Hawking’s Grand Delusion (Part III)


[Read Part I and Part II for background]

Stephen Hawking is doubtless a very intelligent man, but in his most recent book The Grand Design (surely a title that is supposed to be ironic) he has shown that even the most intelligent of scientists can write like a fool, and this monograph will become a classic for that very reason. He followed up his inanities in an interview on Larry King Live on September 10, 2010. It is now evident to all (if anyone was hitherto in any doubt) that Hawking’s brilliance is in a very narrow field indeed, apart from which he gropes and stumbles like a drunken man. Early in his book he announces

Philosophy is dead. It has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly in physics. As a result scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.

As William Lane Craig has remarked, such a verdict is

not merely condescending, but also…outrageously naïve. The man who claims to have no need of philosophy is the one most apt to be fooled by it.

Indeed, Hawking and his sidekick Mlodinow proceed to show just how ignorant they are of philosophy, theology, the philosophy of science, the history of philosophy, the history of science, and general science itself. In the Larry King Live show Hawking was asked who his hero was, and why, to which he responded:

Galileo, the first modern scientist who realized the importance of observation.

Well, you can have who you like as your hero, of course, but the historical claim about Galileo is utter rot. He couldn’t hold a candle to the likes of Kepler, for one. Galileo was a second-rate scientist in the main, who continued to his dying day to deny gravitational force as constraining bodies to rotate around the sun, clinging to an Aristotelian idea that celestial bodies ‘naturally’ moved in ‘perfect’ circles because they were not acted upon by a centripetal force, and he refused to accept Kepler’s careful observations and tabulated data that planets were subject to gravitational pull and moved in ellipses. He likewise refused to believe that the sun and moon caused the tides, as Kepler showed, because he denied extraterrestrial gravity. Apart from his last work, under house arrest, on mechanics, the myth of Galileo’s supposed greatness is the deliberate invention of atheists, communists and other anti-Christians, who have cunningly warped history since the nineteenth century to promote a ‘conflict thesis’. Mighty interesting that Hawking, who has built his reputation on pushing cosmic gravity into the absurd, without observational corroboration, should have as his hero one who denied extraterrestrial gravity and who often espoused dogma over meticulous observation.

But if philosophy is dead, it is dead only in the mind of Stephen Hawking, where it was delivered stillborn, or smothered at birth. As someone has said, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And if ‘scientific’ conjecture is all Hawking has by way of explanation, it does the crudest of jobs, riding roughshod over and mangling all understanding, rationality and logic, so that he ends up making puerile statements unworthy of an intelligent man. Just as, by definition, ‘Intelligent Design’ is not a scientific hypothesis because it deals with causes outside the realm on natural science, likewise a physical explanation cannot be an explanation for a metaphysical problem.

For example, Hawking states

Spontaneous creation is the reason [why] there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

What an utterly crass statement. There are effectively three deep questions here:

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Why does this universe exist?

Why does mankind exist?

Note that these are ‘why’ questions, which can only be answered by invoking purpose (as in theology, and Intelligent Design) or at the very least function. There is no sloppy mistake here – on the Larry King Live show King attempts some clarification between the ‘how’ and the ‘why’:

One of your colleagues out of Cambridge says that science provides us with a narrative as to how existence may happen [the ‘how’], but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative [the ‘why’]. How do you respond to that?

Hawking responded:

The scientific account is complete. Theology is unnecessary.

That’s clear, then. Hawking really is claiming to answer the ‘why’ questions. In his previous book, A Brief History of Time, he had mentioned these ultimate ‘why’ questions and concluded the work with the words

Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.

All very tongue-in-cheek: there was a cynical reason for including the reference to God, as he later admitted:

In the proof stage I nearly cut the last sentence in the book… Had I done so, the sales might have been halved.

Prof. Jacob Bekenstein, a leading theoretical physicist, whose work on black hole thermodynamics influenced Hawking, declared

He is a known atheist, from the time I first met him in the 1970s…His care is very expensive, so he lives from his books and other projects. It’s not hard for him to get attention and publish.

Now he is just playing to the atheist gallery to keep the revenue stream flowing, as Richard Dawkins did with The God Delusion.

But, having explicitly eliminated God and theology from his purview to please his atheist constituency, Hawking’s answer to all three questions is just another ‘miserable refuge’ – spontaneous creation. An uncaused cause. And that is supposed to be the ‘ultimate triumph of human reason’?!! Creation, of course, implies a creator, and the uncaused cause has traditionally been identified with deity, but Hawking will have none of that. As a native English writer, he could have chosen the more neutral term ‘spontaneous generation’; but as an atheist he delights in purloining words from the vocabulary of theists, such as ‘creation’. Not only is this creation spontaneous, but the universe creates itself – it is its own creator, self-creating, self-organizing. Its purpose and function and meaning is to create itself.

Hawking thus denies the necessity for primary causation:

It is not necessary to invoke God to…set the universe going

No, the universe brought itself into existence because that’s the sort of thing universes do all the time. Stuck for a physical and scientific explanation for a finite universe with a defined stating point in time (as Hawking holds), then the universe has to be the cause of itself. This brings us back to where we started in Part I. If you insist on a scientific explanation for an event that is caused by primary causation, or for which a scientific explanation cannot be found, then you will end up with a very silly one, as Hawking’s hypothesis exemplifies. He would have done better to keep his inanities to himself, but he makes himself a laughingstock by parading this nonsense so publicly. Richard Dawkins thinks that just as he himself pretends to have eliminated God from biology, so Hawking has delivered the coup de grace and eliminated God from physics as well. Indeed not, though – all he has done is make the atheist position look ever more ridiculous and untenable.

So, let’s try to apply a How question, which should be more amenable to science – how could the universe possibly create itself ex nihilo?

Because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing.

