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Is Stephen Hawking Justified in Saying “There Is No God”

Updated on March 31, 2018
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I like writing and have a wide range of interests, so I hope to comment on and write a variety of articles.

Introduction

Some months ago, I discovered the Hub article “Here's Why Stephen Hawking Says There Is No God” by Catherine Giordano. Being interested in both astronomy and religion, I read it and submitted a comment: “How does Hawking explain the physical healings at Lourdes which, after thorough medical examination, are declared to be miracles?”. I was shocked by her reply: “Stephen Hawking has never tried to explain miracles. He's a scientist. He knows that there are no miracles. He has said, ‘there are no miracles, or exceptions to the laws of nature.’” So I responded: “So he won’t even look at evidence that could prove him wrong.”. She did not publish that response. Censorship. I was not impressed.

I then submitted three more comments, all on different points, two of which she also didn’t publish. More censorship. But then she published an explanation (not specifically directed at me) which reads, in part: “Comments are not a place for an extended discussion; therefore I only accept two comments from the same person. Hub Pages is open to everyone so anyone who feels the need to have their point of view heard can join (it's free) and publish their own hub.”. That is unsatisfactory. Anyone reading her article and comments gets a one-sided view: her view. That’s not how you arrive at the truth.

So here I am, writing my own Hub in response to hers. However, her article is long, and there are well over a hundred comments (including her replies), so I’m not going to attempt to reply to everything, certainly not yet. I’m going to start with just a few fundamental points and then, at a later date, I hope to add more.

First response

How can someone who won’t even look at the evidence that can prove him wrong, be described as a scientist? That’s no better than someone who believes the earth is flat. How can we progress in knowledge if we are deliberately wearing blinders? That’s tunnel vision. Religious people at least look at all the evidence; these “scientists” only look at evidence consistent with their view.

She quotes Hawking as saying:
“There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason”, and
“it’s my view that the simplest explanation is; there is no God.”

So Hawking’s VIEW was that there is no God. He was considered one of the smartest people on Earth, and was a world famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist who had received many honors. So he was an AUTHORITY, and THAT is why we should accept his belief.

His view is based on string THEORY and M-THEORY. So it’s just those THEORIES of physics which can explain the creation of the universe. We don’t know if those theories are correct. They haven’t been proved. And his view is NOT based on OBSERVATION. Has anyone actually SEEN a universe being created?

So his argument boils down to “God doesn’t exist because I say so”.

At the risk of ruffling some feathers, this is like a religious cult, with Hawking a leader and his followers hanging onto his every word. Acceptance of his belief requires FAITH: faith in him and faith in those theories.

This cult accusation is reinforced by her devoting a section to evidence that only a tiny minority of scientists, especially top scientists, believe in God. Of what relevance is the existence or otherwise of God to most fields of science? So what would make them experts on that question? I believe that people are powerfully affected by the opinion of those around them. And we live in a secular world. One might even say aggressively secular.

She begins her article by saying: “Stephen Hawking believed that there is a ‘grand design’ to the universe, but that it has nothing to do with God. With continual breakthroughs, science is coming closer to ‘The Theory of Everything,’ and when it does, Hawking believes all of us will be able to understand and benefit from this grand design.” So his belief is based on faith.

Science can’t currently explain everything, but these scientists are confident - have faith - that science will one day be able to fill in the gaps. I have coined a term for this: “the Science of the Gaps”.

When Hawking says “Religion believes in miracles, but they are not compatible with science”, he means they are not compatible with his narrow view of science. His science deals only with the natural world. True science is open to at least the possibility that there is a supernatural world.

She states that Hawking, in his book “The Grand Design”, “takes the reader on a journey from the earliest beliefs about the creation of the universe to the cutting edge of modern cosmology”. This draws attention to the fact that previous generations of scientists got it wrong. What they told us has been discredited. For example, I’ve got a 1956 astronomy book which favors around one billion years for the age of the universe. Today, just half-a-century later, we believe the correct value is an order of magnitude higher. This is a salutary warning that we mustn’t blindly believe what scientists tell us. We can only have a limited confidence in science. And must be wary of over-confidence by scientists.

That’s a good note to end on. This is enough for now.

Comments

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    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s 27th comment:

      “Ha ha ....and one last last note: I am only really talking about the dogma and the presumption that believing in the existence of a god is essential for everyone.”

      The evidence is that God does exist. And if so, then believing in that existence is certainly desirable for everyone and maybe essential - as is believing in anything else that’s true.

      “That is totally divorced from the beatiful people who work hard, lovingly and selflessly for the welfare of others, who find fun and laughter in their chosen clubby atmosphere of a church or temple or mosque because it helps them in their own life's journey. Many of them find their faith/religion a comfort and support. I hold nothing against that though it does not fit into my own life.”

      I’m pleased you have a high opinion of many religious people. In your third comment, you said: “The existence of such a god can only be demonstrate by the life being led”. I believe their religion has helped inspire and motivate them to work so hard for the welfare of others.

      And that’s a nice positive note to end this discussion on.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s 26th comment:

      “Just one last note: one could say that the character/personality/back ground of the hubber or commenter should be irrelevant when addressing a topic. However, we know it does have a bearing and those factors need to be known if one is to consider all aspects of a person's opinion or point of view.

      So, CyrilS, you might consider putting something about yourself, your academic and other personal attributes into your profile. Or maybe your station in life does not permit you to do that. For all we know you could be the Pope himself, an inmate serving life, a devotee of Islam, ... but numerous of us posters here are happy to identify ourselves. How about you? What are you afraid of?”

      I haven’t attempted to research you. Instead, I have restricted myself to responding to the points in your comments.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s 25th comment:

      “CyrilS, I have unfollowed you and will continue to do so, but just took a moment to look back at what you had to say - your attitude does not seem to have changed and maybe it never will.”

      YOUR attitude doesn’t seem to have changed.

      “So, just so you understand my point of view, hoping it might lead you into just a little more enlightenment:”

      That sounds condescending.

      “I don’t “believe in” any theories, in the same way I can’t believe in the theory of a god. However, where a theory seems, from my own perspective and limited scientific knowledge, to have some measure of credibility, then I will listen, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest....always keeping open minded enough to glimpse at another possibility.8"

      We discussed the difference between “believe” and “accept” before (regarding your sixth comment), and I argued that “believe” just has a stronger connotation.

      “In regards to the sort of god that is claimed to be active in a touristy hotspot like Lourdes,”

      It hasn’t always been a touristy hotspot - not that that should make a difference, I would expect a personal God to be involved with people no matter where they are. I doubt many visitors are the normal tourist, I think most would be religious, and it would be a pilgrimage.

      “to be honest I haven’t the time or inclination to even research it,”

      That confirms what I already suspected - and with Paladin as well as yourself. You’ve got time to argue against it, but not to investigate it.

      “because any report, repeat ANY report is bound to have the bias of its reporter.”

      Facts are facts, which can be disputed and investigated and disproved, and by consulting various reports you can determine the truth. The Izard book I named gives lots of details about individual Lourdes cures, which lends authenticity.

      “Such a god, one that honours “his” followers for having taken the trouble and spent a fortune getting there;”

      Why would that be a bad reason?

      "believed here-say;"

      I presume you mean followers who believed hearsay. Such a God would look at their good intentions. So you are, say, watching a TV report, the reporter states what he/she has seen, and you accept/believe it; but then he/she reports what someone told him/her, and you DON’T accept/believe it because it’s hearsay - and you don’t repeat it to anyone else as you would then have to warn them NOT to accept/believe you as that would just be hearsay. That would be taking caution to ridiculous extremes.

      “considered his/her needs and maladies to be of more importance than a neighbour’s;”

      Not necessarily, they would more likely want ALL to be cured, or are even not sick themselves but are there for someone else.

      “...... such a god is not worth my time arguing about.”

      If there is a God then, no matter what type of God it is, you should be very interested in that God.

      “And would any one be surprised that Stephen had little time for such a theoretical god?”

      Miracles are evidence that such a God is not just theoretical. So that God is helping people, but instead of being amazed and convinced by those extraordinary cures, and instead of being grateful for them, you just want to look at those who weren’t cured.

      "If such pastimes attract your attention and you think it will serve you or those around you to lead a more fruitful life, that is your free choice. Good luck to you."

      Thank you.

      "But not for me."

      But if “such pastimes” are causing people to lead more fruitful lives, then you should encourage it.

