No, Stephen Hawking is not with God 46

Yesterday, lured by a picture of Stephen Hawking, I read an article by Randy DeSoto, recording Franklin Graham’s regret that Hawking was an atheist.

I went to the comments. Some share the regret; some insist that the late great physicist is now – despite his atheism – with God. A few are by irritated atheists.

I succumbed to the temptation of writing something in the empty slot that had my thumbnail beside it. I asked: “What did God make matter out of?”

A design engineer, Matthew Winter, answered that as matter can neither be destroyed nor created, God must have given up some of his own energy to “create” matter. Not an entirely nonsensical notion. Matter is a form of energy.

He apparently understood God to be eternal and primal energy plus will. I wondered if he saw this theology of his as deism. I asked him if that was the same god who begat himself upon a virgin and answered personal prayers. I have not yet had a reply.

Some Christians, some believers in the gods of many religions, try hard to reconcile their faith with science. They often misquote Einstein to back up their arguments – as is done in the article on Hawking.

They fail, of course. Faith is not Reason. Science does not support the idea of divine creators, or of anything outside nature.

I continue to be amazed that adult, sane, educated, intelligent people can believe in the supernatural.


Jillian Becker    March 16, 2018

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Religion general, Science by Jillian Becker on Friday, March 16, 2018

Tagged with , , ,

This post has 46 comments.

  • ncgh

    I think it sometimes boggles religious people when I suggest that religion is a product of human evolution (and and religion’s function does not require that it be ‘true’–indeed religion is full of falsehood, but that doesn’t matter), but I think there is a good case for anything that exists so cross culturally to have biological roots.

    Perhaps the most significant aspect of humans is not intelligence but the ability to build very complex social structures and behaviors in time frames orders of magnitude faster than could be done by evolutionary changes. Human social structures span the range from small groups to millions of members, something no other species has done. Social structures are a mechanism for humans to form a kind of ‘group mind’ and coordinate more effectively.

    On a small level there is the (often maligned) peer pressrue, where people unconsciously tend to synchronize their thoughts to the local social group. An intriguing example of this is the concept of when some action or statement is perceived as ‘gauche’–it goes against the sensibility of the group, but usually does not violate any verbally strutured rule. This whole synchronization is mostly unconscious, but it promotes group harmony.

    Religion (and government, which has overlapped in many cultures) extend this to a larger scale. It was a mechanism to synchronize thoughts and goals in a way that is more complete than what we consider government today. When faced with hardships of survival in the past, this coordination (if the structure of the particular dominant religion was not too toxic) provided for effective mutual support and resources. This coordination (whether moderated by religion or not) explains why certain groups thrived in adverse conditions and others failed.

    Which comes to a final point. Religions are a kind of social repository for human experience, where lessons that cultures learned over centuries became commodified into religous rules. Rules about murder, theft, rape, responsibility (certainly NOT all religions have incorporated all these lessons) are good, NOT because they came from ‘god’ but because they came from centuries of human experience.

    • Zerothruster


      The paleoanthropologists say our species evolved in tribal groups of typically around 150 (non) individuals. These tribes relied on co-evolved cultures, which members born into the tribe were pre-disposed to learn and practice — “hook, line and sinker” is an apt cliche. Conformity was rewarded, deviation, not so much. A lot of the innovation that happened in the process of a cultrue’s evolution may have been very gradual in barely noticable increments.

      Some books that go into this topic are:
      Before the Dawn (Nicholas Wade, 2006)
      The 10,000 Year Explosion (Cochran and Harpending, 2009)
      A Troublesome Inheritance (Nicholas Wade, 2015)
      The Secret of Our Success (Joe Henrich, 2015)

    • liz

      Right. Organized religion co-opted those centuries of human experience to their advantage. And I think leftists have learned to use the mechanism you mention (where people “synchronize their thoughts to the local social group”) to manipulate people into political correctness.

  • Zerothruster
    • Zerothruster

      Zerothruster does not endorse any particular interpretation of these images. ☺

    • I like the top one. It arouses real sympathy while still being genuinely funny.

      • Zerothruster

        I agree.

  • Bruce

    Sorry to see Hawking go due to his contributions to physics and cosmology. I was reading an article about his death in Breitbart, and the comments were sickening. Christians crowing on there about how he’s “burning in hell” or “I’ll bet he’s not an theist any more, derp derp!” It’s really good proof of how religion poisons everything; the worst of the left are pretty much zealots that adopted Marxism/Socialism as their religion, and the comments that these people who are supposedly so loving of their enemies left were every bit as vile as something I’d expect to see on Daily Kos or the like on Billy Graham or some Christian apologist. Question is how many of them were sincere, and how many of them were leftwingers playing the role of the stereotypical Christian hypocrite just to try and smear conservatives.

