March 14, 2018

"What a triumph his life has been... His name will live in the annals of science; millions have had their cosmic horizons widened by his best-selling books; and even more..."

"... around the world, have been inspired by a unique example of achievement against all the odds — a manifestation of amazing willpower and determination," said Cambridge cosmologist Martin Rees, quoted in "Stephen Hawking Dies at 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos/A physicist and best-selling author, Dr. Hawking did not allow his physical limitations to hinder his quest to answer 'the big question: Where did the universe come from?'"

Here's something from last year, "Stephen Hawking says we need global government to protect us from killer computers":
“Since civilization began, aggression has been useful inasmuch as it has definite survival advantages... It is hard-wired into our genes by Darwinian evolution. Now, however, technology has advanced at such a pace that this aggression may destroy us all by nuclear or biological war. We need to control this inherited instinct by our logic and reason."...

He suggests that “some form of world government” could solve the problems, as long it doesn’t enslave us first. “But that might become a tyranny,” he warned. Hawking now spends much of his time warning humanity of its impending doom. He recently said the human species could be brutally finished off by “rogue” robots that are too strong for us to defeat, as long as greedy humanity manages to avoid eating itself to extinction before then.

The legendary egghead is one of the most prominent critics of the unrestrained development of artificial intelligence....
The legendary egghead... you have to go back in time, before the obituaries, to encounter cheeky language like that. Or, I don't know, you're getting it here, right now.

Goodbye to the legendary egghead!

100 comments:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Too bad we didn't have the technology fifty years ago, when he was first diagnosed with terminal illness, to kill him and freeze his brain, with the faint chance of it being revived at some point in the future.

Mike said...

He was living proof that experts in science can be so very wrong about policy and politics. How exactly was a "one-world government" supposed to arise, and how would their hegemony be secured? (Asking for a friend.)

rhhardin said...

It's another male obit.

mockturtle said...

He was proof that one can be highly intelligent and still be a fool.

Michael K said...

I have read somewhere that he was, personally, a nasty piece of work.

So was Newton, of course,

Hawking married his nurses but then divorced them and married another nurse.

Char Char Binks said...

Fabled boffin

rhhardin said...

What will the killer robots do once all the people are gone.

All that there will be is a planet with complex physics, unless they branch out to populate more planets, and also put a more current image in a new Voyager spacecraft.

jwl said...

Called boffins in England, not egghead.

Nonapod said...

He was kind of a celebrity physicist, like Brian Greene and Carl Sagan. In terms of actual contributions in the world of physics, people like Juan Martín Maldacena, Steven Weinberg, Edward Witten, Lisa Randall, and Nima Arkani-Hamed are more cited and therefore may be (arguably) more influential in terms of research. But no doubt he was extremely important and inspirational.

Susan said...

One world government, "as long as it doesn't enslave us first".
That's always the rub though isn't it?
But as long as it's for our own good... Who could possibly object?

rehajm said...

A Brief History of Time was a game changer for me.

I sort of liked that he was a publicity hound, a bit cheeky and enjoyed being a guest actor on nerdy sitcoms.

Like so many others he looked silly when he veered from his lane late in life. (veered from his lane-heh.)

He believed black holes aren't that black so suck it Anish Kapoor!

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I wonder if a guy disabled like that can get a doctor's prescription for a nurse to whack him off, on a regular basis, seeing as how he's really not up to the task, himself.

Rob said...

Ten million people bought copies of A Brief History of Time, and dozens read it through to the end.

Daniel Jackson said...

God Does Not Exist - Stephen Hawking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zblTCsThDE

Welp; now he knows.

William said...

Not a lot of love for Hawking here, but he certainly knew how to make the best of a bad situation. When life gives you corrosive acid, it's tough to make refreshing beverage out of it, but, to some extent, he succeeded........ He was said to have visited Orgy Island. I hope the feminists make an issue of this. Time's up. The grave should not be a refuge for misogynists.

Bob Boyd said...