      "So, bye bye."

      Apparently not - again!

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s 24th comment:

      “I promise to open my mind to new wonders, as did The Late Stephen. But there is little room for what my mind perceives as nonsense...sorry, even if its perceptions are way off the mark, I will go along with what's logical for now.”

      And some people perceive as nonsense the notion that the Earth isn’t flat.

      “Sorry again, lost count. This one must be 25th.”

      I make it your 24th, not that that’s particularly important, apart from helping in referencing previous comments.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      5 months ago from Tasmania

      Ha ha ....and one last last note: I am only really talking about the dogma and the presumption that believing in the existence of a god is essential for everyone.

      That is totally divorced from the beatiful people who work hard, lovingly and selflessly for the welfare of others, who find fun and laughter in their chosen clubby atmosphere of a church or temple or mosque because it helps them in their own life's journey. Many of them find their faith/religion a comfort and support. I hold nothing against that though it does not fit into my own life.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      5 months ago from Tasmania

      Just one last note: one could say that the character/personality/back ground of the hubber or commenter should be irrelevant when addressing a topic. However, we know it does have a bearing and those factors need to be known if one is to consider all aspects of a person's opinion or point of view.

      So, CyrilS, you might consider putting something about yourself, your academic and other personal attributes into your profile. Or maybe your station in life does not permit you to do that. For all we know you could be the Pope himself, an inmate serving life, a devotee of Islam, ... but numerous of us posters here are happy to identify ourselves. How about you? What are you afraid of?

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s 23rd comment:

      “Haha, my eighteenth, be gad! Well CyrilS, if you choose to open a can o' worms with the infinitely impossible question, I'm happy to be in the audience as one of those worms. But then, did you intend it as a rhetorical question to which you knew you knew the answer in the first place? Your God your teacher must be very pleased with you. Please ask him to forgive my skepticism regarding Lourdes. I know t hiis comes over as satire, but it's the best response I can find without being unkind to your obviously high intelligence.”

      I make it your 23rd comment but, more important, I’m unsure how I should reply to that, and it doesn’t really address the topic of my Hub, so I’ll just say that I expected disagreement and discussion.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      5 months ago from Tasmania

      CyrilS, I have unfollowed you and will continue to do so, but just took a moment to look back at what you had to say - your attitude does not seem to have changed and maybe it never will. So, just so you understand my point of view, hoping it might lead you into just a little more enlightenment:

      I don’t “believe in” any theories, in the same way I can’t believe in the theory of a god. However, where a theory seems, from my own perspective and limited scientific knowledge, to have some measure of credibility, then I will listen, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest....always keeping open minded enough to glimpse at another possibility.8

      In regards to the sort of god that is claimed to be active in a touristy hotspot like Lourdes, to be honest I haven’t the time or inclination to even research it, because any report, repeat ANY report is bound to have the bias of its reporter.

      Such a god, one that honours “his” followers for having taken the trouble and spent a fortune getting there; believed here-say; considered his/her needs and maladies to be of more importance than a neighbour’s; ...... such a god is not worth my time arguing about. And would any one be surprised that Stephen had little time for such a theoretical god?

      If such pastimes attract your attention and you think it will serve you or those around you to lead a more fruitful life, that is your free choice. Good luck to you. But not for me.

      So, bye bye.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s 22nd comment:

      “CyrilS, look to the inconsistencies of your own arguments.”

      What inconsistencies? My argument all along is that some people - you certainly appear to be one of them - demand absolute 100% scientific proof that there is a God, while at the same time accepting and believing an unproven cosmological theory which, if correct, could explain the creation of the universe without a God (but wouldn’t prove that God doesn’t exist).

      So the inconsistency is on your side.

      “In your hub you said, "True science is open to at least the possibility that there is a supernatural world." Yes, that's fair enough but the argument has to stop there.”

      I was responding to the Hawking quotes in Catherine’s hub, which imply that his mind ISN’T open to that possibility. So I wanted to open such minds. You can argue that that’s just a single step, but it’s a very important step, if you don’t take it you won’t get any further.

      “There is no way to apply scientific principles in order to arrive at conclusive agreement when your focus is believing....”

      My “believing” is based on evidence. Evidence is my foundation, my starting point.

      “Supernatural is the realm of belief, not science.”

      I disagree. In my response to your third comment, I referred to scientific studies on the effectiveness of prayer.

      “Prior to that you said, "Of what relevance is the existence or otherwise of God to most fields of science? So what would make them experts on that question? I believe that people are powerfully affected by the opinion of those around them. " Obviously your own opinion is very strongly influenced by the opinion of those around you....especially if you are attending Lourdes.”

      I’m not attending Lourdes, and I don’t discuss it with those around me (I’m sure some would agree with me and others wouldn’t). My opinion was formed by what I’ve read about it.

      “And yet, you search for conclusive evidence, in the domain of beliefs, where the mental hallucinations of God remain supreme!”

      I don’t need “conclusive” evidence: “beyond reasonable doubt” is good enough for me. And I’m aware that some people could have hallucinations which they incorrectly believe to be supernatural, so I am cautious in accepting such claims - just as you should be cautious in doing the opposite.

      “You are amusing, Cyril, IMHO.”

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s 21st comment:

      You were commenting on my response to your 13th and 14th comments.

      “Yes. Existing sets of belief....very strong in the christian way of things and, of course in other religions.”

      You seem to be very strong in your atheistic beliefs.

      “Only in Christianity have I seen so much emphasis on the notion of evangelism. In other words, "we have the answer guys. You gotta believe what we believe and you gotta come to Our God, The God, or else...."”

      Catherine isn’t exactly quiet about broadcasting her views, and the same goes for you: 21 comments and counting. I’ve already mentioned the prohibition of religion in schools. I don’t think Judaism is strong on evangelism, but I’m not sure that’s true of Islam. You are in a mostly Christian country; it might be different in another and non-Christian country.

      “And any new information must fit in with those beliefs.”

      That misquotes me. I said “whether someone accepts new information, depends largely on whether it fits into their existing set of beliefs”. Note the “largely”. And I was not talking specifically about religious people, but about everyone: I said “irrespective of what those beliefs are”.

      “If that all fits in with your beliefs, CyrilS, that's fine for you. I don't ask you to take on any of my beliefs or non-beliefs, they are my free choice.”

      But you are scathing in your criticism of others.

      You left out one important statement of mine: “I base my beliefs on the evidence. And I do research to determine the facts.” That’s so important and relevant that I’ll repeat it: I base my beliefs on the evidence. And I do research to determine the facts.

      “If you like to accept everything you hear or see about Lourdes as evidence, that will be because it all fits in with your beliefs. That does not make any of it FACT. And it can't be supported by anything claimed to be "fact" about "God." A metaphysical god is never supportable by fact. Only believable by the mind that wants to believe. Free choice unless there is someone else demanding that you believe.”

      Paladin would probably argue that I’ve produced no evidence that Lourdes even exists, but you apparently aren’t that extreme. It is a FACT that numerous people have claimed to have been cured. It is a FACT that some of these claimed cures, after thorough medical examination, have been declared miraculous. You might dispute whether or not they are in fact miraculous, you might attribute them to psychological factors or some as yet unknown medical reason, but you can’t dispute the cures. And the reason you reject the miraculous (and therefore also God) is because it doesn’t fit in with your current beliefs, so you have to believe it’s somehow natural. So you demand absolute 100% scientific proof beyond any doubt, whereas I am happy to accept a lesser standard, such as beyond reasonable doubt (as I do in other matters in everyday life).

      “Take your choice. I have mine.”

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      Paula’s second comment just insults me: “Alan.....Oh Jonny, my friend. You are SO above this back & forth Mickey Mouse Show. Spit the bait out, cut yourself loose and leave dear Cyril to argue with himself. His comments are damned hilarious...."Here is my response to Alan's 12th comment.".........................Barf. Here is MY final statement. Get a hobby, Cyril ole buddy.”

      And Alan’s twentieth comment just praises and thanks her for her comment: “Dear Paula, I tried smilies but they got rejected. So....hahahaha. Thank you!”.

      She doesn’t justify her claim that my comments are hilarious. And there’s no substance in either of their comments, so there’s really nothing for me to answer.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s nineteenth comment:

      This was a long rant against in particular born-again Christians. You began this line of argument when, in your third comment, you stated: “The existence of such a god can only be demonstrate by the life being led”. So I’m wondering if you raised this topic due to antipathy towards born-again Christians. Anyway, it is of limited relevance to my Hub, so I’ll keep my response as short as possible.

