Hawking posits false conflict

HAWKING POSITS FALSE CONFLICT

June 8, 2010

In an interview last night with ABC-News reporter Diane Sawyer, scientist Stephen Hawking opined that human life is "insignificant in the universe," and then went on to say that "There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason." He concluded by saying, "Science will win because it works."

Catholic League president Bill Donohue took exception to Hawking's views today:

How any rational person could belittle the pivotal role that human life plays in the universe is a wonder, but it is just as silly to say that all religions are marked by the absence of reason. While there are some religions which are devoid of reason, there are others, such as Roman Catholicism, which have long assigned it a special place.

It was the Catholic Church that created the first universities, and it was the Catholic Church that played a central role in the Scientific Revolution; these two historical contributions made possible Mr. Hawking's career.

catholicleague.org/release.php?id=1879

I'd like to see FOX invite Mr. Hawking for an interview. Ask him whether he believes in a beginning of time and space, or actual infinity. Then ask him for scientific proof (not blind faith and belief) of the beginning, or ask him how actual infinity could be even possible. That should be quite entertaining.

I wonder if his speaking device would stutter.

This is a version of the argument from size against god. It goes something like this: The universe is so big, therefor man is inignificant. Because of the vast proportions of the universe, this argument seems compelling, until you start trying to use it one a small scale, say between an elephant and a man. Is an elephant more significant than a man? Does the size of a whale make it more valuable than a man? Or again, Malaria is much large than the HIV virus. Does that make Malaria more significant than HIV?

Going into the domain of physics, is strong force less significant than gravitational force because it acts on smaller objects?

You can see how this particular form of argumentation fails. Significance does not necessarily depend on size and scale.

God bless,
Ut

Gee. I'm not a physicist. I'm just a hillbilly. But, noting that scientists have been looking for life elsewhere for decades, finding none, and noting how seemingly unique we really are in the enormous mass of the universe (so far as science has ever found) that's more an argument favoring the specialness of mankind. The very specialness of mankind in an overwhelmingly enormous universe is one of the observations often cited to support religion, not to denigrate it.

Of course we're "insignificant" in the universe in many ways. We're even more insignificant compared to God. God's relationship with mankind is a pure gift, not something gained by power or size or any other physical characteristic.

[quote="Ridgerunner, post:5, topic:201245"]
Gee. I'm not a physicist. I'm just a hillbilly. But, noting that scientists have been looking for life elsewhere for decades, finding none, and noting how seemingly unique we really are in the enormous mass of the universe (so far as science has ever found) that's more an argument favoring the specialness of mankind..

[/quote]

There are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, 125 billion other galaxies and the number of newly discovered galaxes is growing exponentially. The idea that life on Earth is "special" or "unique" in the universe has no foundation in science. We've barely scratched the surface in our own solar system.

[quote="EmperorNapoleon, post:6, topic:201245"]
There are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, 125 billion other galaxies and the number of newly discovered galaxes is growing exponentially. The idea that life on Earth is "special" or "unique" in the universe has no foundation in science. We've barely scratched the surface in our own solar system.

[/quote]

Another argument from size.

Let all bow down to our overloards, the whales and elephants. :)

God bless,
Ut

[quote="utunumsint, post:7, topic:201245"]
Another argument from size.

Let all bow down to our overloards, the whales and elephants. :)

God bless,
Ut

[/quote]

Your attempt at a counterargument fails as there is not an infinite amount of life on Earth. The extinction of a single species could be catestrophic to life on Earth but the destruction of all life on Earth would be irrelevant on a cosmological scale. Life on Earth is not an important feauture of the cosmos in the grand scheme of things.

[quote="EmperorNapoleon, post:8, topic:201245"]
Your attempt at a counterargument fails as there is not an infinite amount of life on Earth.

[/quote]

So for the universe to somehow be equal to all life, you would need to have an infinite number of living organisms in the universe????? Your logic escapes me. A precious gem is all the more important in its uniqueness than say amethyst that can be found pretty much anywhere. Rarity increases importance, doesn't it?

The extinction of a single species could be catestrophic to life on Earth but the destruction of all life on Earth would be irrelevant on a cosmological scale.

OK. So the universe does not depend on life on earth. How does that make life less important than the rest of the physical universe?

Life on Earth is not an important feauture of the cosmos in the grand scheme of things.

Then what is important to the cosmos? Mere existance alone?

God bless,
Ut

[quote="utunumsint, post:9, topic:201245"]
So for the universe to somehow be equal to all life, you would need to have an infinite number of living organisms in the universe?????Your logic escapes me

[/quote]

You misread what I said. In order for your argument to succeed there must be an infinite amount of life on Earth. You cannot claim victory through a comparrison of the finite vs the infinite.

[quote="utunumsint, post:9, topic:201245"]
A precious gem is all the more important in its uniqueness than say amethyst that can be found pretty much anywhere. Rarity increases importance, doesn't it?

[/quote]

There's no reason to believe that life on Earth is unique in the cosmos. There are an infinite number of reasons to believe otherwise.

[quote="utunumsint, post:9, topic:201245"]
OK. So the universe does not depend on life on earth. How does that make life less important than the rest of the physical universe?

[/quote]

It makes life on Earth unimportant because there is likely an infinite amount of life in the universe.

[quote="utunumsint, post:9, topic:201245"]
Then what is important to the cosmos? Mere existance alone?

