Antisemitism's ugly resurgence: 9-27/28-14
Is Finn now more vulnerable? 9-30-14

Hawking's atheism confirmed: 9-29-14

Some years ago I recall reading scientist Stephen Hawking's book, A Brief History of Time, and stopping in my tracks at something he said there.

2nd-sunsetOnce we have a grand unified theory of everything, he wrote, then "we would know the mind of God." Without further explanation to say what he meant if he didn't really mean to say that, it was astonishingly arrogant. And I said so in one or more columns, noting the finite nature of human knowledge.

Now, as part of Hawking finally acknowledging that he's an atheist, he also offers this sort of lame explanation of what he meant by proposing that we could know the mind of God: "What I meant by 'we would know the mind of God' is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God. Which there isn't. I'm an atheist."

Let's play along with Hawking, universally acknowledged as a brilliant mind, and imagine that one day we will have discovered and articulated a grand unified theory of everything -- something some scientists imagine might be possible. Just think of everything we would know then.

But also think of what we'd still not know. What wouldn't we know? We would know what and how but we wouldn't know why. Why is the question humans ultimately long to know and it's a question science can never answer. Only religion or philosophy can offer some theories.

Hawking seems to suggest that religion and science are incompatible. Not at all. All we have to do is remember that each tries to answer questions the other can't. When each forgets that (as in people of faith imagining the Bible describes real science in its creation stories), there's trouble. Needless trouble.

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The former religion editor of The Wichita Eagle yesterday did this review of what appears to be a fascinating new book that I haven't had a chance to read yet. It's Infidel Kings and Unholy Warriors by Brian A. Catlos. The author makes the interesting claim that religion was not what triggered the Crusades and other Middle Ages conflicts between Christians and Muslims. I'm thinking this book will be worth reading.


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