candor, here... and I am glad that folks can "take it" from YOU - LOLOLOLOL!

    Peace to you, dear one!

    Your servant, sister, and fellow slave of Christ,

    SA, who sometimes wishes she could "talk" like dear tec... but knows it just ain't gonna happen...

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