Has Hawking said something new?

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There has been a bit of a buzz about Stephen Hawking’s latest book The Grand Design.

I haven’t read it, and since I’m not all that familiar with intricate physics and cosmology I probably won’t read it (another reason is that my existing research interests are keeping me more than busy enough). But the impression I get from the buzz is that there are people out there who are treating the book as though it reveals something new and exciting about big bang cosmology that creates a new problem for the cosmological argument for God’s existence.

As a novice in the subject, and as someone who is unlikely to read the book, the best I can do is offer the perspective of people who hold a very different view on God from Dr Hawking and who do in fact have expertise in big bang cosmology.

Here are William Lane Craig’s comments on the articles about Hawkings’ book (note, Dr Craig freely admits that at the time of his comments the book had not come out, and he was relying on the new articles written by Hawkings about the contents of his book):

The overall impression Craig clearly got – and for that matter this is the general impression commentators online seem to have as well – is that Hawking’s book doesn’t have a new argument. The reasons Hawking gives for saying that God did not create the universe are the same that he has always used.

(Incidentally, there’s a dirty wee rumour going around thanks to Victor Stenger that Dr Craig had earlier misrepresented what Hawking had said in his earlier book A Brief History of Time. For an explanation of why this rumour is not correct, see here.)

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  • Joey September 13, 2010, 9:21 pm

    While I am not familiar enough with Hawking’s work to be able to say how new any of it is for him, I can say, from the description he and co-author Leonard Mlodinow gave recently on Larry King, that there doesn’t seem to be anything all that new or groundbreaking.

    The gist of what they said was that basically, the universe, originating from the Big Bang, came from nothing. I mean literally, that’s what Mlodinow said. Put like this, lets say this is the typical arguments theists like us would use:

    1. The universe has a beginning (granted by both sides).
    2. If there is no God, then the universe would have had to have been created from nothing.
    3. You cannot have something created from nothing.
    4. Therefore, there must be a God.

    Most would try to address premise 2 (for example, I heard someone once propose that energy is uncreated and ever-existent, and that it must have caused the Big Bang). Instead, they argue against premise 3, literally arguing that something can come from nothing. As to how that argument is supported, we’d have to read the book.

    Of course, I’m not sure of how closely linked the two ideas are, but they also add that creation would have been made possible by the already existent physical laws such as gravity. Hawking didn’t really answer Larry King when he asked him where the physical laws came from, which is kind of an important question, because either such laws are ever-existent, or something or someone put them into place, which brings us back to square one.

    It seems to me that really the only thing new about it was the fact that this time around, Hawking actually just came out and said it.

  • ropata September 13, 2010, 11:15 pm

    (As I mentioned elsewhere,) the core problem with Hawking’s book, and M-theory (as I understand it) is that it requires all possible universes to exist simultaneously.

    This requires
    a) something to come from nothing
    b) things to happen without a cause (i.e. a universe)

    Having offended some of the basic precepts of logic and the scientific method, Hawking goes even further and proposes that INFINITE somethings to come from nothing. His book is just an attempt to regress the prior cause of the universe back to a multiverse.

    Hawking is wrong because:
    -Universes are not spraying all over the place
    -Something does not come from nothing (well, there are tiny fluctuations of spacetime but they do not ‘exist’ in the usual sense)
    -Everything observed by science has a cause

  • Anon September 13, 2010, 11:27 pm

    Everyone need money now and then

  • Ken September 14, 2010, 12:00 pm

    Glenn – this “dirty wee rumour” you are attributing to Stenger. You should provide evidence for this claim or acknowledge that it is a bit of mischief. You wouldn’t want to be accused of rumour mongering, would you, especially when the rumour is demonstratively false.

    Having read several of Stenger’s books I don’t see any evidence for your claim at all. it seems to be an (intentional?) distortion of something Stenger reported about D’Souza, not Craig. This is what I wrote about that some time ago (see Godless cosmology):

    D’Souza’s quote (from Hawking’s book), in What’s So Great about Christianity, for example, was: “there must have been a big bang singularity.”

    It’s always worth checking out quotes used by religious apologists. The full sentence this was taken from reads:

    The final result was a joint paper by Penrose and myself in 1970, which at last proved that there must have been a big bang singularity provided only that general relativity is correct and the universe contains as much matter as we observe.”

    But – at the end of the same paragraph Hawking adds:

    “It is perhaps ironic that, having changed my mind, I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe – as we shall see later, it can disappear once quantum effects are taken into account.”

    So, it was rather dishonest of D’Souza to extract 8 words from the book to give exactly the opposite meaning conveyed by the same paragraph!

    Of course there is a dispute between Craig and cosmologists like Hawking, Stenger and many others related to the concept of singularity and its various meanings. Stenger has debated that with Craig.

    But if we want to point to a misrepresentation of a book’s content by Craig – I wouldn’t use A Brief History of Time. I would use Craig’s misrepresentation of Vilenkin quoting from his book Many Worlds in One:

    Craig quotes Vilenkin:

    “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).”

    Of course Craig here is arguing for a universe with a beginning and a cause (his god). But commentators have caught him out on this one; Apparently two paragraphs later Vilenken says:

    “Theologians have often welcomed any evidence for the beginning of the universe, regarding it as evidence for the existence of God… So what do we make of a proof that the beginning is unavoidable? Is it a proof of the existence of God? This view would be far too simplistic. Anyone who attempts to understand the origin of the universe should be prepared to address its logical paradoxes. In this regard, the theorem that I proved with my colleagues does not give much of an advantage to the theologian over the scientist. As evidenced by Jinasena’s remarks earlier in this chapter, religion is not immune to the paradoxes of Creation.”

    This is the problem when people quote mine. They wish to give scientific credibility to their own particular idea so they select the most favourable quote. Often in the process they purposely ignore the qualifications. Perfectly human but it does lay them wide open to the charge of misrepresentation.

    So yes – Craig does misrepresent scientists, he has selectively quoted in this misrepresentation, but the specific example relates to Vilenkin not Hawking.

    Now – I have never seen Stenger describe the particular misrepresentation (although he could well have). However, the story definitely exists on the internet. And as with D’Souza’s misrepresentation one can easily check by going to the respective books.

  • Ken September 14, 2010, 2:16 pm

    But to get back to the book:

    Rather laughable of Craig to suggest that Hawking has added nothing new since his book A Brief History of Time. The fact that Hawking is arguing for M-theory and its cosmological application must be new. This work didn’t arise until the mid to late 90s. A Brief History of Time was published in 1988! Search that book – I couldn’t find any reference to branes or M theory! Can you?

    Of course Craig is really reacting to the elephant in the room (or in this blog post) – the one sentence in news reports:

    “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

    This seems to have offended the theologically inclined – and perhaps it was intended to. It was promoted this way by Hawking’s publicist and the London Times (who were serialising this book). It’s been referred to as “godmongering” – and like sheep theologians like Craig have cooperated in their reaction and helped push the book to the top of the best seller list. (Reminds me of “The God Delusion”).

    But, of course, there is nothing new, or surprising, in such a statement. Consider the biologist George Romanes back in 1878 “there can no longer be any doubt that the existence of God is wholly unnecessary to explain any of the phenomena of the universe.”

    Or let’s go back to Newton who said “natural philosophy” should not “be founded .. on metaphysical opinion” and that its conclusions can only “be proved by experiment.” In practice Newton was usually a strict materialist but did tend to fall into the trap of saying “god did it” when he was stumped. Of course, later on others were able to show him that he was wrong in these cases.

    So all this hand wringing over The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow is really restricted to a few people who are offended by this rather obvious fact about science. However, I say “good on them.” They are certainly making sure the book will sell will – whether it deserves it or not.

  • ropata September 14, 2010, 3:12 pm

    Setting aside from Ken’s rumour-mongering, I think the novelty of Hawking’s book is that it’s an attempt to get away from the Big Bang and its metaphysical implications. The usual laws of physics do not apply to the initial nanoseconds of the universe (part of the motivation for building the large hadron collider) so physicists use the word ‘singularity’ to dignify a mathematical and physical mystery…and its obvious implication to a First Cause. I recommend the thread at Not Even Wrong for more technical comments.

    There’s a reason Hawking still has no Nobel Prize — his work is all untestable speculation, nothing verified

  • Ken September 14, 2010, 4:35 pm

    Ropata, it is because relativity theory breaks down at short times during the big bang that a singularity (derived from extrapolation of relativity) is technically not correct and Hawking changed his mind on that. (I am certainly not responsible for the rumour Glenn is propagating).

     The current task is to somehow combine relativity and quantum theories. Hopefully such a theory of quantum gravity (not yet achieved) will help in our understanding of the big bang. A quantum theory of gravity may also help clarify what came before the big bang.

    You are rather extravagant to claim Hawking’s work is untestable. It is certainly speculation which is, I think, necessary and worthwhile. It has yet to be tested – but to claim it is untestable is arrogant because you are claiming something you cannot know. You are in the same position as those philosophers who claimed we could never know the composition of the stars.

    And talking about unreadable speculation . . .!

    There is often speculation that Hawking may be awarded the noble prize for his work on black holes.

  • Gene September 14, 2010, 4:47 pm

    Anon is right, he made the comment to sell more books. He may be confined to a wheelchair for which I truly am sorry, but I gotz my doutz he’s really figured God out.

  • Glenn September 14, 2010, 5:54 pm

    Ken, my understanding is that Stenger propagates the rumour in God: The Failed Hypothesis.

    What’s more, Craig never, as far as I know, never claims that Vilenkin cites God as the cause of the universe. He cited him as a source who claims that the beginning of the universe is inevitable.

    In other words, he perfectly represented Vilenkin and never ever misrepresented him. He is well aware that Vilenkin does not share his view on what explains the beginning of the Universe. But his is absolutely on the money in citing Vilenkin as someone who insists, against others, that the Universe had a beginning a finite time period ago.

    No misrepresentation here. None.

  • Ken September 14, 2010, 7:31 pm

    Glad you acknowledged Vilenkin’s point. Pity Craig didn’t.

    Re your claim that Stenger is propagating this rumor – can you provide a quote? I notice that Craig doesn’t and I can’t find anything in Stenger’s book to support it. It’s clear from my reading Stenger clearly attributes the purposeful misrepresentation to D’Souza and my checking of his book confirms that. I believe someone is purposely misrepresenting that – substituting Craig for D’Souza.

    It sounds like Craig may actually be responsible for misrepresenting Stenger. (He certainly does his best to claim that Hawking didn’t really mean to change his mind.) And it is very noticeable he doesn’t actually specifically quote Stenger at all.

    Unless you can provide a factual quote I will assume that Craig is into misrepresenting Stenger and that you are actively promoting this.

    It shouldn’t be hard. Just search through the book on line.

    Ah, the beauty of the Internet – you can check these specific claims out.

  • Glenn September 14, 2010, 9:04 pm

    Um, Bill absolutely acknowledged Vilenkin’s point: That the universe had a beginning a finite time ago. That is the point that Bill was drawing on Vilenkin to make, and he made it without any misrepresentation at all.

