Stephen Hawking and Amateur Philosopher Syndrome (APS)


shThere can be no question that Stephen Hawking is a brilliant scientist.

But he is a lousy philosopher, and an even worse theologian.

If ever it was in question, Hawking’s speech at Caltech last week established beyond doubt that the world-renowned physicist suffers from Amateur Philosopher Syndrome (APS).

Scientists, particularly popular scientists, like Hawking, are especially prone to APS. All such scientists see the world, not so much scientifically, as scientistically.  That is, they assume that there is but one legitimate tongue in which to speak of reality: the language of science.  All others are dismissed.

Three aspects of Hawking’s lecture reveal his to be a classic textbook case of APS.

First, while referring to this as a “glorious time” in which we have succeeded in coming “this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe,” Hawking referred to human beings as but “mere collections of fundamental particles of nature” (emphasis added)[.]

Second, as The Daily Mail reported on Thursday, Hawking mocked “the religious position” on the origins of the universe by likening it to “the myth of an African tribe whose God vomited the Sun, Moon, and stars.”

Finally, Hawking assured his audience that, thanks to “general relativity” and “quantum theory,” we can now account for the origins of the universe without any appeals to God at all: our universe, like one foamy bubble among countless others, might just be one of an infinite number of other universes.

To the first point, the question must be posed: From whence springs the assumption that we are “mere” combinations of physical particles?  There are at least two problems with a scientist using the word “mere.”

The first is that “mere” is an evaluative, not a descriptive, a philosophical, not a scientific, term.  As Hawking uses it, is likely intended as a metaphysical—not a physical—word. It suggests insignificance.  But, scientifically speaking, it is as inappropriate to speak of the significance or insignificance of the world as it is to speak of its beauty and ugliness, or its sweetness and bitterness.  These are not attributes of the universe; they are attributes of our minds that we project onto the world.

The second problem is that “mere” is exhaustive.  To say that X is “merely” this or that is to say that it is only this or that.  Science—real science, not philosophical or ideological dogma masquerading as science—can’t speak to ultimate questions.  That’s the job of philosophy and theology.  Science can determine that we are bundles of material particles, but it most definitely cannot determine whether we are merely this.

What stuns most of all is just how illiterate in the philosophical and theological traditions of Western civilization Hawking appears.  For millennia, Jews and (later) Christians have found the idea of God “vomiting” the universe to be just as primitive, just as crass, as it strikes Hawking as being.  The reason for this is not hard to grasp: if God puked up the universe, then He didn’t create it.  Rather, the world flows out of God, or from pre-existing stuff.

Jews are unique in world history in being the first to affirm the existence of one supreme God who created the world out of nothing.

This is crucial, for it is this belief that the world is distinct from, yet created in the image of, an all-good and all-wise being, from which the scientific enterprise was born.  As long as the world is thought of as a distinct creation of God, it is assumed to be both rational and good, i.e. a proper object of study.

In short, neither science nor the scientist Stephen Hawking ever would have arisen had it not been for this conception of divine creation that Hawking ridicules without having grasped.

There is one last point that bears mentioning.

The notion of a sea of “universes” that Hawking invokes is both logically troublesome and theologically irrelevant.   The word “universe” is a synonym for “everything.”  So, claiming that there is an infinite number of “universes” makes about as much sense as claiming that there is an infinite number of “everythings.”

But even if there is some sense to be had from the idea of multiple universes, and even if these universes have always existed, this doesn’t for a moment circumvent the fundamental question: Why is there something rather than nothing?  This is what we want to know when we ask about the beginning of the universe.

And, contrary to Hawking, explaining the existence of a universe by referring back, and only back, to the universe itself is like accounting for one’s own existence by looking no further than oneself.

The verdict: Hawking hasn’t come close to showing that we can dispense with the God hypothesis in explaining the presence of the universe.