"I wonder if a guy disabled like that can get a doctor's prescription for a nurse to whack him off, on a regular basis, seeing as how he's really not up to the task, himself."

You know you have good insurance when...

Rumpletweezer said...

Not sure I can forgive Hawking for providing Neil Degrasse Tyson with yet another opportunity to bloviate on Twitter.

Nonapod said...

Also if you ever get the idea that you're pretty smart, watch one of Nima Arkani-Hamed's videos. They make me feel like a labrador retriever trying to puzzle out how doors work.

Bob Boyd said...

"He believed black holes aren't that black so suck it Anish Kapoor!"

Kapoor should have said, "My Vantablack is blacker than the inside of a cow."

M Jordan said...

Hawking decided that God couldn’t exist because before the Big Bang time didn’t exist and therefore God would’ve had no place in which to exist. Or some such hogwash.

This guy was a genius?

Fernandistein said...

"Stephen Hawking says we need global government to protect us from killer computers"

Those articles are why the computers killed him.

traditionalguy said...

The movie about him made it clear that he used and abused women as his hobby. It made him look like Dr Strangelove.

But mind worshipers everywhere still talk about him as their idol.

mccullough said...

Gehrig is still the greatest man who had ALS.

Ron said...

"Egghead passes expiration date"

Ron said...

We could refer to universities as a crate (or carton for small schools!) of eggheads

EDH said...

I thought Hawking was a poor, uneven writer and explainer.

As I remember the one book I had went from exceedingly dumbed-down and slow to exceedingly abstruse with inadequate explanation of dense concepts introduced at, well, light speed.

There was no way anyone who needed the earlier level of explanation could unpack the concepts spewed-out blithely in subsequent chapters. Not sure what he or his editors were thinking.

I'll have to pick it up again to see if my recollection is correct.

The Godfather said...

Smart guy, Hawking. In his book The Grand Design (with Leonard Mlodinow) he purported to explain the existence of the universe without a need for God (or gods). His theory required the existence of a LOT of universes, 10 to the 500th power* of them, each with different physical laws, so that one of them can by chance have the physical laws that make the universe that we live in possible. Further, he opined that these universes could create themselves out of nothing, because the negative energy of the universe balances the positive energy, so that net-net-net the universe is nothing. With such an explanation available, why would anyone bother with Let there be light?

* That's a 1 followed by 500 zeros. I was thinking of writing that out here, but I fear that Althouse would think that a violation of the comment rules.

Ann Althouse said...

"He was proof that one can be highly intelligent and still be a fool."

You haven't walked in his shoes. Strike that cliche. You haven't existed for decades as a brilliant brain enclosed in a thoroughly disabled body. How do you think you would assess the predicament of your fellow human beings from within such awful enclosure?

I can only imagine the possibility that you would look with skepticism on freedom and power other people enjoy, the condition you can never reach. In order to maintain a positive attitude, the brain might think, a free mind is enough, and no other freedoms are needed. And then you muse your way to the idea of completely dominating government that control everyone. It resonates with the peace you've made for yourself.

Not saying he thought that, just imagining where intelligent thought processes might go.

Nonapod said...

* That's a 1 followed by 500 zeros. I was thinking of writing that out here, but I fear that Althouse would think that a violation of the comment rules.

Numbers that large are a tricky concept to fully understand. For reference, it's estimated there's somewhere between 10^78 (that's ten to the seventy eighth power) and 10^82 atoms in the observable universe. The game Go has something like 10^120 possible board configurations. So it was physically impossible for Alpha Go to hold anywhere near that (since even if it were possible to write a configuration to an individual atom, there would be enough atoms in the universe to hold all of them)

And 10^500 would is many, many, many, orders of magnitude more than those.

Gahrie said...

You haven't walked in his shoes. Strike that cliche. You haven't existed for decades as a brilliant brain enclosed in a thoroughly disabled body.

I've never been a female law professor, so apparently I can't make any observations or judgements about Althouse.