    As for Stenger, in God: The Failed Hypothesis on p. 122 Stenger claims that Craig draws on Hawking’s support for his view on the singularity when it’s not even Hawking’s view now.

    This amounts to the charge of misrepresentation. This charge, however, can no longer be honestly made as Bill Craig clearly explains in the link that I have given, above.

    So yes it’s true that you can check these things out online, and there’s no way to just stick by your man and assume that everyone else is lying.

  • Ken September 14, 2010, 10:08 pm

    Could you please quote exactly what Stenger says, Glenn? That is the clear way to solve this one way it the other. If you don’t provide a quote to back up your claim I will assume you wish to persist with the unfounded rumour.

    I think there is a clear misrepresentation here as there is nothing I can find accusing Craig of using the specific quote from Hawking’s book. Sure Stenger is criticizing Craig’s use of the singularity argument. He notes that an article of Craig’s on his website using the singularity argument is still there 18 years after Hawking altered his view on singularities. And several years after Stenger himself pointed out the change to Craig.

    It us also interesting that Craig seems to try to argue away Hawking’s altered view. He never really seems to get the point about quantum effects correct.

    I checked tonight and Craig’s article

  • Ken September 14, 2010, 10:09 pm

    Is still online – without any explanation I could see.

  • Glenn September 14, 2010, 11:04 pm

    Ken, once you have actually taken the time to listen to what Craig has to say about Stenger’s comments (which are actually quoted int he clip), you will have actually heard what he is responding to.

    It’s not a disputed matter. Stenger claims that Craig draws on Hawking’s views even though Hawkings has actually repudiated them. Craig corrects this accusation.

    I am sorry that you did not see that this is what Craig pointed out, but it is so obvious that I don’t know what more I could give you to make it clearer. Maybe you’re just fond of Stenger.

  • Nathan September 14, 2010, 11:45 pm

    For the avoidance of doubt, Stenger, in God: The Failed Hypothesis, p. 122:

    In 1970 cosmologist Stephen Hawking and mathematician Roger Penrose, using a theorem derived earlier by Penrose, “proved” that a singularity exists at the beginning of the big bang.
    Extrapolating general relativity back to zero time, the universe gets smaller and smaller while the density of the universe and the gravitational field increases. As the size of the universe goes to zero, the density and gravitational field, at least according to the mathematics of general relativity, become infinite. At that point, Craig claims, time must stop and, therefore, no prior time can exist.
    However, Hawking has repudiated his own earlier proof. In his best seller A Brief History of Time, he avers, “There was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe.” This revised conclusion, concurred with by Penrose, follows from quantum mechanics, the theory of atomic processes that was developed in the years following the introduction of Einstein’s theories of relativity. Quantum mechanics, which also is now confirmed to great precision, tells us that general relativity, at least as currently formulated, must break down at times less than the Planck time and at distances smaller than the Planck length, mentioned earlier. It follows that general relativity cannot be used to imply that a singularity occurred prior to the Planck time and that Craig’s use of the singularity theorem for a beginning of time is invalid.

    [Bold emphasis is mine, italics is original.]

    There it is, plain as day: Stenger refers to Hawking publishing a singularity theory, then goes on to say Craig uses it to say that’s where time begins, says Hawking revised his theory, then at the end of the quote says if follows Craig’s use of the singularity theorem is invalid because Hawking doesn’t hold the view.

    Clearly Stenger says that Craig draws on Hawking’s theory even though Hawking has revised it. The implied question being asked of the reader by Stenger is “Can you really trust someone who uses a repudiated theory to prove the existence of God?”

  • ropata September 15, 2010, 12:59 am

    Ken, Nathan
    Storm in a teacup. So what if WLC’s article is out of date? Or a few off the cuff comments do not represent Hawking’s current views? His ORIGINAL publication is what most people are familiar with, and hence still requires a response.

    Moreover in the youtube clip WLC uses the word “singularity” exactly ZERO times, does that signify anything to you?

    I found the “debunking WLC” blog that I suppose is your source for these accusations. I note that the author of that blog is much more temperate in his reviews than your extravagant assertions of misquotes, misrepresentation etc.

    How can there be misrepresentation when Hawking has published something in a million-copy bestseller, and WLC is just responding to that?!

  • Nathan September 15, 2010, 2:19 am

    Ropata,

    Ken asked for evidence that Stenger misrepresented Craig, charging Glenn with rumour-mongering. Glenn gave him the reference, yet surprisingly, Ken still asked for evidence, so I put it up in full. The quote says what it says, there’s no extravagance involved. Ken is wrong to say there is no misrepesentation.

  • Ken September 15, 2010, 9:52 am

    Thanks for quoting that section, Nathan – saves me the bother. Glenn, I am assuming you accept that as your evidence too – the page number is the same?

    1: Now look at it properly and compare that with what Stenger said about D’Sousa’s misrepresentations of Hawking (I describe that in a previous comment above). D’Souza was clearly selecting the one sentence which does not represent what the paragraph says. This is clearly deliberate and dishonest because he effectively uses that one sentence to make a claim about Hawking which was completely opposite to the content of the paragraph.

    You guys are not defending D’Souza, I notice. However, it would be more consistent if you condemned him for lying.

    2: Stenger has not asserted this about Craig – far from it. What Stenger is pointing out is that Craig is effectively still arguing for a singularity of infinite density and “At that point, Craig claims, time must stop and, therefore, no prior time can exist.”

    3: Let’s see what Craig says: “at some point in the finite past-probably around 15 billion years ago-the entire known universe was contracted down to a single mathematical point which marked the origin of the universe. ” Now that article is still up at Craig’s web site and has not been amended (that I can see). Despite the fact that current theories of the big bang no longer state this. Relativity should not be extrapolated to such small dimensions because it breaks down. At this stage quantum effects must be considered.

    4: Stenger’s actual charge (stated in “Quantum Gods” is that “Craig has no excuse for continuing to use the singularity claim two decades after it was withdrawn by it’s authors” The authors are of course Hawking and Penrose in a 1970 paper “The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology.” Stenger specifically refers to Craig’s article (quoted from above) “The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe”.

    5:
    Craig in that article does not refer to Hawking or his book. Stenger does not refer to A Brief History of Time in his charge. His charge relates to how Craig is using the science – not a specific quote from a book.

    6:
    Clearly Stenger is not accusing Craig of misrepresenting what Hawking had said in his book. That specific charge was made against D’Souza in Stenger’s article “Godless Cosmology.”

    7: Craig has not corrected or amended his article so Stenger is completely correct. Moreover, Craig continues to argue against the current understanding of quantum effects in the big bang and for a singularity. In the video above he does this with an old argument of his about the Hawking/Hartle model. In this argument he is talking about relativity effects on the shape of space/time – not the quantum effects at small sizes during the big bang.

    8: This is a different debate. it is not about misrepresenting a paragraph in a book. It is about Craig’s attempt to explain away something which destroys his original argument and to somehow retrieve that argument.

    9: You guys have been fooled by a bit of dishonesty on Craig’s part. He is the one trying to create and spread a rumour that Stenger has misrepresented him. A clear falsehood.

    The facts clearly show that he is wrong. And that, of course, is why he mumbled when he should have quoted specifically from the book if there was evidende.

    Come on – if Stenger had said such a thing it would have been in Graig’s interest to proivde the evidence. Despite the best searching you guys could do you can’t find anything. I can’t find anything (and I am familiar with Stenger’s work in this area).Craig could also not find anything. I suggest to you there is nothing to support Craig’s claim.

    Perhaps he is trying to divert attention away fr5om this selective use of science?

  • Ken September 15, 2010, 10:00 am

    Ropata – I am not familiar with the debunking Craig blog – could you provide a link?

    My sources are Stenger’s works and some of Craig’s. And, yes, I did check out Hawking’s book and D’Souza’s book with respect to D’Souza’s specific claim.

    I didn’t count the times Craig used “singularity.” But it is clear that he wants to have the beginning of time, etc. that a singularity provides. Ad that is why he effectively still argues for it, named or not named. (The word “singularity is used rather loosely – even by people who understand the quantum effects. Even by Hawking himself).

  • Ken September 15, 2010, 10:04 am

    A simple test – do you guys accept Stenger’s charge that D’Souza has misrepresented Hawking – selectivity quoted from A Brief History of Time to convey the opposite meaning to that actually conveyed by the full paragraph?

    The evidence here is rock solid – if you can’t accept this, then of course discussion of Craig’s charge against Stenger is really not possible. It will indicate that you won’t hear anything said against you apologist mates.

  • Glenn September 15, 2010, 4:39 pm

    I don’t get it. Stenger propagated the claim that Craig presumed to draw support from Hawking’s position, even though Hawking (according to Stenger, that is) had publicly retracted that view.

    Craig therefore had to explain how this is not correct, and his explanation of how he did not in fact draw support from Hawking for a view that he no longer holds is clear and understandable – and accessible to us all.

    Ken, if this is not, in your view, a case of Craig being accused of something he didn’t do, then you are not playing by rules that I recognise. Trying to drag third parties into the example just shows that on its own this is a case that looks bad for Stenger, and you’re being resistant to admitting it. I don’t see any good reason for you to approach the matter this way.

  • Glenn September 15, 2010, 4:42 pm

    And Ken – it’s obvious that Craig isn’t saying that there is not a single new claim in what Hawking is saying, and it is clearly uncharitable to interpret him that way.

    He is saying that Hawking hasn’t – in the written article(s) that he is talking about – given any new reason for thinking that God was not involved in the creation of the Universe.

  • ropata September 15, 2010, 6:44 pm

    Ken,
    As requested.. this blog has some quite plausible criticism of Craig. The author seems well-read on cosmology, I am not so sure about his grasp of philosophy

  • Ken September 15, 2010, 7:19 pm

    Notice you guys continue to ignore the other elephant in the room – the dishonest misrepresentation by D’Souza of an extract from Hawking’s A brief History of Time!

    Come on, don’t be afraid! Your response will he a useful indicator of your ability to judge misrepresentation.

    There is obvious confusion here about what Glenn alleged about Victor Stenger. This was a charge that Stenger is responsible for a rumor that Craig had misrepresented a statement in A Brief History of Time.

    Now your quote provides no evidence of that. The article of Craig’s Stenger refers to does not even mention the book.

    I think that surely settles this. Glenn’s claim is unwarranted and malicious. Of course Craig has contributed to this lie with the way his video was introduced. 

    Thanks for the link Ropata. I will check it out.

  • Ken September 15, 2010, 7:35 pm

    Glenn, the single sentence of the authors that theologians have concentrated on is non-controversial in science, as I pointed out. There is no necessity to use gods as explanations in any phenomena.

    Now, as has also been pointed out the authors are not claiming there is no god. They are not criticizing you for your god beliefs. They are just pointing out they are just of no use to scientific explanations.

    The theological defensive reactions arise from inability to read statements properly or a belief that scientists should be obliged to include gods in their theories. The later expectation is not even going to be considered. Their problems with reading are theirs, not ours.

