We’ve recently noted with sadness the passing of Dr. Stephen Hawking, noted theoretical physicist and cosmologist, and one of the most well-known authors and speakers on these subjects in our lifetime.
Over at Evolution News, David Klinghoffer points us to an interview of Professor John Lennox by Dr. Jay Richards regarding some of the things Hawking said in his noted 2010 book, The Grand Design. This interview is from several years ago, not long after Lennox published his response to Hawking’s book, but is well worth revisiting in light of recent events as we remember and evaluate Hawking’s life and contributions.
In the interview, Lennox and Richards discuss such head-scratchers as Hawking’s claim that “the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”
Pause and let that sink in for a moment . . .
One of the things that happens when great figures, like Hawking, make absurd pronouncements, is that many people tend to be intimidated by the figure and think they have to set aside their own logic and reason and go along with the pronouncement. “Well, that doesn’t seem to make any sense, but, hey, it is Hawking who is saying it and he’s smarter than I am, so I guess I’d better go along.”
Lennox’ analysis of Hawking’s absurd pronouncement isn’t Earth-shattering or particularly difficult to grasp in its own right. Indeed, it is the first impression many of us would have and is the conclusion that every highschooler enrolled in a basic logic course would come to. That is, if not for the fact that it was Hawking who made the absurd pronouncement.
As popular king of the theoretical physics and cosmology world, Hawking could make all manner of absurd pronouncements and expect the subjects of the realm to just go along with it. Everyone sensed the pronouncements were nonsense. No great analysis or logical cunning were needed for that. But what was needed was courage, like the small boy, to stand up and shout, “The Emperor has no clothes!”
Lennox deserves much credit for taking on Hawking in this regard. As he wryly notes in the podcast, “Nonsense remains nonsense, even with a famous scientist talking.”