I've never been a rapist or sexual abuser, so apparently I can't make any observations or judgements about rapists and sexual abusers.

Somehow this mechanism doesn't seem to work when it comes to straight White men.

rhhardin said...

Bodies are enormormously convenient for a mind to have, especially men.

Skippy Tisdale said...

"Where did the universe come from?"

The mind of G-d.

johns said...

I wonder what Hawking's peers think of him. A senior Caltech professor who knew him commented to me, "Murray Gell-Mann is smarter." This in a conversation where all of the non-physicists were fluttering about the wonderful greatness of Hawking.

Clyde said...

Well, at least they didn't call him a boffin.

mccullough said...

His pop philosophy was junk. Like Nietzche.

The musings of invalids

J. Farmer said...

@Skippy Tisdale:

"Where did the universe come from?"

The mind of G-d.


The problem I have always had with that line of reasoning is that it does not seem to get you anywhere. Even if we presume the universe was created by some super-intelligence, I don't see how we human beings have any hopes of understanding the nature of this being or what its intentions or desires are. I don't believe any of the world's religious groups have offered compelling answers to those questions, since they ultimately boil down to trusting that this being did interact with some human beings at some point in time and in doing so communicated important messages to humanity.

Richard Dillman said...

I read his Brief History of Time ,and I was really impressed and amused by his self-deprecating humor and his comic anecdotes about his professional life. He did have a healthy sense of humor, which was probably necessary for his survival.

I agree that he did go a bit flakey in the last few years.

Big Mike said...

I agree that he did go a bit flakey in the last few years.

A little bit, and quite a bit more than that.

Think said...

"Hawking decided that God couldn’t exist because before the Big Bang time didn’t exist and therefore God would’ve had no place in which to exist. Or some such hogwash. This guy was a genius?"

Says the guy who believes in a mythical man in the sky, with zero evidence to support the belief, but disregards all other mythical beings besides his one.

If you such a genius, where did your god come from?

Yancey Ward said...

He had a truly remarkable perseverance. Given similar circumstances, I am quite sure I would have died 40 years earlier than Hawking. While his contributions to his field were likely quite a bit less than those of some of his contemporaries, it is kind of daunting, and sad, to think what he might have accomplished had he not had ALS. To do what he did with such a disability is one of the greatest accomplishments I have seen in my lifetime- perhaps the greatest.

rhhardin said...

Time is there as a conjugate of energy.

Fernandistein said...

A malinformed person said...
Those articles are why the computers killed him.


No, the computers killed Hawking by messing with his prescriptions in revenge for his insensitive but spot-on imitation of a brain-damaged HAL singing "Daisy".

Skippy Tisdale said...

"I can only imagine the possibility that you would look with skepticism on freedom and power other people enjoy, the condition you can never reach. "

He had both freedom and power.

Anonymous said...

Since computers were invented, governments have killed vastly more people than computers, by several orders of magnitude. Who's going to protect us from killer world government?

Skippy Tisdale said...

"I don't see how we human beings have any hopes of understanding the nature of this being or what its intentions or desires are."

It's simple, really. The universe started out as a single, dense point that exploded in what is called The Big Bang Theory. Since then, it has been constantly expanding over billions of years. Scientist say that at some point it will begin contracting back to a single, dense point over billions of years more. It would stand to reason that upon doing so, it will once again explode with another big bang and after billions of years begin contracting again. The universe goes in and out, in and out, in and out, ad infinitum. The universe is G-d breathing.

Fernandistein said...

johns said...
This in a conversation where all of the non-physicists were fluttering about the wonderful greatness of Hawking.


I think science-writers tend to represent their field to the layman, e.g., Hawking is the main astrophysics guy.

"Americans want science done, but can’t name any scientists or places where science is done"

"Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans can name a single living scientist, while 81% are stymied.

