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philosophy, Religion

Stephen Hawking vs. Theology

Thanks to Al Stefanelli for this handy comparison of the qualifications of Stephen Hawking vs. the theologians who are all rushing to condemn him for his pronouncement that modern astrophysics has progressed sufficiently to explain the universe without the need for a magic creator deity.

Here’s what theologians study:

  • Old Testament Survey
  • Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature
  • New Testament Survey
  • History of Christianity
  • Systematic Theology
  • Philosophical and Moral Theology
  • Pastoral Care
  • Pastoral Leadership
  • Preaching
  • Worship
  • Evangelism
  • Educational Ministry

Of course that’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s pretty representative.  Feel free to check the curriculum of any theological program.  There’s something noticeably missing, though.  Can you spot it?  That would be… Anything at all about physics or astronomy or cosmology!

By contrast, here’s a list of subjects that Stephen Hawking has studied — probably at least as much as anyone else on the planet:

  • Black hole thermodynamics
  • Classical mechanics
  • Condensed matter physics
  • Conservation of energy
  • Dynamics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Field theory
  • Fluid dynamics
  • General relativity
  • Molecular modeling
  • Particle physics
  • Physical cosmology
  • Quantum chromodynamics
  • Quantum computers
  • Quantum electrochemistry
  • Quantum electrodynamics
  • Quantum field theory
  • Quantum information theory
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Solid mechanics
  • Solid state physics or Condensed Matter Physics and the electronic structure of materials
  • Special relativity
  • Standard Model
  • Statistical mechanics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Causal Sets
  • Dark energy or Einstein’s Cosmological Constant
  • Einstein-Rosen Bridge
  • Emergence
  • Grand unification theory
  • Loop quantum gravity
  • M-theory
  • String theory
  • Supersymmetry
  • Theory of everything
  • Dynamic theory of gravity
  • Grand unification theory
  • Luminiferous aether
  • Scalar field theory
  • Orgone
  • Biefeld Brown ElectrogravityHistory of the Universe
  • Equations of motion
  • Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker metric
  • General relativity
  • Positive cosmological constant
  • Gravitation
  • Radiation and matter content of the universe.
  • Particle physics in cosmology
  • Scattering processes and decay of unstable particles
  • Timeline of the Big Bang
  • Stars, quasars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies and superclusters
  • The cosmological principle
  • Magnetic monopoles
  • Quantum field theory
  • Brane cosmology
  • Antiparticles
  • X-rays and gamma rays
  • The baryon asymmetry and baryogenesis.
  • CP-symmetry
  • Nucleosynthesis
  • The equivalence principle
  • Neutrino physics.
  • Cosmic microwaves
  • Decoupling and Recombination
  • Thomson scattering
  • The thermal black-body spectrum.
  • Cosmological perturbation theory
  • COBE and WMAP
  • Degree Angular Scale Interferometrics
  • Cosmic Background Imaging
  • The Lambda-CDM model
  • The Sunyaev-Zel’dovich
  • The Sachs-Wolfe effect
  • Formation and evolution of large-scale structure
  • Structure formation
  • Galaxy formation and evolution
  • The Sloan Digital Sky Survey
  • The 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey
  • The Lyman alpha forest
  • Dark matter
  • Big Bang nucleosynthesis
  • Dark energy
  • Quantum field theory
  • The anthropic principle

I ask you, gentle readers:  If you were to discover that you needed a heart transplant, who would you call, your pastor or your surgeon?  If you answered, “my surgeon,” then why in the world would you call your pastor to ask him about physics when he has exactly as much training in that as he does in heart surgery?!

I’m just sayin’.



10 thoughts on “Stephen Hawking vs. Theology

  1. Well Hamby ,
    Since Hawkings offers no empirical evidence, he’s doing religion not science thus the necessary inclusion of theologians, In addition, he’s hoist on his own petard: if every possible universe exists, then self-aware universes would seem to be included, as well as universes with effectively supreme beings, and universes in which something indistinguishable from “magic” actually works. And since the multiverse MUST contain “universes that have a God,” this might turn out to be one of them.

    Isn’t it grand when you can drop the fetters of empirical observation and fantasize?

    Posted by PG | September 30, 2010, 10:40 pm
  2. In summary, I dont mind that Stephen is Hawking his Atheism by making Gravity his God, I just dont trust anyone who cant wipe his own ….

    Posted by PG | September 30, 2010, 10:45 pm
  3. Since Hawkings offers no empirical evidence, he’s doing religion not science thus the necessary inclusion of theologians

    You are so goddamned ignorant it hurts, PG. Read a book or something.

    Posted by hambydammit | September 30, 2010, 11:16 pm
  4. Hamby, The fact that you cant distinguish empirical science from a scientists personal opinions in breathtaking…

    If you read his book prior to blogging your drivel, then you wouldnt come accross as a fool!