Gravity and quantum theory cause universes to be created spontaneously out of nothing [Larry King Live show]

Note carefully: the universe does not come into existence contingently, but it necessarily and infallibly comes into existence ex nihilo because of the ‘law of gravity’. Quantum theory ’causes’ universes to be created spontaneously. Note also that Hawking appears to be saying that it is gravity itself that causes the spontaneous generation, for which gravity would have to be a property of pre-existent material, which by definition cannot exist. Charitably, we must surely take it that he means the ‘theory’ or ‘law’ of gravity itself, but who knows? What an amazing ‘Just So’, Porquoi story. All part and parcel of atheist mythology, as we’ve come to expect.

Asked by Larry King

You write that because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Will you tell me how that law came into existence?

Hawking answers

Gravity is a consequence of “M” theory, which is the only possible unified theory.

To assert that gravity, a property, is a consequence of a theory is plain nutty. And don’t fail to spot the ultimate unscientific hubris: that M-theory, a speculative unfalsifiable and untestable string theory is ‘the only possible unified theory’. History is littered with such stupid claims by scientists to have attained the ultimate and only possible theory. M-Theory is nothing more than a candidate for a unified theory, and these string theories are in a state of flux all the time.

There are breathtaking logical fallacies here. Firstly, Hawking is effectively saying that the law of gravity applies when there is ‘nothing’; that X creates X; and that ‘nothing’ becomes something. But a physical law is not a physical thing, it is merely a description of properties and behaviours of something that already exists. Laws have no power over anything, they do not control, regulate, create, explain or cause. They produce no events, they merely describe patterns to which events conform; they have no causative or sustaining power. No snooker balls ever moved on green baize because of Newton’s laws of motion or as a consequence of any theories, their motion has only ever been described in accordance with Newton’s laws and physical theories. And for causation one would have to look elsewhere.

But there can be no laws of motion without motion, no laws of gravity without gravity etc because the laws are merely the descriptions of the properties of the things themselves. ‘Laws of nature’ do not have any real and independent existence apart from the properties and phenomena they describe – except in the mind of God, which Hawking now disavows.

Now, a law describing a property that is uninstantiated (i.e. no examples found) is known as a vacuous law, and we can all make up any number of them covering the properties of things that do not exist, and never be able to prove whether such laws do or don’t apply because there are no examples to examine. Quite apart from the fact that you can’t have physical laws if you have ‘nothing’, physical laws don’t and can’t do anything with ‘something’, never mind with ‘nothing’. Hawking has the whole thing round the wrong way: physical laws don’t make things happen, or ensure that things happen, or prevent things from happening: they are merely abstract descriptions of the things that actually do happen.

But Hawking thinks that there exist not only this universe of ours, which appears to be designed, and which is in fact extremely fine-tuned, but many other universes as well:

Our universe and its laws appear to have a design that…is tailor-made to support us…That is not easily explained and raises the natural question of why it is that way… The discovery relatively recently of the extreme fine-tuning of so many of the laws of nature could lead at least some of us back to the old idea that this grand design is the work of some grand designer….That is not the answer of modern science…our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws.

Oh, here we go again, just as with Richard Dawkins, that tired old despicable ‘multiverse’ argument and the anthropic principle get trotted out, that miserable refuge that if there are trillions upon trillions of universes with all sorts of different laws, surely one of them is going to come up trumps as a good one, like the one we are in. That atheistic admixture of Micawberism and the best of all possible worlds of Dr Pangloss. As Hawking stated on Larry King Live:

Our presence selects out from this vast array only these universes that are compatible with our existence.

‘Our presence’ selects some universes fitted to our existence! But as theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne has noted:

Let us recognise these speculations for what they are. They are not physics, but in the strictest sense, metaphysics. There is no purely scientific reason to believe in an ensemble of universes. By construction these other worlds are unknowable by us.

There’s not a shred of evidence for such a multiverse, anyway, so when Hawkins says that our universe ‘seems to be one of many’ he is, of course, lying. And how does he suppose these multiple universes come into existence?

“M” theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing…multiple universes arise naturally from physical law. They are a prediction of science.

Oh yes, of course, I forgot, they are spontaneously created from ‘physical law’. They just pop into existence by spontaneous creation all the time because that’s what universes do. So, it’s worth asking the question, what is this almighty ‘physical law’ that genders these imagined quadrillions of universes? Is it a physical thing? No, it is not, it is an entirely abstract concept about the physical: it is not matter or energy, you cannot measure it, contain it, or transport it, it exerts no force; it creates nothing, sustains nothing, determines nothing; you can’t increase it or decrease it, have more of it or less or it. It is not an entity that can be studied (no branch of science studies entities called ‘laws’; ‘laws’ are the convenient fictions we construct to describe patterns of behaviour of the physical things that we do actually study). ‘Physical law’ is not a physical thing at all, any more than environmental law is an environment, or property law is a property, and therefore it cannot be invoked as a scientific explanation.

Hawking foolishly believes that there are well nigh an infinite number of universes that have arisen ‘naturally’ from this abstraction he calls ‘physical law’. This is a huge category error – it is like saying that the law of marriage naturally begets children, or Gresham’s Law of economics naturally produces money. To invoke a ‘law of nature’, some kind of eternal and unchangeable non-corporeal and non-physical entity, as an explanation for the existence of the universe is not a scientific hypothesis. It is, to quote Adelard of Bath “an example of a miserable refuge from a real philosophic explanation”. Sure, it is a fanciful hypothesis, an atheist myth, but there is a better known name for an eternal and unchangeable non-corporeal and non-physical entity which created the whole universe from nothing:

I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me…I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things…Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?…I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded…For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

Given the hypothesis that Almighty God created the universe ex nihilo with a purpose, or the alternative hypothesis that something abstract, impersonal, immaterial, and impotent, which cannot control or regulate, and which has no causative or sustaining power is the reason for the emergence of the universe ex nihilo as some kind of cosmic accident or necessity, I don’t think there’s much competition. Hawking is now firmly in the camp of those for whom it is said that they

became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools

We should cease being in awe of this increasingly silly man. If Hawking is so deluded as to think that scientists are now the torchbearers in the discovery of truth, then as a supposed exemplar of modern science we can see that he has certainly soon stumbled and dropped the torch he snatched, and, with this latest publication, torched his own reputation to boot.