Moreover, some of the living scientists named are either science popularizers and not scientists (e.g., Bill Nye), used to be scientists but are now science popularizers (Neil deGrasse Tyson, who hasn’t published a paper in ten years), or have long ago stopped doing science (J. D. Watson).
Look and weep [of the 19% who *could* name a living scientist]:
- Hawking
- Tyson
- Nye
"
++

"Many adults cannot name a scientist"
USA Today’s Snapshot for 29 June was a survey in which 1000 adults were asked to name a famous scientist. Here are the results:
47% named Albert Einstein
23% could not name anyone
6% named Marie Curie
4% named Louis Pasteur
4% named Thomas Edison

All dead.

Narayanan Subramanian said...

How to explain why he married his nurses, wink, wink.

Fernandistein said...

Skippy Tisdale said...
Since then, it has been constantly expanding over billions of years. Scientist say that at some point it will begin contracting back to a single, dense point over billions of years more.


There is a strong consensus among cosmologists that the universe is "flat" (see Shape of the universe) and will continue to expand forever.[2][3]

Also.

The universe is G-d breathing.

You're the expert!

Bad Lieutenant said...

Remind me what he accomplished again? Does he have any patents? Did he land any tickets on any asteroids? What has he DONE? that is measurable?

J. Farmer said...

@Skippy Tisdale:

The universe is G-d breathing.

Fine. In that case, humans are no more significant to god than a subatomic particle in an oxygen atom in a molecule in air that a human breathes at any given moment. Yet, for the religious, god is much more than that. So please tell us how you know anything about the mind of this god (i.e. theism).

WA-mom said...

He really was a wizard. He managed to die on Pi Day.

J. Farmer said...

@Bad Lieutenant:

Remind me what he accomplished again? Does he have any patents? Did he land any tickets on any asteroids? What has he DONE? that is measurable?

Well, his accomplishments were primarily in the field of physics, which remains translucent (if not opaque) to the majority of the population. However, this was published over two years ago:

10 MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF STEPHEN HAWKING

It is a mistake to conflate Hawking's professional work with his personal political or ethical views. There is no logical reason why one must follow from the other. For example, Ben Carson is an accomplished an innovative pediatric neurosurgeon. I consider that a totally true statement and would defend it. However, (a) his stature is extremely overrated when you get pass the headlines and dig deep into the actual cases; and (b) his neurosurgical accomplishments are completely irrelevant to the validity of his opinions on any other matters.

Pookie Number 2 said...

I don't believe any of the world's religious groups have offered compelling answers to those questions, since they ultimately boil down to trusting that this being did interact with some human beings at some point in time and in doing so communicated important messages to humanity.

Well, it all comes down to whether people consider the answers compelling. Some do, some don’t, and as long as neither group is killing the other, that’s okay by me.

traditionalguy said...

The eternal soul of Mr Hawking is probably mansplaining time to God right now. And God is looking at his watch and mumbling under His creative breath, " My thoughts are not your thoughts."

Howard said...

If god jehova allah shiva gaia whatever exists, do you think Xe actually goes ballistic if some ignorant peon spells out the bullshit name we use that is actually an abbreviation for the word good? G_d D_mn R_ght

tim in vermont said...

Yeah, "compelling" is a loophole that one could drive a truck though no problem.

Has Hawking worked out the math on the killer robots problem, is my question. If he has, why hasn't he published? Sci Fi posited a mathematical treatment of the past and future as "psychohistory" in one book I can't remember which, has Hawking perfected this field?

Otherwise, he is just indulging in the kinds of idle speculation that most physicists seem to hate.

tim in vermont said...

Hawking has been an experimental physicist, too. In 2007, he organized a party with lots of champagne but only sent invitations when the party was over. In this way, he experimentally tested the existence of time machines.

LOL

https://motls.blogspot.com/2018/03/stephen-hawking-1942-2018.html

Think said...

"God Does Not Exist - Stephen Hawking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zblTCsThDE

Welp; now he knows."

He doesn't know anything now, actually.

tim in vermont said...

The eternal soul of Mr Hawking is probably mansplaining time to God right now.