  • Glenn September 15, 2010, 8:20 pm

    “Now, as has also been pointed out the authors are not claiming there is no god. They are not criticizing you for your god beliefs.”

    Well, nobody ever said anyone was being personally criticised. You are quickly and clearly turning this thing personal, and there is no need for that Ken.

    I suppose it is your perogative to somehow think that the claim that God did not create the universe is not a criticism of a god belief. I can only imagine how much mental effort that interpretation must take, however.

    I note that again you are trying to make my comments about D’Souza, rather than Craig. I have not read D’Souza, and in any case, dragging him in to hide behind quite clearly shows that you want to switch subjects. Not buying.

  • Ken September 15, 2010, 11:18 pm

    So, Glenn, you clearly demonstrate the problem and the underlying cause of the science – religion conflict. You say:

    “I suppose it is your perogative to somehow think that the claim that God did not create the universe is not a criticism of a god belief. I can only imagine how much mental effort that interpretation must take, however
     
    I understand that to mean that scientific models for formation of the universe are, in effect, criticisms of god beliefs! So Le Maitre, who proposed one of the initial big bang models was criticizing god beliefs? Even though he was a Catholic priest? Effectively he was saying the same thing as Hawking when he reprimanded the pope for trying to claim the model as proof for his god. He pointed out that it was not. The same as Hawking has done.

    Of course, as with Hawking and his coauthor, Le Maitre did not see his model as proof that there is no god.

    Conflict is inevitable when we have religions attempting to impose myths onto science and then their practioners becoming offended when they are ignored. Humanity has too much to lose for us to sacrifice scientific truth at the stake of religious prejudice.

    As for mental effort I can assure you none is involved. It would be arrogant of me to assume any default position – involving a god or not. Science should start with the evidence and hopefully also eventually end with the evidence. We should take the evidence as it comes without imposing our own prejudices. We should follow the evidence where it leads.

    The sad (for theology) fact is that there is neither evidence or a developed, structured, hypothesis which even makes inclusion of a god belief possible in scientific models of universe formation. Simply asserting “god did it” is not science. If and when there is such evidence and hypothesis I certainly don’t see any problem in it’s inclusion. But you guys don’t get a free pass for this sort if thing.

    Now I can appreciate you might find this difficult because you have an existing conviction. And I am sure there are a few scientists who might have similar problems because of their religious convictions. But certainly not me. And I suggest that even many Christian scientists are also capable of this via compartmentalization of their beliefs.

    It is very noticeable that almost all the criticism of Hawking has been theological. Science writers may not review his book well but they all seem to see his simple sentence as a statement of the bleeding obvious. Check them out. See if you can find any who don’t (and yes I do know about Lady Greenfield’s silly criticism).

    No I am not diverting away from Craig to D’Souza. But your little attempt to promote a rumor around Craig has been shown to have no substance. Similarly Matt attempted to lay this charge on me – he confused my specific criticism of D’Souza with my general comment on Craig. Of course he couldn’t continue that in my case because I could simply point out that had not been my intention. But I can see now why he got confused – the unsubstantiated claims made at the beginning of Craig’s video.

    Now I would think that the facts around D’Souza’s misrepresentation are very clear. He had been caught lying. I am sure you can also see that. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge this, though, indicates your unwillingness to admit when an apologist mate of yours us wrong. So what hope is there for you to acknowledge your mistake regarding Craig. Much easier to just bad mouth Stenger.

  • Glenn September 15, 2010, 11:23 pm

    “I understand that to mean that scientific models for formation of the universe are, in effect, criticisms of god beliefs!”

    I’m surprised at such a poor understanding. What I meant is that the claim “God did not create the universe” is a criticism of a particular God belief. This is trivially obvious, and I’ve no idea why you want to challange it.

  • Glenn September 15, 2010, 11:23 pm

    And Ken, I repeat again: I have not read D’Souza, and he is not relevant to anything that I have, in fact, said. In this blog post I have provided some comments from William Lane Craig (not Dinesh D’Souza) on whether or not Stephen Hawking is really saying anything new when he denies that God created the Universe, and in the process I also provided a link to help dispell rumours that Craig misrepresented Hawking by knowingly citing him in support of a view he no longer holds.

    D’Souzah is not relevant to any of this, any more than Richard Dawkins is relevant.

  • Matt September 16, 2010, 12:51 am

    Glenn Ken is a liar, here is what he wrote on MandM a few weeks back http://www.mandm.org.nz/2010/08/gary-gutting-on-richard-dawkins-atheism.html#comment-83068

    I have read some of the theological arguments on that one. Personally I find them dishonest, using scientific data dishonestly, distorting it and outright lying about it. The sort of behavior which seems acceptable in theology but we try hard to prevent in science. Specifically on the fine tuning argument I have written on the cosmological constant where I show how people like Craig, Ross, etc, have completely misrepresented the real situation. On the so-called cosmological argument I have explained how people like Craig and de Souza have been caught completely misrepresenting the so-called “singularity” – to the extent of quoting from Hawkings in a way that says exactly the opposite of what he wrote.I have written on the cosmological constant where I show how people like Craig, Ross, etc, have completely misrepresented the real situation. On the so-called cosmological argument I have explained how people like Craig and de Souza have been caught completely misrepresenting the so-called “singularity” – to the extent of quoting from Hawkings in a way that says exactly the opposite of what he wrote.

    If you look at Ken’s blog Godless Cosmology on Open Parachute he cites Stenger as his source. Again here is what Ken says http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/godless-cosmology/

    “Mind you – religious apologists who get started on this slippery slope have a solution. Just ignore, or deny, new scientific knowledge. Victor Stenger describes an example of this in his contribution, Godless Cosmology, to the new book 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists.

    He refers to the claim made by some apologists like Dinesh D’Souza and William Lane Craig that “big bang” cosmology shows that the universe, including space and time, started as a singularity. That this must have had an external cause – and you can guess what (or who) they claim for the cause.Cherry picking

    Apologists will often quote Stephen Hawking (in particular his book A Brief History of Time as their evidence for a singularity. D’Souza’s quote, in What’s So Great about Christianity, for example, was: “there must have been a big bang singularity.”

    It’s always worth checking out quotes used by religious apologists. The full sentence this was taken from reads:

    “The final result was a joint paper by Penrose and myself in 1970, which at last proved that there must have been a big bang singularity provided only that general relativity is correct and the universe contains as much matter as we observe.”

    But – at the end of the same paragraph Hawking adds:

    “It is perhaps ironic that, having changed my mind, I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe – as we shall see later, it can disappear once quantum effects are taken into account.”

    So, it was rather dishonest of D’Souza to extract 8 words from the book to give exactly the opposite meaning conveyed by the same paragraph!

    Stenger points out that Craig also has not corrected this argument – despite it being explained to him in 2003! And the argument, together with attributions top Hawking and Penrose, is till being used by other apologists.

    So Ken himself has accused Craig of this and cites Stenger as his source Now here on this thread he states

    “Re your claim that Stenger is propagating this rumor – can you provide a quote? I notice that Craig doesn’t and I can’t find anything in Stenger’s book to support it. It’s clear from my reading Stenger clearly attributes the purposeful misrepresentation to D’Souza and my checking of his book confirms that. I believe someone is purposely misrepresenting that – substituting Craig for D’Souza.”

    Now Ken says that the Stenger accused Craig of misquoting Hawkings is a distortion by Christians. Its obviously not Craig but Ken who has problems with truth and honesty.

  • Paul from Canterbury Atheists September 16, 2010, 9:32 am

    Great minds like Hawkings and Mlodinow are looking for answers to the origins of the universe. Their conclusions to this innately human ponder-able “where did life began?” are clearly at odds with the simple & finite view that “God did it.”

    So if God did do it – then why don’t believers look for this conclusion using quantifiable science? Find who made god and what god is made of using the same methods open to the likes of Hawkins and anyone who has the necessary brain-power – instead of just saying “we don’t believe you” all the time?

    Saying “God did it” is not an answer till we know what god is, what made god or gods?

    All the churches around the globe could help fund their own version of a hadron collider and undertake experiments that conclude god exists. Clearly they have the funding to undertake such research – just not the will.

    The avenue to disprove Hawkings & Mlodinows conclusions are open to anyone.

    Rather than simply disagreeing – why not try and disprove them?

    Better still prove your supreme-being was involved.

    Glenn, you could go back to University and do a doctorate in Physics & Cosmology and challenge Hawkings and the like.

    Fat chance of any of this happening.

    It’s too easy to sit back and snipe at things and indulge in character assassination.

    Have a great day.

    Paul.

  • Ken September 16, 2010, 10:35 am

    Hawking’s simple statement was trivial and, as many people have pointed out, bleeding obvious. That a god is not required to explain the formation It also offends believers in all those other creations myths. ravens, etc.

    I say tough. Humanity want’s to understand reality so we can improve our life. We are no longer prepared to be ruled by the myth makers. So be offended – that is your problem.

    Are you going to withhold saying you believe the universe was created by your god because such a statement is effectively a criticism of a scientific belief? It might offend me?

    Come on – we are grown ups.

    Your sort of reaction is the reason why many if not most people see your views as irrelevant.

    I have been forced to give up my beliefs every so often. And I accept that as I feel happier adjusting my beliefs to reality rather than attempting the reverse – which is of course impossible.

    I can also appreciate you may not have read D’Souza – neither have I. Bit it was extremely easy to check Stenger’s claim about this misrepresentation. I am sure you also have not read Victor Stenger and still you attribute claims to him which I have demonstrated are just not true. (Your bias is such that checking such rumours is not required in this case).

    The fact that the charge against Stenger arises from confusion over a real charge he made against D’Souza suggest to me your unwillingness to even consider that fact is a purposeful attempt to avoid the reality of this situation.

    Burt, as I said – this was a test and it does show your inability to contemplate that one of your apologist mates may be telling porkies. Which they are in this case.

  • Matt September 16, 2010, 10:48 am

    Paul wrote:

    “So if God did do it – then why don’t believers look for this conclusion using quantifiable science? Find who made god and what god is made of using the same methods open to the likes of Hawkins and anyone who has the necessary brain-power – instead of just saying “we don’t believe you” all the time? Saying “God did it” is not an answer till we know what god is, what made god or gods?”

    Paul, I have offered definitions of what God is (still waiting for the money btw) so saying we don’t know is disengenous. On of his properties is being eternal and uncreated so asking who made him is about as sensible as asking when you stopped beating your wife? or what made you 2 feet tall?

    As to your question as to why we don’t use science to detect Gods existence here is my question for you. why do you assume that if God exists the way to detect him would be via science? Do you have any non circular evidence that science is the only valid way of detecting things? if so please provide it, or is this something you believe on faith.

  • Matt September 16, 2010, 10:55 am

    Ken wrote “I can also appreciate you may not have read D’Souza – neither have I. Bit it was extremely easy to check Stenger’s claim about this misrepresentation. I am sure you also have not read Victor Stenger and still you attribute claims to him which I have demonstrated are just not true. (Your bias is such that checking such rumours is not required in this case).