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  • Chezwick

    KERWICK: "In short, neither science nor the scientist Stephen Hawking ever would have arisen had it not been for this conception of divine creation that Hawking ridicules without having grasped."

    Not sure I agree here. Certainly, a case can be made that Judeo-Christian tolerance helped to foster the Enlightenment. But science and empiricism are linked to religious belief only via a specific historical timeline; the Protestant Reformation broke the monopoly of the Catholic Church on Christian thought….and in the process, inadvertently broke the monopoly of Christianity on Western thought. In the end, science and religion are decidedly distinct (though not necessarily mutually exclusive) phenomenon.

    • littleeif

      Your aim is too short. I think Kerwick is saying that the concept of one rational creator animates the application of reason to that creation. Without the possibility of the God of the Jews the world might have ended with Baal. Pantheism or paganism do not invite study. This by the way is why the Catholic Church became the cradle of science through the dark ages.

      • Chezwick

        Point well made.

  • Chezwick

    PS – The totality of Kerwick's argument is – in my estimation – a good one. Science may someday decipher the HOW regarding the origins of the universe, but the WHY???? No, this question is destined to bedevel mankind for the duration….and rightly so. If it were ever all spelled out for us in black and white, then the challenges of existence, the ethical choices we make, the exercise of free will….would become an empty exercise.

    • Nehama

      There is no "WHY?" The universe is what it is. Why should there be a "WHY?"? Just get on with your life, and treat others as you would like them to treat you…

      • Chezwick

        "There is no WHY"

        Perhaps. Perhaps not. I make no pretense of understanding the origins of the universe.

      • thomas_h

        "There is no "WHY?""
        Why?

        "The universe is what it is."
        Why?

        "…treat others as you would like them to treat you… "
        WHY?

        • nabrahami

          Why not?

      • littleeif

        An example of Kerwick's point and of begging the question. Why "treat others as you would have them treat you"? The understood rationality of this imperative is wholly dependent on the answer to the why of the universe you have pronounced irrelevant.

        • nehama

          No it's not. You don't have to have an opinion about the existance of the universe to treat others as you would like them to treat you, you just need a normal ability to empathise with others (i.e. you are not a sociopath). The universe doesn't come into it.

      • Craig

        A rather dogmatic statement, Nehama, how do you know there is no why? Because you do not think so makes it true? Is your opinion the ultimate authority as to the nature of our existence and the universe? Additionally, you quote the "Golden Rule," but if there is no why, there is no Golden Rule. And if you are an atheistic evolutionist, then survival of the fittest is the "Rule." How does that comport with the Golden Rule? Perhaps you mean well, but your statement is incoherent.

        • Nehama

          1. My statement was no more dogmatic than the idiot I was responding to. 2. the miswah of "treat others as yourself" does not need a why; if you are a Jew or a Christian you keep it because it is in the Torah, if you're an atheist you keep it because you have sense of empathy and a survival instinct. 3. Survival of the fittest is not a "rule" in any sense of the word, it is a description of historical natural selection not a template for future action. Survival of the fittest neither supports nor contradicts the golden rule. The fitness for edelweiss to survive at 3000 ft is not impacted by whether it is able empathise with mountain goats.

      • Thomas E. Davis

        But, there is a 'Why?" Because God desired it to be therefore it is. Dr. Hawking claims to be an atheist yet concedes the likelihood of a "Creator." I am content to let the good Doctor be that of his own choosing. All the evidence he and other Cosmologists have provided 'unwittingly' as proof of a Creator and a deity is sufficient for me in my world. Faith is a wonderful touchstone to the moment when time began and which Hawking named the "Singularity." That very first second of Creation and of course the perfect description of the One True God.

        • Nehama

          You are entitled to you opinion, how ever wrong it may be.

  • Nehama

    I have no idea who Jack Kerwick is, or what his qualifications are for dismissing Hawkin, but as far as I'm concerned the last people on Earth to be listened to or believed are philosophers and theologians. They are, in my opinion, the most pointless people who ever existed and they really should get off their asses and get proper jobs.