Doubt it, but to go with your conceit, I wouldn't be surprised if he is asking a few questions, you know, after the shock wore off and all.

tim in vermont said...

He doesn't know anything now, actually

Most likely, but there is still the perhaps infinitely improbable, but not full-stop impossible chance that he does know something right now. Proving a negative is a tall order, Mr "Think."

Gahrie said...

Sci Fi posited a mathematical treatment of the past and future as "psychohistory"

I believe you are referring to Asimov's Foundation books.

Nonapod said...

Sci Fi posited a mathematical treatment of the past and future as "psychohistory" in one book I can't remember which, has Hawking perfected this field?

That was Asimov in the Foundation series. To be fair, in that story the predictions of the psychohistorian guy (Hari Seldon) turned out to fail due to what might now be referred to as a Black Swan Event, specifically a character called the Mule.

tim in vermont said...

Before somebody tells me that they can prove there is no God, I have a simpler proof for them, think of it as a warm up. Why don't they prove that they didn't come into existence a millisecond ago complete with a mental state and the limited set of memories that they are aware of at the instant of their proof, oh, and they they are not going to pop out of existence by the expiry of the next millisecond?

I am talking about a rigorous proof that would stand up to skeptical scrutiny, not a rhetorical question about wasted time.

Howard said...

Why is your faith so pathetically weak Tim that you care about what unbelievers think? It's that gnawing feeling that you still believe in silly fairy tales and it's too late to admit you think like a child.

J. Farmer said...

@tim in Vermont:

Before somebody tells me that they can prove there is no God, I have a simpler proof for them, think of it as a warm up.

Just out of curiosity, who has ever told you that they can "prove there is no God?"

That is really an impossibility. You cannot prove something does exist. The burden of proof is on the person making the claim (i.e. that there is a god).

Why don't they prove that they didn't come into existence a millisecond ago complete with a mental state and the limited set of memories that they are aware of at the instant of their proof, oh, and they they are not going to pop out of existence by the expiry of the next millisecond?

Such an example is an argument against god's existence. In any other words, suppose I advocated this truth as opposed to other religious truth. How could you prove I was wrong?

I am talking about a rigorous proof that would stand up to skeptical scrutiny, not a rhetorical question about wasted time.

Does such a proof for god exist?

James K said...

I found "A Brief History of Time" pretty unreadable, or at least the second half of it was. And I have a pretty strong math background. Maybe that was the problem--trying to explain mathematical stuff without using math.

I don't pay attention to these brilliant academics when they venture outside the narrow areas of expertise. And that includes Hawking's pseudo-scientific pronouncements about God.

Snark said...

"a manifestation of amazing willpower and determination"

Will and determination
and grace, too.

n.n said...

Before somebody tells me that they can prove there is no God, I have a simpler proof for them, think of it as a warm up.

Maybe. One of the desirable qualities of some theists (e.g. Christians), that is lacking in many and most atheists, agnostics, and other "secular" faiths, is the explicit acknowledgment of a separation of logical domains, and the limited scope of the scientific domain (i.e. near-space and time, forward and backward). The faith or trust domain aptly describes the prerequisite for leaving the scientific domain.

Fernandistein said...

tim in vermont said...
Before somebody tells me that they can prove there is no God,


You're the one making bizarre claims.

Hawking's disbelief in god is nothing to get worked up about:

Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality). [Probably lower now, that was ~20 years ago]

Ignorance is Bliss said...

J. Farmer said...

The burden of proof is on the person making the claim (i.e. that there is a god).

Sometimes the person making the claim is the one claiming there is no god. Seems to me the burden of proof is on the person wishing to persuade others to their point of view.

I'm an atheist, but I feel no urge to proselytize. I tend to find the atheists who feel the need to convert others to their religion far more annoying than the theists of various stripes who do the same

tim in vermont said...

You're the one making bizarre claims

So your proof is from authority. Noted.


Does such a proof for god exist?