    Nice evasion Ken, the problem is you have said the opposite on your own blog as I cited above, you wrote

    “Mind you – religious apologists who get started on this slippery slope have a solution. Just ignore, or deny, new scientific knowledge. Victor Stenger describes an example of this in his contribution, Godless Cosmology, to the new book 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists.

    He refers to the claim made by some apologists like Dinesh D’Souza and William Lane Craig that “big bang” cosmology shows that the universe, including space and time, started as a singularity. That this must have had an external cause – and you can guess what (or who) they claim for the cause.Cherry picking

    Apologists will often quote Stephen Hawking (in particular his book A Brief History of Time as their evidence for a singularity.”

    Then you go on to state

    “Stenger points out that Craig also has not corrected this argument – despite it being explained to him in 2003! And the argument, together with attributions top Hawking and Penrose, is till being used by other apologists.”http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/godless-cosmology/

    So Ken, up until Glenn made this post you yourself were claiming Stenger did say this and citing him as doing so. Stop lying please.

  • Ken September 16, 2010, 11:09 am

    Yes, Matt – I have raised with you before your tendency to wildly accuse people of lying. It is a way of avoiding the truth isn’t it?

    Might I suggest that you are not being truthful here yourself. You ignore my comment:

    “You have taken a very vague inclusive comment of mine on your blog to attribute a specific charge on my part. I certainly didn’t mean it that way – as surely this post demonstrates as it discusses the specifics. However, I think with respect to Craig, who as far as I know doesn’t specifically use the Hawking’s quote, my comment is that he uses the science opportunistically. In my comment i was not being specific. I certainly withdraw that if you insist on interpreting it in that way which I didn’t intend.”

    Now you accepted that at the time. Here you conveniently forget it.

    How about withdrawing your charge and apologising?

    1: I have never accused Craig of misrepresenting that specific quote from Hawking’s book A Brief History of Time. Nor has Stenger. That specific charge was aimed at D’Souza.

    I notice you, like Glenn and your other mates, still refuse to acknowledge that D’Souza completely misrepresented that paragraph from Hawking’s book by his selective quote. You would appear more rational if you could bring yourself to acknowledge D’Souza lied and criticise him for it.

    Or do you wish to divert away from that simple issue?

    2: The fact is Matt, Glenn has accused Stenger of something: ” a dirty wee rumour going around thanks to Victor Stenger that Dr Craig had earlier misrepresented what Hawking had said in his earlier book A Brief History of Time. “

    2: Neither Glenn or Jason (or you) have presented any evidence for this claim. Have a look at Jason’s quote – it does not say what Glenn charges (and we know Glenn has never bothered checking this out).

    3: The introduction to Craig’s video,however, does imply that Stenger accused him of misrepresenting Hawking. It is very noticeable he doesn’t quote anything to support that. So yes, I think Craig is misrepresenting Stenger here – playing the man rather than the ball.

    4: It is pathetic that so much energy is being put into attacking Stenger in this nasty way. The lack of evidence doesn’t bother you – you just substitute typical theological fluffiness to confuse the facts. This obviously comes naturally to you.

    5: Quite separate from Hawking’s book many have argued against Craig’s reliance on a “singularity” to find a place for his god. This is not a matter of misrepresentation – it is a matter of selectively using something from science while ignoring other aspect. This was pointed out to Craig by Stenger some years ago. Stenger’s criticism is that Craig’s article using that specific argument is still on his site – no correction or amendment.

    Now Craig is welcome to stick with the old interpretation. He is welcome to argue against incorporation of quantum effects. He is welcome to specifically criticise the Hawking/Hartle model. After al scientists are quite used to these sort of debates.

    However, Craig is playing dirty if he accuses scientists willingness to argue against him as somehow them accusing him of “misrepresentation.”

    6. I suspect few scientists will actually really consider Craig’s argument or take him seriously. After all he persist in using theological venues for a one sided criticism of the science. However, to the extent he is prepared to publish his discussion in the appropriate scientific journals, he will of course be taken seriously. And, of course, if he does so this would give some credibility to his arguments.

    Frankly I can’t be bothered following his one sided debate when it it only presented in an apologist document. Better things to do with my time.

    Finally, Matt, why jump into this discussion now with wild personal attacks? Yet when the substance of a discussion is presented your run away and hide. I specifically gave an example of Craig’s selective quoting of Vilenkin in our previous discussion. This is a common problem with quote mining.

    And you disappear!

  • Paul from Canterbury Atheists September 16, 2010, 1:37 pm

    Matt, any scientist that presented a theory without a screed of evidence as you do with your supernatural entity Allah, and founded their claims about Allah on vacuous and uncorroborated nothingness like ‘eternal’ and uncreated’ – would be laughed out of their departments and have zero credibility.

    I do not profess to have brains nor the knowledge to debate the complexities of what Hawkings and Mlodinow are telling us, and neither do you I would suggest.

    But the difference between you and me here is – I’m willing to listen and you are not.

    I accept quantifiable science even when its conclusions differ to my own ‘head-space’ .

    If you or any other theist on this planet has evidence that is contrary to their conclusions I’m sure both Hawkings and Mlodinow would welcome the input and take on-board the rebuttal.

    Should one day science conclude a supernatural entity made the universe, pretty flowers and cause cancer – I will be happy to say I was wrong for listening to Hawkings.

    So if Hawkins and Mlodinow’s conclusions are wrong – kindly provide us with this evidence.

    I am willing to listen to anyone who can tell me they are wrong using more than ‘eternal’ and ‘uncreated’.

    Show me the goods & not the meaningless platitudes.

    As I say on my blog site: Atheists do look for answers to existence itself. They just don’t make them-up.

    See ya.

    Paul.

    Note: By the way Matt, when did you give me the answer to the question “What is God”? http://canterburyatheists.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-is-god-challenge.html I know Glenn had a go and stumbled at the first hurdle, but I can’t ever remember you having the fortitude to stump-up with the answer?

  • Ken September 16, 2010, 1:44 pm

    Matt – you are both avoiding (re D’Souza – I guess he doesn’t rank as high as Craig) and purposely trying to confuse.

    Craig does cherry pick – a common approach by theologians trying to use science. You do it yourself and you continue to avoid the example I gave for Craig’s cherry picking of Vilenkin. That is my charge of Craig’s misrepresentation – nothing to do with A Brief History of Time.

    And yes I did refer to Craig pulling up Craig for using the singularity argument (which goes back to Hawking and Penrose in 1970) having been corrected for this mistake in their debate. And yet Craig’s article that Stenger specifically refers to is still on Craig’s site, still unamended and still not corrected. That was the specific charge made by Stenger. Craig’s article doesn’t even refer to A Brief History of Time – or indeed refer to Hawking.

    I repeat – Glenn is promoting an unfounded rumour (one that Craig launched at the intro to his video). Glenn refuses to check it out but wishes to confuse the issue – as do you.

    For you, Glenn and Craig to interpret normal scientific refutation as accusation of misrepresentation really shows the poverty of, and lack of human respect in, the theological argument, doesn’t it?

  • ropata September 16, 2010, 5:15 pm

    A song about Ken & Paul .. who seem constitutionally unable to hold a rational discussion as they throw out accusations left and right, make up straw men and generally muddy the discussion with irrelevant tangents. Gish-gallopers extraordinaire!

  • Glenn September 16, 2010, 5:26 pm

    Ken, so now we have evidence of you perpetuating the rumour about Craig, and citing Stenger as a source. Now you’re saying that Stenger never promoted the rumour at all.

    This on top of the fact that you’ve had nothing to say about Craig’s substantive points in this clip.

    There’s little more I need to see.

  • Ken September 16, 2010, 7:04 pm

    Glenn, I have already pointed out that Craig in general sticks with his old criticism of the Hawking/Hartle model using arguments about the shape of space/time in this video. He does not get into quantum effects at short time. This is the general criticism of Craig’s approach as he relies on a singularity to claim a beginning caused by his god. If you disagree you are welcome to present your own interpretation – you haven’t so far.

    This is the sort of debate Craig could present in a scientific journal if he had confidence in his own analysis. This would give it some credibility and also enable proper scientific consideration. He does not get this by sticking with apologetics venues or aiming at an apologetics audience. Even though his arguments might impress that audience. And of course that is Craig’s job – he has no serious interest in entering into the scientific discussion on these issues. He is not a scientist after all.

    So an old argument of Craig’s, probably completely irrelevant to the book, but aimed at a specific captured audience – the apologetics ghetto.

    Re the charge made by you, Matt and Craig that Stenger had accused Craig  of misrepresenting A Brief History of Time. The evidence I have has been laid out, you have ignored it and chosen to adopt a jelly wrestling approach. Of course wild accusations by you and Matt do nothing for your case. But history shows that you will swear black is white, Galileo was wrong, madman Monckton is reliable and all climate scientists are part of an international conspiracy before accepting you have made a mistake. 

    Matt has probably run away again but anyone seriously interested (probably hardly anyone) can consult the actual books or quotes here – or my blog article on it.  Objective consideration will show them how you are using the old confusing theological methods.

    I test my case on the accusations you Matt and Craig make against Stenger (and me). Further debate on this particular issue is obviously pointless, in fact counterproductive.

  • Glenn September 16, 2010, 9:20 pm

    “misrepresenting A Brief History of Time” is a phrase that I never used, so I won’t comment on it. I talked about misrepresenting Hawking by drawing support from him to defend a view he no longer holds.

    And Ken, the whole reason for my linking to Craig’s defence of the charge that he claims hawking’s support for a view Hawking doesn’t support is so that people could rely on Craig’s defence of himself, rather than have me piece together such a defence. I gather you listened to it?

  • Matt September 16, 2010, 9:26 pm

    Ken Craig has defended his views in the peer reviewed literature. He does all the time, in fact I provided you with an article where he criticises Hawkings in a scientific journal. I also pointed you to a source ( again peer reviewed)where he addressed QM.

    But this is a side issue because again you are evading the point. You made the claim about Craig, Hawking, and Stenger cited it on your blog, cited it on mine and then turned around and said Stenger never said it and Christians made it up. When challenged you change the subject and start demanding we talk about something else.

  • Glenn September 16, 2010, 9:49 pm

    I see that pattern very clearly right here in this very thread.

    In a thread on Craig’s comments directly about Hawking’s work, Ken has been trying and trying to get people talking about D’Souza (!!!). When it is pointed out that D’Souza is not relevant and Craig is the one being accused, he denies that Craig is so accused.

    When Ken is reminded of the fact that he himself has made this very accusation about Craig, he makes a parting shot about D’Souza, pretends that Bill Craig hasn’t published in peer reviewed literature on cosmology (when anyone who has checked will know that he has) and tells us that we’re just jelly wrestling (and these two claims together amount to the admition: “I am ignorant of what Craig has said, and I don’t care to know about it so I’ll just call this something silly and walk away”), shifts the goalposts (by claiming that someone is talking about Craig misrepresenting A Brief History of Time even though that was never suggested), and then announcing that it’s pointless to debate the matter.

    With tactics like this, it truly is pointless.

