Stephen Hawking is a genius physicist and “one of the most important scientists and public intellectuals of our time, if not all time.”
But despite being a top ranked scientist among scientists, Stephen Hawking does not base his choice of belief system on evidence.
Note carefully that Stephen Hawking’s choice of belief is made to resolve his emotional response to the concept of an afterlife. As he states, he is grateful, i.e. relieved to conclude that there is no afterlife.
This is understandable, since he spent his entire adult life struggling with a severely debilitating physical disease, experiencing, in essence, the misery of a disembodied soul as postulated to be the condition of the afterlife.
But is someone’s emotionally disturbed coping mechanism a viable basis on which to base belief directing your own life’s choices and plans for your soul’s fate after death?
From Rev. Michael Schuler, Senior Minister, First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin, an atheist yet incongruously a religious leader who explicitly presents himself as an authority on a God he doesn’t believe in, whose unresearched, uneducated, inexperienced opinion the reader should accept.
Seriously? This is a disorganized thought process according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
From a religious naturalist point of view, it seems obvious to me that we “go” to the same place we came from before we were conceived—the same “place” that trillions of other animals and plants have gone throughout Earth’s history when they died. Some speak about it as “coming from God and returning to God”. Others talk about it as “coming from mystery and returning to mystery”. Still others as “coming from nothing and returning to nothing”. All these I sense as legitimate and emotionally satisfying ways of thinking and talking about what happens at death.
Any supposed “faith” which doesn’t include trusting that whatever happens on the other side of death is just fine is, in my view, really no faith at all. Fear of a terrifying, hellish after-death scenario, OR hope of a blissful, heavenly after-death scenario are just that: fear or hope; not faith, not trust.
Contrary to the words he uses, this is not faith or trust, both of which are based on acquired knowledge. This is the very coping mechanism he accuses his opponents of using. This minister is using classic Orwellian newspeak.
Equating God with nothing is obviously an emotionally satisfying solution for this individual who can therefore justify making himself the ultimate authority and recipient of blessings from the people in his congregation.
But what about his followers?
Watch the multitude of Unsolved Mysteries if you think trusting your life to a total stranger is sure to end well.
Likewise, people who claim to be rational by believing in the purely materialistic model that science has “discovered” are actually trusting in the scientists.
Which ones? They can’t prove what they claim to be reality.
...all too often, science is presented as trafficking in absolute truths. On the contrary, science is a framework for interpreting, systematizing, and predicting nature based on empirical observations. That is to say, a well accepted ‘theory’ (framework for understanding/predicting nature) can always be upended with sufficiently compelling contrary evidence.
Inevitably, those of us who aren’t professional scientists have to take a lot of science on trust. And one of the things that makes it so easy to trust the standard view of evolution, in particular, is…the [belief that] doubters are so deluded or dishonest that one needn’t waste time with them. Unfortunately, that also makes it embarrassingly awkward to ask a question that seems, in the light of recent studies and several popular books, to be growing ever more pertinent. What if Darwin’s theory of evolution…as most of us learned it at school and believe we understand it – is, in crucial respects, not entirely accurate?
Nobody wants to provide ammunition to the proponents of creationism or “intelligent design”…But in the culture at large, we may be on the brink of a major shift in perspective, with enormous implications for how most of us think about how life came to be the way it is…
We’ve learned that huge proportions of the human genome consist of viruses, or virus-like materials, raising the notion that they got there through infection – meaning that natural selection acts not just on random mutations, but on new stuff that’s introduced from elsewhere…
I started reading What Darwin Got Wrong…I grasped with astonishment what Fodor had done – he’d uncovered a glaring flaw in the whole notion! Natural selection, he explains, simply “cannot be the primary engine of evolution”…
The irony in all this is that Darwin himself never claimed that it was.
- natural selection has never been the only imaginable mechanism of evolution,
- but rejection of a God of Creation was and remains a pillar of the concept,
- what is another imaginable mechanism of evolution?
- Survival of the fittest
- through selective breeding by the elite
- exploitation of the worker masses
- and elimination of the useless eaters.
Darwin’s grandfather… Erasmus Darwin…was a well-known doctor…his experiments on the origin of life were one of the foundations mentioned and included by Mary Shelley in her novel on the attempt by doctor Frankenstein to generate life from dead human bodies. He also published a book on his ideas regarding the evolution of species, which can be considered the prequel of the “Origin of Species”, written by his grandson… [Emphases added here and below.]
one of [Charles Darwin’s] cousins, Sir Francis Galton penned works that gave birth to eugenics as a “science”…which attempted to “improve” humanity biologically and combat supposed genetic deterioration... positive eugenics measures…marriages which were believed to be “better” from a biological viewpoint, and which was supposedly practiced by the Darwin family. Moreover, the theory of eugenics defended the use of other “negative eugenics” measures, such as…sterilization of genetically inferior couples…physical elimination.