      “Ok CyrilS. Have it your way, for now. You have baited me back into this argument. Thrown down the gauntlet. I accept the challenge.”

      I wasn’t baiting you or throwing down the gauntlet, I was just continuing working through answering all the comments, including yours, one by one, in sequence.

      “Even if "many atheists" had done wrong, it does not mean they did wrong because they were atheist. Anyway, how do you know that many who did wrong were in fact atheist? You don't. It's only a convenient assumption on your part.”

      So religious people in the Soviet Union were suppressing religion there? That doesn’t make sense. This is an example of what I was thinking of in my responses to Paladin’s tenth comment and your eighteenth comment: your minds are closed and you will reject any argument and evidence I produce, using one excuse after another, without producing any actual contrary proof.

      “Let's compare such a statement as your's with this: "Much wrong has been done by MANY christians." Even if that were the case, (and it might be so), the wrong was not done because they were christian. It was their personal choices to do wrong - that would be the reason for their wrong-doing.

      You might point to people in the former USSR, Nazi Germany or any other "socialist" country, and say the wrongs which have been done were done because those people were atheist. Wrong yourself. Atheism was not at the root of them doing wrong. The root cause of their wrong was their choices.”

      But why did they make those choices? Why didn’t they resist/stop making those choices?

      “I could point to huge corporations based in and growing out of the United States of America, that have pushed and bullied people throughout the world into the use of their products, for selfish and greedy purposes, and say they are wrong. I could point to the fact that many of the people involved claim to be born-again christians - whether honestly or dishonestly - but that does not make them evil because they are christian. The christianity-hook is there incidentally, conveniently, to give them a sense of legitimacy. In the same way that your applying the atheism-hook conveniently helps to make your own arguments sound legitimate.”

      My belief is that all people, no matter who they are or what their beliefs, are human and have human weaknesses and failings. The difference, as I pointed out in my response to your twelfth comment, is that Christians (and other religions) have a moral code, so they know when they are doing wrong, and have repeated reminders to do good. By contrast, atheists ...? This would need to be quantified, but I named four people/organizations which do good works and were inspired by religion; that’s much more and stronger evidence than the “good atheists” you have mentioned.

      “Your christianity, the bible, its interpretations, the reliance upon the god hypothesis, the evangelism, the judgement, the proclamation of sin....all these are human concoctions designed to give people using them exclusive power over others, often at the other's expense.”

      That is a very cynical attitude. You are attacking not just the people’s actions, but their motives. That’s difficult to prove - and you haven’t offered any proof. And the moral code followed by atheists isn’t a “human concoction”? Do you believe that you should follow your country’s laws? Aren’t they a “human concoction”? Can you actually PROVE that there was no supernatural or divine involvement in creating the Bible?

      “Hypocrisy. I do know, from my previous life as a born-again christian, that hypocrisy is rife among born-again christians. Also, I do know from reading that bible, hypocrisy was the one attitude which was supposed to have may your Jesus really angry.”

      You must know a lot of born-again Christians to be able to make that statement with any degree of scientific certainty.

      “I dropped my association with that hypocritical organisation, despite the numerous individuals within the organisation who perform good works, selflessly, world-wide. Most of them would be good people regardless of their beliefs. Same with most of those who are atheist.

      It’s not an organization, it’s a movement. I don’t see that being a member of an organization is essential to being “born again”. I think more relevant is one’s motivation: why are these people performing good works? For that matter, why do they think some works are good and others not? I think nearly everyone in the western world has been powerfully influenced by Christianity, and specifically by Christian beliefs as to what is right and wrong (which largely come from the Bible), even if they themselves are not Christians.

      “CyrilS, you peddle that garbage about sin, guilt, being saved, etc. It's man-made non-sense. Using the man-made, non-existent god as an excuse to make judgements. As you can see, I can make judgements without being christian and without the assistance of a god. And I make no apology for doing so.”

      “Judgements which are no less authentic than your own. Thank you.”

      I think my preceding answers, such as a country’s laws and being influenced by Christian beliefs, will suffice here.

      A couple of general comments to conclude this reply. Firstly, you demand scientific proof of me, but you have made a number of statements regarding your beliefs, including derogatory statements about other people, but have offered at most anecdotal evidence supporting them. Yet you condemned hypocrisy. And secondly, those derogatory statements. I understand that converts can be enthusiastic about their newly chosen beliefs, but you go further. I suspect that your emotions are so intense that it clouds your judgement.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s eighteenth comment (I think the one you have now called 18th is actually your 23rd!):

      You wrote:

      CyrilS, I can and do accept that some “healing” might take place in the minds of individuals, perhaps leading to physical relief of some sort. By which mental, mind-over-matter mechanism I have no knowledge. And if any individuals gets gratification of any kind from something that happens to him/her/or third person, then good for them. Please don’t extrapolate this to presume you convince me about the existence of a god, a saviour, a metaphysical being by the name of Jesus. You can’t, you will not, so don’t even bother to try. It has been a good try on your part but total failure.

      It’s all a product, a diversion of the human mind.

      My response:

      I am aware of the effect that the mind can have on the body. That’s why I named Lourdes instead of anything else, as many of the apparent cures there are thoroughly examined, in fact that’s a requirement for a cure to be declared miraculous, thereby enabling us to rule out psychological factors in those cases.

      “You can’t, you will not convince me about the existence of a god”. So at last the truth comes out. You have a closed mind. Totally closed. Thank you for finally admitting it.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Paula’s first comment (and Alan’s seventeenth):

      This Hub article was intended to be about whether or not God exists. Despite your comment being so long, it doesn’t address that issue. Instead it is just a long diatribe against me - long and unfounded.

      You accuse me of insulting Catherine Giordano. You’ll have to justify that accusation, as I don’t see anything insulting in the handful of references I make to her.

      The question I posed, "So he [Hawking] won't even look at evidence that could prove him wrong?", far from being idiotic, is a perfectly logical one based on the information in her article, specifically her Hawking quotes, though it may be an uncomfortable question. She gives the impression that she is an enthusiastic fan of Hawking, and that she knows a lot about him, so it’s only logical to ask HER. Are you saying that in fact she doesn’t know so much about him, and that we should therefore take what she says with a pinch of salt?

      As I explicitly stated, she explicitly states that she only accepts two comments from the same person. So it’s obviously not just me she censors. She also explicitly states that the reason is that she doesn’t want an extended discussion. (Incidentally, Paladin agreed that the comments section is a great place for extended discussions.) So she suppresses good comments, not just bad ones. I therefore think that “censor” is an appropriate word in this context, despite its negative connotation and the positive spin she puts on her policy. And I certainly don’t see how my response of publishing my own hub is “immature” - that’s exactly the remedy she suggests. But at least you won’t have any objection if I censor your comment.

      I never said anyone was “forced” to accept Hawking’s findings or beliefs. I pointed out that those beliefs are based on unproven theories, so Catherine’s argument was that we SHOULD accept his beliefs because he was so smart and famous.

      Far from loving to argue, I am merely answering responses.

      My 1956 astronomy book was written by a prominent female astronomer.

      Finally, Alan’s praise of your comment is clearly unjustified.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Paladin’s tenth comment:

      “Cyril, I'm betting you're not a prosecuting attorney.”

      If you read the first of my two Hubs, “Did David Westerfield Kidnap and Murder Danielle van Dam?”, you’ll see that I’m much more likely to be a DEFENSE attorney. And the defense, as you may be aware, doesn’t have to provide ANY evidence at all.

      “If you were, criminals would LOVE you! No physical exhibits, no expert or eyewitness testimony, no cross-examination of witnesses, just an admonition to the jury to "go visit the crime scene."

      Then, while you're whining that the jury hasn't bothered to examine the "evidence" you've presented, they're acquitting the defendant, who's laughing his or her ass off.”

      I disagree. In the Westerfield trial, the prosecution offered NO evidence the defendant was at either crime scene, they didn’t want the jury to visit the kidnapping scene (and they didn’t), and attacked the scientific evidence that he WASN’T at the body dump site, but far from the jury acquitting him they convicted him - and recommended that he be executed (and the judge agreed).