  • drjabeles

    The universe is "god"…."god" is the universe…. Thus everything is god… There is no need for beginnings, the universe has always been— contracting, then exploding, then expanding, then contracting , then exploding anew… We are all "sons of god", sons of the universe…. Be in huge awe of all in it, but no need to worship, or justify tragedies or ask for personal favor….

    • Craig

      Sounds interesting, drjabeles, but how do you know all of this? On what authority? Because you say so makes it true? Have you been to the other side of the universe? In another dimension? Were you there when it all began? You have an opinion, but why should anyone believe you over the opinion of another?

    • watermelonbeast

      Drajables must be the leader of the Deepak..

    • truebearing

      Both your life and intellect are severely limited by the inescapable reality that you are mortal. You have neither the time to acquire enough knowledge, nor the capacity to comprehend all that you see in your fleeting life, so how can you be so ontologically arrogant?

  • festus magill

    DRJABELES…..ENOUGH OF THE SHIRLEY McCLAIN GARBAGE. WE ARE NOT ALL GODS!

  • Dylan Smart

    Excellent article. Articles like this make me feel a little sad however, because so many folks today just want to write off any cosmic purpose or meaning to things and call it a day. I wish there was a way to let folks believe the universe is completely without meaning, while continuing to enjoy the mystery of God.

  • http://twitter.com/theoprinse @theoprinse

    Not the question of either proof of existence or non existence of a supreme being is important .. but whether the human nature and man surrounding nature is finite or infinite, is important

  • rbla

    Hawking's view implies a complete materialism. Only matter and its purporseless motion exists. Mind being non-material does not exist; it is the 'ghost in the machine'. Mathematics is a product of the mind; it is non material and does not really exist. Yet the material universe follows mathematical laws. So the existing material universe is governed by a product of 'non-existing' mind. As a physicist named Wheeler once said 'the universe can be described by systems of differential equations; but differential equations don't fly and the the universe does'. Of course this does not 'prove' anything about God; nor does it say anything about virgin births, a man climbing a mountain to see a burning bush or a so-called prophet flying on a magic horse at night. But it does say that there is something more to the universe than simple matter and that in some sense 'mind' underlies it all.

  • thomas_h

    Even if the universe always existed it still needed to be created. That is a point that Hawking and so many other quite smart people can not understand.

    • Mr. Polly

      "Even if the universe always existed it still needed to be created." It's impossible to make sense of that statement.

  • http://twitter.com/theoprinse @theoprinse

    The proof that a Supreme Being cannot exist.

    Scientific proof or evidence is true when it can be falsified for it exists in infinity, else it is mono causal and finite..

    The two major philosophies denying one another are Idealism and Materialism. Religion, superstition, sects etc. are all a smaller part of Idealism. Idealism accepts only faith as the only source of truth (morality) and rejects scientific evidence.

    Materialism derives truth (knowledge) from scientific evidence and rejects faith to that end.

    Supreme Being(s) cannot exist and – besides the empiric and semantic necessity of a material, physical, tangible character of a proof thereto – with the materiality of such a proof, this described matter can only be ascribed tot the smallest (constant of Planck) and not the largest matter (curving of space). Furthermore that from the assumed attitude faith there can be no proof derived for the existence of anything whatsoever. Naive simple faith is merely presuming an optimistic attitude whereas religious faith is a construed complex social phantasy.

    Moreover, from the concept of natural man and man surrounding infinity follows the necessary existence of lets call it the graviton as the material carrier of gravitation beyond the thus far smallest known particle the electron or the tau neutrino.
    From these gravitons has – by reasoning – become clear that there are both free gravitons as well as fixed gravitons. Beyond the increasingly smaller realm of gravitons – where there are infinite more smaller particles and forces – there is an infinite increasing ratio between the amount of matter (gravitons and ever smaller particles) and matter being in annihilation. (Smaller level of infinitely smaller particles). This ratio between larger and smaller particles is infinite.

