Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Yes, Ditchkinsing

Perhaps calling Stephen Hawking that is a little harsh, but alas, confusing God with a mechanism is such an elementary mistake, regrettably placing a fine scientist in the company of science/religion "gladiators" up with which Marilynne Robinson and Jon Stewart shall not put. Terry Eagleton goes on in that book I refer to, suggesting that Hawking's latest reasoning "is rather like saying that thanks to the electric toaster we can forget about Chekhov." And in the introduction to this book Eagleton explains what is missing even more precisely:
Some philosophers regard it as conceivable that the world emerged from nothing, while others respond that this is impossible. Thomists, by contrast, argue that it is inconceivable that the world came from nothing, but that it did.
Reno has also chimed in: "Hawking has a reputation for being very smart, but he seems to be invincibly ignorant when it comes to metaphysics." And of course, there's always Mr. Hart:
The question of existence does not concern how it is that the present arrangement of the world came about, from causes already internal to the world, but how it is that anything (including any cause) can exist at all. This question Darwin and Wallace never addressed, nor were ever so hopelessly confused as to think they had. It is a question that no theoretical or experimental science could ever answer, for it is qualitatively different from the kind of questions that the physical sciences are competent to address.

Even if theoretical physics should one day discover the most basic laws upon which the fabric of space and time is woven, or evolutionary biology the most elementary phylogenic forms of terrestrial life, or palaeontology an utterly seamless geneology of every species, still we shall not have thereby drawn one inch nearer to the mystery of existence. No matter how fundamental or simple the level reached by the scientist - protoplasm, amino acids, molecules, subatomic particles, quantum events, unified physical laws, a primordial singularity, mere logical possibilities - existence is something else altogether. Even the simplest of things, and even the most basic of principles, must first of all be, and nothing within the universe of contingent things (nor even the universe itself, even if it were somehow "eternal") can be intelligibly conceived of as the source or explanation of its own being (103).
Basic errors refuted with the most basic religious understanding. I'm getting Da Vinci Code flashbacks.