“Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god.”

Will Crawley’s response to the wide-spread reports of Stephen Hawking’s dissing of god was to head for the teleological ‘gap’

On the other hand The Guardian‘s science blogger, Jon Butterworth took time out from writing up an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider to have a rational, and reasonable, conversation on Channel4 News with a theologian.  And he points to this excellent New Scientist article on the kerfuffle

As Hawking’s long-suffering assistant dealt with a deluge of enquiries from journalists from around the world, she told me how the furore says more about the silly season than any change of mind. It also says much about how God is used to sell science to the public. The Higgs boson, labelled the “God particle” – a moniker that Peter Higgs himself finds embarrassing – springs to mind. And after all, The Times is serialising Hawking’s book, which he wrote with Leonard Mlodinow.

In it, Hawking describes how M-theory, a candidate ultimate theory of everything, may offer answers to the question of creation. “According to M-theory, ours is not the only universe,” Hawking writes. “Instead M-theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god.”

The universe arises from scientific processes, not God – as Hawking himself would have agreed decades ago.

[Aren’t you going to mention John Waters? – Ed]  Nope. [added final link]

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  • Yes, he says “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing”. Fine, but then where does gravity come from? It just gets to be self existing without an explanation? 🙂

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    To deny the concept of a God is to relegate humanity’s position in the universe to a complete irrelevancy.

    To deny the concept of God is to open up the dangerous possibility that the sexes are equal, that homosexuality is perfectly natural and that what we consider morality is merely what is currently acceptable in a given society.

    I’m with the scientists.

  • Big Maggie

    I’m always a bit dubious of those theories concerning more than one universe.

    Why? Very simple. The word means all, the whole thing, the full monty, the entire caboodle.

    Therefore all we see or otherwise experience belongs to the universe, even if it turns out to be a lot bigger than we imagined.

  • Big Maggie

    I should have said “a lot bigger and more multilayered than we imagined.”

  • Alan Maskey

    Gerry: The scientists wil be relieved to hear that. Steven Weinberg said he could not see the pointlessness of it all.

    So are we allowed kill anything or anyone? Or should we follow that Buddhist who lay down in front of the hungry tiger to feed him.

    I have just watched Richard Dawkins’ thing on faith based schools. He visited the wee six to discuss the evils of segregation and spoke to the head of the Orange Order who roughed him up and Mr Flanagan the head of the RC schools who devoured him and made him tremble when prattling out his tale.

  • Big Maggie


    “Mr Flanagan the head of the RC schools who devoured him and made him tremble when prattling out his tale.”

    You’re being sarcastic, right?

  • If there is a God then surely there is a Goddess because everyone knows one of anything is no use. If there are such beings then the size or type of universe is irrelevant. If such beings can create one they can create a dozen or a hundred.

    Or we could all be sleeping for one hundred years and wake up to find we are ants…

    On such a subject surely Mr Hawkings position is no more or less important than any one else. its all a question of belief.

  • And when it is so, and as you have shared, why would have a difficulty in accepting it being true, Big Maggie?

    The worlds that I know and think to exist, and the worlds that you know and think exist, by virtue of what we would both have experienced and learnt, are not the same, and are unique to each of us, and all of us know a different world and of different worlds, by the above reasoning. However, together we would imagine ourselves to be in the same world and that is yet another one for the duration of the entanglement, for memory to store and/or share with others.

    Welcome to the World of Quantum, where nothing is as it seems and everything changes when thoughts are shared and result in actions which have consequences and recorded moments. And where binary morphs into ternary with the qubit unit of processed metadatabase information.

    “A bit is the basic unit of computer information. Regardless of its physical realization, a bit is always understood to be either a 0 or a 1. An analogy to this is a light switch— with the off position representing 0 and the on position representing 1.