    The free gravitons relatively are in a fixed zero motion in space within their frame of reference in relation to the atomic objects like electrons and protons out of which man, planets and stars are formed. The protons of these objects are formed out of electrons and electrons comprised of fixed gravitons. Gravity, and the four other quantum mechanical forces are the consequence of the interaction between free and fixed gravitons. (Unification)

    The very existence of these both free and fixed gravitons furthermore necessarily assumes that The human Idea itself is electronic. Ideas are clouds of electrons. Products of the human mind are material particles. Man-interpreted-surrounding-reality consists of continuous new progressing, material tautology (semantic necessity.

    Smell, heat, pressure etc. are nothing but colliding frictional particles. Feelings of insult like ‘blasphemy’ is without any exception ever self-inflicted neurological activity and laws against defamation, libel insult without proven material damage and blasphemy must be abolished for they prosecute the messenger.

    So, although color, form, pressure, superconductivity etc. can be very relative, even tautologic, in viewing around us, all massive visible objects can be related with extreme scientific precision within the conceptions of space and time, while with Faith – with or without a god – we can relate totally nothing.
    The previous mentioned semantic necessity lies herein that besides semantic ideas, man also thinks spatially as well, so without word content, as Roman intellectuals like Lucretius, who, by projection of architectonic constructions got texts of law in their head who in their turn spoke about primitive man who did not yet have a semantic definition of a Supreme Being although they already knew from India of 12.000 year old atheistic semantic premisses

    • Craig

      Wow, sounds so impressive. Tell me, on what basis do you deny the existence of One who, by definition, transcends the material realm? How do you know that nothing more exists than you, Hawking, or others have seen, measured, or postulated? You cannot possibly know unless you are omniscient, the quality of the God you think you have disproved. It is simply not possible for a finite being to disprove the existence of an infinite and transcendent being. Finite beings simply do not have the capacity or perspective required to do so. You are merely pretending, big words and all.

      Moreover, you are no more reasonable than the one who turns on a computer and denies the existence of the programmer or walks into a bakery and denies the existence of a baker. It is all quite irrational.

    • tagalog

      You make a hell of a lot of assumptions in making your case for the non-existence of a Supreme Being.

      It was when I got down to the part about "The human Idea itself is electronic" that I realized the kind of thinking I was dealing with.

      Enough said.

    • truebearing

      It appears that the infinitely small particles have formed the nucleus of your brain.

      You say "materialism derives truth," but how can that be? Truth is metaphysical. The rest of your convolutions are just as ridiculous, not to mention exremely poorly written. Maybe you should try to justify your absurd epistemic arrogance before taking a header on the rocks of ontology.

      The only thing you proved was that you can cut and paste incoherence.

  • http://twitter.com/theoprinse @theoprinse

    The proof that a Supreme Being cannot exist.cntd

    Semantic thought – in distinction to spatial thought – comprises of exact defined, restricted and prejudiced, so mostly dogmatic, free-thought-indoctrinating contents of Ideas, definitions. (Semantic necessity)

    This mentioned semantic necessity in thought simply means that the previous mentioned content ‘micro and macro space’ in the logic context of their infinity – so these large cosmologic and small atomic infinity – and so the identical semantic definition infinity – is imperative above every other content of definition, and so therefore exists above that of the content of the so called definition of a Supreme Being. Semantics dictate finiteness.

    There can be no Supreme Being because the material evidence of the (thus far known) outer boundaries of the astrophysical atomic and cosmological spatial definition Infinity – and herewith all inner lying, containing definitions and phenomena, and, as said, that the largest imagination of infinite expanding space is explained with the infinite conceivable smallest, and constituting the largest from the smallest or vice versa mutually semantically deny an intelligible Supreme Being – are described as such by the scientific community in laws of particle ‘attraction’, spin, motion and exclusion, repulsion that herewith no Supreme Being could be interpreted or indicated and that it outside and beyond the continuously expanding spatial boundaries ever again and again lacks of semantic word definition.

