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.”
Stephen Hawking does have a point. Bill Donohue, the President of the Catholic League disagrees (I’ve no idea who he is either, but he reckons the Catholic priest abuse scandal is about teh gays not peadophiles).
What Big Bill says is…
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.
How can rational person overstate how little a role humans play in the universe? How can anybody think we have a ‘pivotal’ role in what happens outside of our planets atmosphere? We might be able to warm Earth up a degree or two or be really good at making various forms of life here extinct, but anything on a bigger scale is waaaaay beyond us.
Some religions may be more receptive to reasoned argument, but Catholicism is not one of them. Look at it’s stance on condoms, for Christs sake.
Religions may accept certain bits of science and reason, but as soon as a bit contradicts what is in it’s special writings then it doesn’t want to know. Unless of course it can come up with a bit of holy logical acrobatics to say it’s teachings were wrong without saying they were wrong.
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.
Just because somebody is teaching something doesn’t mean what they’re teaching is correct.
Reason, in pursuit of truth, has been reiterated by the Church fathers for nearly two millennia. That is why Hawking posits a false conflict: in the annals of the Catholic Church, there is no inherent conflict between science and religion. Quite the contrary: science and religion, in Catholic thought, are complementary properties. Ergo, nothing is gained by alleging a “victory” of science over religion.
No conflict between science and religion? Why did the Catholic church persecute Galileo for saying the earth orbited the Sun instead of saying ‘really? Could you look into it further?’
There is an inherent conflict twix science and religion: religion is based on what old teachings tell us what to believe, science tells us what we find out from evidence.
Religion without reason, Pope Benedict XVI instructed us in his Regensburg address in 2006, leads to fanaticism. That much Hawking seems to understand. What he doesn’t get is its contra: science without faith also leads to disaster—the genocidal regimes in Germany, the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia being Exhibits A, B, C and D.
Pope Beni got something right, but the examples given of science without faith are not cause and effect. Throughout history there are appalling examples of religious and non-religious people in power causing atrocities. Being ‘of faith’ or not does not mean one is A Good Guy or A Bad Guy.
Religion will never get to the truth. There are too many reasons not to. Science is about discovery. It doesn’t matter what that discovery is.