    Posted by PG | September 30, 2010, 11:52 pm
  5. When someone has as much education as this man, and a mind as brilliant, it becomes difficult to separate his “opinions” from “facts”. At least for those of us who actually think about things critically, instead of through a magical fairy filter.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 1, 2010, 9:24 am
  6. I find it amusing the lengths that believers will go to further their cause. Without a clue as to anything even remotely close understanding the scientific method, how empirical evidence, facts and observations play in the development of a scientific theory, or even how the scientific community defines the word “theory”, believers stumble through life as their memetic mind virus continues to eat away at their ability to ascertain reality from delusion.

    If you people only knew how utterly ridiculous your apologetics are in contrast with reality, you’d understand what an insult your beliefs are to the collective of human knowledge. All of you are living in a delusional fairy tale, complete with magic, invisible beings and talking animals, culminating with a happily-ever-after story made possible by human sacrifice or a not-so-happily-ever-after story that includes dragons.

    Seek professional help because you are wasting the only life you have by believing that ancient myths and legends are real and that your life is being guided by a cantankerous, megaloomaniac.

    Posted by Al Stefanelli | October 1, 2010, 11:51 am
  7. Alex, that’s an interesting observation. In a nutshell, anything that someone so well educated is thinking could well be called a “preliminary hypothesis.” He’s not just pulling an idea out of thin air. His vast knowledge is being processed and extrapolated, and the ideas he comes up with are firmly grounded in scientific fact.

    That doesn’t mean they’re true, of course. If I recall, he recanted on a significant prediction of black hole theory a few years ago. So yeah, he can be wrong, just like any scientist. But the point remains that if he and I were to sit down and come up with a hundred cosmological “ideas” apiece, approximately a hundred of mine would be dead wrong, and all of his would at least qualify as feasible.

    Naturally, the same goes for any theologian who did the same thing. If they had the same level of cosmological understanding as me, their ideas would be just as shitty as mine. Which is the whole point.

    PG, DUDE!! Did you get that? The point isn’t that Hawking is certainly right. It’s that Hawking’s odds of being right are staggeringly higher than someone who’s never studied any of these subjects. Which would be… theologians.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 1, 2010, 5:31 pm
  8. And that is why you’re a write and I’m a commenter. Thank you for putting it so much more eloquently than I could have.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 1, 2010, 8:03 pm
  9. Hamby says:
    PG, DUDE!! Did you get that? The point isn’t that Hawking is certainly right. It’s that Hawking’s odds of being right are staggeringly higher than someone who’s never studied any of these subjects. Which would be… theologians.”

    PG says:
    What I find interesting is that no comparison was made from Hawkings peers who reject his conclusions. As I state to you over and over again Hamby, your blind faith in science I”m a scientist, you can trust me” is dangerous…

    So perhaps if you read it from another scientist, you may learn to use a little more discretion in judging objectively…

    Russell Stannard, Emeritus Professor of Physics at Open University and recipient of The Bragg Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics for ‘distinguished contributions to the teaching of physics’ (1999), gives us a succinct and piercing assessment of Hawking’s views.

    That philosophy of Hawking’s is precisely the one that I’m trying to counter. His views, as have been reported, are a perfect example of what is called scientism: that science is the only route to knowledge and that, ultimately, we’ll have a complete understanding of everything. That is nonsense, and I think it’s dangerous nonsense, because it makes scientists sound exceedingly arrogant. It’s all very well saying the universe came about as a result of spontaneous creation due to M-theory. But that raises the question: where did M-theory come from? Why are there intelligible physical laws?
    And it isn’t even the only game in town…
    It hasn’t even formulated yet! Ask these people: “Please write down the equation.” I can write down Schrödinger’s equation of quantum mechanics, I can write down Newton’s law of gravitation. “You write down the equation which is M-theory.” They can’t. Because they haven’t got one.

    Hmmmm Hamby, maybe that is why these theologians are not simply being sheep and swallowing everything spewing outing out of hawkings like some of the atheists on this board…


    Posted by PG | October 2, 2010, 1:50 am
  10. Atheism without rationality has to be the worst religion ever invented.

    I’m sorry, but I’m not hearing the rationality here. This honestly sounds like infatuation with Hawking’s intellectual prestige–and yes, we know he’s brilliant, but that doesn’t make him infallible.

    Some things to consider: his claim is based on M-theory, which is a unification of several string theories. String theory is controversial for many reasons, one being that it’s questionable whether the theory yields testable predictions.

    This claim in particular– that the universe spontaneously self-generated–is not based on tested theory.

    I repeat, it has not been tested and found to yield accurate predictions. This is a very controversial theory, with nothing close to consensus among scientists, and it has not been tested.

    And we were so outraged about the theologians questioning Stephen Hawking because…?

    Posted by Ian | October 2, 2010, 3:59 pm

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