    The semantic word definition Infinity, simply comprehends more than the semantic word definition Supreme Being.

    The definition Supreme Being is therefore secondary and every deducted moral assumption – the moral system of sanctions, with acquiescence, acceptance (of Christians) in/of sects like islam in their revenge towards critique against ‘apostasy of a doctrine of the faith’ – is therefor a strongly construed imaginative fiction. Credulous thought (trust) as inner consent in an invisible and merciful authority is primal. The apparent ‘weaker’ morality of a nonbeliever has been shout down for centuries in brutal domination by the imagined morality of the fading believer ….

    European atheists – in denial of the existence of one or more supreme being(s) – were also cultivated by national organic and national socialist reactionary circles around Krupp-Flick etc. bourgeoisies – who contributed to the anti-Semite Holocaust and many more atrocities in two World Wars all the way up to 500 dr. Mengele’s in the CIA project MKULTRA after 1950 leading to pornographic and narcotic postmodernism (nothing is true equals to a Faith without a god) among social-democrats and social academies. This European atheist nihilism in the 21st century is exploited by criminal circles within the US political elite of Brzezinski, Kissinger, Schultz, Perle, Albright, Wolfowitz etc, etc. and their CIA to betray western oriented secular people in the Arab and Asiatic countries to the murderous Islamic dictatorship. The American Christian society is unable to resist for their faith in one nation under god …

    Contemporary, nihilistic cultural-relativism – which developed out of post-modern thought – is – in contrast to it’s interpretation by ‘historians’ – in it’s non-realism non-cognitive, unreal, not-knowable, unaware, not able to recognize reactionary stealth and kinetic Jihad and Islam insinuation for Sharia in the Free world. But all this is not to be confused with semantic tautology (Noah Chomsky, William F. Buckley, James Burnham).

    In The USA, Christian intellectuals have (instead post-modernism) perfectly understood that not American atheists are their primary opponent, but their philosophical materialism as opposed to Idealism as underlying Christian faith. For one the Christian intellectuals vulgarized Philosophical materialism into Big Mac mass consumerism, money talks etc. insinuating atheists into idealistically BELIEVE that god does not exist and to deny atheist view of nature to contribute to science and innovation and venture capitalism. American Christian philosophy created the situation into which conservatism became cultural conservatism since the 1950ties and have the American atheists driven in the camp with the democrats to ‘outreach’ for the Muslim Brotherhood under the auspices of the CIA

    • thomas_h

      Gosh, what noise! Perfect gibberish camouflaged as claptrap!.
      What in the world are you talking about? And WHY? Please try to read your prose when you are sober.

    • truebearing

      More of the Nincompoop's Manifesto, I see. Have you considered editing this diatribe with a food processor? I think it would read better.

  • Allan Thomas

    I admire the American people, and what you’ve done for freedom in the world. When I read this trash, I wonder what’s gone wrong.

    Allan Thomas

    Sydney

    Australia

    • tagalog

      First, we let the ideas of the mush-minded become our intellectual guidelines.

      Then, in compassion for the victims of the Nazi hunt-down of innocent people, we let a lot of university professors who subscribed to the disciplines of logical positivism into this country, where their ideas (for the best of reasons) became the conventional wisdom over the next half-century. They were very valuable people and they had to be saved, but they had some ideas that have corrupted our culture.

      Then, we taught the generations that came of age during the time period 1960-2000 or so, mush-minded rational materialism. As a result, we lost the primary conception and goal of learning and experience, namely to develop virtue. We traded moral standards for open-mindedness, a trade that was not without its drawbacks. We are now so open-minded that our brains have fallen out. We became very skilled at making ourselves comfortable and making life far more convenient and entertaining, but we lost any sense of limits and most of our standards (I think God will punish us for that).

