Wednesday, October 17, 2018

I Don't Understand the Supposed Surprise

A sample of what I'm talking about from CNN:

There is no God -- that's the conclusion of the celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking, whose final book is published Tuesday.

The book, which was completed by his family after his death, presents answers to the questions that Hawking said he received most during his time on Earth.

Other bombshells the British scientist left his readers with include ...

"Other bombshells" implies that Hawking's non-belief in the existence of a god or gods is itself a "bombshell."

bombshell, n. 2. a shocking surprise

I'm no expert on Hawking, but like many people in the late '80s / early '90s, I read his first popular work, A Brief History of Time. I had to look up this quote, but the gist of it has stuck with me for 30 years:

With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started -- it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?"

In fact, Hawking said -- and made headlines for saying -- that he didn't believe in a creator many, many times during the three decades of his life when he was internationally famous (and presumably many, many times before that as well).

How in God's name (pun intended) is him saying what he's said over and over a "bombshell?"

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