    A qubit has some similarities to a classical bit, but is overall very different. Like a bit, a qubit can have two possible values—normally a 0 or a 1. The difference is that whereas a bit must be either 0 or 1, a qubit can be 0, 1, or a superposition of both.” …. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qubit

  • Big Maggie


    I’m not sure if you’re agreeing or disagreeing with me :^)

    My point is that a universe by definition must encompass everything, including your “worlds” and mine.

  • Alan Maskey

    No Maggie. The Rev Mervyn Gibson, Deputy Grand Chaplain of our beloved Orange Order, played with him like a cat does with a mouse. Donal Flanagan, CEO of the catholic Maintained Schools devoured him. He was reduced to showing little toddlers (not Holy Cross where he has form) little kiddy pitched games.

    Off side: but the little Orange children love the drums and noise of the Orange marchers. Old trick that: if there aree neighbours you dislike, get their kids a lambeg from Christmas.

    Thank you for that, AManforMars. Something like the Holy Trinity.

    Pippakin: Yours is a mixture of Buddhism and Kuhn’s paradigm crap which Steven Weinberg shredded. Weinberg, not Kuhn, is well worth a read.

  • Alan Maskey

    It was meant to be no more than a mildly imaginative comment…

    But, giving the matter a thought, its certainly more believable than your never ending ‘sermons’…

  • Alan Maskey

    Science and paradigms properly explained.

    “On such a subject surely Mr Hawkings position is no more or less important than any one else. its all a question of belief.”

    Pippakin: According to Weinberg, science moves nearer to the truth. He gives some great examples to make his point. This is an excellent and very important article and rebuttal of that clown Kuhn.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Alan — Dawkins visit to the ‘wee six’ merely exposed the micro mindsets and control freakery of the place — rather than a Paxman-esque confrontation, the subjects were allowed to speak for themselves, and pretty depressing it was too.
    Gibson surprisingly informed us that he didn’t see religion as being divisive while Flanagan insisted on the right of parents to have their children indoctrinated in whatever faith they themselves had been duped into.

    ‘So are we allowed kill anything or anyone?’
    I’m tempted to reply only if it’s done in the name of a global caliphate or Irish Republicanism, but perhaps I won’t.

    We don’t need the threat of a big man in the sky or the ramblings of an ancient manuscript to prevent us killing others — in most cases the threat of a lengthy prison sentence is quite sufficient.

  • Alan Maskey

    Just for you I will read your link but I have to say I am no more interested in Kuhn than I am in Weinberg.

    My comment was, if anything, based on the seventies ‘hippie’ type theories.

    You know the: ‘schizophrenics are sane, its the rest of us who are mad’.

  • Big Maggie


    I actually have that episode on my hard disk. I’ve just pulled it up and took another look at Dawkins’s interview with the Orangeman.

    Here’s how it went:

    Dawkins: “One might say that humans are innately driven to be divisive and to form tribes and to separate out. We have plenty of ways by which that can happen: skin colour, language, but religion is a pretty good one to do it with. Isn’t it a gratuitous one we could do without?”

    Gibson: “Well, certainly not, I think. Religion has been here for thousand [sic] years and will continue to be until the lord comes back again.”

    Dawkins: “But does it have to be so divisive?”

    Gibson: “I, personally, don’t see it as divisive.”

    Dawkins: “You don’t?!”

    Gibson: “I don’t.”

    Dawkins: “You live in Ulster and you don’t see it as divisive?”

    Gibson: “Och, no, I see it as us having differences.”

    Now, call me old-fashioned but how does that equate with your Gibson “played with him like a cat does with a mouse”? The reverend seems to inhabit another universe, perhaps one that amanfromMars would recognize. He could also do worse things than looking up the meanings of “divisive” and “differences”. Dawkins of course was too polite not to laugh in his face.

    He also behaved politely when CCMS’s Donal Flanagan kept interrupting him. I mentioned this on another thread, quoting this deathless line from the head of NI’s biggest employer of teachers: “I’m coming from the premises that parents should be allowed to make choices.” And you seriously conclude that he “devoured” Professor Dawkins?