      Now we have a new generation and about half of the older generations wondering how to get back on track.

      We're having a difficult time of that because those people of that 50-year period are going to be running the U.S.A. for quite a while yet. They are also subverting our youth and having some success at that.

  • tagalog

    General relativity and quantum physics most definitely DO NOT account for the origins of the universe.

    They help to explain what happened after the universe came into being, and what the constituent parts of the universe are, and how they act, but they don't explain how the universe came into existence.

    if anything quantum physics supports the idea of an animating intelligence engaging in observation for the creation of the universe.

    So Hawking, a scrupulous thinker who should know better, is wrong.

  • historyscoper

    Theoretical physics went wrong with the assumption that time is a dimension, and the rest is about how long it will take for them to figure it out. Hawking is the king of this dead end, all he needs is a leather jacket and a ducktail :)

    Master the complete history of Science, the New Age Movement, psychology et al. anytime on my Historyscoper, free while it lasts.

  • http://shugartpoliticalaction.shugartmedia.com/uncommonsense/ Chris_Shugart

    I find Hawking's inability (or is it refusal?) to consider a spiritual aspect to the universe contradicts his own thinking. In his book "The History of Time" he states early in the book that “general relativity” and “quantum theory,” cannot both be true. Yet he considers that the two scientifically incompatible schools of thought are worth studying. Nerdy but factual. And hypocritical on Hawking's part I think.

  • DEWDDS

    Hawking surely has no monopoly on theology, but his speculations are no more or no less outrageous or insightful than those of any theologian, past or present. Theology presents myths and legends as the causative agent for all of the material universe as well as the concept of human morality. Science merely poses natural origins for these things without need to invoke god X, Y, or Z. In this author's mind the god must necessarily be the one found in the Bible without need to present evidence to this effect.

    • mkat68

      So what is the causative agent for these natural origins you speak of? You can't have an effect without a cause.

  • 11bravo

    You are nit-picking Jack. Why so defensive?
    Hawking says," “the myth of an African tribe whose God vomited the Sun, Moon, and stars.” If this was in fact a belief held in good faith it is just as valid as any other. The Greeks and Romans had multiple gods – so what.
    Was there not a time on this planet before ANY religion? It is a made up fiction of man to understand his own intellect as it grew. You know like, why do I love this person. Why do some people die so young. What is out there past that last star? When I die is that the end?
    The stuff we would talk about after smoking a doobie, camping, and looking up to the stars. Usually thinking we were the first to contemplate the thought – ha ha ha!!
    My old office mate (full on Catholic school), had a great line. "That is why they call it faith, you have to make the leap "personally".

  • Donald DaCosta

    Hawking's "egregious" error in expressing his Atheist views are no more egregious than the author's absolute, irrevocable belief that an even more mysterious, mythical being created it all from "nothing." The currently predominant, scientific, “Big Bang” theory of creation itself, the one Mr. Hawking ascribes to, is struggling with the so called “singularity,” a beginning erupting from nothing. Is Mr. Kerwick's “nothing” more significant than Hawking's?

    Mr. Kerwick asserts that those “afflicted” with APS “assume that there is but one legitimate tongue in which to speak of reality:” implying that perhaps his is a better one.

    In another quote Kerwick belittles Hawking's implying that “human beings [are] but 'mere collections of fundamental particles of nature'” and goes on to presume what Hawking meant with his use of the term, “mere” and semantically twists that meaning to fit his APS assertion. But the scientific fact is that every atom that makes up every molecule of every cell of every type in every plant, animal, mineral, etc., in our entire world, and perhaps the entire universe, including us, derives from the Big Bang and the continuous birth and death of stars. We are, quite literally, made from stardust and it is far more likely that that was Hawking's meaning.

