Neil deGrasse Tyson responds

In response to the facts Stephen Hawking recently put out there, Neil deGrasse Tyson has said this:

1.2 billion people in the world think there’s no Heaven. But apparently, it’s only news when Stephen Hawking says so.

It’s funny. Shortly before reading this, I was having a discussion with a friend over the very fact that Hawking got so much press for what he said. In truth, his statement represents an idea that is commonly held and not at all radical, and very few other people would raise eyebrows by saying the same thing.

The fact is, Hawking’s statement was considered remarkable because of who he is and the contributions he has made to science, but that is only part of the story. There are plenty of other big-name scientists who have made greater contributions than Hawking, but they wouldn’t have gotten any press with the same statements – even with name recognition. What makes this a big deal, at least in part, is that Christians have long been trying to claim Hawking for their own. His statements have been ambiguous in the past, so dishonest people have been able to exploit his beliefs quite easily. (Hell, people do still do this with Einstein.) But now everything has become clear. There can longer be any doubt that Stephen Hawking is an atheist. I think that irks the Christian liars more than the actual statements he makes.

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Hawking says afterlife is a fairy story

I think he’s being too generous:

I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

I’m glad Hawking has made it abundantly clear that he is an atheist. Now only the most dishonest of Christians can attempt to claim him for their own.

‘The Grand Design’

I just got my copy of Stephen Hawking’s “The Grand Design”. I’ve only looked at it briefly, so a full report is not possible at this time. However, I think it’s worth quoting a section he has on miracles.

It is Laplace who is usually credited with first clearly postulating scientific determinism: Given the state of the universe at one time, a complete set of laws fully determines both the future and the past. This would exclude the possibility or miracles or an active role for God. The scientific determinism that Laplace formulated is the modern scientists’s answer to question two (‘Are there any exceptions to the laws, i.e., miracles?’). It is, in fact, the basis of all modern science, and a principle that is important throughout this book. A scientific law is not a scientific law if it holds only when some supernatural being decides not to intervene. (Page 30)

Emphasis mine.

This is a concise account of why the belief in miracles is so anti-science: science tells us ‘These are laws which are true at all points and all times within the observable Universe’ whereas a believer in miracles inherently says, ‘No, no. These aren’t laws at all. They can be made untrue at any point and any time, and in fact some of them have not been valid in certain places and at certain times.’ Of course, the believer doesn’t actually say that. But his belief in miracles means that.

Stephen Hawking states the obvious

Just like with Einstein, theists love to usurp the words Stephen Hawking to pretend as though he’s a believer. It’s long been obvious that that is not the case. Recent statements now make this more clear.

In “The Grand Design,” co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts on Thursday.

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” Hawking writes.

“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

This ought to be clear.

It’s unfortunate that literary devices are often abused. Recall when Hawking ended “A Brief History of the Universe” by referencing “the mind of God”. We have dozens of other statements from the man, including these most recent ones, which show that he rejects religion and silly superstition. But does this stop all the lying and/or ignorant theists? Of course not. Really, it’s sad that they think by having a prominent scientist on their side of belief that they’ve actually bolstered the case for God, but I’m more offended by the utter willingness to misrepresent a person’s views.

Again, this all should be clear – and it should have been clear almost 20 years ago.

Coyne on Hawking

Hawking, willfully misunderstood by those desperate to harmonize science with faith, recognizes their profound incompatibility.

~Jerry Coyne

Yet another Symphony of Science

This one includes some familiar and some new ‘singers’ (including someone without a penis for the first time in the series): Michael Shermer, Jacob Bronowski, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Jill Tarter, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Feynman, Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking, Carolyn Porco, and PZ Myers.

(Whoops. As a commenter pointed out, Jane Goodall was in the last one. But this one has two women, so, uh, there.)

Hawking

The intelligent beings in these regions should therefore not be surprised if they observe that their locality in the universe satisfies the conditions that are necessary for their existence. It is a bit like a rich person living in a wealthy neighborhood not seeing any poverty.