Monday, 6 September 2010

"God Definitely Does Not Exist, You Fucking Retards" - Stephen Hawking (apparently)

So there's been plenty of furore over the last weekend about a new book which Stephen Hawking has co-authored, called The Grand Design, which stated that a God is not required to create the universe. The media have jumped on this, and stirred up a shitstorm of anger amongst religious fundamentalists and other militant religious types who lurk on the internet and spread their close-minded, ignorant views (oh hey I'm almost one of them).

The first thing that really pisses me off about this is the way the media have transformed this. Or if not the media, then the people reading the articles. Fuck the fact that the book is almost certainly extremely thorough and scientific. What they've basically done is skipped the entire book and gone straight to the punchline, and taken it very much out of context.
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."
The really, really crucial part that everyone seems to have fucking missed is the last sentence. What he says is "It is not necessary to invoke God...", not "God doesn't/can't exist". This book is not Hawking's equivalent of The God Delusion, it's a book attempting to explain how the origins of the universe can have come about, specifically without some sort of creator. Above all, and really above all, he basically says that it is the laws of physics that have moulded and sculpted the universe, not a God. He doesn't rule out any sort of deity presumably controlling the laws of physics. His argument is that the fact we are the perfect distance away from the Sun has nothing to do with God, but is instead just a byproduct of physical constants.

And really, I'm not going to comment much more on the book itself. I've not read it. Pretty much fucking nobody has, because it doesn't come out until Tuesday. And even if it was already out, I seriously doubt that most of the dumbass comments on the internet will have been written by people who have read it.

Because that's the second thing that has really pissed me off: the comments. And there's a fucking ton of them. The FOX News article has over one thousand comments, the vast majority of which are absolutely fucking retarded (I will take a moment to note that the article itself, despite being FOX, is actually reasonably sensible for their standards). Same for the ones on the previously-linked Reuters article. And not all the stupidity is from the pro-God faction either (though the majority definitely is). It's just like people feel compelled to shove their ignorant self-obsessed opinions out there upon other people (again, I'm aware of the irony of saying this in a blog post).

See, I'm not going to take this book as something which triumphs my atheist views. Ultimately because it doesn't - at no point does the book rule out the concept of a God existing. That's just a misconception. However, I will take my opportunity to point out the completely fucking retarded nature of various people making comments on it.

First one, which was on the Reuters article but has been deleted:
"Really feel sorry 4 this bloke, no wonder he is so ill, no faith!"
Yeah, of course, because religious people never get sick. What God decided to do was to gift Stephen Hawking a brilliant mind which has managed to figure out aspects of physics and the physical universe which were completely beyond the comprehension of all other physicists. He did that, but then gave him a crippling illness that would paralyse him for life. Now, I'm not going to suggest that Lou Gehrig's disease isn't a horrible infliction to have, but I would say that despite it, Sir Stephen Hawking has had a far more renowned and distinguished life than your average God-fearing trailer trash. If God is trying to punish him as a person for not believing in God, then he's sure going about it in a pretty rubbish way.

I mean, have you featured on The Simpsons?

No, I didn't fucking think so either.

This is also totally ignoring the fact that Stephen Hawking is himself something of a living miracle, given the standard life expectancy for someone diagnosed with ALS is three to five years, and he was diagnosed nearly fifty years ago now. He's the medical equivalent of someone living to be hundreds of years old, which would hardly suggest God is conspiring against him.

Another one from the Reuters article, and there are a ton of these ones:
And who wrote the “Laws of Physics”?
Most of these ones are annoying for the fact that they're bang on the mark, they just fucking don't realise it because of the way the article has been interpreted. There are so many of these comments, and while the one I've quoted isn't that bad, so many of them are so fucking smug, like it's something that Hawking hasn't considered and it's their ultimate counter-argument. He's specifically worded what he's said to allow for the fact that it's possible a God created the laws of physics. There is a specific quote from him that addresses this:
"The universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws."
It's like yeah, nice one people, you're managing to point out an aspect of this that's already perfectly well grasped, just not in the spin that the media have decided to take on this, because "Stephen Hawking says there is no God" makes for a far more compelling headline. It's like sure, I'd give kudos for understanding what's being said, but at the same time I can't, because the whole reason you're making the sodding comment is exactly because you don't understand what's being said.

Then there are other comments, which are far more classic creationist bullshit:
If you throw some bricks and cement together and leave them for a million years will you get a house? NO.

But we should believe that the beautiful complex universe and our planet just the right distance from the sun and with an unusually large moon that contributes to the earths stable spin, otherwise we would wobble like a spinning top. Not to mention the perfect recycling system the earth came together from nothing!
Now, like I've said, I've not read the book, but I'm fairly sure this sort of argument is exactly what's addressed in it. These sorts of comments wouldn't leave me in despair (ZETSUBOUSHITA) quite so much if I knew that the people making them would read and understand the book when it's released, but I just really can't see that happening. It's hugely unlikely that they'll read it, and even if they do it's mostly likely fairly high-level shit (as in, the sort of thing I'd struggle to comprehend properly the first time reading it), and I doubt their dismal high-school science knowledge would be enough to get them through it.

Beyond all things these comments annoy me just because they're so fucking repetitive and ignorant of the concepts of the Big Bang and evolution. They're horribly flawed generalisations of extremely complex scientific theories. Absolutely anything sounds retarded when you condense it and deliberately belittle it to that sort of level. When you describe the Creationist origin of the universe as "some all-knowing all-powerful magic dude who has always existed and one day got bored and just waved his hand and created absolutely everything from nothing and will get really angry if the billions of tiny people he made don't accept he exists" then it also can sounds pretty fucking retarded.

And ignoring everything else wrong about that argument, it doesn't even fucking solve the problem. The fact is that the solution of God creating the universe just creates a new issue of "Who/what created God?", and given an omniscient, omnipotent supreme being is a little bit further beyond our comprehension than the universe, the question of the creation of this supreme being, capable of creating the universe, must have a far more difficult solution than the creation of the universe itself. Ultimately it generates a 'Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?' situation (it translates as "who guards the guards?" for people who didn't already know, or who went to a school which was free and therefore didn't teach Latin) whereby the only solution that really fits with a supreme being creator is an infinite string of creators, each one more powerful than the underling which it created, that stretched back to the beginning of time. Which is also retarded.

There are so many comments on so many different sources, and I can't really put all the retarded ones down here, because this post would just keep going and going and the comments would be appearing faster than I could ridicule them. I've even tried to just stay clear of some of the more idiotic and rage-inducing arguments, because there's some seriously dumbass stuff being said, and then equally lame retorts (because nothing supports Creationists more than people who are just as dumb and can't beat them in an argument). So I'll end this here.

But yeah, I will read this book when it comes out. And I'll read it not because I have an interest in the existence of God (or lack of) but because hopefully it'll contain some quite interesting theories and points about the universe, how its formation worked, and because ultimately it is a physics book and not just the brain-dump of some old professor presenting his opinions on theology, or attempting to disprove God, as some media headlines would have you believe.