[/quote]

Existence for starters, yes.

[quote="EmperorNapoleon, post:10, topic:201245"]
You misread what I said. In order for your argument to succeed there must be an infinite amount of life on Earth. You cannot claim victory through a comparrison of the finite vs the infinite.

[/quote]

Why?

There's no reason to believe that life on Earth is unique in the cosmos. There are an infinite number of reasons to believe otherwise.

Even if there is life on other planets, does that diminish the value of human life? If yes, then why? Just because I am one person in a world of billions, does that mean my life is insignificant?

It makes life on Earth unimportant because there is likely an infinite amount of life in the universe.

Existence for starters, yes.

You claim victory, but I can't see the logic in your answers.

God bless,
Ut

[quote="utunumsint, post:11, topic:201245"]
Why?

[/quote]

Precisely because life on Earth is finite but infinite in the cosmos. Apples and oranges.

[quote="utunumsint, post:11, topic:201245"]
Even if there is life on other planets, does that diminish the value of human life? If yes, then why?

[/quote]

Life on Earth is unimportant in the grand scheme of things because life is likely not unique in the universe.

[quote="utunumsint, post:11, topic:201245"]
Just because I am one person in a world of billions, does that mean my life is insignificant??

[/quote]

It would in the grand scheme of things if there were an infinite number of humans on this world. Likewise, life on Earth is insignificant in the grand scheme of things because there is likely an infinite amount of life in the universe.

[quote="EmperorNapoleon, post:12, topic:201245"]
Precisely because life on Earth is finite but infinite in the cosmos.

Would you protest the destruction of a single grain of sand?

It would in the grand scheme of things if there were an infinite number of humans on this world. Likewise, life on Earth is insignificant in the grand scheme of things because there is likely an infinite amount of life in the universe.

[/quote]

The application of you're materialism to the value of human life is repulsive my friend. I pray that you change you're view on the worth of human life.

God bless,
Ut

[quote="utunumsint, post:13, topic:201245"]
The application of you're materialism to the value of human life...

[/quote]

That is the reality of the universe; whether you choose to accept it or not.

[quote="EmperorNapoleon, post:6, topic:201245"]
There are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, 125 billion other galaxies and the number of newly discovered galaxes is growing exponentially. The idea that life on Earth is "special" or "unique" in the universe has no foundation in science. We've barely scratched the surface in our own solar system.

[/quote]

I'm no scientist, but to my understanding true science does not affirm what it cannot verify. Consequently, the assumption that there IS other life out in the universe is,when accepted, done so on faith alone.

But as soon as you all find ET, old buddy, let me know.

I have read where some scientific folk, at least, believe there are creatures out in the universe that must surely be far, far more advanced than us. Possibly they are so advanced we could no more understand or perhaps even perceive them than a sea slug that has spent its life under 2000 feet of water could understand or perceive us.

But as soon as one hazards to apply a term like "angels" to such posited creatures, the atheist or agnostic science person sulls up and rejects the whole notion because of its association with religion.

Parenthetically, it should be noted that religion does not preclude the existence of other life out in the universe. Christianity, in fact, affirms that there is. (Using, of course, such unacceptable terms as "angels", "saints", etc) Of course, since the physicists are now talking about things like "membranes" and "11 dimensions" and such, the "universe" has taken on a very different aspect from the old "gas balls and rocks" notion. But, of course, other "dimensions" are required to be resolutely secular in their nature, aren't they? :)

[quote="Ridgerunner, post:15, topic:201245"]
But as soon as one hazards to apply a term like "angels" to such posited creatures, the atheist or agnostic science person sulls up and rejects the whole notion because of its association with religion.

[/quote]

Science rejects such religious notions because they are, by their very nature, irrational and untestable and therefore impossible to verify.

[quote="EmperorNapoleon, post:16, topic:201245"]
Science rejects such religious notions because they are, by their very nature, irrational

[/quote]

That word does not mean what you think it means.

As to Hawking... he is good at what he does. At things he has obviously not studied, like philosophy, he's as bad as everyone else who hasn't seriously studied it.

He's a smart guy. I wouldn't trust him to build a bridge, replace drywall, discuss theology or any of the other things he doesn't know how to do. One mistake smart people sometimes make is that they think that being smart means they know things that they do not know. That has been an annoyance to people who actually know those things (or who at least appreciate their complexity) since the time of Socrates. Few people can manage to sound as foolish as a smart person going on about something he hasn't studied.

[quote="EmperorNapoleon, post:12, topic:201245"]

infinite amount of life in the universe.

[/quote]

"infinite amount" is a contradiction in terms, isn't it? :)

[quote="Ridgerunner, post:18, topic:201245"]
"infinite amount" is a contradiction in terms, isn't it? :)

[/quote]

No. The word "amount" has no numerical connotations in and of itself.

[quote="EmperorNapoleon, post:14, topic:201245"]
That is the reality of the universe; whether you choose to accept it or not.

[/quote]

So, you are saying that life on other planets in the universe is "reality?" At this point, can science really say that? Where is the evidence exactly?

Anyway, Hawking and other non-theists have incredible faith in the limited senses of man. Fascinating. They are like a chick in an egg believing that all that exists is inside the egg. And yet, they are willing to accept certain evidence only imagined/reasoned (e.g. life on other planets) as reality.

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