Friday, November 5, 2010

Stephen Hawking

At a Women & Spirituality conference I presented a power point distinguishing between science and spirituality. Its content follows naturally after the posts on Sam Harris.

One of the most respected scientists living, Stephen Hawking, concludes that the creation of the universe did not need a divine force, that it was the inevitable consequence of physical laws. He thinks we can write God out of physics as Darwin wrote God out of biology.
Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to . . . set the universe going.
But science can’t explain humans relating to Infinity—a universal occurrence. And it can't explain the complexities of people relating to each other—the interpersonal dynamics, the I-Thou relationships deeper and more complex than can be expressed in words, in logic, in numbers.

Science deals with facts, which it gathers by measurements and linear reasoning. It analyzes logically in a controlled, rational way. Religious insights come intuitively and involve the artistic dimension of human minds. Religion has no authority regarding information about the physical world; it communicates in myths and symbols. Religious leaders who don’t understand this provide fodder for scoffers at religion. One frustrated bishop, for instance, couldn’t understand why religious doctrines couldn’t be taught and memorized like math facts.

Life requires more than the skills used in science. It takes imagination and courage that go beyond logic. It costs more effort, more risk taking, and more energy than logic might advise; it requires independent and creative thinking. So even from a purely mundane point of view, science can’t provide all the answers or ensure success in life.
Days before Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Britain, Stephen Hawking released his new book, The Grand Design, which ignited controversy over his denial that God exists.
Rowan Williams, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, responded,
Science provides us with a wonderful narrative as to how existence may happen but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative.
Now I bring into the debate someone we might expect to support Hawking because he’s an atheist, but I call André Comte-Sponville an atheist mystic. See if you agree. These are his statements in The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality:
For any finite spirit, the truth of the universe must indeed be mysterious. How can we expect to understand and explain everything, given the fact that the ‘everything’ was here long before we were, and formed us, and permeates our very being, and surpasses us in every direction? One does not need much lucidity to grasp the fact that being is a mystery.”

The All . . . has no creator. All creators being part of it, they cannot create the All by itself. [It is] at once uncreated and creative.
This is a good definition of God! And it comes from an atheist. Obviously I as a religious person do not agree with everything Comte-Sponville says, but that analysis I’ll leave for another day.
Now I refer you to my answer to the question of God’s existence. Wrong question! See if you agree with me.

1 comment:

Ron Krumpos said...

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]