Stephen Hawking on religion

Last night on UK’s Channel 4 News  Stephen Hawking gave a fairly simplistic response to a simplistic question re religion on night.

 

 

Go to 1:46 to hear Jon Snow ask “Do you think religion has been a force for good in the history of man?”

It felt like an easy set up shot, placed delicately to allow Hawking to hit his slam dunk on all of religion.

I would have loved to hear more – more vigorous questions…more of Hawkings views.
Here are a few questions, I would have liked to have heard him consider.

  • What IS religion and why is it so enduring in the story of humanity?
  • How would you distinguish between religion and people of faith – or do you consider them one and the same?
  • Some would say that it is part of the human condition to communally express worship – whether it be God, ideologies, athletes, gifted musicians etc.  Do you recognize that compulsion, and how do you explain it?
  • What is it that motivates and mobilizes people of faith to do good in the name of that faith – particularly in the areas of social justice, peacemaking, and reconciliation?
  • Who do you think Jesus was, and do you have a view of what some understand to be his teaching*?

*If you don’t know any of Jesus’ teaching, dear reader…check this out

 

What would you have asked Stephen Hawking?

 

Check out the new “Hawking” documentary trailer

3 Responses to “Stephen Hawking on religion”

  1. Ian Haylett September 17, 2013 at 4:43 PM #

    Hi Johnny – good to have your blog start up again.

    I have thought for many years about how the ‘proofs’ of the existence of God conflict with our traditional apologetics. If you follow science you will know that there is a rational, proven and, importantly, widely accepted explanation of all of life following a few picoseconds after the Big Bang. Quantum physics and evolution explains the rest while we are left to wonder about how God is required in any of it. I came to think that we needed a new apologetic which was based on what it means to be human, irrespective of how we got there.

    Recently I think I have found that source of apologetic in the various writers and theologians who have based their work on philosopher and anthropologist Rene Girard (he’s also a catholic). It is a VERY different take on the human condition but one which I am enjoying exploring. Basically it says that religion appeared at the very beginning of human civilisation as a way of controlling our desire of killing each other – find a victim and kill them! Only when Jesus comes does the victim say, my revenge is forgiveness. Girardian theology essentially says
    that the way of peace puts an end to the way that evolution left us.

    That is it in the briefest of nutshells. Please let me know if this is of more interest and I will bombard you with links and resources. (One of the foremost theologians is coming to the UK in November so I can let you know if he is in London).

    God bless. Ian

  2. Johnny Laird September 17, 2013 at 4:49 PM #

    Thanks, Ian….appreciate the support! :-)

    Some great thoughts, there.

    I’ll have to go away and explore some of the stuff you’ve referenced.

    Feel free to hit me with any info – it will always be interesting.

    TBH, I’m not a spectacular apologist; I’m not sure I’ve got the cranial chops to be able to cope with it!

    Also, my take on engagement with Atheism is normally on about this level ;-)

    http://www.johnnylaird.net/2010/03/lovely-atheists-and-jesus-followers/

  3. Yvonne Aburrow (@vogelbeere) December 12, 2013 at 1:59 PM #

    * What IS religion and why is it so enduring in the story of humanity?

    Religio means to connect, or, some say, to reread. I think it is about connecting with All That Is.
    http://stroppyrabbit.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/what-is-liberal-religion.html

    * How would you distinguish between religion and people of faith – or do you consider them one and the same?

    Religion is a discourse, people are people

    * Some would say that it is part of the human condition to communally express worship – whether it be God, ideologies,

    I agree – there is an urge to connect to something larger than oneself, and to assign worth to things (which is what worship literally means).

    * What is it that motivates and mobilizes people of faith to do good in the name of that faith – particularly in the areas of athletes, gifted musicians etc.

    I think people are intrinsically good (though sadly we also have a capacity for evil) and that is what motivates people to do good. It doesn’t need to be in the name of a particular faith or ideology.

    * Do you recognize that compulsion, and how do you explain it? social justice, peacemaking, and reconciliation?

    I explain it by the coinherence of all beings (as the Buddhists say, dependent arising) – the idea that we all come from the same source, and are made of star-stuff, and as biological entities, we all have the same needs.

    * Who do you think Jesus was, and do you have a view of what some understand to be his teaching*?

    Jesus was a man who (like many other spiritual masters) allowed the Divine to enter into him to a great degree. I believe that his life and example are more important than his death. I prefer other teachers, though.

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