I don't actually believe in God, but I am not the one pretending to deal in certainties on this thread. I believe that "Think" is the one who introduced the "certainty" that I noted. When you say you are certain of something, that puts the burden on you, whether you like it or not.

tim in vermont said...

If Hawking really did claim that time did not exist prior to the Big Bang, I would love to see that "proof" too. It seems pretty unknowable.

James K said...

If Hawking really did claim that time did not exist prior to the Big Bang, I would love to see that "proof" too. It seems pretty unknowable.

My recollection is that it was somewhat circular. Time is defined in a certain way, and the math of the big bang does the rest. I've also heard (not sure if it was Hawking or someone else) time defined or described as the direction of increasing entropy, or something to that effect. Presumably that only makes sense post-big bang.

J. Farmer said...

@Ignorance is Bliss:

Sometimes the person making the claim is the one claiming there is no god. Seems to me the burden of proof is on the person wishing to persuade others to their point of view.

I'm an atheist, but I feel no urge to proselytize. I tend to find the atheists who feel the need to convert others to their religion far more annoying than the theists of various stripes who do the same


You cannot prove a negative. As far as the "need to convert others," I don't know, but I don't fault anyone (religious or irreligious) from advocating their worldview to the top of their longs if they so wish.

@tim in Vermont:

I don't actually believe in God, but I am not the one pretending to deal in certainties on this thread. I believe that "Think" is the one who introduced the "certainty" that I noted. When you say you are certain of something, that puts the burden on you, whether you like it or not.

"Certainties" is a semantic game played against atheists all the time. Saying "I really don't believe in something" is not the same thing as saying "This thing certainly doesn't exist." I presume, for example, that you do not believe mechanical failures are mainly due to the activities of malevolent gremlins. Are you certain gremlins are not the cause of problems in the world? Of course on some abstract level you cannot say for certainty that there are no gremlins, but do you not live your life as if gremlins did not exist?

tim in vermont said...

Like I said, you would resort to rhetorical questions, "No true Scotsman's" more popular cousin.

tim in vermont said...

Time is defined in a certain way, and the math of the big bang does the rest. I've also heard (not sure if it was Hawking or someone else) time defined or described as the direction of increasing entropy, or something to that effect. Presumably that only makes sense post-big bang.

Well, who knows whether some quantum substrate didn't exist prior to the Big Bang that was pretty well ordered, with, as now, particles blinking in and out of existence, and that the Big Bang didn't represent some kind of decay of that order?

It's all semantics loaded with assumptions. It's "turtles all the way down."

tim in vermont said...

It is impossible to prove that an event that happened, therefore an event with a non-zero probability like the Big Bang, hasn't happened an infinite amount of times. I don't believe that without knowing what "caused" the Big Bang, or, failing that, as we must, a knowledge of the conditions which gave rise to the Big Bang, which are outside of our Universe, or likely impossible to untangle from the reality of our universe, we can know what time looked like on the other side of it. For all we know, it happened in somebody's laboratory.

James K said...

Doesn't the "closed universe" hypothesis imply that the universe will collapse back into itself, from which another big bang could occur? I don't know that that is at odds with Hawking's notion of time.

Paddy O said...

"If Hawking really did claim that time did not exist prior to the Big Bang, I would love to see that "proof" too. It seems pretty unknowable."

My recollection is that it was somewhat circular. Time is defined in a certain way, and the math of the big bang does the rest.


I'm not a scientist of any sort, but from I've understood, time isn't inherently necessary mathematically, and certainly not in a linear experience of it. Our experience of time is itself a construction of the way the universe, and our own biological participation in it, is in its current expression. It's like saying stars didn't exist prior to the big bang. The bang caused what was not necessary to become expressed in certain patterns that are relatively coherent and consistent. Like time.

Leland said...

Fitting he would die on Pi day 3.14; except in the UK they usually put the day first, so it would be 14.3

Richard Dillman said...