  • Anon September 17, 2010, 10:03 am

    I’m not sure who they are trying to fool, most likely themselves, because it’s pretty obvious for anyone who’s following these threads how Ken and Paul (and other usual but less frequent atheists) operate.

    I guess their only argument is that ‘There is no God’ … nothing else really, all the science talks are just smoke screen.

  • Ken September 17, 2010, 10:09 am

    Moving on to Craig’s reliability in this area of science (he is after all ripping in to Stephen Hawking who has a very high standing in this area).

    I said:

    “This is the sort of debate Craig could present in a scientific journal if he had confidence in his own analysis. This would give it some credibility and also enable proper scientific consideration. He does not get this by sticking with apologetics venues or aiming at an apologetics audience. “

    To which Matt replies:

    “Craig has defended his views in the peer reviewed literature. He does all the time, in fact I provided you with an article where he criticises Hawkings in a scientific journal. I also pointed you to a source ( again peer reviewed)where he addressed QM.”

    Well, I notice that Matt has dropped the word scientific. No one is suggesting Craig has not published. He is after all a philosopher and surely has published some papers in peer reviewed philosophy journals.

    Now to the extent he has published credible papers in scientific I am willing to accord him some respect in the area.

    But tell me if I am wrong, Matt. A brief search indicates to me he actually hasn’t done so.

    Sure you will raise the paper in Astrophysics and Space Science 1999. I will get back to that.

    I have had a brief check of Craig’s papers in journals that could be considered scientific using Google Scholar using the Physics, Astronomy, and Planetary Science classification.

    A total of 18. Surprisingly few, but it is not his field.

    Most of these journals/books were philosophical or evangelical religious.

    There is only one paper in a scientific journal – the Astrophysics and Planetary Science paper you place so much weight on. The Ultimate Question of Origins: God and the Beginning of the Universe.

    Now – you claim this was peer reviewed. I suggest to you it was not because it wasn’t a normal contributed paper.

    This paper is the text of a lecture Craig presented at a conference in South Africa. It was an invited lecture. A public evening lecture. In my experience such lectures are not peer reviewed by the journal – that would be considered insulting to an invited lecturer. At the same time, of course, such lectures are considered interesting and stimulating but not necessarily accurate.

    And the editors of the journal clearly state that the paper was not a scientific one. They say it came after presentation of the scientific contributions – it is not a scientific contribution, but a philosophical one.

    Quite consistent with Craig’s reputation – as a philosopher not a scientist.

    So thank you Matt. I had considered that Craig might have had some background in the science of cosmology – rather like Hugh Ross has a background in astronomy. So I was willing to accept he may have published a couple of peer reviewed scientific papers as Ross has.

    However, your comments encouraged me to check and we find:

    Yes Craig has standing as a philosophy

    No, Craig doesn’t have standing as a scientific cosmologist. No peer reviewed publications in this area.

    Yet – you are so blinded by apologetic authority you will believe him over Stenger and Hawking any time!

    Well – a good example of the apologetics ghetto

    Matt, my search was brief and I will readily concede that I may have missed some publications. If you think I have please refer me to them.

    Now would you like to consider Hugh Ross and his porkies on the cosmological constant and fine tuning?

  • Matt September 17, 2010, 1:44 pm

    Ken, I think the telling comment here is your insistence that only if a person is published in cosmological journals does there work count. In fact the cosmological argument for Gods existence is a Philosophical argument which has been discussed for thousands of years and if you looked at Craig’s publications in mainstream Philosophy journals ( note mainstream philosophy journals I am not refering to Apologetics or evangelical publications) they actually come in to the hundreds try for example here http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=publications_main. Similarly Craig’s writings on the Philosophy of space and time.

    Stenger and Hawking in their works discuss Philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God as does Dawkins who has a chapter criticising these arguments. Can you point me to 18 publications that they have in mainstream peer reviewed philosophical literature on this subject?? I have yet to see any.

  • Matt September 17, 2010, 1:46 pm

    Ken I have not read Ross so wont comment. Perhaps you will finally address the really shonky work of Dawkins on the cosmological argument or his analysis of Aquinas or his incompetent discussion of the ontological argument or his next to no understanding of contemporary arguments from religious experience, or his unargued for claim that God is complex ignoring all the arguments to the contrary??? Or are you going to continue to promote his non peer reviewed discussions of these topics as substantive?

  • Ken September 17, 2010, 2:01 pm

    So Matt – I assume you now agree with my statement:


    “This is the sort of debate Craig could present in a scientific journal if he had confidence in his own analysis. This would give it some credibility and also enable proper scientific consideration. He does not get this by sticking with apologetics venues or aiming at an apologetics audience. “

    And you acknowledge that you were misleading to respond with your claim:

    “Craig has defended his views in the peer reviewed literature. He does all the time, “

    Granted, Hawking in his new book does make small, and provocative, reference to philosophy. The bit that I have seen quoted seems reasonable to me. That the old philosophy, and especially theological philosophy is quite inadequate to understanding the world. Science had to break away from being the handmaiden of religion and old philosophy for the scientific revolution to occur.

    However, a newer scientific philosophy is now much more common (not in theology) recognises the particular powerful role of science and learns from it.

    There is, of course, a debate to be had in that.

    I will await my reading of this new book before I comment further on Hawking’s understanding of the philosophy question. (He is quite a capricious author so I am not prepared to commit to his statements unseen).

    I am, however, quite prepared to defend my own understanding, on its own merits, though.

    But meanwhile your bluff has been called on Craig’s credibility in the field of scientific cosmology and the reliability of any comment he might make on Hawking’s scientific ideas.

    The problem is that you guys are choosing to take on Hawking and Stenger in their specialty not yours. And using Craig who does not have expertise in that specific specialty. And you used Craig in a dishonest way – implying he has credibility in Hawking’s and Stenger’s field.

  • Paul from Canterbury Atheists September 17, 2010, 2:30 pm

    Makes impatient repeated taping sound on the table with fingers, awaiting…..

    1.)Matts answer to “What is God?” he’s claimed to have sent me and is so enlightening as to be worthy of the promised $1,000 I put-up.

    2.)Anyone at all here who can disprove the conclusions of Hawkings and Mlodinow using the same methodology they used to formulate it and not just a primeval approach to such a complex study like “I don’t believe them because I believe in god”

    Imagine for a second if Hawkings and Mlodinow had have formed a different conclusion from their research and actually supported the supernatural basis for life. Then you guys would be trumpeting their conclusions.

    But you don’t have to have a doctorate in physics to realise the belief your god a.k.a Allah being behind the origins of life in the universe – will never be an answer on its own – because it fails to also answer “who made god?”

    Hawkins and Mlodinow’s theories tick both boxes and can be supported with evidence.

    Evidence no-one here has challenged, nor does anyone here, myself included,have the brain-power to tackle Hawkings etc.

    A doctorate in Theology is as much use as one in Zombies when it comes to a discussion of this nature, a nice segway into:

    http://canterburyatheists.blogspot.com/2010/09/surely-doctorate-in-zombies-is-worth.html

    I will repeat (for what it is worth) Atheists do look for answers to existence itself. They just don’t make them-up.

    Have a great weekend.

    Paul.

  • Matt September 17, 2010, 2:41 pm

    Err No Ken, Craig is a specialist in the cosmological argument in fact he is one of the world experts in the relationship between big bang cosmology and Theism. Stenger and Hawking’s are not that’s my point.

    The issue here is not just physics, its what philosophical and theological implications various cosmological theories have, and on that issue Craig is one of the world experts.

  • Glenn September 17, 2010, 2:41 pm

    Paul, one very quick question: Can you locate a person who has actually replied to Hawking on whether or not God created the universe by saying “I don’t believe them because I believe in god”? Or is this another one of thos cute quips that people make online, hoping to get a chuckle from their mates?

    You have a great (and honest) weekend too!
    Glenn

  • Matt September 17, 2010, 2:46 pm

    Hi Paul, actually I gave my answer on MandM you replied to it. I responded. More recently you brought this up again, I again pointed you to the relevant issue, you were challenged by several commenters on MandM to pay up you went quiet. Now you bring it up again, I think this makes it clear to all what is really going on.

    I note you failed to answer my challenge in the thread above, but simply repeated the same position.

    Please provide me with the evidence I asked for Paul.

  • Ken September 17, 2010, 2:57 pm

    Matt – you say “Craig is a specialist in the cosmological argument”

    What you mean is Craig is a specialist in the theological cosmological argument.

    This is of course useless when you actually get down to it and study reality. My point about science needing to break away from theology for the scientific revolution to occur.

    In the end science trumps theology. Because it works with reality.

  • Glenn September 17, 2010, 2:59 pm

    “What you mean is Craig is a specialist in the theological cosmological argument.”

    Ken, perhaps you were concerned that people might have mistakenly thought that Matt was talking about the non-theological cosmological argument for God’s existence. A real worry I’m sure!

  • Paul from Canterbury Atheists September 17, 2010, 3:21 pm

    Matt, send me the answer rather than giving it to your your mates and please don’t ask me to scratch around your joint after it.

    Ta.

    Paul.

  • Ken September 17, 2010, 3:50 pm

    Whatever you want to call it, Glenn, it’s not scientific, not based in reality.

    We don’t need it to understand the formation of the universe.

  • Glenn September 17, 2010, 4:48 pm

    Got it, Ken. So the physical sciences are the only way to know about reality. Clear as day.

  • Matt September 17, 2010, 5:35 pm

    Ken, Hawkings is discussing the theological cosmological argument. So he is discussing Craig’s area of expertise.

  • Ken September 17, 2010, 7:18 pm

    Matt, you haven’t read the book. Can’t have even read the press reports!
    Hawkings and his coauthor do not discuss theological theory. The discuss modern physics and cosmology. The reports say he favors M theory – nothing at all to do with theology.

    Theologians should keep their noses out. Their behavior is simply an attempt to go back to the past before the scientific revolution.

    Bloody losers. Humanity has too much to losoe to allow them to get away with that.

  • Glenn September 17, 2010, 7:33 pm

    Ken, what a ridiculous, childish, ignorant stereotyper you have become. So those who have invested significant time in studying cosmology and theories of time really, contrary to all appearances, wisht he scientific revolution had never happened?

    Why not just wear a sign that says “WARNING: I am a reactionary fearmonger. Ignore me.”

    I believe the expression to describe what you’ve done here Ken (in fact I got the expression from you) is “climbed out of your tree.” Next thing you know you’ll be whining about flat earthers behind the pulpit.

  • Matt September 17, 2010, 8:15 pm

    Ken, when Hawkings says that God is not needed to explain X and he has an argument that the Universe can be explained entirely naturalistically” Or when he argues that cosmology has the implication that God did not create it then he has addressed “theological theory” as you call it, and he then has to contend that experts in the area he has chosen to address will respond.

    If scientists don’t like it don’t butt into philosophy.

  • Ken September 17, 2010, 8:44 pm

    See my quotes from scientists back to Newton above. Gods are not required to understand anything in the universe. In fact such beliefs get in the way of understanding reality. That’s the way things are. No one yet has even proposed a structured god hypothesis so it’s no wonder none have been incorporated into our scientific understanding. Until they do there is no hope that it could be.