      “At the risk of sounding condescending, I'm going to give you one last opportunity to present some actual EVIDENCE for us to examine regarding your claims. If you don't in your next comment to me, I'll be forced to conclude that you're full of BS and just enjoy arguing, for which I no longer have any patience or time. I'll unsubscribe from this hub and leave you to argue with yourself (or to continue arguing with Alan if he's in a masochistic mood). Your move.”

      You said you would investigate it. I thought you were going to contact the Lourdes Medical Bureau and ask for evidence such as X-rays and medical reports, and then consult doctors of your own choice to get their opinion. I have been sadly disappointed. When I read your response I couldn’t believe my eyes. You couldn’t even be bothered to look up the Wikipedia article I named, or obtain the book I named. That’s all you need do to obtain evidence. Just a few keystrokes on your computer. I concluded that you had no intention of ever investigating this, and that you would find one excuse after another to reject any and all evidence proving you wrong.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s sixteenth comment:

      You wrote:

      Ok CyrilS, so let me address a couple of points from within your hub:

      "Anyone reading her article and comments gets a one-sided view: her view. That’s not how you arrive at the truth." If Cathrine presents her one-sided view in a debate, what is wrong with that? It is for the audience to reach his/her conclusion about the truth. Even then it's not guaranteed to be THE TRUTH.

      Next: "Religious people at least look at all the evidence; these “scientists” only look at evidence consistent with their view." Really? It sounds like you have an extraordinary faith in religious people....perhaps as much as you perceive atheist have in The Late Stephen. Why would a religious person need to put so much emphasis on evidence, when the primary need is faith in their god? It is the scientifically mined person who is more likely to call for evidence....even when it is produce there will be further enquiry as to the author AND any bias held by that author!

      My response:

      My complaint wasn’t that she presented her views but that she suppressed other people’s contrary views. The audience is more likely to arrive at the truth if they have all opinions, all facts.

      As I pointed out in my last response, religious people generally accept science, it is just SOME scientific beliefs which SOME religious people don’t accept. I consider that a fact, a fact which few would dispute, so it doesn’t require “an extraordinary faith in religious people”. And, as I indicated in my last response, atheists were already atheists before Hawking’s spontaneous creation theory, despite contrary scientific evidence, but they seized on his theory to bolster their beliefs, to claim that their beliefs were scientific.

      Religion is no different than science in this respect. People like Catherine and yourself know that science has been right in some things, so they have faith that it is right when Hawking comes up with his theories, even though they know science has sometimes been wrong. Similarly, religious people know that religion has been right in some things (e.g. it is generally accepted even by critical scholars that Jesus did exist), so they have faith that it is right in other things (such as life after death), even though they might not believe that everything in the Bible is literally true.

      Science has its place in life, and it’s an important place, and the rigorous scientific investigation you have described is an ideal, but it’s not practical to demand that everything in life be first subjected to such thorough examination.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s fifteenth comment:

      You said:

      “Further, "there isn’t a “hierarchy” of atheistic scientists who have “ploughed and cultivated” my mind. Honourable scientists don't do that, whether theist or a-theist. They merely present the facts as they understand them, yet reserve some room for further information that might emerge.

      Yet the theist, non-scientific mind is very often closed and dogmatic. And it's not unknown for them to be offended when someone dares to question a treasured belief.

      The scientist is more likely to say, "Interesting question, thank you. I don't know the answer right now; will do some more research to see if my current understanding is correct."

      The christian response is more likely to take offense again and make further reference to the bible, a very un-scientific book, authors unknown and subject to interpretations on the basis of belief.”

      My response:

      This is just another criticism of believers specifically Christians (closed minds, dogmatic, take offense), rather than evidence regarding the existence of God, but I’ll answer briefly.

      Scientists are human and have normal human failings. You apparently aren’t yourself a scientist, as your criticisms aren’t consistent with the glowing picture you paint of scientists: saintly people who passively and humbly present their facts, while painfully aware that they might be wrong. They believe they are right and others are wrong.

      There is ready proof of my phrase “a hierarchy of atheistic scientists”: Catherine refers to “top-tier” scientists, “top” scientists, and “Fellows of the Royal Society of London”, and according to her statistics, nearly all scientists are atheists.

      There are SOME religious people who reject SOME scientific beliefs, but in general religious people accept science.

      Science isn’t everything, and there is much more to science than just creation and evolution (which is what I presume you are thinking of). If you go into a library, you’ll see that very few of the books are about science. There are travel books, history books, cookery books, biographies, legal books, and so on. Science is only a small part of life, yet that seems to be the only thing you value.

      Not everything in the Bible should be taken literally, but someone with an open mind wouldn’t reject it in its entirety. It wasn’t intended to be a scientific book. Much of it is instead about what people did and said and experienced.

      Once again you have ignored much of what I said. You haven’t produced supporting evidence that “that version of the bible which has filtered down through the heirarchy of the Roman Church over recent centuries is primarily to preserve authority for that church”. You haven’t disputed my statements that “We are always reliant on the opinion of experts in fields we ourselves are not expert in”, and that “The earliest manuscripts can be studied and interpreted by people other than those you are apparently hostile towards, thereby exposing any distortions by them”. Nor have you disputed my statement that “the life St Paul led afterwards is proof that something extraordinary happened”. Nor have you produced “ancient manuscripts which prove that the early Christians were mistaken in believing that Jesus rose from the dead”. And you didn’t comment on my statement that atheists were resistant to the Big Bang theory which implies creation and God - the second time I’ve said so. So some atheists didn’t want to accept scientific evidence.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      My response to Alan’s thirteenth and fourteenth comments:

      “CyrilS, you have confirmed what I have said: you believe what you want to believe. Are you afraid to let go of all you have been taught by your church?

      Your choices.”

      I base my beliefs on the evidence. And I do research to determine the facts.

      “you believe what you want to believe”. I think that, whether someone accepts new information, depends largely on whether it fits into their existing set of beliefs, irrespective of what those beliefs are.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      Here is my response to Alan's twelfth comment: it is shorter than I had intended.

      “CyrilS, even though you say this, "I mentioned the wrong done by many atheists, the suffering they inflicted, " that cannot imply they did wrong because they were atheist. Being atheist does not make a person bad, any more than being religious (theist) makes a person good.

      You have brought up the idea of religious people being good - as Paladin has questioned most strongly.”

      I referred to the wrong done by MANY atheists, so NOT all atheists, and gave evidence to support my claim.

      Religions have a moral code: think of the Ten Commandments. And the Bible is full of exhortations to help others, to treat them fairly: think of “love your neighbor as yourself”. This must have a positive effect, and the many religious organizations devoted to doing good, confirm that. I gave four examples to support my claim and Paladin disputed just one of them, where he quoted what is very much a minority view. When Mother Teresa began her work, she didn’t have the millions of dollars he referred to, all she could give the dying was her time and love, and that’s what she did.

      “You seem to have a very deep-seated bias towards non-believers. Why?”

      I haven’t seen any positive statements you have made about believers, but there are plenty of negative ones, so I could retort that you seem to have a very deep-seated bias towards believers.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      5 months ago from Tasmania

      CyrilS, I can and do accept that some “healing” might take place in the minds of individuals, perhaps leading to physical relief of some sort. By which mental, mind-over-matter mechanism I have no knowledge. And if any individuals gets gratification of any kind from something that happens to him/her/or third person, then good for them. Please don’t extrapolate this to presume you convince me about the existence of a god, a saviour, a metaphysical being by the name of Jesus. You can’t, you will not, so don’t even bother to try. It has been a good try on your part but total failure.

      It’s all a product, a diversion of the human mind.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      5 months ago

      Alan: I’ve seen no indication that your beliefs are movable. My beliefs are also science based, but not exclusively so.

      In view of your decision to withdraw from this debate, I’m uncertain how I should proceed. Should I continue my attempt to comprehensively answer all your points, or should I also withdraw? I’ve also got better things to do. Maybe a middle course is best: shorter, less comprehensive answers? And I had already done some preparation for your subsequent comments.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      6 months ago from Tasmania

      Ok, CyrilS, since you have your beliefs which appear to be immovable and I have my critical, science/technology/cynic-minded blinkers on, it seems we will not come to any kind of constructive agreement. So this to-and-fro of a useless debate is a waste of time for me, although it's been sort of a laugh, watching your responses. Better things to do now.

      Wishing you an interesting and satisfying life.