I can't comment on his scientific contributions, but his main achievement was as a popularizer. He serves the same popular function as Carl Sagan did . With the populace generally scientifically illiterate, scientists who explain complex research to the public in understandable ways are quite important.

mccullough said...

You can prove a negative. Hawking doesn’t exist.

Just did it

Darrell said...

People always said that I have the strength of four men. Stephen Hawking was one of those men.

J. Farmer said...

@mccullough:

You can prove a negative. Hawking doesn’t exist.

Just did it


I am afraid not. Most of the religious, after all, would say that Hawking does exist, only in an immaterial form, inaccessible by physical means. How can you prove that is wrong?

mockturtle said...

I can't comment on his scientific contributions, but his main achievement was as a popularizer. He serves the same popular function as Carl Sagan did . With the populace generally scientifically illiterate, scientists who explain complex research to the public in understandable ways are quite important.

Maybe like Jacques Cousteau. My marine biologist friends in Seattle scoffed heartily at him.

Think said...

"I don't actually believe in God, but I am not the one pretending to deal in certainties on this thread. I believe that "Think" is the one who introduced the "certainty" that I noted."

I did not such thing. I only pointed out that there is no reason to believe in one particular god (or any) without evidence. That does not mean that I take the position that there is no God, only that I am waiting for evidence of his/her/its/their existence. I have spent hundreds of hours listening to theists, and not once has a theist provided any reasonable evidence. When cornered, the either use circular logic (god exists, because the bible says so, and the bible is the word of god), faith (which, of course, is a terrible way to discern truth and results in thousands of variations of "truth"), or say there is no other explanation for our existence/creation (which is an argument for ignorance fallacy, since not knowing how we came into existence would not prove that your manly god exists).

So again, I have not taken a position other than I would like to see the evidence of god's existence.

The Godfather said...

The village atheist stuff is fun and all that, but there's nothing new, even in Hawking's version. No, I can't "prove" that God exists, any more than you can prove that 10-to-the-500th-power universes exist. By definition, God and the other universes are outside THIS universe and are unknowable by us -- except, in the case of God, to the extent that God chooses to reveal him/her/itself to us. If you want to believe that the entire universe in which we exist is in fact nothing, and has the characteristics that it has for no reason, other than that by random chance it's the one universe out of 10-to-the-500th-power universes in which we as sentient creatures could exist to experience it, that's fine with me.

But don't tell me that I'm the one who's ideas are based on blind faith and yours are "scientific". In either case, like the turtles, it's faith all the way down.

Think said...

Nice Godfather - went straight for the ad hominem! Then yanked out the arguing from ignorance fallacy just for fun. Why don't you believe in Zeus or Thor as explanations for our impossible universe?

tim in vermont said...

Welp; now he knows."

He doesn’t know anything now, actually.
. - Think

Sounds pretty certain to me. But to be honest, I just get a kick out of yanking loudmouthed atheists’ chains. It seems like so many of them have a need to not have any important pieces of their world filed under “unknown” and even “unknowable.” We can’t know is a valid answer we see a lot in scientific inquiry, as a matter of fact. “We don’t know” is a pretty large domain as well. It’s probably unknowable which is the larger of the two.

The more examples of “human reason” I see, the more certain I am that reason is an extremely limited tool.

Think said...

Tim: Your right - I forgot about my second comment, which was actually meant to be more of a joke. But, I am fairly certain he is not thinking anymore. I mean, it can be measured on a brainscan if we want to be sick about it. I am open to the idea that there is some undetectable part of Hawkings that moved on and is still thinking, but I think it very unlikely given the lack of any evidence of it. Despite my comment, I really do take the "unknown" position. But that doesn't mean I respect anyone who claims to know that the explanation for the unknown is their particular god, since that isn't reasonable. Unknown is not the same thing as "fill in the blank" with your pet theory as if it was the truth.

As for not proselytizing, I only do it in appropriate places and/or when I think it will be fun. I am not vegan about it.

Think said...

