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Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe, God, their admirers and critics

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There are stories that pop science is bound to tell wrong (you pay/they sneer). Re Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, here’s the skinny:

<em>Coffee</em> Tins One of them is about “atheist” Fred Hoyle, who was probably more of a panentheist (God is present in everything), according to science historian Michael Flannery:

Hoyle is often regarded as a panspermia atheist, and his book The Intelligent Universe (1983) is cited as evidence for this alleged “fact.” Nevertheless, a careful reading of that fascinating book suggests otherwise. While Hoyle did argue for a version of panspermia, he insisted that “The origin of the Universe…requires an intelligence,” and he devoted an entire chapter to this topic.

He further stated, “Even after widening the stage for the origin of life from our tiny Earth to the Universe at large, we must still return to the same problem that opened this book — the vast unlikelihood that life, even on a cosmic scale, arose from non-living matter.” I would argue that far from being an atheist, Hoyle was in his own way an ID advocate who believed in a form of classical panentheism.More.

At any rate, Hoyle was certainly not a Darwinian atheist.

Our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon offers,

When you additionally consider that Hoyle did all that work on panspermia with Chandra Wickramasinghe as his coauthor, it becomes even more compelling. Chandra still publishes in the field of panspermia, and I even
have a paper co-authored with him. (A true gentleman who had been treated badly by the faculty of Cardiff Univ.)

Chandra is from Sri Lanka, and the island is principally Buddhist, with a minority of Hindu Tamil imported by the Brits to run the tea plantations. So it is hard to separate Chandra’s panentheist views from Hoyle’s atheist views in these papers, I would guess that Hoyle’s views were an amalgamation of both.

Class, discuss.

Yes, Chandra Wickramasinghe carried on the tradition until stopped abruptly at Cardiff U. Here’s Wickramasinghe’s account at LankaWeb:

I don’t think one needs a certificate in between-the-lines literacy to see that something happened. My gut is, it’s not racism as such. That kicks in sooner. More likely a growing awareness that CW was not a naturalist – but could not just be put down as a fundie and over-balconied. So suddenly his position is eliminated in a shakeup…

This closes off our week’s religion coverage, a bit late.

See also: What we know and don’t know about the origin of life

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One Reply to “Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe, God, their admirers and critics

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    News

    Class, discuss.

    My interest here is for ID and the broad reach it can have.

    While Hoyle did argue for a version of panspermia, he insisted that “The origin of the Universe…requires an intelligence,” and he devoted an entire chapter to this topic.

    Here, panspermia is not going to explain the origin of the universe because the spermiaites are within the universe and cannot be the intelligent origin of it.

    So it is hard to separate Chandra’s panentheist views from Hoyle’s atheist views in these papers, I would guess that Hoyle’s views were an amalgamation of both.

    The point I am interested in here is that ID is compatible with Buddhist panentheist views or even Deist (non-theist) views. As Hoyle concluded “an intelligence is required” to explain the origin of the universe. Actually, an atheist could come to a positive acceptance of ID on that fact. Like Hoyle who was a semi-atheist, whatever that may mean, as above.

    Just because a person acknowledges that an Intelligent Designer must necessarily exist, doesn’t mean the person will automatically therefore start believing in God, much less necessarily become a Christian.

    The problem goes farther, can ID sort out the debate between atheism, panentheism, Deism, theism and Christianity?

    I really don’t think so.

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