      Bye.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Alan’s eleventh comment:

      “Personally, I don't have time to look at all the Wikipedia entries about Lourdes, but the one about the "Lourdes effect" caught my eye.

      You, Cyril, will most likely be more interested in confirmatory entries. That is to be expected, it hinges on what you want to accept.”

      So two outspoken atheists, neither of whom could figure out that the Wikipedia article on the Lourdes Medical Bureau is titled Lourdes Medical Bureau! Paladin has the excuse that he didn’t even try, but you did try and still couldn’t find it. How can anyone respect your conclusions on anything?

      By the way, I would argue that the Wikipedia article on the Lourdes effect contains both a mistranslation or misinterpretation of the original sources (the arm argument), and a false comparison (the speculated but unspecified number of travel fatalities). I believe the latter is a misuse of statistics, an example of the “prosecutor’s fallacy”. It is notable that that article doesn’t claim that the cures didn’t happen, nor does it dispute that they are extraordinary, nor does it contain any natural explanation for them. Also, while many people may have an “uncritical approach to miracles”, that is certainly not true of those few Lourdes cures which have been declared miraculous.

      And another "by the way". I did prepare a response to your ninth and tenth comments (which are actually post scripts to your eighth comment), but won’t publish it as you were gracious enough to respect my pointing out that the topic was “beyond the scope” of my Hub (whether or not God exists versus forcing one’s views on others). And you did so without actually being asked to: I merely alluded to it.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Paladin’s ninth comment:

      “Cyril said:

      "...If I mentioned to you a book on, say, Michigan, would you then accuse me of not having produced one single piece of evidence for Michigan’s existence?"

      By Jove, I think you're finally getting it! Referencing a book about Michigan is NOT evidence for the existence of Michigan,”

      That’s nonsense. Please explain you reasoning.

      “any more than referencing a book about Yahweh -- especially one as ludicrous, inconsistent and self-contradictory as the Bible -- is proof for HIS existence.”

      I notice how you changed (increased) your requirement from “evidence” to “proof”.

      “However, you still have a long way to go to understand science and the scientific method. You seem to be under the impression that, because science has made mistakes in the past, it is therefore unreliable.”

      It should be obvious that it IS therefore unreliable. Science has made mistakes before, so it CAN make mistakes again. Can you really guarantee that everything science tells us now and in the future is/will be correct?

      “But the beauty of the scientific method is that it's self-correcting. A "poorly-written" scientific paper will be rejected in the process of peer review,”

      I explicitly said the CONTENTS of a scientific paper. Would you reject the arguments in a scientific paper because it contained spelling errors and grammatical mistakes?

      “and an incorrect or incomplete explanation will be replaced with a BETTER explanation.”

      My argument was that, just as you allow science to do that, so you should allow religion to do that.

      I said that you’ve spent more time evading looking up the evidence for Lourdes medical cures than it would have taken to look it up, and you haven’t disputed that.

      You wanted me to look up YouTube, and I did; I want you to look up Wikipedia, but you haven’t.

      “Those intrepid individuals who discover these new explanations are REWARDED (for example, with Nobel prizes). Religion, on the other hand, burns or beheads those who challenge the current orthodoxy (when they have the power).”

      Mother Teresa was awarded a Nobel prize.

      I previously pointed out - and you didn’t dispute - that many atheists are also intolerant, and I gave as one example the Soviet Union government: it had a policy of state atheism. Similarly with atrocities: it also goes both ways. Thousands of priests and nuns were murdered by the anti-clerical Republican government during the Spanish Civil War, and similarly during the French Revolution.

      New scientific explanations aren’t immediately accepted, let alone rewarded, they have to be proved, and initially will meet with opposition and rejection. Those “intrepid individuals who discover these new explanations” can themselves be intolerant of those who oppose and reject their explanations. Think of the insults and condemnation directed at anyone who dares question global warming.

      “You point out that the Indian government gave Mother Theresa a "state funeral." If that's true, so what? She conned a LOT of people into thinking her death slums were something 'noble,' all the while raking in tons of cash and collecting prizes and commendations. I WISH there were a Hell, just so she could burn in it!”

      She WAS given a state funeral. You can find confirmation on YouTube, among other places. Why didn’t you check that first before making a comment which is so blatantly wrong and easy to disprove? It does your credibility no good.

      So I should believe you rather than the Indian government?! Who is more likely to know the truth? Your Hell/burn comments are shocking and frightening. Such comments, by you and others, could lead to or incite violence.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      6 months ago from Tasmania

      Thank you Paula...an astronomical voice amongst the stars!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      6 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Cyril...Dear Sir, I have been following this article and chose not to comment at first, because your arrogant attitude and shabby facts simply don't warrant my time.

      However, your passive-aggressive insults toward my friend and fellow-writer, Ms. Catherine Giorodano are not only annoying but unwarranted & self-serving to a serious fault.

      I see you signed on 10 months ago, have provided no informative bio whatsoever and have written only 2 articles.

      I clearly note that Catherine replied to your initial question on her hub, with an acceptable, factual comment. You then came back at her with quite an idiotic, off the wall question: "So he won't even look at evidence that could prove him wrong?" Your asking Catherine what Hawkings will or will not do in terms of his Scientific research into a specific topic? How the hell is Catherine expected to know what Hawkings does, doesn't do, looks at, considers or does not?

      Do you think she works with him? Dates Him? Sends him personal questionnaires in her spare time? Just think about how ludicrous your question was. No one can blame Catherine for not posting it! That is NOT "censorship," Cyril. You're very immature & insecure, aren't you? Not posting your foolish question is her prerogative as the writer. If she had chosen to "censor" you, she would not have allowed your very first question. As writers, WE are in control of our own material on our own sites. Catherine has always been fair and allowed comments from nearly all people who read her work....even those who get fairly ugly with her. She's very patient and tolerant with people who do not give her the same respect.

      I had to actually laugh at your statement that you were not "impressed." Excuse me, Cyril, you not being impressed is suppose to have exactly what affect upon the rest of us? I don't know about any of my fellow-writers but I never got the memo about "needing to impress Cyril!"

      Catherine merely presents what Hawkings has deduced from his studies and research. No one....no one at all is forced to accept his findings or belief. Nor is Catherine force-feeding his teachings. She too, is merely presenting as a way of educating the beliefs /findings of Hawkings. No one is saying you or anyone else must accept his belief because he is an authority or because he's Bozo the Clown.

      Snap out of it Cyril. Paladin is correct, you're just one of those individuals who loves to argue. Unfortunately, you left your "tools" for exceptional argument in the trunk of your car. You might want to leave this kind of discussion to the intellectuals. You have a nice evening reading your 1956 Astronomy book.....sounds lovely. :)

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Paladin’s eighth comment:

      “Cyril, while I personally have no doubt (given his scientific professionalism, thoroughness and brilliance) that Stephen Hawking -- at some moment in his career -- examined the supposed "evidence" for supernatural phenomena, I can't claim it as 'fact' that he either did or didn't because I haven't comprehensively examined every single professional thing he ever did.

      And, despite your claims about doing "some" research of his work, NEITHER can you!”

      As you are involved in a debate, I expect you to have done at least SOME searching, if only so you could prove me wrong. And, as you haven’t produced ANY proof that Hawking examined evidence for the supernatural/miracles, I conclude that you FAILED to find any. Add to that Catherine’s quote by him that there CANNOT be any miracles. So three people, one of whom is a real fan of his, have found/produced no proof. In a court of law, guilt need only be proved beyond reasonable doubt, NOT beyond all doubt.

      “And you continue to resist presenting evidence for supposed "miracles" at Lourdes (saying instead that I should "Wikipedia it"). So I'm left to assume that you HAVE NO evidence. So, you're full of beans, after all.”

      I didn’t say you should “Wikipedia it”, I gave you the name of the relevant article. The name of the Wikipedia article on the Lourdes Medical Bureau is ... wait for it ... Lourdes Medical Bureau. Surprise, surprise!

      Repeating what I said in my response to your fourth comment:

      “There is a Medical Bureau there, which can be contacted. The Wikipedia article on the Lourdes Medical Bureau lists a dozen notable cases. You can research them. And various books, such as “The Meaning of Lourdes” by Francis Izard, describe in some detail various cures. That, like my other books, is an old one, but I see it is available on Amazon, and I’ve had a look on Amazon and see there are some recent ones, such as “Lourdes Today” by Kerry Crawford, and “The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes” by Charles River Editors - the latter apparently adopts a more skeptical view so you should like that.”