31 Responses to “Hawking’s Grand Delusion (Part III)”

  1. 1 Oliver K. Manuel February 12, 2011 at 3:57 am

    I agree with your assessment.

    Hawkins seems to have missed the greatest joy of life.

    Science: “Truthing”, the practice of always seeking a better understanding and knowing that we will never have “the whole truth”, is one good method of ego reduction.

    Spirituality: “Meditation” or reflection is also a way to quiet the mind and realize “what is” – again knowing that we will never have “the whole truth”, more will always be revealed.

    Dogmatic scientists and dogmatic religionists are identical twins that failed to grasp these lessons.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  2. 2 Kimbal February 14, 2011 at 4:54 am

    I would not be so quick to dismiss “dogmatic religion” in that the idea that a Creator God made the Universe ex nihilo and then made sure Man knew WHO DID IT is both logical and explanatory. A Logical Mind designing with intentionality a Universe with logical processes that His creation can comprehend and utilize to build and create? Satisfying logically and it fits the scenario. Everyone has a worldview and a Christian may not be able to wrap his mind around ultimate truth, but we can say that God has Truth and have faith in that God.

    The Universe is fine-tuned, yes, but there is more. Beyond that, there is the presence of information, which is not material in form or substance. Is there a natural source for information? Does it have mass or weight? How about life? Can we put “life” on a slide and observe it under a microscope? Can we even actually define it? We can determine that an organism is alive but what life itself is, well, that is beyond us.

    It seems obvious that we can see that there is a supernatural component to the Universe – It had a start, thus it requires a First Cause. It contains information, therefore Intelligence had to have been input from without. Finally, life is inexplicable by any natural process. Redi proved in the late 1600’s that spontaneous generation does not happen and in all the years since it never has…nor can anyone explain how it could.

  3. 3 Harry Costas February 14, 2011 at 9:32 am


    In respect to S Hawking, he is not to blame for maintream flowing with his thoughts.

    Science should have attempted to divert the flow, oops they did but they were over powered by the mob flow.

    The Church, Media and political influence did play a main part in the flow and it did sell alot of books.

    ScientistForTruth responds

    The quotations are Stephen Hawkings’ own, in a popular book that reached #1 in Amazon bestseller charts. It is true that most of the comment (as on this post) has been in regard to his statements on metaphysics, which is a smaller part of the whole work, but it is natural to focus on those areas in the work where there are the greatest flaws, the greatest hubris, and the greatest fallacies.

  4. 4 Dizzy Ringo February 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Unfortunately he has not taken into account the fact that gravity is probably not the main force in the universe. There is a growing body of expert opinion that electricity, in the form of plasma physics, has simple explanations of most phenomena which are currently explained by the most incredible contortions of gravity based science. Even if he does not agree with the theory he should, as a reputable scientist, examine it. After all, he cannot ignore or dismiss it without evidence.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    As a specialist in electromagnetics myself, I entirely agree with you. We now have a new Ptolemaic system based on gravity and Big Bang cosmology which requires ever more unbelievable tinkering such as ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’, ‘inflation’ and the like to save the discredited theory, and spawns imaginary entities such as black holes. In one post I noted that we should seek natural explanations in line with the physics we understand and which has observational support in the first instance. I don’t understand why Occam’s razor hasn’t shaved off most of the fanciful hypotheses of mainstream cosmologists by now. Perhaps it’s because astronomy and cosmology are the most corrupt of all the sciences today.

  5. 5 martenvandijk February 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Is it not allowed to try and find out how God did it? Because that is what scientists do. There is also the question why God did it. I give you my feeling on that question: the Strong Anthropic Principle makes just as much sense as the Strong Dinosauric Principle. By the way, I am an oudentheist, not an atheist, because I am a scientist.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    You’ll have to give us a Dutch-to-English translation of Oudentheist – Ancient theist?

    It certainly is allowed to ask the ‘how’ questions, because that is what science is all about – let’s see how far it takes us. I don’t think that science is going to be able to answer ‘why’ questions, though, especially if they are ultimate or metaphysical questions.

  6. 6 martenvandijk February 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    An atheist is someone who denies the existence of any god. I cannot prove that there is no god at all, nobody can, therefore I call myself an oudentheist (old greek), someone who does not believe in any god. Hope you are not too disappointed.

  7. 7 Kimbal February 14, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Once before I made a point to tell people to come and read you. The three part Hawking set is exquisitely well done. Really outstanding logic!

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Thanks for your encouragement.

  8. 8 Oliver K. Manuel February 15, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I appreciate the above comments.

    Spirituality and science are two highly disciplined paths of “truthing” that lead from the ego cage – life’s greatest challenge:

    [snip – links to Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon are not welcome here]

    But history shows that the ego is a formidable foe that tricks scientists and religionists alike into believing that theirs is the only correct path.

    1. When religionists had the upper hand, the findings of Copernicus and Galileo were kept from the public in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

    2. When scientists had the upper hand in the 20th and 21st Centuries, they convinced world leaders that CO2 emissions changed Earth’s climate.

    A merger of spiritual and scientific “truthing” may be a way to avoid these pitfalls in the future.

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Dr Manuel’s comments are his own and I do not wish to comment on his religious point.

    Point 1 is a common historical inaccuracy. Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus was in print and available from 1543 to 1616. It was withdrawn pending revision in 1616 “until corrected” and then available again from 1620 with alterations to only nine sentences. Owen Gingerich, a widely recognized authority on both Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler, examined every surviving copy of the first two editions and showed that nearly all the leading mathematicians and astronomers of the time owned and read the book.

