Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Hawking Says Philosophy Is Dead, Science Can Answer All the Major Questions
Thanks to Glenn Peoples and Adam Santibanez for directing me to this info! What I've written below is based on reviews of Hawking's new book, which I haven't yet read, so please let me know if I've misunderstood him (or rather, if the reviewers and I have misunderstood him):
Stephen Hawking (and/or his co-author) writes on page 5 of his new book, in which he claims to have disproved God, that: "Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge."
I wonder when philosophy died. Maybe it died right after atheist scientists like Hawking and Dawkins determined that philosophical naturalism should be the presuppositional underpinning of all science. Or maybe it was merely dying, and actually bought the farm pages later after Hawking had quoted his share of philosophers and gave his support to an epistemological view called model-dependent realism. In any case, it's dead now so let's stop asking questions about meaning, truth, beauty, and knowledge and just let Hawking tell us what the truth is, or rather, what the truth is "for him" since model-dependent realism suggests that:
"there is no one model, but in fact a lot of different ways in which one could predict the same situation; and if two different theories are able to forecast same events, none of them could be called wrong. Anyone who feels more convenient with a specific theory is free to use it and no one has the right to question their choice" (http://topnews.us/content/225376-stephen-hawking-introduces-model-dependent-realism-world).
In any case, God is absolutely NOT necessary to explain the universe... at least for him.
"The professional philosopher can only roll his eyes at the effrontery and condescension of such a statement. Two scientists who have, to all appearances, little acquaintance with philosophy are prepared to pronounce an entire discipline dead and to insult their own faculty colleagues in philosophy at Cal Tech and Cambridge University, many of whom, like Michael Redhead and D. H. Mellor, are eminent philosophers of science, for supposedly failing to keep up. I couldn’t help but wonder what evidence our intrepid authors have of Mr. Redhead’s laggard scholarship? What recent works in philosophy have they read that form the basis for their verdict? Alas, they do not say.
"The professional philosopher will regard their verdict as not merely condescending but also as outrageously naïve. The man who claims to have no need of philosophy is the one most apt to be fooled by it. One might therefore anticipate that Mlodinow and Hawking’s subsequent exposition of their favored theories will be underpinned by a host of unexamined philosophical presuppositions. That expectation is, in fact, borne out. Like their claims about the origin of the universe from “nothing” or about the Many Worlds Hypothesis to explain fine tuning, their claims about laws of nature, the possibility of miracles, scientific determinism, and the illusion of free will are asserted with only the thinnest of justification and little understanding of the philosophical issues involved."
Questions for the skeptic:
Can science really answer ALL the big questions? Are there some questions it can't answer-- for instance, why we should trust science to begin with?
Is it true that we should only trust that which science can show to be true? Can science show this idea to be true?
Despite Hawking's brilliance, doesn't this declaration suggest that he's speaking out of turn on issues he has no real knowledge about?
If truth is not absolute, then isn't it a little ridiculous for Hawking to say that he has "disproved" God? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that he personally doesn't see the evidence to be convincing? Since this is only true for him, why should we care?
If truth is not absolute, is it absolutely true that truth is not absolute?