      And repeating what I said in my response to your sixth comment:

      “You said you would investigate the evidence for Lourdes cures, but you can’t even be bothered to look up a specific Wikipedia article which I named, or obtain a book I named (I even told you where you can get it).”

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Alan’s eighth comment:

      “Yes, those terms "belief" and "believer" tend to be used primarily by christians. As a former christian-thinking person I understand where you are coming from. I do not use the terms in my discussions because I don't feel a need to be drawn into the argument for the existence of a judgemental, anthropocentric deity. I leave that to the free choice of others, but not for me.”

      If there is a God, then that God may or may not be judgemental. It is what it is. I don’t have a problem with a judgemental God. That God is saying: lead a good life and you will be rewarded; lead a bad life and you will be punished. That makes sense to me. Why would God be otherwise? It’s how the world works (or tries to).

      And such a God isn’t necessarily anthropocentric. That may appear to be the case, but that may be only one facet of God, we are looking at just one side of the die. It’s just the facet we see, the facet of most importance and relevance to us.

      "Believe what you want CyrilS."

      Thank you.

      “Behind those terms is the presumption that, as a person with christian beliefs, rather that any other religion, you have the monopoly on "knowing what is true." It is that arrogance which I confront. It has been the most devisive set of assumptions this world has ever known.

      And I reject those fundamental beliefs of Christianity. Period.”

      So a person with beliefs other than Christian doesn’t believe they “have the monopoly on ‘knowing what is true’”? Scientists like Hawking aren’t convinced they are right? I get the strong impression that you very firmly believe you are right. And, while saying you are tolerant, you are full of condemnation of others. I’m actually surprised you single out Christians in this day and age: I’d have thought you’d more likely have targeted fundamentalist Muslims.

      “But this does not open me to your judgement.”

      You are the one condemning others, I’m just discussing the facts and drawing conclusions. And I try to be restrained in the language I use.

      I intended my Hub to be just about the existence or otherwise of God.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      6 months ago from Tasmania

      Sorry. That last sentence should have been a question, "Are you afraid to.....?" I must not judge you. Your choices you are entitled to.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      6 months ago from Tasmania

      CyrilS, you have confirmed what I have said: you believe what you want to believe. You are afraid to let go of all you have been taught by your church.

      Your choices.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Alan’s seventh comment:

      “If that version of the bible which has filtered down through the heirarchy of the Roman Church over recent centuries is primarily to preserve authority for that church,”

      I note that “if”. With no supporting evidence. Of a derogatory suggestion.

      “how will you ever really know the true interpretations of that book?”

      We are always reliant on the opinion of experts in fields we ourselves are not expert in. The earliest manuscripts can be studied and interpreted by people other than those you are apparently hostile towards, thereby exposing any distortions by them.

      “For all we know, that Paul did not encounter that Jesus in the flesh. Did you, CyrilS ever encounter that Jesus in the flesh? Everything you believe about Paul, the road to Damascus, Jesus, walking on water, turning water into wine, rising from the dead”

      I believe that the life St Paul led afterwards is proof that something extraordinary happened. So it doesn’t matter if there has been some misinterpretation of the details. And similarly with the other examples you mention. Where are the ancient manuscripts which prove that the early Christians were mistaken in believing that Jesus rose from the dead? But I’m pleased to note that you accept as evidence/proof, personal observation and experience.

      “everything is perceived as your mind (ploughed and cultivated by the same heirarchy), wants to imagine it; dependent on your beliefs, what you wish to believe. You are in complete freedom to believe what you wish but the church wants to take control of your mind.”

      Are you sure there isn’t a “hierarchy” of atheistic scientists who have “ploughed and cultivated” your mind? Previously there was the Steady State theory of cosmology, which also didn’t require God, and which atheists liked, but has been discredited. It was superseded by the Big Bang theory, which implies creation and God, so atheists needed an alternative which fitted their beliefs.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Paladin’s seventh comment:

      “Cyril, you keep saying that "God" (presumably Yahweh) exists and that scientists "refuse" to examine the evidence for his existence. Yet, despite your insistence that all your arguments are based on evidence, you have yet to produce ONE single piece for us to examine -- for either claim! Merely "mentioning" supposed sources of evidence isn't actually PROVIDING evidence.”

      If I mentioned to you a book on, say, Michigan, would you then accuse me of not having produced one single piece of evidence for Michigan’s existence? That would be ridiculous. Similarly, the Bible is a book about God.

      “Offering the Bible as "evidence" is ridiculous, as it's arguably the most ludicrous, inconsistent, self-contradictory and poorly-written piece of literature in history!”

      Would you reject the contents of a scientific paper because it was “poorly-written”? People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. At the beginning of this debate you agreed that science has been wrong, but you excused that. Yet you don’t show the same tolerance towards religion.

      “So is "mentioning" Lourdes and essentially saying "go look it up."”

      You’ve spent more time evading looking it up than it would have taken to look it up.

      “As for Mother Theresa, I can't answer for Allan, but I can answer for myself that, no, Mother Theresa was NOT "good." She was a misery junky who apparently reveled in the suffering of the dying (in the belief that it brought them "closer to God").”

      Did it? So you believe the Indian government was incredibly ignorant and wrong in granting her a state funeral? I mentioned the wrong done by many atheists, the suffering they inflicted, but instead of disputing that, or joining in condemnation, you instead launch into an attack on a religious person.

      “If you're interested, the late, great Christopher Hitchens offers a withering examination of this charlatan in his book "The Missionary Position." A synopsis of his work ("Hell's Angel") is also available on YouTube:”

      I looked that up on YouTube, and read many of the comments, many of which spew hatred of her, which is completely off-putting, but there are also dissenting voices challenging what he said.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Paladin’s sixth comment:

      Despite a direct challenge, you have failed to produce any evidence that Hawking examined the evidence for miracles.

      You said you would investigate the evidence for Lourdes cures, but you can’t even be bothered to look up a specific Wikipedia article which I named, or obtain a book I named (I even told you where you can get it).

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Alan’s sixth comment:

      “No. It does not tell you what I believe. It tells you what I accept and don't accept. I am not a "believer."”

      I was surprised by your response. I consider “accept” to be synonymous with “belief”. And my dictionary gives “Accept truth of (statement etc.)” as one meaning of “belief”. So I presume you are referring to connotation: “belief” probably has a stronger meaning than “accept” - so it’s more difficult to change what someone believes than something they merely accept. Or perhaps you associate the word “believer” with religion, which you have a negative attitude towards.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Alan’s fifth comment:

      “Religiosity is not conducive with goodness. Some believe so strongly in their god that they insist everyone else must believe the same. That is not goodness, it's arrogance.”

      Mother Teresa wasn’t good? The Salvation Army isn’t good? You can’t condemn all of religion just because some religious people are intolerant. Some atheists are intolerant - just think of the Soviet government and Communist China. And the prohibition of religion in schools.

      “Your beliefs have a hold on your mind, CyrilS, to the extent you also believe those beliefs are superior to mine. And superior to may others. You are religious. I am not. What you believe is of no concern to me, provided you don't try to pull me into a world of superstition. Others may do as they please.”

      I believe that there is stronger evidence for my beliefs than there is for your beliefs. Your gullibility anecdote leads me to conclude that you believe your beliefs are superior to mine, and this conclusion is reinforced by your superstition accusation. I haven’t made any derogatory remarks like that about your beliefs.

      “But please, don't confuse your "truths" with "facts."”

      I repeat: I believe that there is stronger evidence for my beliefs than there is for your beliefs.

      “And don't presume that a scientist believing as you do gives that belief any more credibility. That scientist might and frequently does allow a theory to stand, but always with intention of seeking confirmation on evidence.”

      As should be evident from my stress on evidence, I base my conclusions on the evidence. Show me different evidence and if necessary I’ll change my conclusions.

      “When there can be no absolute proof then it remains a theory. This is, of course true in regards to belief and non-belief.”

      I’m sure that, for many years, scientists believed there was “absolute proof” of Newtonian mechanics.

      “It comes back, ALWAYS, to what you want to believe. Period.”

