World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking says “science will win” in a recent interview with ABC news’ Diane Sawyer. From the interview:
But exploring the origins of time inevitably leads to questions about the ultimate origins of everything and what, if anything, is behind it all.
“What could define God [is thinking of God] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God,” Hawking told Sawyer. “They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible.”
When Sawyer asked if there was a way to reconcile religion and science, Hawking said, “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.”
Near the end of the interview, Hawking offers up advice to his children and says “”One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it,” he said. “Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”
But, at the outset of the interview, Hawking admits existence is a mystery to him. “When asked by ABC News’ Diane Sawyer about the biggest mystery he’d like solved, he said, “I want to know why the universe exists, why there is something greater than nothing.”
Hawking’s interview is just another example of the total cognitive dissonance that seems so prevalent among scientists who are also atheists. On the one hand, Hawking has no problem attributing everything in the cosmos to the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy interacting through eons of time through chance and/or necessity. He gazes in amazement at the vast richness of the cosmos and wants to know the most basic of all questions: “why?” But then in the next breath, he dismisses as “most impossible” what is probably the only actual answer to the question.
The “why” question I would like to have answered is why scientists who are also atheists (or philosophical natrualists), ask “why?” On a worldview that explains everything in completely naturalistic terms as the end product of blind, purposeless forces, asking “why” seems almost silly. The only possible answer is “because, that’s how all those blind, purposeless interactions worked out.” As a scientist, surely even Hawking must know that science can only investigate the ‘how” and not the “why”.
This cognitive dissonance is also evident in his advice to his kids that work gives meaning and purpose to life. Has Hawking discovered some way that these same blind, purposeless forces can attribute meaning to life through work that heretofore no one knew about, or does he think he can give life meaning and purpose through work just because he says so? It is difficult to see what grounds his notion of giving life meaning and purpose apart from his own preference and say so.
Hawking, like so many others, claims the high road of science and scientific reasoning, and proudly proclaims “science will win!”, but seems to leave reason at the door when it comes to actually trying to make sense of the world. And all this time we’re told it is the religious “faith-heads” (as Dawkins so endearingly refers to theists) who have tossed reason out the window!