    Of course the inimitable AA Gill, reviewing the programme in his Sunday Times TV column, put it many times better than I ever could:

    “Faith schools are a blight and a biblical curse. Their rise was the responsibility of new Labour and the closet-Catholic Blair, who took his smiley, happy-clappy, ecumenical multiculturalism and made education relative and secondary to the belief that to know something was less important than to feel it. Dawkins interviewed Charles Clarke, in my mind without doubt the most third-rate prophet of a better tomorrow, and a craven minister who defended faith schools not because they were right, but because to abolish them would upset a lot of people. And there was an unsurprising but still appalling Northern Ireland minister who accused Dawkins of wishing fascistically to truncate the human rights of parents by not allowing them to inflict any sort of bigotry they chose on their children. There was also the sorry sight of a Muslim headmaster muttering into his beard that evolution, as far as he knew, was simply a theory among theories and that all his pupils and their science teacher, through freedom of choice, had chosen to believe in the Garden of Eden instead. As if knowledge were a matter of taste and preference, like ice-cream flavours. Dawkins presented with admirable restraint, allowing the opposition to say their dim, dark, ignorant pieces, without braining them into extinction with a dinosaur bone or even just laughing in their faces.”

    Love the last line: “dim, dark, ignorant pieces” indeed :^)

  • Alan Maskey

    BIg Maggie: Thnak you for showing me and our dear Orange friends we can get a transcript of this Irish victory over the forces of inanity:

    1. Rev Gibson: He was also shown walking, be Sashed and beBowlered in a parade. He struck me as probably an ok Proddy kid who was no good at field games at school but now feels one of the lads as he saunters along. I don’t think he can really be attacked in this context for not being as articulate as One Tune Dawkins. I think you are being unfair and harsh to the Rev gentleman who, in my opinion, handled Mr Empty Head very well.

    As regards Mr Flanagan, the only way to get a word in with Dawkins is to interrupt him. Flanagan is not this guy’s doormat. Flanagan, imho, won decisively, more so when we remember Dawkins, not Flanagan, was in the editing room.

    2. You quote at some length a certain AA Gill in the Murdoch Sunday Times rag and say he “put it many times better than I ever could”. He begins: “Faith schools are a blight and a biblical curse”

    He is supposed to be reviewing, not giving his own prejudices. Richard Dawkins does that, endlessly.

    Pippakin: On behalf of my good self and the late Thomas Davis, I thank you for that. Those 1970s’ hippy ideas you refer to, are, in large part, a by product of Kuhn.

  • Alan Maskey

    Sigh, I know…

  • Alan Maskey

    Orange and Gold beat Dawkins?.

    Here is the Dawkins documentary in rar. Not this long playing record’s finest hour, methinks.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ‘Flanagan, imho, won decisively, more so when we remember Dawkins, not Flanagan, was in the editing room.’

    Dawkins may be a brilliant scientist with highly valid arguments but when faced with any shade of religious zealot he generally comes across as a bumbling buffoon. Hard-nosed interviewer he ain’t.

    Flanagan’s sole point appeared to be his rather novel notion of ‘parental choice’ which apparently overrules all other shades of belief and condemns the child to a one-sided and often hate-filled religious world view.

    Is it really acceptable in the 21st century for children to be told that homosexuality is an abomination, that creationism trumps evolution and that ‘themmuns’ have got it so wrong in the imaginary friend stakes that we have to be educated seperately? Is it acceptable that tax-payers should have to fund this divisive nonsense?

  • Nunoftheabove

    Not acceptable at all GlC, not in the least. What’s more neauseating yet is some appalling notion (normally on the part of liberal bullshitting British mainlanders, and some free staters) that NI is somehow relatively diverse, indeed pluralistc these days because most of us can manage to get through the day, just about resisting the temptation to get at the throats of ‘themmuns’ and sure isn’t it great the role the schools play in allowing them to glive together in peace by educating them apart. As a taxpayer, it’s objectionable to say the very very least of it.