    • Zerothruster

      Right. Good example of the maxim “Religion poisons everything.” At the very least, it corrupts intellects and temperaments. (So do some other things.)

    • liz

      Good question. I suppose some of them could be posers there to smear conservatives, but from my experience in “discussions” online with Christians, alot of them can get really vindictive. Definitely poisoned.

      • Cogito

        Well, just to be advocatus diaboli, I could point out that most American conservatives are Christian, and that most atheists are deceitful progressives….

        • liz

          Right. Leftist atheists have done enough poisoning of the dialogue all by themselves to pretty much justify the Christian overreaction to any athiest that pokes their head up.

      • Jeanne

        Since I learned about “bots” …from Rush…I doubt most of the rapid-fire comments on every site anymore. I think he cited a cost of $20 for 100,000 personalities available at a convenience store or some place similar in his neighborhood, each created by one guy.

        • Don L

          In India.

        • We have had bots commenting on our Facebook page, but not on this website. Or not yet. They are usually quite easy to spot. We will keep an eye open for them and eliminate them if the appear.

          • liz

            Is your Facebook page still being “shadow banned”?

            • Yes. Our “likes” are peeled away, and no new “likes” recorded, though we get plenty of them. Also some whole posts are simply removed.

            • liz

              Things really are beyond the “time to panic” stage. I heard something about a lawsuit being brought, but don’t have details.
              Talk about “PC tyranny”! It’s appalling.

  • Cogito

    I for one will not miss Hawking. His advocacy of Israeli boycotts, hatred of Trump, and endorsement of climate change idiocy were more than I could stomach.

    • Don L

      He was British and indoctrinated, in the finest UK tradition, into socialism and he was absolutely and totally a moron when it came to economics; Einstein, the theist, was also an econ dunce. Ya knows what ya knows ‘cept fer those thinks they knows more. Obama is a ‘ception … he never know’d nuttin!

      But, Cogito, his failings were minuscule compared to the knowledge he brought forth that revolutionized science and led to all manner of human condition improvements … wouldn’t ya think?

      • What improvements in the human condition did Hawking’s revolutionary theories bring about? If he did that, then I’ll grant you the point.

        Einstein was not a theist. He was an atheist of the Spinoza sort. (“God” is the laws of physics.)

        But you are certainly right, Don L, that he was not an economist – nor, for all his efforts. was he a musician. He asked Heifetz to give him violin lessons, and Heifitz was driven to demanding of him: “Albert, can’t you count?”

        But it was Einstein who taught us that nothing can go faster than the speed of light.

        • Don L

          Somewhere along the line I had it that Einstein was a catholic, notwithstanding his brother and those bagels.

          AS to Hawking, his linking traditional and quantum physics and discoveries of particle behavior has had significant impact on computing, pharma, new materials and various manufacturing and production methods. He significantly advanced human knowledge as to how things work, according to the world of physics, and stimulated new ways of discovery. That can’t be bad.

          Ah, if I implied Hawking discovered speed of light theories, my error. It was indeed Einstein.

    • Jeanne

      Yes…this is true. I will grant him, however, the right to be wrong, especially in his old age and with his poor health.

    • Right. He denigrated Israel until he was reminded that the marvelous machine that made it possible for him to speak was invented in Israel by Israelis. At least then (I have read – can’t swear to it) he shut-up about that. His hatred of Trump and his faith in AGW are inexplicable. Unless …unless … hmm … djeezis! Maybe – could it be – he wasn’t even right about black holes?

      • Cogito

        Yes, I have heard – bit I’m no expert – that his theory on black holes is being questioned.