The first and most obvious enabling feature of Darwin’s context was the status of England as an imperial power in the 19th century…The voyage of the Beagle was actually part of England’s empire-building effort.
A second important cultural factor was the…new attitude of freedom and competition, exemplified by Malthus’s theory about the “struggle for survival,“
This not only supported the evolutionary theory of competition in the natural world, but also Adolph Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf / My Struggle.
From Humanities: The Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities
The budding naturalist avoids life as a minister and finds himself aboard the Beagle.
Charles Darwin was only twenty-two years old when he was offered the opportunity of a lifetime… Darwin’s father despaired of him ever settling into a useful career, for Darwin had recoiled from an early medical training in Edinburgh…
Even The Humanist admits Darwin had no training.
- At Cambridge…at a time when science was not yet a structured profession…John Stevens Hens-low, the botany professor…invited him to scientific parties to meet the famous men of the university…
- Adam Sedgwick took him as an assistant for two weeks of summer fieldwork examining the earliest known rocks in Wales.
- Then…Henslow offering him a voyage round the world on a British survey ship, HMS Beagle.
The invitation had come through several hands and was unusual, even in its own day…Normally, the British government expected the ship’s surgeon to collect useful information about the countries visited…In Darwin’s case, the elite social network that linked government, naval administration [Britain’s military force], and the old universities…recommended Darwin “not on the supposition of yr. being a finished Naturalist, but as amply qualified for collecting, observing, & noting any thing worthy…”
At first, Dr. Darwin felt his son should not accept. The whole plan was “a wild scheme,” he declared…Dr. Darwin was persuaded otherwise by his brother-in-law, Josiah Wedgwood…the Darwin and Wedgwood families had done much to transform British thought in the Industrial Revolution…
Today the multimedia fame of the Beagle voyage sometimes makes it hard to remember that its purpose was not to take Darwin round the world but to…promote and exploit British interests overseas.
Charles Darwin was simply chosen for the respectability of his connections. He was not a scientist, he was a political front man for a “wild scheme” underwriting Britain’s latest exploitation of the world’s resources both human and natural during the height of its imperialism, while, if the idea of Evolution was utterly shot down by the Religious Establishment, he could be thrown under the bus with no harm done to any of the prestigious men with careers to protect.
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was used to justify… imperialism, racism, eugenics and social inequality…
Darwin borrowed popular concepts, including “survival of the fittest,” from sociologist Herbert Spencer and “struggle for existence” from economist Thomas Malthus…
[Darwin] appeared to be confirming with science what they already believed to be true about human society—that the fit inherited qualities such as industriousness and the ability to accumulate wealth, while the unfit were innately lazy and stupid.
Spencer applied the idea of “survival of the fittest” to so-called laissez faire or unrestrained capitalism during the Industrial Revolution, in which businesses are allowed to operate with little regulation from the government…
Spencer opposed any laws that helped workers, the poor, and those he deemed genetically weak. Such laws, he argued, would go against the evolution of civilization by delaying the extinction of the “unfit.”
Charles Darwin was by no stretch of the imagination a scientist. He was just a pawn of powerful men capitalizing (that’s a pun) on the massive social upheaval of the Industrial Revolution. But his ideas were accepted through the collaboration of science, education, politics, the military, but mostly, the general public.
What wins Evolution’s converts over from Creation-based religion is not the origin of life, but the destination of life after death. No accountability to a Superhuman Being who gave life and scrutinizes what we did with it. Freedom to do whatever you want in this life with no negative consequences later.
In 1882 after Evolution was embraced by the elite, the declaration of God’s death was not based on scientific evidence, but charged as an assassination by rebels shaking off the last vestiges of morality.
Nietzsche was an atheist for his adult life and didn’t mean that there was a God who had actually died, rather that our idea of one had…
The death of God didn’t strike Nietzsche as an entirely good thing. Without a God, the basic belief system of Western Europe was in jeopardy, as he put it in Twilight of the Idols: “When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident… Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole…”
With the old system of meaning gone a new one could be created, but it came with risks—ones that could bring out the worst in human nature…What could the point of life be without a God? Even if there was one, the Western world now knew that he hadn’t placed us at the centre of the universe, and it was learning of the lowly origin from which man had evolved. We finally saw the true world…
His fear of nihilism and our reaction to it was shown in The Will to Power, when he wrote that: “What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism…
European culture has been moving with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade, as toward a catastrophe: restlessly, violently, headlong…that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.”
