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Friday, July 27, 2012

Goodreads | Eric_W Welch (Forreston, IL)'s review of God and Stephen Hawking

Goodreads | Eric_W Welch (Forreston, IL)'s review of God and Stephen Hawking:

Normally, I wouldn’t read this kind of book, but given the substantial number of positive comments, and its abbreviated length, I figured what the hell.  Admittedly, I skimmed much of it. I doubt very much that parsing each sentence would have made any difference.

The preponderance of reviewers around the web appear to believe Lennox destroyed Hawking’s arguments. He did no such thing and to do so would have been impossible since each is starting with a different set of assumptions: Lennox with his belief that God exists and that something cannot arise from nothing (totally failing to explain God’s origin); Hawking with the opposite, that something can easily arise from nothing. It doesn't help that each has a different definition of what constitutes “nothing.”  One could have reconciled both positions by simply accepting the proposition that God is the laws of physics, but that wouldn’t be any fun.

I suspect that reviewers will line up for or against this book depending on their prior assumptions as well, so I am not ranking this book because I’m sure that my certainty that there is no God (as defined by Christians, Moslems, and Jews, i.e. an entity that actually gives a shit and responds to requests to intervene often violating the laws of physics when necessary)  just couldn’t possibly exist would predispose a negative rank.

Lennox’s book is a response to Hawking’s book, The Grand Design, which I have not read. A review in Science News (7.27.12) notes that Hawking’s poses and proposes to answer the following questions. “ Why is there a universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? Why are the laws of nature what they are? While acknowledging the fine-tuning of Earth that allows for favorable life conditions, Hawking promotes the multiverse theory, which holds that our universe is only one of countless others, each with their own forces of nature.”  So both he and Lennox are engaged in a conjectural debate. I don’t like that since you can’t conjecture your way out of a paper bag. By doing so, Hawking’s speculation opened the door wide to counter-speculation.  (Anyone who argues that using the Bible as a source to refute conjecture just doesn’t know his history or Bible.  There’s way too much evidence on how those beliefs evolved and were developed. There is as much evidence for the existence of Leprachauns and Santa Claus as there is for God and they all rely on faith.)  I’m always amused by those who claim that the Big Bang, evolution, etc. are mere theories, and then go on to unquestionably accept the greatest hypothesis of them all, that “God” exists, for which there is no evidence at all.

So the debate, if one dare call it that, is like two guys sitting in a bar, one claiming Babe Ruth was the greatest baseball player;  the other asserting it had to be Hank Aaron, each absolutely certain. Fun, I guess, if you are well-lubricated. For the rest of us, it’s just a boring conversation that only makes the righteous on both sides happy.  For my part, Hawking should have stuck to astrophysics and Lennox to math neither of which is useful to the debate and left the speculation to pundits.

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