Stephen Hawking’s body was barely cold (or rather, his ashes were barely cold) when the religionists came muscling in with their tut-tutting and caveats about his accomplishments. For Father Raymond de Souza, a Canadian priest in Ontario (and Catholic Chaplain of Queen’s University), he did his kvetching in yesterday’s National Post. His column, as you see below, claims that “Hawking’s world was rather small.” Really? Why?The Catholic Church does have all sort of beliefs that are grounded in faith and revelation, not scientific evidence. But so did Hawking, and the physicists that Coyne relies on, like Sean M. Carroll.
Well, because Hawking, while he made big advances in cosmology, couldn’t answer the BIG QUESTIONS about the Universe: namely, why does it exist? Why is there something rather than nothing? ...
But God is de Souza’s answer to this big question, and, further, the priest says that that answer is compatible with science. ...
Those are some questions for Father de Souza, but I have more:
What’s your evidence for God? And why do you adhere to the Catholic conception of God rather than the Muslim conception, which sees Jesus as a prophet but not a divine being? Why aren’t you a polytheist, like Hindus?
If God created the Big Bang, who created God?
If you say that God didn’t need a creator because He was eternal, why couldn’t the Universe be eternal?
And if God was, for some reason, eternal, what was he doing before he created the Universe? And why did he bother to create the Universe? Was he bored?
These questions aren’t original with me; they’re a staple of religious doubters. And of course Father de Souza can’t answer them except by spouting theological nonsense.
Hawking was a proponent of the multiverse and string theory. Hawking spent much of his life arguing about issues that cannot be resolved by any scientific observation.
Most of Coyne's questions, above, are not really scientific questions. There is no known scientific meaning to discussing what preceded the big bang, if anything. It is not clear that such questions make any sense.
Coyne sometimes questions the motives of his fellow humans. If he cannot necessarily figure out human motives, how can he expect to figure out God's motives?
I suspect that priest could give a good explanation for why he is not a Muslim, and not a polytheist.
I don't mind atheists calling out religious believers for having beliefs that are merely compatible with science, but not directly supported by evidence. But why are those atheists so supporting of physicists who do the same thing, with string theory, the multiverse, and black hole information?