    Your claims really show you have no understanding of how science works. You talk as if god ideas are included in scientific theories by default. The fact is that you don’t get a free pass in science. You have to do the work, establish the evidence at validate ideas against reality.

    Come on Matt, let’s hear your examples of how your god beliefs are included in our understandin of reality. An understanding which you test every day of your life and find that it does work. An no sign of your god.

  • Glenn September 17, 2010, 9:04 pm

    “Gods are not required to understand anything in the universe. In fact such beliefs get in the way of understanding reality.”

    How is this not just a sermon?

  • Matt September 17, 2010, 11:30 pm

    See my quotes from scientists back to Newton above. Gods are not required to understand anything in the universe. In fact such beliefs get in the way of understanding reality. That’s the way things are. No one yet has even proposed a structured god hypothesis so it’s no wonder none have been incorporated into our scientific understanding. Until they do there is no hope that it could be. A string of assertions and slogans for which no evidence is provided and then a claim that one needs evidence before making claims.

  • Ken September 18, 2010, 8:52 am

    Matt, my little “sermon” could be shot down in flames by you simply by providing one bit if scientific knowledge about our reality which relied on a god hypothesis or theory. One.

    And you can’t find any.

    On the contrary every day you use and rely on such godless knowledge. You are living proof of my assertions. And no amount of theological mumbo jumbo can change that fact.

    And yet you want to impose on science a default requirement that your god beliefs be incorporated into our scientific theories. You can’t claim that for theories of universe origins without claiming it in general. And you can do nothing sensible to justify it.

    As I said, humanity escaped from that (or started to) 400 years ago.

  • Ken September 19, 2010, 11:34 am

    Matt – just in the interests of accuracy, aware that I have been misrepresented here at times, I want to clarify the publication data for Craig cf Hawkings.

    1: In response to my comment (#41) “I have had a brief check of Craig’s papers in journals that could be considered scientific using Google Scholar using the Physics, Astronomy, and Planetary Science classification.

    A total of 18. Surprisingly few, but it is not his field.”

    You said (#42) “Stenger and Hawking in their works discuss Philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God as does Dawkins who has a chapter criticising these arguments. Can you point me to 18 publications that they have in mainstream peer reviewed philosophical literature on this subject?? I have yet to see any.”

    My reference of 18 in Google scholar was to the total number of hits (not publications) for “WL Craig” using the word universe in the Physics, Astronomy, and Planetary Science category.

    Actually only 1 was a paper in a scientific journal and this probably was not refereed as it was an invited lecture.

    I repeated that search today and got 14 hits. Still no refereed papers in scientific journals though.

    2: A similar search for SW Hawking in the same category produced 192 hits. I won’t bother analysing what journals are involved. I think we can accept that many of these hits were for papers in peer reviewed scientific journals.

    3: Unfortunately Google Scholar does not have a search category “philosophy” so I used “Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities” which I imagine would include philosophical journals.

    Hits for “SW Hawking” and “universe” were 15. I don’t think any of these journals qualify as philosophical. This compares with 76 hits for Craig. Clearly at least some of these were for articles in philosophical journals, most probably refereed.

    For V Stenger in this category were 19 hits. Mostly articles on his university web site but a few journals which could be considered philosophical in content. I do not know if these are normally refereed.

    4: On your later claim “Hawking is discussing the theological cosmological argument. So he is discussing Craig’s area of expertise.” Simple to check that out. There were no hits for Hawking and “cosmological constant” in any category.

    So clearly this claim of your is completely untrue.

    In summary:

    A: You were completely wrong about what Hawking is researching and writing about. Nowhere does he mention the “cosmological argument.” He is not a theologian he is a scientist.

    B: One gets a similar number of hits for Stenger and Hawking in a category including philosophy to that achieved by Craig for the scientific category. 19 and 15 vs 14.

    C:
    Don’t confuse hits with publications. Craig has no refereed papers published in a scientific journal on this subject.

    To be clear Matt: Don’t quote me as saying that Craig has 18 scientific publications in this area. he has ZERO.

  • Ken September 19, 2010, 11:37 am

    Bugger – that search in 4 was for the “cosmological argument.”

    The “cosmological constant” is a whole other story of deception by theologians.

  • Glenn September 19, 2010, 12:16 pm

    “aware that I have been misrepresented here at times”

    Bollocks.

    As you were.

  • ropata September 19, 2010, 2:56 pm

    Ken
    Hawking makes philosophical (theological) statements using theoretical physics (poorly). He has rightly earned opprobrium from working physicists and philosophers who may not be publicity junkies but they actually know the stuff. No reason for you to get angry and defensive when Hawking is criticised — unless you are trying to distract from the fact that his latest book just a stunt, not serious science

  • Matt September 19, 2010, 4:13 pm

    Ken, Hawking’s claims you don’t need God to explain the existence of the Universe, that is a comment on the cosmological argument.

    Your comments above prove my point, Craig has no publications in the scientific journals. In peer reviewed Philosophy journals where the theological and philosophical implications of big bang cosmology is discussed he has numerous articles, in fact his work is the most discussed work in this topic.

    Stenger and Hawkings on the other hand are published in science, however when they start discussing theological and philosophical implications of their work and address the philosophical questions about Gods existence there work is not published in the peer reviewed literature.

    So in other words when you start talking about the relationship between God and the big bang, or when you start talking about God exists or not. Craig’s stature clearly and unequivocally is higher than Stenger and Hawking’s.

    What in essence you have done is demand peer review in Scientific journals from any theologian or philosopher who writes on a scientific issue and then waive any requirement for peer review in philosophy journals for any scientists who writes on a philosophical issue.

    In other words academic standards only apply to others.

  • Ken September 19, 2010, 4:48 pm

    Matt – you were the one raising peer review and claiming it for Craig in scientific journals. For a specific paper. You were shown to be completely wrong.

    You obviously have a real mental block about this.

    All I can do is repeat that it is perfectly valid for Hawking, Newton and scientists in between to state that we do not require a god to explain anything in the universe – from its existence, what went before or its end. Simple statement of fact. You might be unhappy about that – tough.

    It says nothing about your right to your beliefs or even if gods exist objectively. Nothing at all.

    However, for you to claim your right to impose a theological requirement on science is to return to the situation 400 years ago, to the persecution of Galileo, the murder of Bruno, the inquisition.

    Humanity does not want that again. And you guys no longer have the power to impose it again.

    Our science will get on quite happily without you.

  • Matt September 19, 2010, 5:31 pm

    Ken

    Actually the idea that the Church suppressed science and that Bruno was murdered for scientific beliefs is false. Few historians of science accept that picture any more. Again we see the man who demands evidence making false claims with no evidence at all when it suits him.

    Newton did not claim we did not need God to explain the Universe, in fact he appealed to God to explain some phenomena and also believed God was behind the laws of Nature he also thought he was offering an argument for Gods existence.

    But to your main point, you say “you were the one raising peer review and claiming it for Craig in scientific journals” thats false, I simply pointed out that your claim that Craig’s works were not peer reviewed or that he was not an expert in the field was false.

    You then state “we do not require a god to explain anything in the universe – from its existence, what went before or its end. Simple statement of fact.” Unfortunately that is not a fact, it can only be a fact if the cosmological argument which contends the opposite has been decisively refuted. Which means Scientist who make this claim have to actually examine the best cosmological arguments in the literature and offer a critique that is up the requisite rigor in doing so .

    That is not what happens instead we see scientists writing pop philosophy tracts which no one familar with the cosmological argument whether pro such as Craig or anti such as Quinton Smith would accept as a competent rebuttal.

    Scientist don’t just get to make controversial philosophical statements of which there are numerous serious arguments against and claim “I am a scientist so there”. They need to address these arguments.

  • Ken September 20, 2010, 2:23 pm

    Bruno was murdered by the inquisition on a charge of heresy. Galileo was imprisoned (amended to house arrest) on a similar charge of heresy. Their heresy was not accepting the imposed dogma of the church regarding reality. You are now in the same position of attempting to impose a religious dogma onto scientists like Hawking. Effectively you accuse them of heresy.

    However, we live in different times and Hawking is not going to be reigned in, let alone imprisoned, by you.

    If Craig wishes to challenge Hawking’s ideas he has the option of publishing in the appropriate journal. That is a scientific journal – the ideas are scientific. We have seen that he does not do that.

    Your claim that Newton “appealed to God to explain some phenomena” is true – but why stop there. Tell us why and how (un)successful those appeals were.

    We know that in his scientific work Newton was basically materialist. He wrote that “natural philosophy should not be founded on metaphysical opinion” and that its conclusions “can only be proved by experiment.”

    Newton is remembered basically for this – an important element of the scientific revolution – the escape of science from dogma and religion. He is not remembered for his bible analysis or alchemy.

    Now in his scientific work he did appeal to his god (not very often) as a last resort – when he was stumped. (Today scientists are quite happy to say “I don’t know” when stumped – and then continue their research).

    So examples. The aberrations in the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter. The planar arrangement of the planets. These he “explained” by attributing to the action of his god. Of course later scientists actually found the reasons for these things that stumped Newton.

    And that is where gods have been used in the past – to “explain” things that baffled us – from lightning, thunder, etc., all the way up to the origin of life, evolution and the origin of the universe.

    The god hypotheses never explained anything. It is more honest to say “I don’t know” and then set about researching the problem.

    Matt – it is arrogant of you to accuse Hawking and others of writing “pop philosophy tracts.” An emotive statement perhaps but also an ignorant one demonstrating an attitudinal problem. I suspect you see all science books the same way.

    You have not read the book in question. I don’t know if you could understand it if you did. But it would show less hubris if you restrained from such wild statements when you actually are ignorant of the book and its contents.

    As we all are until we read it.

  • Glenn September 20, 2010, 4:57 pm

    Ken, on the chance that you are open to learning that you are incorrect about certain historical matters, you may find this book interesting.

    Because I know that you love the genetic fallacy, let me reassure you that it is published by Harvard University Press.

  • Matt September 20, 2010, 6:39 pm

    Ken
    1. There is no evidence that Bruno was executed for his scientific beliefs, After examining Bruno’s considerable amount of writings Cardinal Bellarmine of the Inquisition drew up a list of 8 propositions that Bruno held which were considered heretical. The records were looted during the Napoleonic wars and a great deal was lost This list has not survived, so we do not know exactly what ideas of Bruno were condemned. Some people have speculated that Bruno’s cosmological views were on the list, but this is unlikely for two reasons. First, the Church did not consider Copernican cosmology heretical until 1616 sometime after Bruno’s trial. Second, the reference to a infinite universe was simply an echo of Nicholas of Cusa’s writings which the Church did not deem heretical.