    It was Galileo’s troublemaking that caused Copernicus’ and Kepler’s work to require amendment, and in 1616 Galileo was solemnly charged not to cause such trouble again. He breached his solemn undertaking in 1632, when he published his Dialogue, and the sole charge in his trial was his breach of his solemn undertaking in 1616. None of Galileo’s works were put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum until 1633, and his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World, was extremely backward and out-of-date compared to Kepler’s works, which were the most widely read books on astronomy all over Europe. Galileo is chiefly responsible for having his work put on the Index because of his foolhardy behaviour.

    The Galileo affair is often presented as a conflict between science and religion. That never was the case, but has been turned into a propaganda piece by those who push the conflict thesis. No-one who simply published the pros and cons of different theories had their books banned; Galileo commited a breach of trust, put the Pope’s argument in his Dialogue into the mouth of a simpleton and behaved in such foolhardy ways smack bang in the middle of the Thirty Years War that he was very fortunate to get off with mere house arrest in a sumptuous palace for the rest of his life.

  9. 9 Ron Krumpos February 16, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    In “The Grand Design” Hawking says that we are somewhat like goldfish in a curved fishbowl. Our perceptions are limited and warped by the kind of lenses we see through, “the interpretive structure of our human brains.” Albert Einstein rejected this subjective approach, common to much of quantum mechanics, but did admit that our view of reality is distorted.

    Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity has the surprising consequences that “the same event, when viewed from inertial systems in motion with respect to each other, will seem to occur at different times, bodies will measure out at different lengths, and clocks will run at different speeds.” Light does travel in a curve, due to the gravity of matter, thereby distorting views from each perspective in this Universe. Similarly, mystics’ experience in divine oneness, which might be considered the same “eternal” event, viewed from various historical, cultural and personal perspectives, have occurred with different frequencies, degrees of realization and durations. This might help to explain the diversity in the expressions or reports of that spiritual awareness. What is seen is the same; it is the “seeing” which differs.

    In some sciences, all existence is described as matter or energy. In some of mysticism, only consciousness exists. Dark matter is 25%, and dark energy about 70%, of the critical density of this Universe. Divine essence, also not visible, emanates and sustains universal matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and cosmic consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). During suprarational consciousness, and beyond, mystics share in that essence to varying extents. [quoted from my e-book on comparative mysticism]

  10. 10 Gordon Sirmond February 16, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    “The Galileo affair is often presented as a conflict between science and religion. That never was the case, but has been turned into a propaganda piece by those who push the conflict thesis. No-one who simply published the pros and cons of different theories had their books banned; Galileo commited a breach of trust, put the Pope’s argument in his Dialogue into the mouth of a simpleton and behaved in such foolhardy ways smack bang in the middle of the Thirty Years War that he was very fortunate to get off with mere house arrest in a sumptuous palace for the rest of his life.”

    So it was a conflict between science and a morally corrupt church that would accept no criticism then?

    ScientistForTruth responds

    No, you may have missed my point. It wasn’t a conflict between science and religion, or science and a church (whether morally corrupt or not is immaterial), or science and anything. It wasn’t a conflict between science and anything because it wasn’t a scientific issue.

    The conflict thesis is based on a fallacy: Heliocentrism and geocentrism were scientific theories about which there was dispute; Galileo got embroiled in a dispute with the church; therefore Galileo was in a scientific dispute with the church. I hope all the readers can spot the logical fallacy. It has served many propagandists well to exploit the fallacy and generate the myth of the conflict thesis. But the myth is exploded by examining what really happened.

    At Galileo’s trial in 1633 he claimed that he did not hold with heliocentrism and that his Dialogue of 1632 refuted heliocentrism. At his second appearance he admitted only that the unlearned reader might mistakenly think that heliocentrism was true. At his final appearance he continued to insist that he did not hold to heliocentrism.

    If this comes as a surprise to readers, I suggest they read the transcripts of the trial for themselves. Someone who persists in perjuring himself in any trial, as Galileo did, is likely to find himself in very hot water. And someone who puts the argument of the Pope (Galileo’s former friend and defender) into the mouth of a simpleton in a dialogue is certainly not doing himself any favours.

    It wasn’t a scientific issue that got Galileo into trouble with the church (corrupt or otherwise). People have invented all sorts of legends about Galileo, such as his dropping balls of different weights from the tower of Pisa, for which there is not a scrap of evidence. People simply make up history, which seems to have been the indefatigable task of propagandists in the nineteenth century, still being copied and referenced by lazy writers and propagandists in our own day.

  11. 11 Roger February 17, 2011 at 5:23 am

    I certainly enjoyed the series on Hawking, which was excellent. I can see why he proclaims “philosophy is dead.” Perhaps it’s not just to elevate his brand of science to preeminence, but presumably if philosophy is dead, logic – as a subset of philosophy – dies with it. That means all those illogical statements are really inconsequential, no?

  12. 12 martenvandijk February 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Creationism and biblical science cannot be false because they are non-existent scientifically as they rule out any dissenting view. This is because God and God’s word (both dogma’s) are not open to question.

    ScientistForTruth responds

    I’m not inclined to publish comments that are not cogently reasoned. What in the world is ‘Biblical science’? And if it is not natural science then stop comparing apples with oranges.

    I would have thought it pretty obvious that God and his Word can’t be dogmas. Perhaps you mean the theology of God and the theology concerning the Word of God are dogmas.