      Which would explain scientists not looking at evidence for the existence of God. People who have had a powerful religious experience - like St Paul on the road to Damascus - would also want to believe in God. Based on evidence.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Paladin’s fifth comment:

      I have mentioned two sources of "evidence for God's existence": the Bible and Lourdes.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      6 months ago from Tasmania

      No. It does not tell you what I believe. It tells you what I accept and don't accept. I am not a "believer."

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My reply to Paladin’s fourth comment:

      “Cyril, with all due respect to Catherine, you can't put her words in his mouth.”

      If she has misquoted or misrepresented Hawking’s views, then please explain with proof. Have you posted that claim previously elsewhere?

      “As for your statement that you've "done some research attempting to find evidence that he examined the evidence" -- how, exactly, would you go about doing that?”

      I googled this and read some of the hits, and I read some of the reviews of his books, and I used the Amazon “look inside” feature to read parts of some books.

      “To make the claim you did, you'd have to examine his ENTIRE life's history of research to eliminate the possibility that he EVER examined the "evidence" for supernatural claims. I don't mean to call you a liar, but I find it somewhat dubious that you've done so -- at least thoroughly enough to completely dismiss the notion that he ever made the attempt.”

      No, I made it clear that I had only done SOME research (as can be seen in your previous quote). You, in return, appear to have done NONE.

      “Being dismissive or "scornful" of notions doesn't mean you've never examined them. I stand by my original analysis of your statement.”

      It’s not conclusive proof but it does point in that direction, and I haven’t found any contrary evidence nor have you produced any.

      “EDIT: Incidentally, I'd like to see some evidence for the "proof" for the extraordinary things that supposedly happened at Lourdes, to investigate it for myself.”

      There is a Medical Bureau there, which can be contacted. The Wikipedia article on the Lourdes Medical Bureau lists a dozen notable cases. You can research them. And various books, such as “The Meaning of Lourdes” by Francis Izard, describe in some detail various cures. That, like my other books, is an old one, but I see it is available on Amazon, and I’ve had a look on Amazon and see there are some recent ones, such as “Lourdes Today” by Kerry Crawford, and “The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes” by Charles River Editors - the latter apparently adopts a more skeptical view so you should like that.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My reply to Alan’s fourth comment:

      “Big Business at Lourdes....how to be sucked in.”

      It hasn’t always been big business, and that doesn’t affect the validity or otherwise of the cures, though the large number of visitors could be seen as an indication of authenticity.

      “It reminds me of the lady who, when asked if she was superstitious, replied, "Oh no! I'm Catholic!" Gullibility apparently transcends any level of intelligence. But thank you for making me laugh.”

      That doesn’t actually prove anything, it just tells us what you believe.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      6 months ago from Tasmania

      Religiosity is not conducive with goodness. Some believe so strongly in their god that they insist everyone else must believe the same. That is not goodness, it's arrogance.

      Your beliefs have a hold on your mind, CyrilS, to the extent you also believe those beliefs are superior to mine. And superior to may others. You are religious. I am not. What you believe is of no concern to me, provided you don't try to pull me into a world of superstition. Others may do as they please.

      But please, don't confuse your "truths" with "facts." And don't presume that a scientist believing as you do gives that belief any more credibility. That scientist might and frequently does allow a theory to stand, but always with intention of seeking confirmation on evidence.

      When there can be no absolute proof then it remains a theory. This is, of course true in regards to belief and non-belief.

      It comes back, ALWAYS, to what you want to believe. Period.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 

      6 months ago from Michigan, USA

      Cyril, if there is, indeed, "evidence for God's existence," I would be happy to see it for myself! Please identify your particular "god" and present your evidence!

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Paladin’s third comment.

      As I have argued that some scientists happily accept as fact unproven theories which in effect exclude the existence of God, but haven’t examined evidence for God’s existence, I’m not going to dispute your statement that many scientists believe in nonsense. Because that is not being scientific.

      As there is evidence for God’s existence, religious notions shouldn’t simply be dismissed as foolish.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My reply to Alan’s third comment.

      “If your beliefs feel right for you and they are sufficiently strong, they do not need the agreement of others.”

      I am here to present the facts and discuss the issues. It would be great if everyone agreed with me, but I don’t expect that to happen.

      “My views, which do not support the idea of an over-arching, commanding and demanding, supernatural god, are not dependent on the views of others.”

      We should believe whatever the evidence points to.

      “My views of course can be influenced by the views of others; I am always open to new information.”

      I’m pleased to hear that.

      “As far as a "believer scientist" is concerned, the god of his devotions remain his/hers alone. The existence of such a god can only be demonstrate by the life being led; there can be no measurable, physical proof....scientifically, that is.”

      I believe that religious people, in general, do lead good lives, they do what they can to help others. Such as Mother Teresa, the Society of St Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army, and even the Red Cross. Years ago I saw a study published in the Reader’s Digest. Speaking from memory, a group of people had prayed for one group of sick people, but not for another such group. And the recovery rate in the first group was higher than that in the second group, indicating that prayer did help. The Wikipedia article “Efficacy of prayer” discusses this issue, and does provide some support for that finding. (It’s a complex issue. Very little research has been done, some studies have found a positive effect, others haven’t.)

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 

      6 months ago from Michigan, USA

      Cyril, with all due respect to Catherine, you can't put her words in his mouth.

      As for your statement that you've "done some research attempting to find evidence that he examined the evidence" -- how, exactly, would you go about doing that?

      To make the claim you did, you'd have to examine his ENTIRE life's history of research to eliminate the possibility that he EVER examined the "evidence" for supernatural claims. I don't mean to call you a liar, but I find it somewhat dubious that you've done so -- at least thoroughly enough to completely dismiss the notion that he ever made the attempt.

      Being dismissive or "scornful" of notions doesn't mean you've never examined them. I stand by my original analysis of your statement.

      EDIT: Incidentally, I'd like to see some evidence for the "proof" for the extraordinary things that supposedly happened at Lourdes, to investigate it for myself.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      6 months ago from Tasmania

      Big Business at Lourdes....how to be sucked in.

      It reminds me of the lady who, when asked if she was superstitious, replied, "Oh no! I'm Catholic!" Gullibility apparently transcends any level of intelligence. But thank you for making me laugh.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My reply to Paladin’s second comment.

      My conclusion that Hawking has never examined the evidence for miracles is not based on him drawing the “wrong” conclusion, but on these quotes:

      Hawking: “there are no miracles”.

      Catherine: “Hawking ‘has never tried to explain miracles’.”

      Although he doesn’t actually say he hasn’t examined the evidence, the sense I get is that he is scornful of the very suggestion of miracles. In addition, I have done some research attempting to find evidence that he examined the evidence, but without success. What actual evidence do you have to the contrary?

      I haven’t done the corresponding research for any other scientists so, while it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the same were true for them, I don’t have the facts to be able to draw that conclusion.

      I too can’t presume to speak for Hawking. But as he was a lifelong and committed atheist, and so passionate about science, I think it likely that he would have considered it totally unnecessary and a complete waste of his time, to examine the evidence for miracles.

      Using - misusing? - your words: given the depth of his efforts to comprehend the secrets of the universe, I find EXTREMELY unlikely that he didn't explore every possible NON-GOD explanation for its mysteries!

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Alan’s second comment.

      I specifically referred to the healings at Lourdes, as they have PROOF that something truly extraordinary happened, so this is not just superstition.

      I base my beliefs on ALL the available evidence. So, in the present context, I don’t consider just the fact that the universe exists, but also the Bible. That book has had a major influence on thought throughout the western world and, based on the information in it, it seems to me only logical that this is why most people think “a human-like mind has done the creating”.

      Your talk about metaphors is rather vague and general, so I’m not really sure what you mean. And I’m not really sure I would want to delve into that amount of detail. What’s important is not the exact nature of God but that there is a God.

      Scientists also disagree on things: just read the Wikipedia article on Homo floresiensis, the Hobbit. That doesn’t mean we should reject science.

      But I thank you for your statement that “The Late Mr. Hawkins would have found it a boring waste of time arguing the point beyond his brief statement”. That is consistent with my belief that he never examined the evidence for miracles.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 

      6 months ago from Michigan, USA

      Actually, I find it quite DISCOURAGING that so many scientists still believe in religious nonsense. But I understand full well the capacity of the human mind to compartmentalize -- that is, to apply logic, reason and the scientific method to many things, but to wall off other things -- religious things -- from the same scrutiny.

      Someday, I hope humanity will grow beyond foolish religious notions. Perhaps not in my lifetime, but we all must do what we can to move us toward that noble goal!