        • Zerothruster

          There was some deep theory Hawking was known for, having to do with black holes, I think, that he reversed himself on only a few years ago. I’ve been meaning to refresh my memory about that issue (not that I would ‘understand’ the theory itself).
          I, like all the rest of you here, keep my antennae up for news about theories of origins, etc. But where cosmology is concerned, it seems to me that the jury is still very much out. I was just a few days ago reading an item in editor John Brockman’s latest anthology of contributions to The Edge Question (this year’s theme “This Idea is Brilliant”). This one was “The Big Bounce” by Paul Steinhardt, where he cites some recent tendencies toward reviving the cyclical cosmology or “oscillating universe”. I’ve always held a preference for that model, at least as far back as 1970. There are many different ways that can go, though.
          As far as the jury being out, there are also other very deep questions that are hotly contested within the fields of cosmology and theoretical physics, one of which is the ‘reality’ of time itself.
          My meta-view of these sorts of questions is that, to at least some extent, and possibly a large one, our evolved cognitive powers (even as far reaching as they can be extended by the culturally evolved prosthetic of science and technology) don’t include intuitive equipment suitable to ‘understanding’ of things at levels micro and macro where our Darwinian survival was not at stake. So, for instance, quantum reality is experimentally verified, but doesn’t make much sense to our rational intuitions.

      • liz

        No one has any proof of black holes, and I’m no scientist but I still think the “electric universe” theory makes alot more sense!

      • Don L

        Wow and I’ll be hornswoggled. I thought I had at least a normal average knowledge of “stuff”. I had know idea about these things with Hawking. Yes, it does diminish him in my eye. I was aware he was very labor/socialist but the Israel thing is totally new to me. Hmmph, sort of idiot savant like. Or rather Jekyll and Hyde. And, when did the black hole theory come under scrutiny? OK … I admit stupid on this one.

    • liz

      Yes, just like Dawkins, brilliant scientist, but blindly socialist politically.

    • Don L

      See my reply to Jillian’s reply to you. I plead stupid. How I didn’t know about Hawking’s ‘otherside’ is amazing to me but dumb on the topic I apparently are … am … I is.

  • Jeanne

    The other day, Limbaugh was meandering along with a question; where does the universe exist? He contended that it had to BE somewhere…so where is it? I kept telling the radio that it is in the same place God is. Not that I actually believe that, but if the Creator Deity existed before “Life, The Universe and Everything” then it had to be somewhere and if it was all that existed before creation, then it had to use a piece of its material self to “create” that which became everything. Something that can act upon Everything, but is outside of Everything that it created has to BE somewhere. And..that is where the universe is…just without God. This never satisfies Christians. Then I throw in multi-universes and overlapping branes, which I admit to be mostly ignorant about, but sort of allows God to interact with our universe…but they don’t like that either. I always say that it explains faeries. Christians refuse to allow faeries to exist, but we all know they do.

    I don’t know why this one life is not enough for Christians.

    Stephen Hawking does not need to be explained as being somewhere. The fact that he was here is more than humanity deserved. R.I.P. Hopefully, there will be more to come along to surprise us and move us along ever toward a future enlightenment.

    • liz

      Yes, I heard that silly question, too. My reaction is utter frustration with the knack that he and other believers have, to find the failings in reason that in their view discredit scientific theories (that negate a need for a god), while completely ignoring the obvious fact that their own “theory” – “God did it” – represents the utter failure of reason.

      • Jeanne

        But…I understand the question. It is most difficult to think of something just being without it being somewhere within some other existence. The mass of jello that is space and holds everything is weird to consider because what is there that is not that and where is it that is not that. Is there a bowl? Is there a counter top? Is there something like in “Men In Black” and we are a marble in a much larger game? Do forgive this silly meandering of mine, but questions are not silly if they make a person think on them.

        • Don L

          Hawking’s last ideas were about: (well, the ones I just heard about)

          You can never go back in time because the instant a path from now to then is opened, there would be a feedback loop (like a microphone picking up its amplified sound – it will destroy the amp if not stopped) of incompatible particles which would instantaneously explode and close path. Or, it is impossible to go back in time with a gun and shoot yourself. He solved this ancient paradox.

          But, he then proved, there are two methods to go into the future: approach the speed of light and time slows down in order to maintain the NEVER EVER faster than the speed of light – otherwise a kid on a train near light speed could run forward fast and exceed light; NOT! The second way is to enter a precise orbit around a humongous black hole. The mass of the singularity slows time down. This has been observed and measured.

          So, in both instances, return to place of origin and probably many decades and or millenia will have passed; dependent on how long you stayed at speed or orbit.

          Having discovered many characteristics of space and time, he had finally concluded that there was no time before the big bang. And, in a black hole no light escapes and time stops.

          My question is what happens when monster black hole collapses in on itself when its mass equals universe size mass (having devoured the universe – as they are prone to do)? Is the big bang the last black hole spewing the last universe out again – never ending? Oh my? what to think? LOL.