    2. We have gone over the Galileo issue before, this is perhaps the only case in where the Church prosecuted someone for their scientific opinions and hence you cannot claim a trend or pattern on the basis of it. Moreover the issue was far more complex than you make out, the Church had stated Galileo could teach heliocentricism ( which Theologians had been proposing as a hypothesis for several centuries) as a hypothesis but could not affirm it was demonstrably true until he came up with a demonstration, Galileo did not do so, latter scientists like Kepler did. The conflict thesis: which asserts that the Church oppressed science and scientists and hindered scientific progress is been pretty much abandoned by contemporary historians of science. You write ”If Craig wishes to challenge Hawking’s ideas he has the option of publishing in the appropriate journal. That is a scientific journal – the ideas are scientific. We have seen that he does not do that.”

    Your reference to Craig and Hawkings. I can just as easily reply by saying, “If Hawking wishes to challenge Craig, or Swinburne, or Reichenbach or any other philosophers ideas that the existence of the universe or laws of nature are best explained by God then he had the option of publishing in an appropriate journal, that is a philosophical journal” Once again you seem to think that Philosophers should not be taken seriously when they make scientific claims if they have not been published by peer reviewed science journals yet in the same breath peddle philosophical and theological claims made by scientists which would not survive review in philosophical journals. In otherwords peer review is just a useful political tool that is wheeled out to silence your critics and then safely hidden away when you want to offer criticisms of your own.

    3. Your correct that Newton’s appeal to God in some areas was unsuccessful, in others such as his theological conviction that the universe was governed by laws of nature, and which could be empirically detected because God was under no necessity to create the world any particular way as opposed to be detected by aprori reasoning, he was highly successful, and he was following earlier theological critiques of Aristotelian science. Your characterization of Newton as a materialist is false.
    4. You write Now in his scientific work he did appeal to his god (not very often) as a last resort – when he was stumped. Actually no, his science flowed from prior theological convictions.

    5.You write “(Today scientists are quite happy to say “I don’t know” when stumped – and then continue their research).The god hypotheses never explained anything. It is more honest to say “I don’t know” and then set about researching the problem.” two things here, first this statement is only true if you can show that theism does not explain anything, that would involve actually looking at the numerous arguments in the literature arguing God does explain certain phenomena and showing they fail, something you and other scientists like Dawkins refuse to do. Ironic that you make generalizations without evidence isn’t it. Second, your comments actually show that you rule any theistic explanations out aprori, you state that when one cannot explain something naturalistically then the best response is you don’t know, that only follows if you know naturalism is true, so where are the arguments for the truth of this metaphysical position? Again the philosophical questions are simply ignored or assumed.

    6. ”Matt – it is arrogant of you to accuse Hawking and others of writing “pop philosophy tracts.” An emotive statement perhaps but also an ignorant one demonstrating an attitudinal problem. I suspect you see all science books the same way.” No I see science books that address philosophical questions poorly this way. By parity of logic I can accuse you of arrogance every time you reject a philosopher’s work on a scientific question because it’s published in a popular forum and not in peer reviewed scientific journals. Once again peer review is only used when it suits you.
    7 You have not read the book in question. I don’t know if you could understand it if you did. But it would show less hubris if you restrained from such wild statements when you actually are ignorant of the book and its contents. By parity of argument I could tell you that if you read the numerous philosophical arguments around the cosmological argument you would probably not understand them and you yourself would also not make the kind of wild statements you frequently do such as it’s a fact that God does not explain the existence of the universe when its actually a highly technical and disputed question. Its only because you apply scholarly standards inconsistently that you continue to do so.

  • Ken September 20, 2010, 9:33 pm

    Matt, you really should read comments before replying to them. It would save you time and space. However, I guess the straw man tactic does require you to substitute your own versions for the real points. 

    Bruno and Galileo were charged with heresy specifically and if course that covered a multitude of sins, or what the religious fanatics considered sins. Heresy was the essence of the problem they presented to the inquisition and that Hawking presents to you. Bruno was quite capricious but this certainly doesn’t justify burning him alive and demonstrates the intolerance of religion at the time. Nor does anything justify the treatment if Galileo.

    Dogmatic ideology is required to get the very concept of heresy – Stalinist Russia and Maoist China provide similar examples.

    You wish to rewrite the history of Galileo – but that is dishonest. Galileo did in fact confirm heliocentricity through observation of Jupiter’s moons and the phases of Venus. You are either dishonest or ignorant to say otherwise. Of course Kepler and later astronomers added to this but your desire to deny Galileo’s contribution arises from theological bias – not facts.

    Have a talk to your mate Glenn who will assure you that Galileo was in fact wrong and enlists Einstein to “prove” this. Another example of theological disregard for truth.

    The current theological attempts to rewrite history with respect to Galileo is disgusting. Typical theological attempts to alter reality when it doesn’t fit with dogma.

    You also distort the facts around Newton. His resort to “god did it” answered in a few cases were because his science was stumped. I provided two specific examples and you jelly wrestled your way around them. The rest of his science was an excellent example of materialism in practice – despite his religious beliefs. This was true for almost all if the emerging scientists of those days. This had tremendous consequences fir religion and the philosophy of the day. It lead to progress.

    You can arrogantly make these silly criticisms of scientists. But what about checking Hawking’s book. Do you think he even refers to Craig? Probably not – because Craig’s beliefs are not relevant to that science. If they wee he would gave published them in the scientific journals.

    That may upset you but the fact is that science works. You confirm that every day of your life as you use things resulting from scientific knowledge. The proof of the pudding is in the eating after all.  In contrast theological knowledge is of no practical use except to protect ignorance. 

    Theology has continually had to revise it’s explanations as human knowledge progressed. Usually very slowly and unwillingly.

    Now no-one in their right mind expects modern physics or other science to be forced into revising it’s knowledge because of a theological discovery do they?

    After all a theological discovery is an oxymoron. 

    That should tell you something. But only if you can open your mind to reality.

    Try it some time – reality can be a very useful counter to personal arrogance.

  • Glenn September 20, 2010, 9:57 pm

    “Have a talk to your mate Glenn who will assure you that Galileo was in fact wrong and enlists Einstein to “prove” this. Another example of theological disregard for truth.”

    It’s hilarious that you should refer to this. You are alluding to the thread in which I lost count of the times you clearly misrepresented me. You literally came in with one claim after another after another about beliefs that I allegedly hold or things that I allegedly said which were just clear falsehoods – and now you want to look back on that thread as “theological disregard for truth?”

    It would be funny if it weren’t actually tragic.

  • Ken September 20, 2010, 11:30 pm

    Glenn, rather childish to claim I misrepresent you. Your post was actually titled “Galileo was wrong” or something similar.
    I guess that is why you chose to make vague accusations against me instead of actually referencing your post. Black is white, Galileo was wrong, madman Monckton is a reliable source of information. The world’s climate scientists are part of a huge conspiracy.

    Heard it all before.

  • Glenn September 20, 2010, 11:56 pm

    Um, Ken, I documented so many times it was getting monotonous. Even after you were corrected, you kept on saying that I advocated geocentrism, and you kept on saying that I was calling Einstein a denier of heliocentrism. Goodness, it was repetitive. Even after you were corrected you just kept saying these things. And now you’re refering to that discussion as an example of theological disregard for the truth. And to put the icing on the cake, when I notice and remind you, you just call me childish? You really have an issue with even a single possible admission that you might be in error. The facts are damned, whatever genuinely took place doesn’t matter. Ken is right and that is that.

    This is your old trick. Make countless clearly documented false claims, then wait months for the smoke to clear, then refer back to the old thread and describe it as being the opposite of what it was. Grow up, Ken.

    Fortunately, you said it on my blog so the evidence is readily available: A reminder, for those who were not here to witness your repetitive dishonesty: PART 1 PART 2

  • Ken September 21, 2010, 8:22 pm

    And why not give that title of Part 2: galileo-part-2-yes-folks-he-was-wrong/

  • Glenn September 21, 2010, 9:21 pm

    Ken, because I made the modest assumption that people who come here are capable of reading.

    I linked to those threads because of the striking irony of you referring back to those discussions while in the same breath implying that it was I who had little regard for the truth, when throughout the threads you wantonly engaged in multiple fibs about me.

  • Glenn September 21, 2010, 9:26 pm

    For those interested, here’s an interview with Bill Craig about Hawking’s book: http://rfmedia.org/av/audio/stephen-hawkings-new-book-str-interview/

  • Ken September 21, 2010, 10:27 pm

    So you regard me defending Galileo’s recognized scientific standing agaist your accusation that Galileo was wrong as a “fib”? And we are talking about your post entitled “Galileo: yes folks he was wrong”??

    Well, that’s a typical example of theogical “logic” isn’t it?

  • Glenn September 21, 2010, 11:32 pm

    Ken, you must surely be deliberately acting confused.

    You told more than one fib. For example, accusing me of advocating geocentrism, or accusing me of stating that Einstein repudiated heliocentrism. Remember?

    Yes, this is logic indeed!

  • Matt September 22, 2010, 5:15 pm

    Ken,

    I agree Galileo and Bruno were prosecuted for heresy, I agree also that the way they were treated was unjustified, but that was not what your original claim was, you originally suggested the church used to supress science and that idea know in as the conflict thesis has been discredited. As to your assertion I am ignorant, actually the discovery of the phases of venus suggested that Venus orbited the son, proponents of Geocentricism such as Tycho Brane could accommodate that without claiming the “earth moved” . The proof Galileo offered was his argument from tides, he argued roughly that tides were not caused by the moon but my the movement of the earth. This is false and has been totally discredited, hence, as much as you may not like it the Inquistion was actually correct to say that Galileo’s proof failed it did. But my intial point remains this is a single incident, it cannot be used to as an example of an overall trend of suppression of science.

    As to your other claims, you seem to think that a philosopher who specialises in the theological and philosophical implications of cosmology criticisng Hawking’s attempt to draw such implications is some how analogous to burning people alive at the stake or sending them to a gulag, nothing like this has been suggested at all.

    As to my comments by Newton here you simply repeat your claims and dismiss all else with name calling “jelly wrestling” or making pejorative claims about theology. In fact in the General Scholium an appendix to the second addition of Newton’s principia. Newton argued from the existence of the world and laws of nature to the existence of God. In the preface to the second penned to the principia by Roger Cotes, Cotes notes argues to the existence of laws of nature known empirically from theological premises. Once again ignoring historical facts with name calling does not really help you here.

    Finally, you again repeat the claim which I have refuted ad nauesm that unless Craig’s work is published in a science journal its irrelevant to science, in response I will simply offer a paralell line of reasoning, unless Hawking’s criticisms of the cosmological argument for Gods existence, and his arguments that God did not create the universe are published in a mainstream philosophy journal they are irrelevant to theists. Once again you oppose philosophers making comments about science without peer review but then support scientists making philosophical claims without such review. In otherwords peer review only applies when it suits.

  • Ken September 22, 2010, 7:30 pm

    Glenn, how do you sleep straight at night? Or does theological flexibility handle such misrepresentation easily?
    The facts are that you claimed Galileo was wrong in claiming to have shown a heliocentric solar system. You claim that there is no way of differentiating between geocentricity and heliocentricity. You weren’t advocating a geocentric solution, just that there was no way of differentiating and rejecting the fact that Galileo had produced evidence confirming heliocentricity. You made an incorrect interpretation of Einstein’s special relativity to support your claim. (This relativity is applicable to things in uniform motion, not accelerating bodies in orbit). You also dragged in and misrepresented Hoyle.