    Does this conclusion in any way preclude the existence of God? Is the search for understanding the fundamental laws of nature somehow offensive to God? If, as the religionists believe, God made man in His image is not this search for understanding reflect the validity of that belief?

    Further, Mr. Hawking's poor choice of the word “mere” does not make his assertion idle conjecture or mysticism. The fusion of fundamental particles into the 92 elements requires enormous, humanly incomprehensible amounts of energy. The 1st 26 of the 92 fundamental elements required temperatures of millions of degrees, The remaining 66, temperatures reaching billions of degrees. These temperatures only occur deep inside stars of different mass when they collapse and die and release enormous quantities of the fundamental elements which eventually coalesce and form the planets and stars that become solar systems like that surrounding our sun,

    Does this incredibly dynamic, cataclysmic and enormously powerful scientific phenomena concerning creation, contradict or confirm the existence of God? Hawking thinks the former, but Kerwick and nearly every religious being on the planet are free to choose the latter. In fact this could easily be determined to be quite consistent with Divine Creation.

    Mr. Kerwick then says the following: “As long as the world is thought of as a distinct creation of God, it is assumed to be both rational and good, i.e. a proper object of study.” Is this apparently philosophical theory, based on assumption, any more valid than any of Mr. Hawking's proven, at least, to a mathematical certainty? And if so, why does it not follow that if Mr. Hawking does not believe in divine creation he should have no interest at all in what he has spent his entire, tortured life immersed in a, so far, futile attempt to understand its root, fundamental nature. As a result Hawking has won the following awards for his efforts: Presidential Medal of Freedom, Copley Medal, Albert Einstein Medal, Wolf Prize in Physics, Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Hughes Medal, Eddington Medal, Dirac Medal of the Institute of Physics.

    Mr. Kerwick is free to say what he likes about Stephen Hawking or any other Atheist, but he himself could be criticized for having the dreaded Philosopher Professor Syndrome shared by at least an equal number of individuals who believe their credentials render their opinions an air of infallibility.

    This article comes across as the knee jerk response of a religious professor to a speech given by an equally accomplished scientist who openly expresses his disbelief in Divine Creation. How dare he.

  • Infovoyeur

    Gosh, "try to take a picture with a camera with no lens." "I got a blurrrr." 'Right, a lens is mandatory to see anything, but every lens is tho powerful still partial plus skewed. Further, the Proof of Truth etc. is not Out-There in the subject (a deity, or infinite atoms) but within the lens being used!!!!!" "Wow, it's bleak plus confusing, what should I do now?" "Heck, try the efficient lens of Existentialism. It says, first existence, then essence. Surrounded by obviiod occultings, we make our own reality. And sometimes we do well and sometimes alas ill, because the MostComplexThingInTheUniverse, the human brain, is clever but not always human-e. So, try for the best or better, eh. Thus endeth the scientific sermon for today." …….. "Gosh, that's depressing. Guess I better go out and get me a different nicely-conforting Lens, eh…."

  • rex

    Kerwick? Just another case of ASS (Amateur Scientist Syndrome). He for sure knows nothing about quantum mechanics and general relativity. He’d better just go back in his hole and continue to waste his life away talking about fairy tales.

  • truebearing

    Hawking can't figure out that the awareness of a separate universe necessarily means that it isn't a separate universe because he has knowledge of its existence, yet arrogantly dismisses the existence of God…from his wheelchair. Could there possibly be a more fitting example of the finite trying to reduce infinity?

  • Fritz

    I've been puzzled with the concept for some time about the idea of our universe only being one of many. While it makes an interesting theory for discussion, as well as creating plenty of fodder for science fiction stories, where are these other universes? Do they exist in fact or are we supposed to defer to an authority, like Mr. Hawking, and hold faith that they are real and do exist?
    Since the dawn of Marxism there has also been a from of dogmatic orthodoxy perpetuated through the Western World that you are only a true scientist if you denounce and ridicule the belief in a creator or of a higher power. History of course contradicts this, many of the great scientists of the last 300 years not only believed in a higher power but were senior members of a church. Lord Kelvin, Isaac Newton, and ironically Charles Darwin were three examples of this. True science is about asking questions and seeing what answers you can find, not deferring to orthodoxies handed down by an unquestionable authority. Only a fool would suggest that there is nothing left to know, that there is some unified law that explains all of creation.