    As an aside concerning scientific method, since it is relevant to the comments about Galileo, Galileo got himself into trouble with the Roman church because he didn’t present his heliocentric views as a tentative scientific hypothesis (which would have caused no controversy at all) but as a dogma. Most educated persons in the early seventeenth century were geocentrists, but Galileo presented the heliocentric view of geocentrism that ‘only a fool could believe that’. Had he followed the acceptable path of scientific method there would have been no issue. Practically everyone agreed with Galileo’s observations (the Jesuits in particular corroborated them) and were able to reproduce them themselves. Had Galileo have done as others had done and merely demonstrated that the evidence appeared to support heliocentrism, and dealt properly with the geocentric objections, then there wouldn’t have been a problem. But you see Galileo was not, in the main, a good scientist, and he did not follow what we now call scientific method. He was one of those arrogant self-publicists whose views, in your own words, were “non-existent scientifically as they rule out any dissenting view”.

  13. 13 martenvandijk February 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Apparently you are not familiar with the fact that creationism and bible science are two of a kind, thoughts based on and deduced from the dogma of God’s existence as Creator and the dogma of the bible being God’s word. Those thoughts are not open to dissenting views because any doubt would be unsettling their basis and therefore be blasphemous.

    Galileo should not have claimed that his idea was his own. He should have said that God had spoken to him about it. Then, of course, it would have been OK.

    ScientistForTruth responds

    I’m afraid you are now past your final warning, so unless you engage with the subject of the post no further comments such as this will appear.

    I see you now accept that it is not God or his Word that can be dogma, but the theology since you have now recast the argument in theological terms: “the dogma of God’s existence as Creator and the dogma of the bible being God’s word“.

    “Those thoughts” that you allude to that “are not open to dissenting views” thus refer to theology, not natural science. You are surely not suggesting that theology has the same referent and methods as science, so what point are you trying to make?

    What idea did Galileo claim as his own – his silly ideas about the tides? When on trial in 1633 Galileo never wavered from insisting that he was NOT a heliocentrist, and that had never held to heliocentrism (he was not believed then, and we can’t believe him today – he was lying and perjuring himself). Had he defended heliocentrism, he could never have claimed that he was the first to propound heliocentrism, anyway. Copernicus had done that 90 years earlier in De revolutionibus, several medieval theologians and scientists had considered the idea, and Aristarchus was famously a heliocentrist in the third century BC.

    So your point is?

  14. 14 Oliver K. Manuel February 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    To: ScientistForTruth

    Thank you, thank you for posting the excellent series Hawking.

    However, I hesitate to recommend the site to others because the ScientistForTruth is anonymous.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    Thanks for your encouragement. I prefer that the articles stand or fall on their own merit, not the author’s authority.

  15. 15 Oliver K. Manuel February 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Thanks, ScientistForTruth, for your prompt reply.

    Yes, anonymity has definite merit. I agree with your sentiment: Ideas should stand or fall on their own merit.

    Because of the high quality of this site, I would like to recommend it to others. But I also appreciate their concern about posting on an anonymous site.

    Do you have a solution?

    Might we find a way to work together toward a merger of science and spirituality?

    Please allow me to end this message with two of my favorite quotes about “truthing”:

    1. “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
    – Herbert Spencer

    2. “To know that you do not know is best.
    To pretend to know what you do not know is a disease.”
    – Lao Tzu

  16. 16 Kimbal February 18, 2011 at 12:45 am

    If SFT prefers to remain anonymous, it may well be because of the danger of credentialed scientists being arbitrarily fired or demoted if they are found to be failing to toe the Ruling Paradigm’s metaphysical line.

    Look at David Coppedge, the former team leader of an important project now fired (and bringing suit for it!) by NASA for simply working on a couple of ID projects and passing a few DVD’s around. Or how about Guillermo Gonzalez, a rising star in Astronomy until he dared to agree with ID proponents that the Universe and Earth appear to be designed. He lost tenure at Iowa State because they believed him to be a “religious zealot” as he did not believe in macroevolution and naturalistic materialism.

    If SFT is not concerned about damage to his reputation, he still has the right to publish his blog without revealing his identity. Perhaps he prefers to let the content of his output be the standard by which he is judged on the internet…if indeed you intend to judge him at all.

    I for one am quite happy to consider the worth of SFT’s articles without needing to see his credentials. His credentials are represented in his writings. Logic and reason are able to stand or fall on their own without an author’s label.

  17. 17 Oliver K. Manuel February 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I agree with your sentiments. I have been extremely fortunate to have survived until retirement.

    Could a merger of “truthing” – via science and spirituality – advance peace and help both parties escape from their “ego cages”?

    In my opinion, dogmatic scientists and religionists are identical twins hiding under different cloaks of respectability.

  18. 18 Ron Krumpos February 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    There are other blogs where the author had a similar situation. He assumed a pseudonym to protect his university position. Perhaps that might be a preferable alternative to “anonymous.”

  19. 19 Nigel Sedgwick February 20, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Back in 1984, I wrote a chapter of a book; that chapter was ostensibly on quality assurance for systems/software development (but, IMHO, was more on philosophy and good mechanism of such developments and where the narrower view of (management) QA fitted in).

    In that chapter, I emphasised the differences between: (i) what (specification); (ii) how (design); and (iii) why (rationale). Only on reading the three postings on Hawkins, have a realised the theological significance of my then (and now) view.

    It seems to me that science is truly neither the why nor the how: it is the what.

    However, understanding of the how, in its layered (hierarchical) sense of explanation can be quite useful in the formulation of hypotheses, and of experiments to test them.

    Though I am entirely of your view (which I label Popperian) that science and religion are separate spheres in which the logics are different, I do see a possible explanation for the difficulty with religion of atheist scientists. They see that science has explained so much of what was once thought the activity of God that, by induction, they believe this process is never-ending. Of course, and unhelpfully, they may well be right: it is, after all, an infinite universe. From this, one might view religion as the never-ending statement of the scientifically unknown.

    [Aside: for any discussion on the above, I suggest we avoid too much introspection on the meanings of the words: explain; God; believe. On ‘induction’, I’ve used the word as having the meaning within the philosophy of science (ie what Popper argued to replace); not the meaning from mathematics.]