    And still the media don’t get it with regards to the piety it shows to bozos with dog collars on. It should be the shame of any decent people that this goes on and that these people are consulted, deferred to, soft-soaped, let alone that they’re given a veto on how children are educated.

  • Big Maggie


    Here’s a list of Professor Dawkins’s awards, courtesy of Wikipedia.

    “Dawkins was awarded a Doctor of Science by the University of Oxford in 1989. He holds honorary doctorates in science from the University of Huddersfield, University of Westminster, Durham University, the University of Hull, and the University of Antwerp, and honorary doctorates from the University of Aberdeen, Open University, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and the University of Valencia. He also holds honorary doctorates of letters from the University of St Andrews and the Australian National University (HonLittD, 1996), and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997 and the Royal Society in 2001. He is one of the patrons of the Oxford University Scientific Society.

    “In 1987, Dawkins received a Royal Society of Literature award and a Los Angeles Times Literary Prize for his book, The Blind Watchmaker. In the same year, he received a Sci. Tech Prize for Best Television Documentary Science Programme of the Year, for the BBC Horizon episode The Blind Watchmaker.

    “His other awards have included the Zoological Society of London Silver Medal (1989), Finlay innovation award (1990), the Michael Faraday Award (1990), the Nakayama Prize (1994), the American Humanist Association’s Humanist of the Year Award (1996), the fifth International Cosmos Prize (1997), the Kistler Prize (2001), the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic (2001), the Bicentennial Kelvin Medal of The Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow (2002) and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest (2009).

    “Dawkins topped Prospect magazine’s 2004 list of the top 100 public British intellectuals, as decided by the readers, receiving twice as many votes as the runner-up. He has been short-listed as a candidate in their 2008 follow-up poll. In 2005, the Hamburg-based Alfred Toepfer Foundation awarded him its Shakespeare Prize in recognition of his “concise and accessible presentation of scientific knowledge”. He won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science for 2006 and the Galaxy British Book Awards Author of the Year Award for 2007. In the same year, he was listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007, and was awarded the Deschner Award, named after German anti-clerical author Karlheinz Deschner.”

    An individual who refers to one of the world’s most distinguished scholars, scientists and authors as “One Tune Dawkins” and “Mr Empty Head” is not worth debating with. It’s nothing personal but I suggest you find others of your intellectual level. I certainly have no intention of wasting any more of my time on you.

  • Pete Baker


    And Dawkins is mentioned where in the original post?

    It’s a distraction.

  • lamhdearg

    dawkins claimed that in the wee six 50% of children went to cath schools and 50% went to prod schools, he is/was wrong on this and wrong on other things, the man is a reverse religious fundamentalist in that he is right and they are wrong and they should not be aloud to?.

  • Alan Maskey


    Re: John Waters: Apparently a big part of the response was because he was linked on a high traffic web site.
    Hawking is not saying anything new at all. Nor is he regarded in the Premier league of scientists, not that that matters. Nor is Mr Crawley, many of the commenters on the BBC think, particulalry well qualified to argue the toss with Hawking.
    Of course what scientists like Einstein and Hawking mean by God and what our Holy Father means are not the same thing. A little knowledge and all that. Almost time for me to go to bed and say my prayers to….Maxwell’s equations.
    At least we know what they mean, evn if Maxwell didn’t:)

  • Alan Maskey

    Big Maggie.

    That Wikipedia site is interesting. Mr Dawkins, whom you refer to as “one of the most distinguished scholars, scientists and authors” sure has a lot of honorary awards. I am impressed. And what scientific breakthroughs has he made recently? Have they to do with the humble grasshopper, the topic he researched for his PhD, and on which his scientific expertise must br based. Or is he just God’s gift?

    The awards Wikipedia cite show he is popular, not that he is a top scientist. Rattling on for or against God is not science. It is polemics.

  • Big Maggie


    “And Dawkins is mentioned where in the original post?

    “It’s a distraction.”