Also, I was mormon for 40 years of my life. This atheism stuff is somewhat new to me and happens to be what I am really interested in right now. I will grow out of it.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

"Legendary egghead" takes me back to Adlai Stevenson, two-time Dem presidential candidate in the 50s. He was bald, so he looked quite a bit like an egg. As politicians went in those days, he passed for a reader, a bookish guy with policy ideas. JFK came to resent this whole idea, saying something like "I've written more books than Adlai has read." The Unitarian Church, of which he was a sometime member, refer to him at his death as "the original egghead." https://www.uuworld.org/articles/adlai-stevenson-original-egghead
I thought Stevenson's wife, after their divorce, wrote a book called something like Life With the Egghead, but I can't find it.

The Godfather said...

@Think, if you think what I wrote was “ad hominem”, you need to read up on rhetoric.

Brent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Etienne said...

Bottom line, Hawking cheated on his wife.

Paul Snively said...

tim in Vermont: Well, who knows whether some quantum substrate didn't exist prior to the Big Bang that was pretty well ordered, with, as now, particles blinking in and out of existence, and that the Big Bang didn't represent some kind of decay of that order?

That's a popular theory (in some degenerate sense), and the thesis of Lawrence Krauss' and Richard Dawkins' A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing.

The difficulties are roughly as follows:

1. According to General Relativity, there's no meaningful way to say "before the Big Bang," as there was no time in which to situate "before." The spacetime continuum came into existence at the Big Bang.
2. There is no interpretation of Quantum Mechanics that overcomes this issue.
3. There isn't even an interpretation of Quantum Mechanics that doesn't conflict with General Relativity. "Relativistic Quantum Mechanics" refers to the integration of Quantum Mechanics with Special Relativity, an integration achieved by Paul Dirac in the 1930s.
4. The effort to integrate Quantum Mechanics with General Relativity is generally called the "quantum gravity" problem, and is the direct motivation behind a raft of not-even-wrong theories: String Theory, M-theory, Brane Theory...

In other words, at the present state of the art, "In the beginning, God create the heavens and the earth" and "The Big Bang arose from fluctuations in the quantum vacuum" are on exactly equal footing: speculative statements of faith.

M Jordan said...

Hey, Think, if you’re still observing this thread, I have an answer to your question,”If you such a genius, where did your god come from?”

The Bible describes two “in the beginnings”, one in Genesis, one opening John’s gospel. The Genesis “in the beginning “ describes the beginning of the universe: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This icludes the beginning of time, as a hawking admits.

The John “ in the beginning” goes deeper into the recesses of whatever preceded time. It states “In the beginning was the logos.” Logos is usually translated “word” but it could also be rendered “logic,” “law,” or even “ratio.” John goes in to tell us that this before-the-beginning in-the-beginning logos was with God and was in fact God. And then things got interesting: the logos “became flesh.”

So to distill this into a succinct answer to your question, God ever exists but he also — in the physical universe — “became” existent. So he both always was and also became. And to complicate matters further, he “will be.”

God is both eternal and finite, divine and human. I enjoy musing on this. Sorry you think it’s a cartoon.

Black Bellamy said...

Too bad for him he doesn't have a light bulb to ride into eternity. What will he be remembered for in the future? That he was a smart guy and something about black holes, but no one will be exactly sure, did he invent one, get sucked into it, what.

Rusty said...

tim in vermont said...
Time is defined in a certain way, and the math of the big bang does the rest. I've also heard (not sure if it was Hawking or someone else) time defined or described as the direction of increasing entropy, or something to that effect. Presumably that only makes sense post-big bang.

Well, who knows whether some quantum substrate didn't exist prior to the Big Bang that was pretty well ordered, with, as now, particles blinking in and out of existence, and that the Big Bang didn't represent some kind of decay of that order?

Meh. Something to think about when you're gassin up the car.

ballyfager said...

He was severely handicapped. He must have had handlers. Yet those handlers stood by and let him say, publically and categorically, that there is no God. He had no idea whether or not God exists.

He might know now.