    My interpretation for your mistake is that you painted yourself into a corner by pontificating in an unfamiliar area. But, as I have become aware of an upcoming theological conference “Galileo was wrong, the church was right” perhaps it wasn’t a mistake but just part of your dogma.

  • Glenn September 22, 2010, 7:52 pm

    “You weren’t advocating a geocentric solution”

    Yet in the other thread you said I was. We agree, then, that you misrepresented me.

    I also claimed very clearly that the church was wrong, so the fact that you now associate me with a conference that contains the phrase “the church was right” is further misrepresentation of me by you.

    You were shown that Hoyle fully supported my claim, and now you’re just desparately asserting with absolutely no evidence that I misrepresented Hoyle.

    You’re a swirling mass of misrepresentation and false claims. You also tried to appeal to an old thread as a case of my disregard for truth, when in fact it was clearly and repeatedly shown that you were lying about me.

    And now you ask me how I sleep straight at night. You’re good for a laugh, Ken, I’ll give you that!

  • Ken September 22, 2010, 7:53 pm

    Matt, Tycho did not observe Venus with a telescope – Galileo was the first to do this and to confirm phases. Unassisted observation was not  capable of properly accessing changes in amount of reflected light and confirming true phases. Sure there were attempts to try to mix heliocentricity and geocentricity but these models were a disaster.

    Matt that is straw clutching on your part.

    Again, your reference to tides is a silly attempt to discredit Galileo. Yes, that was a mistake by Galileo – perfectly normal for outstanding scientists to make mistakes -plenty of them. But while tides did not prove the earth moved his astronomical observations did prove that the geocentric model was wrong. You are opportunistically using a mistake in one area to discredit Galileo in another.

    To my mind those two mistakes of yours indicate the problem underlying this debate – opportunist argument common to theology. You have started with a conclusion and then clutched at straws which you think support your conclusion.

    It is this theological philosophy which science had to break away from. We had the achieve the right to start with evidence, follow the evidence to develop our hypotheses and then verifying resulting theories by testing against reality. Theology doesn’t do that (hence it never solves problems) whereas science does. That is why it is so effective and has such a high standing.

    We don’t ask theologians to check out the effects of burning fossil fuel on our climate – do we? They would be absolutely lost (but would still waffle on of course – they just don’t know their place). This is a job for science.

    Similarly when it comes the origins of the universe and life, and the evolution of life, these are also jobs for science, not theology.

    Theology doesn’t do reality.

  • Ken September 22, 2010, 8:04 pm

    Glenn, I did nothing of the sort on the other thread. This is a common tactic of yours to misrepresent others with such unsupported claims – I guess you see it as a way of confusing the discussion.

    Hoyle did not support your claim at all and that was pointed out to you. You really need to understand that special relativity does not apply to accelerating objects. You got yourself into an impossible position of claiming that one cannot differentiate between heliocentricity and geocentricity. It is silly to think you could find any credible astronomer from recent times who could support you on this. Come off it – we have got a lot of experience with the exploration of our solar system now.

    I think your tactics of accusing others of lying while you misrepresent them is childish. I can appreciate you are out of your depth when discussing subjects like this. However, if you appreciated that instead of persisting in lost arguments you wouldn’t end up painting yourself in a corner like this.

    It has become a habit,.

  • Glenn September 22, 2010, 8:41 pm

    OK Ken, here we go – yet again. Why you need to be reminded so often is beyond me!

    Ken on the old thread: “Galileo-Church affair, downplay the wrongs done and to excuse the Church.” (Note: Ken claims that I excused the church.)

    Ken on old thread: “However, it’s interesting that you claim Einsteinian support for geocentricity” (Note the deliberate use of the word “geocentricity”)

    Ken on old thread: “Of course, if you really are sure that Einstein didn’t accept heliocentricity” (Note: Ken says that I have claimed that Einstein did not accept heliocentricity)

    Ken in the old thread stated that I made the claim that special relativity was “just about relativity of motion and points of reference.” It was pointed out that nobody ever said this. No retraction was issued.

    Ken in the old thread again said that I was trying to “attempts to whitewash the church” in spite of the way that I said the church was wrong.

    And now when I remind you that you said these things, Ken, you say “Glenn, I did nothing of the sort on the other thread.”

    Ken, just admit it and say that you made some mistakes. Denying it when it’s there for the world to see is just crazy.

  • Ken September 23, 2010, 10:01 am

    Perhaps there is a simple solution to this, Glenn. After all it is childish to litigate old discussions along a you said, I said list of claims..

    Just make a simple statement of your views on Galileo, his contribution to science and our concepts on the solar system and the scientific recognition that he produced evidence confirming a geocentric solar system.

  • Glenn September 23, 2010, 11:37 am

    Ken the simple solution as to whether you said those things that you clearly denied saying is to read the evidence.

    Why are you now jelly wrestling about it? I made claims about what you said. You claimed to have said no such thing. I Very clearly just demonstrated that you did say them, and now you’re running away from your denial, saying that you don’t want to litigate old disputes, yet you want me to re-state my very simple claims that were explained to you long ago in threads that I have recently provided links to.

    Ken, that’s more than a little pathetic. Just man up, admit you either lied or got confused, and restore some dignity.

  • Matt September 23, 2010, 4:52 pm

    Ken, I did not say that Tycho observed venus through a telescope. I pointed out that this observation by Galileo did not prove the “earth” moved and I noted that some geocentric astronomers of the time could account for these facts about Venus. So the point is this evidence, by itself, in Galileo’s context did not provide proof that the earth moved. Galileo’s attempt to prove the earth did move was his argument from the tides and here you admit, Galileo was mistaken

    You go on to say Science had to break free from theological thinking to progress. I pointed out this is historically false, I argued for it in the previous comments. You have provided no evidence for this except the example of Bruno which I refuted above, the claim that Newton was a materialist, which I refuted above and Galileo, which we now see was actually a case of a scientist putting forward a hypothesis as established and true without adequate evidence, sure evidence did come in latter, but that does not mean Galileo presented it at the time. Moreover as I pointed out one case does not show a historical trend.

    So once again Ken what we see you asserting without evidence claims about theology and science, and when these are shown wrong repeating them and complaining theologians hold views without evidence.

    Contradicting your self is not terribly compelling.

    As to your comment about science, yes we would use science to determine the effects of fossil fuel on the environment. However we would not rely on them to give us legal advice on tax laws, this is not the province of science but law. In some contexts however law and science overlap and the issue is not so simple, the insanity defence would be an example, to determine whether someone is legally insane one would need not just a Psychological assessment of the accused but also an understanding of what the legal definition of insanity is, and also how this definition has been interpreted by the courts, and how the data from Psychology is interpreted and weighed by the courts.

    The question of whether contemporary cosmology shows God did not create the universe is analogous to this second case its an attempt to draw theological and philosophical conclusions from science.

    The situation with Craig and Hawking is more like this: A world class Psychologist who had no understanding or knowledge of the law around insanity defences or any of the legal tests used to determine insanity or how they worked, decided to make claims about whether a particular court case got a ruling correct. A legal scholar who was an expert in the law around insanity who had written and published some of the most important works on how the law interpreted Psychological data said the Psychologist had got it wrong.

    Its evident to me that a response along the lines of “the legal scholar is not a Psychologist so he can’t comment on whether the law of insanity was applied correctly” would be clearly wrong. Similarly the reply that, because Craig is not a cosmologist he can’t comment on whether cosmology shows God did not create the universe, is equally mistaken.

  • Ken September 23, 2010, 5:02 pm

    I can appreciate your shame over the position you took. But is is childish in the extreme to resort to a “you said, no I didn’t say exchange.” And who in their right mind has the interest.

    My sole charge against you on this issue is that you made the claim that one could not differentiate between geocentricism and heliocentricism. That therefore Galileo was wrong (and presumably every sane scientist today who accepts that Galileo provided evidence to support heliocentrism. You attempted to enlist Einstein and Hoyle to support your claim – only possible through misrepresenting them.

    You yourself titled one of your posts something along the line “Galileo was wrong!”

    I think the simple explanation is that you painted yourself into a corner, attempted to confuse the matter with wild straw clutching and misrepresentation of modern scientists, and now continue misrepresentation in an attempt to confuse.

    1: I do not, did not think you were claiming that the old Ptolemaic understanding (geocentricism) is valid.

    2: I understood your position to be that one could not tell the difference between the two models – because of special relativity!

    3: I think that is still your current position – otherwise you would have clarified yourself.

    4: Resorting to a “you said, no I didn’t say” approach is purely an attempt to confuse the issue because you realise your stance is not tenable in this day and age. You would look ridiculous (again) to come out again and make that claim.

  • ropata September 23, 2010, 6:24 pm

    Heliocentrism, may be defined as “the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around a stationary Sun at the center of the universe”.
    But, the Sun is not the center of the Universe.
    Thus, Heliocentrism was wrong.

    Galileo advocated Heliocentrism.
    Ergo, Galileo was wrong.

    QED

    This does not deny that
    – heliocentrism was an improvement on geocentrism
    – the Earth orbits the Sun

  • Glenn September 23, 2010, 6:50 pm

    Oh Ken stop being such a drip. You lied in the previous thread and you got caught. Now in this thread you actually denied making the claims you made. When I showed them to you from your own words, you’ve called me childish.

    I still hold the view that I took in the previous thread. In that thread you thanked me for spelling out the view so clearly (and yet n this thread you went all foggy and asked me to spell it out yet again). In that thread I defended that view adequately. The only reason I appealed to that thread again here is that you implied that the thread represented my lack of regard for truth. In fact, you lied several times in that thread. Now you have denied saying those things. You have been disproved with your own words, and in response you have resorted to insults. You have an ego that refuses to admit mistakes. As such dialogue with you has less vakue than with most people. You have honesty issues, and you keep getting caught. When you are caught, you attack the messenger and call him childish. You compensate for your own mistakes by insulting people.

    You are publicly shredding your own integrity.

  • Dave September 23, 2010, 9:07 pm

    Glenn, you certainly have some patience!

    Ken, you’re a lying, sleazy, gutless chicken shit waste of space.

  • Glenn September 23, 2010, 9:26 pm

    Dave, while I agree with your sentiment (about honesty and intellectual courage, at least)… please bear a few things in mind.

  • Ken September 24, 2010, 8:37 pm

    Ropata we have been talking about heliocentricism of the solar system. It’s amazing what silly arguments people will use to deny Galileo’s contribution to science and excuse the inquisition.

    Glenn, you expose yourself by refusing any facts or precision and resorting up abuse.

    That is childish. But also an admission of shame regarding your attempt to present Galileo as wrong.

  • Glenn September 24, 2010, 11:22 pm

    Ken, resorting to abuse? OK, imagine whatever you like. You have basically shown that you aren’t interested in the facts of what was said. The false accusations of a person with no credibility or integrity are not important, so I will ignore them.

    PS: My posts on Galileo were correct. 🙂

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