  • Robert

    Given the context of this article, I find the comments of Theo Prinse particuarly ironic.

  • Roy

    Ok I am very mad at the moment after reading some provocative statements by a prominent physicist and I personally think science should tone down the authoritarian voice and start doing whatever they are good at (like collecting facts).

    So science tells us that 70% of our universe is made up of dark energy (remaining 30% = 26% dark matter and only 4% ordinary matter). We don’t know what it is neither we can detect it through scientific experiments. From all the evidence and astronomical sightings we can tell it is there.

    To put it into perspective, it is like living on the surface of the earth and not knowing what water is. We are like a lizard in the Atacama desert. Even the lizard has more understanding of water than we have of Dark Energy. This is the realm of Philosophy and Spirituality. Beyond science and surely beyond our senses and common logic.

    It is not about knowing it all but it is all about being aware. Hopefully one day fundamental science will catch up with the bigger ideas ;-) to me, awareness and wisdom is not about collecting and making a pile of facts (like science does) but trying to make a complete understanding out of whatever knowledge we already have. Of course we should try to gather facts but we should always emphasize on making a complete understanding from whatever facts we have already gathered.

    A famous quote

    “The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific, and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know; our knowledge of our ignorance. For this indeed, is the main source of our ignorance – the fact that our knowledge can be only finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.”
    -Karl Popper

    Why would (Stephen Hawking) one of the most intelligent humans alive say such provocative things like “philosophy is dead” and “Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics.”

    According to Hawking, the conversation about the truth of the world rests in the hands of elite physics professors funded by multinational corporations and national governments.

    After all these fundings and use of such brilliant minds the best theory they came up with is Multiverse (a sea of infinite universes). If there are an infinite number of universes with different laws governing each one of them, then one of them will definately have Harry Potter in it. I think it takes a lot less faith to believe that the world was created in 7 days.

    I personally think just like religion should not interfere with science, science itself should not intefere with subjects like theology, spirituality and philosophy and make provocative comments to grab attention.

    Another famous quote

    “Everyone who is seriously interested in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe – a spirit vastly superior to man, and one in the face of which our modest powers must seem humble”.
    - Albert Einstein

    Besides we all know Philosophy > Science. As a human being we are philosophers first and then some of us decide to or forced to damage our brains beyond repair and become scientists. To me it is almost equally wrong to name a bunch of people astronauts, put them in a tight compartment, name it a space shuttle, fill it up with highly explosive rocket fuel, light it up and then sit in the ground control fingers crossed in the name of science compared to sending a man strapped with a bomb to his chest in the name of Jihad.

    Philosophy is more basic to human being or shall I say life. Each one of us at some point of our life looked up to the night sky and wondered about the universe. Maybe we came up with an understanding from whatever knowledge we had. Right or wrong doesn’t really matter. The understanding can change as our knowledge increases but how many of us actually think that we can control and predict the universe by some mathematical laws. Unless you are a super control freak and put a lot more faith on Mathematics than a religious person puts in his God, it is highly unlikely that you can be a successful scientist.

    Most importantly we should always have an open mind and ready to accept whatever the truth is. Making provocative comments and insulting each other is not going to help. When it comes from such a prominent scientist I think it is even more shameful.

    If the truth is God you have to accept God and if the truth is Harry Potter then you have to accept Harry Potter. There is nothing you can do about it.

    A final quote

    “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
    - Sherlock Holmes

  • Jose

    Called a multiverse

  • Peter Beresowski

    posted on the Internet. let that sink in