    Concerning Hawkins, I have no particular views beyond seeing his need for income to support his unavoidable and rather costly personal needs. I find several other writers, of and around the popularisation of science, are more irritating. They look to overdo it: but I don’t really know, as I don’t buy their product.

    Best regards

  20. 20 Фарид March 9, 2011 at 2:02 am

    It is simply excellent thought

  21. 21 Peter L. Griffiths April 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    The main motive for Kepler’s discoveries was to adjust the recorded observations to take account of Copernicus’s discovery that the Earth as the observation point was not stationary but orbited round the Sun.

  22. 22 Peter L. Griffiths April 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Further to my comments of 16 April 2011, two of Kepler’s discoveries are contained in the Introduction to Astronomia Nova (1609). These are that the velocity of the planets is inversely related to their distance from the Sun, also that planetary orbits are elliptical. Greater mathematical precision is given to these discoveries in Kepler’s later works, also the important concept of the foci.

  23. 23 kimbal April 30, 2011 at 1:37 am

    This entire series is brilliant! I am chiming in having seen that someone has described the Universe as “infinite.” Well, we have enough evidence to see that what we know of the Universe is expanding and therefore appears to have outer boundaries that are being stretched by the apparent momentum of the celestial objects in motion. Is that not correct?

    If there are boundaries, the Universe isn’t infinite by measure. Could it be infinite? We do not know, that is speculative, but if we define existence as everything that IS, then entirely empty space would not be part of the definition, would it? Nature abhors a vacuum. I therefore suspect there is a possible finite end to the expansion of the Universe that will define it’s outer limits.

    Hawking can be forgiven the Galileo slip-up, it is typical ruling paradigm brainwashing produced by government schools. Somewhat slipshod of him to be a self-pronounced expert on Astrophysics or whatever he calls himself and yet to continue to stand by Galileo as a crusader for truth and justice. I, too, once thought Galileo was one of the Kepler/Brahe/Copernicus astronomers who advanced human knowledge greatly and had to admit my mistake. But I am a mere blogger without nearly the string of acronyms behind my name as Hawking and do not publish books purporting to explain the Universe as a long-winded tale of *poof*!

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Many thanks for the encouragement.

    To deal with your questions: the popular model is that of an expanding universe, but contrary to what astronomers would have you believe, there is practically no evidence for that, and a huge amount of evidence against it. This cannot be developed in a comment here and would require a lengthy series of posts to deal with.

    Even on the expanding universe hypothesis, astronomers don’t believe that the galaxies are really moving apart with enormous momentum. Their velocity is only ‘apparent velocity’ due to the intervening space expanding – they have never actually been accelerated to superluminal speeds.

    The saying that ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ is an old Aristotelian idea, debunked long ago. So-called ’empty space’ is not ‘nothing’, for it has dimensions and properties (for example it has a measurable permeability and permittivity), as well as spawning ‘virtual particles’ according to quantum theory. So ’empty space’ would be part of the universe.

    Galileo was pretty much a charlatan who claimed other people’s discoveries as his own. I may well write some blog posts in future detailing these. He never accepted Kepler’s data that the planets move in ellipses and at different speeds in different parts of their orbits; he never accepted Grassi’s parallax data demonstrating that comets were part of the solar system (Galileo said they were atmospheric phenomena). He never accepted the concept of attraction that keep planets in orbit around the sun. He never accepted the attraction of the moon as the main cause of the tides, branding Kepler as puerile and a believer in the occult for suggesting such as thing as gravitational or magnetic attraction. His petulant behaviour and writings created a lot of enemies and unnecessary trouble for scientists. As Rodney Stark has pointed out “Galileo was not just an innocent victim: not only did he needlessly tempt fate, but he thoughtlessly placed the whole scientific enterprise itself in jeopardy”. I would have said ‘recklessly’ rather than ‘thoughtlessly’ – he could only think of himself and his own self-aggrandizement, and he was wrong on nearly everything.

    The idea that Galileo worked out the acceleration of free fall or demonstrated that objects of different mass fall at the same rate can only be held by those too lazy to read history, or who have ulterior motives to try to project Galileo as part of some ‘conflict thesis’, which is entriely discredited historically. Lucretius in the first century BC had claimed that heavy atoms fall at the same rate as lighter atoms in a vacuum, that the difference in velocity was very minor in air, but noticeable in water. Over the next 1700 years a whole host of scientists had demonstrated what Galileo is claimed to have discovered, including John Philoponus, 6th century, Bradwardine 14th century, Stevin, Cornets de Groot, Domingo de Soto, Oresme, Heytesbury…the list goes on and on. Galileo cribbed details from published worked and passed them off as his own all through his life, without giving credit and oftentimes claiming that the things were unknown, whereas in his unpublished manuscripts we see the notes where he had been reading the very authors he plagiarized. As Nicolo Cabeo, a contemporary of Galileo, wrote “Another intolerable thing in Galileo is an intolerable boasting…he wants everyone to have been in shameful ignorance from the time of Adam to our own era such that they should not know by what proportions the speed of falling weights increase.”

    We also happen to know that during Galileo’s observations of Jupiter he managed to spot Neptune, and even noted that it moved over some days against the background of fixed stars, and measured its movement. The fact that Galileo did not bother to keep an eye on this planet and keep track of it so as to be able to publish the discovery of a new planet says a lot for Galileo’s hidebound ideas. The concept of a planet way beyond Saturn was probably too ridiculous for him to conceive of.

  24. 24 kimbal April 30, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Oh, and we should not forget Tycho Brahe, the instructor of Kepler and a man who learned from the observations of Copernicus.
    He helped debunk the Aristotlean/Ptolemaic mindset of the celestial heavens and although not as brilliant as Copernicus nor as precise as Kepler he was a keeper of the flame, so to speak, who deserves his place in the pantheon of great astronomers!