    I agree. Take it up with Alan. He’s the one who introduced Dawkins into your thread.

  • Alan Maskey

    Two more points before I retire Peter:

    1. Would you say agreed definitions are the beignning of science (before we get on to hypotheses, testing, data and the like?) If I am saying a kilogram is a fish and someone else is saying it is a Tuesday, we will find it hard to proceed.
    2. What do you think of Leibniz, monads and monadic programming? Voltaire wrote Candide as an attack on Leibniz who, as you know, invented calculus. If Leibniz were alive today, would he still be a Christian? What about that strange man, Isaac Newton?

  • Pete Baker

    “A little knowledge and all that.”

    Indeed. Knowledge is power.

    “Idols of the cave have their origin in the individual nature of each man’s mind and body; and also his education, way of life and chance events. This category is varied and complex, and we shall enumerate the cases in which there is the greatest danger and which do most to spoil the calrity of the understanding.

    Men fall in love with particular pieces of knowledge and thoughts: either because they believe themselves to be their authors and inventors; or because they have put a great deal of labour into them, and have got very used to them. If such men betake themselves to philosophy and universal speculation, they distort and corrupt them to suit their prior fancies.”

    As for John Waters. Well, I have tried to address seriously his neurosis before…

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    ^^Or is he just God’s gift?^^

    Maybe it is too close to bedtime but that was a cracker!

  • lover not a fighter

    I am probably a god or one of the gods.

    Just that you lot and myself have been unable/unwilling to devise a system that you lot could cope with for my unveiling.

    We should take our time as I am in no hurry. Frankly do I really want all the extra hassle

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Instead M-theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing.”

    I’ll be waiting for Hawking to tell us how we’ll falsify that one. Better yet, I’ll be waiting for the day that string theory makes so much as a single, falsifiable prediction. Lastly, for the “elegant” irony here, while God is no longer necessary, angels are:

    “In reaction to that last talk—oy vey,” said the Israel-educated Gross, who directs the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. (He also sits on Scientific American’s board of advisers.) Gross called Guth’s concept of eternal inflation somewhat speculative, noting that if other universes do exist, they are causally disconnected from ours—”every goddamn one of them.” As such, Gross added, talk of other universes “does bear some resemblance to talking about angels.”



  • Alan Maskey

    The chance of a Type 11 error is always there until we have all the data, which we never can have.
    Though it is unlikely that bronze aged belief systems developed more penetrating insights or got more vistitations on high than we can or do, yet our answers, particularly in biology, do seem rather short. The physicists and mathematical physicists are probably suffering from very diminishing returns: to make further major advances, they need a lot more resources. But in what and for what?

    Research funding has to go into things that are practical: like better ways to kill people and preserve hard assets. Would nuclear war help push the research agenda along or at least help to concentrate minds on findamental questions with no immediate applied component?

    Hawking has let the side down quite a lot. Because he is a physical oddity, he is treated like some kind of Delphic oracle. This is not the first time he has blown his horn over nothing.

  • abucs

    “The universe arises from scientific processes, not God – as Hawking himself would have agreed decades ago.”

    A scientific process would be a process that is undertaken by an intelligent being who follows the scientific method.

    I think what you might have meant to say was that the process of the creation of our Universe was by natural means. (That is, by known scientific law).

    There seems often to be in the atheists mind a confusion between science and the belief in naturalism.

    I would have thought that laws are only scientific if they can be reproduced multiple times and verified emperically.

    Otherwise i would argue it’s not scientific. Nor is Hawkings claim.

  • pauljames

    Hawking is attempting to nail the quote mining from religiots of “For then we will know the mind of god” that finished “A Brief History of Time.” Nice to know that God of the Gaps is still the best they can muster in response.

  • Alan Maskey

    PaulJames: Please watch out for the Manichaen heresy.

  • pauljames

    Cool Alan, much better than Dan Browmn

  • pauljames

    Dan Brown of course or was that an epigram?