          Test next week.

          • Jeanne

            More than a few years ago, there was an article in Discover Magazine, which described that traveling shortly into future time was not impossible, but I will have to look for it in my old-style hard copy files. The files in my brain don’t keep accurate information much and have to be refreshed with actual reading from time to time.

        • liz

          To me the question, “where is the universe?”, is pointless because the universe includes everything that exists. Therefore there is no place where the universe is not – it’s everywhere!
          Now Rushes question about “where did the material that started the big bang come from?” makes more sense to me. That is the very point that makes me doubt the big bang theory myself.
          It makes more sense to me that the universe didn’t have a beginning, it has always existed. I suppose that can’t be proven, either, but it does have some confirmation in the fact that matter itself can’t be created or destroyed. But Rush, of course, thinks he’s proven that God created it.

          • Jeanne

            I agree, Liz, it is pointless, but thinking about it being somewhere is somehow comforting. We know that everything else is somewhere…and then that stops when we wonder where the universe is…and is sort of hurts our brain to acknowledge that we don’t know. Is it better not to think on it? I will agree that matter/energy has always existed. Christians contend that God has always existed. The where part cannot be answered to the satisfaction of either group.

      • Zerothruster

        “God did it” can be invoked to explain anything, but in fact it ‘explains’ nothing. Strangely, that doesn’t seem to register with believers. Also, they either complain that science leaves no room for God, or they’ll claim that scientists refuse to acknowledge the evidence or reasons for His existence. But in fact, science even in principle considers only naturalistic explanations, so God could never enter that picture. In that sense, the scientific deck is stacked against supernaturalism. But as Victor Stenger and others noted, many findings in the body of scientific knowledge point to, act as evidence for, nonexistence of the traditional notions of god.

        • Jeanne

          Interesting that you should write “the traditional notions of god” for I have admitted in other debate that it is possible, but not probable, that there may be or have been some supernatural entity, which may have been responsible for the beginning of our Everything, but which is so very far removed from human imaginings that our existence may be unknown to it. Someone jokingly called that entity as possibly having shat out our Everything. How would we know? There are much smaller “universes” that we are mostly unaware of.

          • Zerothruster

            There is a Canadian atheist philosopher J.L. Schellenberg whose notion of god is one you might find interesting. Even though he identifies as an atheist, he maintains that where such questions are concerned, we are only at the beginning of our journey in terms of competent understanding. As such, any notion of ‘god’ that might be revealed or uncovered in ‘deep time’ (assuming, at minimum, many thousands of years in the evolution of knowledge) would in all probability be vastly different from any archaic notion that’s ever been put forward by neolithic butt scratchers. At least, that’s my one-paragraph summary of his view. (I’m not sure he’d appreciate it.)

            • Jeanne

              Thanks. I will look him up.

      • ncgh

        They’re real good at coming up with the reasons why ‘this could not have happened by chance’, but then they make the irrational jump to the conclusion that it supports THEIR particular god. It could be ANY god.

  • Don L

    Humankind lost a great mind. Recently Stephen Hawking had been working on the idea of no time before the big bang. He had previously shown spontaneous creation. My non-scientific mind seems to see a direction toward the big bang as the opposite side of a collapsed monster/universe-consuming black hole. ? Probably wrong but Stephen got all to think about the universe and he inspired many to enter the fields of science. And, Stephen wasn’t so much an atheist as he just never found anything in his research that required a god to explain its existence. I believe it was Jillian who offered: (something akin to) having no evidence of a thing’s existence, it can be dismissed without evidence.

    ” …reconcile their faith with science.”

    How do you reconcile imaginary tinkerbell with the reality of granite? NOT!

    In my area of interest, Austrian School of Economics Free-Market Capitalism, the icon Ludwig von Mises (as brilliant as Hawking in economics) was clear as a bell that economics is based on human action and that rational actors always act to satisfy their SELF INTEREST (rationally selfish). This drives the theist adherents and advocates of the Austrian School nuts.

    It isn’t uncommon to be reading great understanding from a contributor when out of left field attacks on Ayn Rand and selfishness are injected … ludicrous arguments: e.g. It Didn’t Have to Be This Way: Why Boom and Bust Is Unnecessary-and How the Austrian School of Economics Breaks the Cycle (Culture of Enterprise) by Harry C. Veryser. A great book interrupted by an ineffective, unnecessary and contradictory (to the premise of Austrian Economics) attack on atheism. STILL A GOOD READ!!!