  25. 25 Peter L. Griffiths May 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Further to my comments of 29 April 2011, Kepler’s velocity law v^2=1/r is a reciprocal version of Galileo’s law of falling bodies v^2=d, where d+r equal the major axis of the elliptical orbit.

    ScientistForTruth responds

    I haven’t the faintest idea what this means. However, from a point of historical accuracy, Galileo did not discover the laws of falling bodies or have any priority in formulating the equations. They were known in the fourteenth century and disseminated throughout Europe for hundreds of years before Galileo claimed to have ‘discovered’ them. For example, see Bradwardine’s De proportionibus velocitatum in motibus (1328).

    Most of what Galileo wrote about dynamics and kinematics was either wrong or cribbed from what others had previously published. For example, as the major historian of science Clifford Truesdell wrote in 1968 in Essays in The History of Mechanics:

    The now published sources prove to us, beyond contention, that the main kinematical properties of uniformly accelerated motions, still attributed to Galileo by the physics texts, were discovered and proved by scholars of Merton college [in the fourteenth century]…In principle, the qualities of Greek physics were replaced, at least for motions, by the numerical quantities that have ruled Western science ever since. The work was quickly diffused into France, Italy, and other parts of Europe.

    We know Galileo had read the authors because of the notes he made in his unpublished notebooks, where he purloined the results and republished them as his own hoping no-one would notice.

    We can blame the nineteenth century anti-Christian writers for puffing the self-publicist charlatan Galileo, and suppressing the advances of medieval science, in order to support their invention of the ‘conflict thesis’, now totally discredited historically.

  26. 26 Peter L. Griffiths May 2, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Scientist for Truth needs to master the mathematical properties not only of a perfect ellipse but also of an elliptical orbit as Kepler managed to do.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    Maybe not. Your Keplerian equation (in some sort of normalized form from his Second Law) is familiar enough: square of orbital velocity proportional to reciprocal of r. Your ‘Galilean’ equation is also familiar enough: square of instantaeous velocity under uniform acceleration is proportional to distance travelled. That’s not the issue. It’s your statement that the Keplerian equation is a ‘reciprocal version’ of the ‘Galilean’ equation that foxes me – I’m expecting something profound. But surely they are not different ‘versions’ of the same ‘law’ – the similarity is entirely superficial, isn’t it? The Keplerian equation comes out of conservation of angular momentum, the ‘Galilean’ does not. The accelerating force in the Keplerian case is normal to the orbital velocity, whereas in the ‘Galilean’ case it is tangential to the velocity. The acceleration in the ‘Galilean’ case is constant and unrelated to distance travelled, whereas the tangential accelerations in an elliptical orbit (making a body in orbit slow down and speed up along the path of its orbit) obviously vary with distance travelled along the orbit. I have only noticed a superficial resemblance in the form of the equations (i.e. the square of ‘some sort of velocity’ is proportional/inversely proportional to ‘some sort of distance’). Are you saying that they are in some way related, or one can be derived from the other? How is one a version of the other, except purely superficially?

  27. 27 Peter L. Griffiths May 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Further to my comments of 1 and 2 May 2011, d and r as well as adding up to the major axis of the ellipse are the distances of a particular point on the elliptical curve from the two foci (r from the Sun focus and d from the Empty focus). Hence the velocity relationship v^2=d=1/r. Galileo would probably not have recognised this application of his law of falling bodies. Along the elliptical curve, there is constant acceleration from the Empty focus to the Sun focus and constant deceleration from Sun focus to the Empty focus. I confess that some of these ideas are my own original. The part played by the Empty focus has been badly neglected over the past 4 centuries.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    If r relates to the gravitational attractor then the square of the orbital velocity is indeed inversely proportional to r. However, since d + r = constant then you can’t have the square of the orbital velocity also proportional to d.

    Galileo didn’t believe in elliptical motion of the planets – he was mostly a hidebound Aristotelian who believed that superlunary motion was perfectly circular, that gravitational attraction beyond the earth was bunk and that superlunary objects went in perfect circles because they were NOT acted upon by a force. Galileo branded Kepler as an occultist for believing that the sun was an attractor, and that this was the basis of elliptical motion. Galileo also thought the idea that the moon could cause the tides was absurd, so he came up with a really absurd idea of his own as a cause of tides. Following Aristotle he also believed that comets were an atmospheric phenomenon, even though Brahe, Kepler, Grassi etc had demonstrated that they were very distant objects by measuring their parallax.

    In short, Galileo would not have recognized anything that was really going on in the heavens because he would not accept the data that showed what was going on. Unless he could pass off other people’s work as his own, or it was one of his ideas, he wasn’t interested. He was an awful self-publicist, keen to use rhetoric to do down scientists better than he.

    When he first viewed the moons of Jupiter he thought they were fixed stars (that’s OK for first sighting, of course) but when they appeared on the other side of Jupiter the following night he believed that Jupiter had moved against these ‘fixed’ stars and so the motion was normal rather than actually retrograde as it was well known to be at that particular time. Had he checked the position of Jupiter against the real ‘fixed’ stars he would have been better informed. He subseqently thought they were stars that were being borne along with Jupiter (which means he must have had an odd view of how distant the stars were). It took him a long time to understand that they were in orbit around Jupiter. He missed out on discovering Neptune, though he spotted it at least three times, thinking it was a moving ‘fixed’ star.

    Galileo’s measurements of the orbital periods of Jupiter’s moons were hopelessly inaccurate. Simon Marius had been observing the moons for months before Galileo spotted them, and he started much better records, knowing they were satellites, the day after Galileo first saw them but mistook them for fixed stars. Marius’ calculation of the orbital periods was very accurate, comparing well with measurements we can make today. Good job the moons are named after what Marius called them, rather than what Galileo called them after his patron, in an attempt to curry favour.