What Nietzsche foresaw was simply the outcome of evolutionary belief in action, an upsurge in the baseline experience of the strong dominating the weak.
The Rape of Africa was the invasion, occupation,division, and colonization of African territory by European powers… [in just 30 years AFTER slavery was abolished] (between 1881 and 1914). The 10 percent of Africa that was under formal European control in 1870 increased to almost 90 percent by 1914…
the Industrial societies’ demand for raw materials, especially copper, cotton, rubber, palm oil, cocoa, diamonds, tea, and tin…
large native populations were also a source of military power; Britain and France used large numbers of British Indian and North African soldiers…
many atrocities were perpetrated in the Congo Free State…laborers who failed to meet rubber collection quotas were often punished by having their hands cut off…
up to [half] of the estimated 16 million native inhabitants died [in 25 years] between 1885 and 1908…[from] “indiscriminate war”, starvation, reduction of births and diseases… It has been estimated that sleeping sickness and smallpox killed nearly half the population in the areas surrounding the lower Congo River…
Note also the signs of Kwashiorkor, swelling of the gut, caused by a severe form of malnutrition, especially an extreme lack of protein. This results in the inability for osmosis to occur across cell membranes, therefore fluids to accumulate in the gastro-intestinal system, as well as an enlarged diseased liver.
A similar situation occurred in the neighbouring French Congo…brutal methods, along with the introduction of disease, resulted in the loss of up to 50 percent of the indigenous population…
to build the Suez Canal…sources estimate…that 120,000 workers died over the ten years of construction due to malnutrition, fatigue and disease, especially cholera…
In Germany, France, and Britain, the middle class…claimed a “place in the sun”…bolstering nationalism and militarism in an early prototype of fascism…
Germany became the third-largest colonial power in Africa….Weltpolitik(world policy) was adopted by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890 during his Second Reich, with the aim of transforming Germany into a global power through aggressive expansion…which ultimately led to World War I.
The Second World War was the most destructive war in history…Yet the First World War, not the Second, was the single most important event in shaping the history of Europe during the twentieth century...For the First World War differed fundamentally from the wars that had preceded it…
Wilson commented on the eve of American entry into the war, “the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into every fiber of our national life…”
The First World War shattered the hope that civilization in the West was making continuous progress toward a more rational and enlightened world…
Europeans came to the realization that they had not, after all, progressed very far from barbarism; the supposedly civilized men of the twentieth century had outdone in savagery the barbarians of all preceding ages.
conquests of territories were inevitably followed by public displays of the indigenous people for scientific and leisure purposes…”human zoos” could be found in Hamburg, Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Milan, New York City, Paris, etc., with 200,000 to 300,000 visitors attending each exhibition.
In [1906 at the Bronx Zoo in New York City], Madison Grant, head of the New York Zoological Society…a scientific racist and eugenicist, placed [Pygmy] Ota Benga in a cage with an orangutan and labeled him “The Missing Link” in an attempt to illustrate Darwinism, and in particular that Africans like Ota Benga are closer to apes than were Europeans…
And so Africans, by the Evolutionary processes of “survival of the fittest” would – and should – be eliminated.
If this reminds you – as it should – of the murder of millions of “subhumans,” under Nazi Germany, it because it is exactly the same rationale.
Hitler had every reason to believe Imperial England would ally with him. But Churchill fought against, and won, that political battle in Parliament against the odds, knowing it would take all the wealth in England’s empire to merely survive as an independent nation.
Interesting that Churchill’s policy of fighting Germany not only succeeded in destroying Germany’s world empire but, by trading all of Britain’s holdings for American-made weapons, catapulted America into becoming the New World Order. Interesting that Churchill’s mother was American.
Rudyard Kiplings’ “The White Man’s Burden,” written in 1899, was both a paean to Imperial England and an exhortation to imperialism to the United States. The US had just ended the Spanish-American War with a treaty that ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States, and placed Cuba under U.S. control. Anti-imperialists quickly responded renouncing the hypocrisy of claiming moral sanction for a policy that originated from greed for military power and commercial markets, continuing racial and gender inequality at home, and the special “burden” [taxation to underwrite the costs] of imperialism to the working people of the United States.
Atheism – whether in the guise of “science” in Evolution – explains that we return to the same nothingness that we came from,
- making collaboration with evil totalitarian governments an acceptable way of life,
- and death an inconsequential, if not welcomed, end to suffering.