Jonathan Sacks on science, God and Stephen Hawking


By mattpryor
September 2, 2010
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A bit of a diversion from the the usual bickering about Middle East politics (should give cleveson and telegramsam's keyboards a bit of a rest)...

There's a great piece here by the Chief Rabbi in response to Hawking's claim that God did not create the universe. It's on the Times so if you want to read it it'll cost you a quid... I should ask for commission.

Rabbi Sacks is one of Britain's most enlightened and brilliant thinkers in my view, and this piece is very well written.

I have to say that some of the comments I see on the Times with regards to this issue are truly depressing. Faith in God is a very personal thing and I hate the way Atheists and other assorted non-believers hurl insults at organised religion and people with faith. Bigotry and intolerance of the worst kind mixed with a smug sense of intellectual superiority.

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raycook

Thu, 09/02/2010 - 16:45

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Matt - it's Stephen HawkinG

I think you are confusing him with that great actor Jack Hawkins LOL


DLeigh-Ellis

Thu, 09/02/2010 - 17:39

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Easy mistake to make... A friend of mine (who shall remain unnamed,) thought the word 'Obese' was actually the phrase 'a beast,' until they were about 20. It has a certain logic to it I guess.

But yeah Matt... I agree, faith is absolutely a personal thing... I can understand why atheists would attack dogmatic, authoritatian aspects of organised religion, but such institutions are completely removed from the basic concept of faith.

Plus, we already knew that the big bang (like everythng else) followed the laws of physics. Surely G-d is the manifestation and foundation of the laws themselves.

I think the reason atheists oppose religion so aggressively is because their conception of G-d is mostly the Christian bearded guy sitting on a cloud passing judgement on people and sending them to burn in eternal hellfire. Ie, not such a nice bloke. If the Jewish, Hindu, Pagan or Shamanic conceptions of the divine were the dominant understandings in the public sphere I imagine atheism would find it harder to thrive off general antipathy towards religion, which at the moment seems to be it's biggest draw. The scandals that seem to be constantly rolling out from the Catholic church also further the atheists cause, as does the conflict in the middle east, putting forward the mantra that 'religion is the cause of all evil.' What they do not realise however, is that faith is also a fantastic tool for enduring and opposing evil.

As I have said here before, evangelical atheists will only consider the negatives of religion, not the personal hope, social and economic development, inspiration (artistic or otherwise,) or any other positive factors. Of course this does not apply to all atheists, but the individuals who seem to be so desperate for everyone else to agree with them are as fundamentalist as the religious authorities whom they claim to oppose.

(However, I still personally think Stephen Hawking is a legend.)


mattpryor

Thu, 09/02/2010 - 19:59

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Dammit - thank you Ray, I've corrected the spelling.

DLE - I agree that Stephen Hawking is a brilliant and inspiration person. I just think he's very wrong in this regard. Not saying he's wrong about the existence of God - not something anyone can prove or disprove scientifically and he's certainly entitled to his beliefs - but I don't think he should be making statements like this in his capacity as a physicist. Same goes for Richard Dawkins (Dawking? :P) although I think he's a bit of a prat.


DLeigh-Ellis

Thu, 09/02/2010 - 21:22

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Dawkins is certainly far more malicious...

I think the media has put a bit of a spin on Hawking's statement. He said that the laws of physics meant that it was not necessary for a creator, ie physical reality does not rely upon an external input in order for the universe to be created. Certainly, it suggests improvement's in the Big Bang theory but it's still pretty far from saying 'there is no G-d.'

Like you say, it's not something he can prove scientifically.

Besides, multiverse theory which Hawking supports is a whole other bag of tricks.... If it is true then it means science still has a heck of a long way to go before it can claim to make conclusive statements on the nature of reality.


mattpryor

Fri, 09/03/2010 - 10:55

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DLE - I read that the Times is serialising extracts from Stephen Hawking's new book, so that may be why they're hyping it up, and you're right that they seem to have "spun" what he actually said. Interesting the way atheists have seized on it though.

PS I'll send you a PM with my ideas about multiverse theory... see what you think (bit deep to post here!)

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