  28. 28 Peter L. Griffiths May 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    The question raised in ScientistForTruth’s second sentence is a challenging one, and requires some acrobatic thinking. The answer lies in distinguishing velocity from distance. Velocity squared at a point varies directly with d the distance from the Empty focus, but inversely with r the distance from the Sun focus. This is still consistent with the distances d+r equalling a constant being the major axis of the elliptical orbit. To confirm this point one might consider what happens with small changes of v,d, and r. A small increase of velocity squared will leave the sum d+r unchanged, but d will increase and r will fall.

    ScientistForTruth replies

    This is incorrect.

    Let m represent the major axis:

    m = d + r

    Orbital velocity = v

    Then v^2 = k/r, where k is a constant

    and v^2 = k/(m – d) by direct substitution.

    So, although the square of the velocity varies with the inverse of r it is not directly proportional to d but rather is inversely proportional to (m – d).

    “To confirm this point one might consider what happens with small changes of v,d, and r. A small increase of velocity squared will leave the sum d+r unchanged, but d will increase and r will fall.” This is no confirmation since the premise is incorrect. Re-write the equations as

    d = m – k/(v^2)
    r = k/(v^2)

    It is easy to see from inspection that if both these equations are differentiated with respect to orbital velocity ‘v’ (i.e. dd/dv and dr/dv) then the constant ‘m’ disappears and the differentials are equal in magnitude and opposite in sign. So for small changes in velocity the changes in d and r will be equal and opposite.

    This is a trivial point anyway since it is constrained by the definitions of an ellipse. Since m = d + r, and m is a constant, then any small positive change in d, for whatever reason, must have an equal and opposite change in r.

    It should be obvious to anyone with basic algebraic skills and a little calculus that with a constraint such as m = d + r (i.e. elliptical motion) it is impossible to have a function which is proportional to d and at the same time inversely proportional to r since the differential dr/dd is always -1.

  29. 29 Peter L. Griffiths May 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    One special property of velocity is that there are two ways of measuring it, velocity is usually regarded as distance travelled per unit of time, however the same velocity can also be regarded as time taken per unit distance. One of these measures of velocity is the reciprocal of the other. This means that Kepler’s distance law could be expressed as v^2=r instead of v^2=1/r as is usual. Likewise Galileo’s law of falling bodies could be expressed as v^2=(1/d) instead of v^2=d as is usual. I do not know whether professional astronomers are aware of this similarity. The distance sum of d+r is not affected by this velocity similarity. Under the usual velocity system, where there is a small increase of v^2 then there will be a corresponding increase of d, r is affected by consequently equalling the reciprocal of the increased d. r is consequently reduced by the difference between the two values for r. The distance sum of d+r is not affected, this constraint you mention affects distances not velocities.

    ScientistForTruth responds

    I consider I’ve been very patient in pointing out the fallacies in these arguments and this is just going over old ground and flogging a dead horse. I’m not minded to put up and answer any more comments like this unless we can move on from sterile and fallacious ground.

    “I do not know whether professional astronomers are aware of this similarity.” As I’ve explained before, the ‘similarities’ are merely superficial and disappear when one understands that the variables v, d and r have different meanings in the two systems being compared, so the similarity is merely an artefact of using the same letters of the alphabet to represent different entities/realities/actualities.

    “r is affected by consequently equalling the reciprocal of the increased d.” I have already shown that this is fallacious, and at some length on previous comments. r and d do not have a mathematically reciprocal relationship in an ellipse.

    “The distance sum of d+r is not affected, this constraint you mention affects distances not velocities.” This is a fallacy. As I demonstrated, v^2 = k/r = k/(m-d). If the body is to inscribe a given ellipse then its velocity is absolutely constrained to be a certain value at every point on that ellipse, otherwise it wouldn’t be going in that ellipse. Bodies will inscribe closed orbits in ellipses where the attraction between the body and the attractor at the focus varies with an inverse square law of distance from the focus, i.e. proportional to 1/r^2.

    Comparison with the law of falling bodies is fruitless (as already shown) as that ‘law’ is based on the assumption of constant attractive force, not one that varies with distance, which is essential for elliptical orbiting.

    The only useful comparison with the law of falling bodies is to start by looking at a constant force/acceleration towards the attractor and then imparting a sideways motion. Under the right conditions this can generate circular motion, and circular motion can be sustained whatever the relationship between attractive force and radial distance from the attractor because the radial distance is invariant in perfect circular motion. It is more complex with an ellipse: for elliptical motion (other than purely circular motion) it is necessary for the attractive force to be proportional to the inverse square of the radial distance from the attractor. Or, if you like, the only perfectly elliptical motion that can be sustained without the inverse square law is the special case of circular motion. Slightly disturb a body which is doing circular motion (or move the position of the attractor) where an attractive force follows an inverse square law and the system can settle down into a stable elliptical orbit; and it will only inscribe an ellipse if the attractive force follows an inverse square law – under any other law the orbit may not be closed and may be unstable, and it cannot be elliptical.

  30. 30 richard rogacki June 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I don’t believe Hawking ever cared much about anything outside his narrow mathematically-based worldview. I suspect his comments about God have more to do with Leonard Mlodinow and whatever agenda he might be promoting. I was very disappointed with “A Briefer History of Time” and somewhat perplexed about Hawking’s apparent descent into vapidity until I read a review somewhere that fell all over itself fawning on co-writer Mlodinow. Hawking would not be the first Great Man to be suborned by money or honey.

  31. 31 Shooter February 28, 2012 at 1:45 am

    I LOVE this site. Indeed, all scientists wane, but only the truly foolish can never recover. Philosophy may be dead in practice, but it is in no way dead. It is just something that is not done anymore. What Hawkins does not realize is that philosophy is the first step in science, as it asks the big questions and proposes some solutions.

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