Archive for April, 2018

Stephen Hawking: Genius or crook?

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Faustian pact?

Millions of people across the world have heard of Stephen Hawking, whose recent death hence made headlines.   Everyone speaks of his ALS. But is it proof of his indomitable will? Or did he hence make a Faustian pact with the devil incarnate: the church? Daring to raise this question will doubtless arouse the rage of his admirers. But if we weigh it against the possibility that millions have been deluded using their trust in science, it is our public and ethical duty to raise the question. To answer the question Hawking’s disease is irrelevant, and we need to examine the merits of Hawking’s scientific work dispassionately.

Widespread ignorance

But it is near impossible to do so. While millions revere him, very few understand the mathematical intricacies about calculus related to his work, especially on Penrose-Hawking singularity theory. That theory was the basis of his best-selling book A Brief History of Time. The widespread ignorance about it became starkly obvious during my debate with Roger Penrose, in Delhi, in 1997, attended by various professors of physics from Delhi University and JNU whose blank faces told the story.

What the vast majority believe is a story about science, a story they blindly trust. So deep is their trust that, from a position of ignorance, they are quite certain a contrary opinion is not to be trusted! “Millions of people believe this, they can’t all be wrong can they?”.  Such a “proof by numbers” is convincing because it has survival value, as explained in my book The Eleven Pictures of Time: there is often safety in being part of the herd. But this psychology also provides an easy route to propaganda to fool a mass of people.  For centuries, millions of Westerners fervently believed in the idea of a powerful God who appointed the church as his broker. The belief persisted just  because the church reviled any dissenters as heretics and atheists, and, for centuries, killed them most brutally.

The Christian theology in Hawking’s work

Therefore, common sense may be a better guide to the truth than guesswork based on trust. What even the most gullible person cannot fail to notice is the way singularity theory connects to the notions of a Judeo-Christian God and a specifically Judeo-Christian notion of creation.

I have pointed this out repeatedly over the last twenty years, but the faithful, and our secular liberals, just ignore it. So, it is necessary to point it out yet again. Hawking’s popular book was preceded by an academic book, The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, which he co-authored with G. F. R. Ellis who won the Templeton award for connecting science and religion. That book concludes that the cosmos has a singularity. What does that mean? The authors interpret it to mean a moment of creation. The bottom line of the book [p. 364] asserts: “the universe began a finite time ago. However, the actual point of creation, the singularity, is outside the presently known laws of physics.” God created the cosmos and then set the clockwork of eternal laws in motion.

For those who don’t understand this, the meaning is made explicit in a book co-authored by Hawking, “A briefer history of time”. It explained [p. 141] that:  “At the big bang and other singularities, all the laws [of physics] would have broken down, so God would still have had complete freedom to choose what happened and how the universe began.”