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      6 months ago from Tasmania

      If your beliefs feel right for you and they are sufficiently strong, they do not need the agreement of others.

      My views, which do not support the idea of an over-arching, commanding and demanding, supernatural god, are not dependent on the views of others.

      My views of course can be influenced by the views of others; I am always open to new information.

      As far as a "believer scientist" is concerned, the god of his devotions remain his/hers alone. The existence of such a god can only be demonstrate by the life being led; there can be no measurable, physical proof....scientifically, that is.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Ionnis Arvanitis’s comment.

      Thank you for your praise, it’s good to know my efforts are appreciated - especially, in this context, by a physicist. And it’s encouraging to be informed that many scientists are believers.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      6 months ago from Tasmania

      CyrilS, I agree that the effects of supernatural are observable. Superstition abounds, even amongst scientists!

      Granted, no body has ever observed a universe being create, yet we observe the created universe every moment of our lives. Sure it has come about somehow .. but do you read into that “logic” the notion a human-like mind has done the creating? Because this is how most people perceive the metaphor of a Creator God.

      They then attach attributes to that designer god, according to their desired interpretation of the metaphor....as though the metaphor were true in the first place, instead of merely an attempt to describe the indescribable.

      If you favour beliefs, faith, metaphorical explanations, that is your choice, which is fully respected. But there is no “scientific” way you can prove, even describe the god/creator depicted in your mind to any other person. You depend on their beliefs, personally-held metaphor, to be at least similarly described, if there is to be any semblance of agreement.

      This, I guess, is why The Late Mr. Hawkins would have found it a boring waste of time arguing the point beyond his brief statement.

      Any way, this is my point of view, for what it’s worth.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Alan’s comment.

      I am speaking from a LOGIC point of view.

      Even if something can’t be studied by science, science can still be open to the possibility that it exists.

      Gravity is not observable, but the EFFECTS of gravity are. Similarly with magnetism. And, I would argue, similarly also with the supernatural.

      And, as I have already argued, nobody has actually OBSERVED a universe being created.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 

      6 months ago from Michigan, USA

      Cyril, you said: "...Your belief is at variance with Catherine’s Hawking quote: “there are no miracles”. So Hawking “has never tried to explain miracles”. That doesn’t sound like he has ever examined that evidence himself..."

      Again, I beg to differ. You seem to be assuming that, because Hawking drew the "wrong" conclusion, that he's never examined the evidence for such things. Not only is that probably NOT true, it's unfair to Hawking. And I suspect you're applying this supposition to ANY scientist who rejects supernatural claims.

      As I said before, I can't presume to speak for Dr. Hawking, but given the depth of his efforts to comprehend the secrets of the universe, I find EXTREMELY unlikely that he didn't explore every possible explanation for its mysteries!

    • Sean Dragon profile image

      Ioannis Arvanitis 

      6 months ago from Greece, Almyros

      Brilliant my friend CyrilS! Well done!

      I am a scientist too, a physicist and I know that many scientists today are filling the gaps with faith, so many of them accept the presence of God.

      I loved your article, and I think we have some common ideas.

      God bless you!

      Sean

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      CyrilS 

      6 months ago

      My response to Paladin’s comment.

      “With all due respect, Cyril, I believe you're missing the point. I don't know about your beef with Catherine. I personally happen to believe the comments sections of hubs are GREAT places to have extended discussions, but I suppose everyone has the right to establish their own rules for comments in their hubs.”

      My beef with Catherine was simply her censorship. You seem to agree that extended discussions in the comments sections are desirable. I simply mentioned this to explain why I wrote my Hub. The Hub itself was the normal discussion of the contents of a Hub.

      “The point I believe you're missing with regard to Hawking lay in the EXACT wording of the quote you repeated from Catherine's hub:

      "...it’s my view that the simplest explanation is; there is no God..."

      Note precisely how that is worded. He's not making a definitive statement that "there is no god." He simply asserting that it is the simplest explanation.”

      More accurately, he is asserting that, IN HIS VIEW, “no God” is the simplest explanation. Personally, I don’t see how anyone can describe the theories involved as simple.

      I agree that, in that particular quote, he does leave open the possibility that there is a God. But that is at variance with the rest of Catherine’s Hub, the overwhelming thrust of which is summed up in another Hawking quote: “if there were a God, WHICH THERE ISN'T. I’m an atheist”.

      “And therein lies the key difference between science and religion. You observed that science has been wrong about its explanations for things in the past, and this is undoubtedly true. But that is the STRENGTH of the scientific method, NOT its weakness.”

      I was not rejecting the scientific method. I said we can have “limited confidence” in science, NOT that we can have NO confidence in it. My argument was firstly, that it has limitations; and secondly, scientists can’t firmly believe one thing which hasn’t been scientifically proven, while at the same time firmly rejecting something else on the grounds that it hasn’t been scientifically proven.

      “Science is ALWAYS looking for better and more comprehensive explanations for the world around us, and older, less accurate explanations are left behind. Religion works in exactly the OPPOSITE direction. It begins with the assertion that the answers are already known, and evidence and observation is adapted to fit these presumptions, or abandoned altogether if they don't fit (i.e., heliocentric and evolutionary theory).”

      I’m not sure I understand your point, but I’ll try to answer anyway. I note how you have a favorable interpretation when scientific beliefs are discredited, and an unfavorable interpretation in the case of religious beliefs.

      I suspect you are thinking of the Genesis account of creation. I was interested to read, in the Wikipedia article “Biblical literalism”, that St Augustine (354–430 AD) argued that much of the Book of Genesis is merely an extended metaphor. Note how that contrasts with more recent interpretations. He lived much closer to the time when that book was written, and so might have had more insight into the author’s intent and the meaning of those words.

      I could equally argue that science - or certain scientists - begin with the assertion that the most important answer of all is already known: there is no God. So when the Big Bang theory emerged and became dominant, they had to first reject it and then come up with some way to fit it into their atheistic beliefs.

      If science wants truly "comprehensive explanations for the world around us", then it must include the supernatural and God.

      “I have absolutely NO doubt that if, during Stephen Hawking's lifetime, you or anyone else had presented him with compelling evidence for the existence of some deity, he would have relished the chance to examine it for himself and draw reasonable conclusions -- not dismissing it out of hand as you seem to believe. But, of course, neither you nor I nor Catherine can presume to speak for Doctor Hawking.”

      Your belief is at variance with Catherine’s Hawking quote: “there are no miracles”. So Hawking “has never tried to explain miracles”. That doesn’t sound like he has ever examined that evidence himself.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 

      6 months ago from Tasmania

      "True science is open to at least the possibility that there is a supernatural world."

      No. Science requires observation, hypothesis, experiment, analysis, more observation, etc.....processes which depend on the natural and the observable.

      Anything "supernatural" is, by definition, not observable.

      Thus, you are not being very scientific here.

      You are speaking from acreligious point of view.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 

      6 months ago from Michigan, USA

      With all due respect, Cyril, I believe you're missing the point. I don't know about your beef with Catherine. I personally happen to believe the comments sections of hubs are GREAT places to have extended discussions, but I suppose everyone has the right to establish their own rules for comments in their hubs.

      The point I believe you're missing with regard to Hawking lay in the EXACT wording of the quote you repeated from Catherine's hub:

      "...it’s my view that the simplest explanation is; there is no God..."

      Note precisely how that is worded. He's not making a definitive statement that "there is no god." He simply asserting that it is the simplest explanation.

      And therein lies the key difference between science and religion. You observed that science has been wrong about its explanations for things in the past, and this is undoubtedly true. But that is the STRENGTH of the scientific method, NOT its weakness.

      Science is ALWAYS looking for better and more comprehensive explanations for the world around us, and older, less accurate explanations are left behind. Religion works in exactly the OPPOSITE direction. It begins with the assertion that the answers are already known, and evidence and observation is adapted to fit these presumptions, or abandoned altogether if they don't fit (i.e., heliocentric and evolutionary theory).

      I have absolutely NO doubt that if, during Stephen Hawking's lifetime, you or anyone else had presented him with compelling evidence for the existence of some deity, he would have relished the chance to examine it for himself and draw reasonable conclusions -- not dismissing it out of hand as you seem to believe. But, of course, neither you nor I nor Catherine can presume to speak for Doctor Hawking.

      Hope that helps explains things a bit better...

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