Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! 1 Share on Reddit 1 Share on StumbleUpon 2 Tell A Friend 1 (5 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   17 comments

Sci Tech

Stephen Hawking's God: A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Group(s): , Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 2   Well Said 2   Interesting 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H4 11/13/13

Become a Fan
  (13 fans)
- Advertisement -
From http://www.flickr.com/photos/30048753@N05/9870030985/: Epic Fireworks Stash by Stephen Hawking
Epic Fireworks Stash by Stephen Hawking
(image by EpicFireworks)
  DMCA

Homo sapiens has enjoyed singular success at tweaking the environment because of the unique psycho-social wiring of the human mind ( Pagel ). Hearkening back to the nature-nurture debate, the human mind is a multi-dimensional intellectual construct that emerges from the complex combination of human biology (id), psychology (ego), and sociology (superego).

The human mind, and sense of self does not emerge purely in response to the growth of an operational brain. It takes healthy, well-functioning gray matter and long term, psycho-social training, learning, nurturing and emotional cultivation in order to create a context in which "the light can switch on" in a human mind. In situations where children with healthy gray matter have been undersocialized, their capacity to develop a self, mind and identity has been severely impaired. So it would seem that, in addition to being a product of the atoms that constitute the human body (nature), the mind is an emergent, "extra" phenomenon that can only coalesce as a result of a long term social-psychological care and interaction (nurture).

Hard determinists are highly skeptical of the idea that the human mind can consist of anything but--or is not reducible to--the activity of the atoms and energy (nature) that constitute the human animal. Once again, Hawking and Mlodinow emphasize their "exclusively nature" position by asserting that the human experience is entirely reducible to, and determined by the physical properties of the human animal's constituent elements: 
It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion (Hawking and Mlodinow). 
It is worth pointing out that Hawking and Modlinow base their assertion on an assumption, "...if our behavior is determined by physical law..." that they fail to demonstrate. While they "concede" that "human behavior is determined by human nature," they also concede that they cannot validate their hypothesis:
...it also seems reasonable to conclude that the outcome is determined in such a complicated way and with so many variables as to make it impossible in practice to predict. For that one would need a knowledge of the initial state of each of the thousand trillion trillion molecules in the human body and to solve something like that number of equations. (Hawking and Mlodinow). 
The above statement is only "reasonable" for those who embrace a faith-based, superstitious commitment to determinism. Again, the most fundamental and unvarying truth that quantum science teaches is the unavoidable conundrum of quantum uncertainty ( God does play dice with the universe ). It doesn't matter how big one's computer is, or how many billions of years it might take to calculate, there is simply no way to determine, "the initial state of each of the thousand trillion trillion molecules in the human body." It boggles the mind that two eminent physicists would be so unwilling to embrace the full implications of quantum uncertainty. With apologies to Einstein, quantum science has revealed the inescapable truth that determinism is naught but a stubbornly persistent illusion. Unfortunately, the desire to sustain a superstitious conviction in a deterministic universe is so powerful that even the most sophisticated thinkers have occasionally fallen prey to an "exclusively nature" reductionism:
...all ordinary phenomena can be explained by the actions and motions of particles. For example, life itself is supposedly understandable in principle from the movements of atoms, and those atoms are made out of neutrons, protons and electrons. I must immediately say that when we state that we understand it in principle, we only mean that we think that, if we could figure everything out, we would find that there is nothing new in physics which needs to be discovered in order to understand the phenomena of life (Richard Feynman). 
Whenever scientists make omniscience (i.e., "if we could figure everything out") a precondition for their conjectures, they are, to put it mildly, on the wrong track. Scientists have no business dreaming of a time when they "will know everything" because nothing of the sort will ever happen. Again, the first lesson of quantum mechanics is that it is impossible to know everything about anything--not even a single quantum particle! Omniscience is therefore an unscientific, illogical, erroneous presumption, and no one should have been more aware of that fact than  Richard Feynman . As soon as scientists get the idea that they ever can, or ever will know everything, then the scientific truth-seeking process will grind to a screeching halt.
- Advertisement -

 

http://goodscience.sociology.org/

Tim McGettigan is a professor of sociology at CSUPueblo. Tim's primary research interests are in the areas of science, technology, society (STS) and the future and Tim blogs about those topics at the following sites: The Socjournal, (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Stephen Hawking's God: A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion

Elementary My Dear Watson! The Beauty (and Baloney) of Being Right about Everything

It's Alive!! Ray Kurzweil, AI, and Frankentelligence

Feynman's Cosmic Onion

Many Worlds, but only One Reality: Stephen Hawking and the Determinist Fallacy

Einstein's God is Irrelevant

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
10 people are discussing this page, with 17 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Whenever scientists make omniscience (i.e., "if we... by Timothy McGettigan on Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 9:01:24 PM
Maybe it's lack of intelligence, but I'm never qui... by anna kakol on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 2:55:03 AM
Hawking is right to conclude that free will is an ... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 10:01:38 PM
I don't think that Hawkings believes in anything l... by anna kakol on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 2:27:36 AM
"As soon as scientists get the idea that they ever... by Earl Smith on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 4:07:42 AM
This well argued post points to a big problem in U... by Earl Smith on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 4:11:11 AM
If quantum entanglement is real, does that mean we... by Scott Baker on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 12:27:28 PM
Don't be silly. ... by molly cruz on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 2:16:23 PM
There are probably robots that know more than many... by molly cruz on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 2:15:31 PM
Free will is incompatible in both a deterministic ... by Trick Slattery on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 2:36:31 PM
When the story teller, Isaac Bashevis Singer, was ... by Hubert Steed on Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 6:06:58 PM
Good points. Jefferson and other Deists and Freema... by E. J. N. on Friday, Nov 15, 2013 at 7:52:57 PM
Thomas Paine's AGE OF REASON is probably the best ... by Bill Johnson on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 8:15:36 AM
The views of the Founders regarding religion are b... by E. J. N. on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 1:16:56 PM
There were mistakes in the Jefferson bible editing... by Bill Johnson on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 3:16:00 PM
As I see it, it depends on your point of view and ... by E. J. N. on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 4:15:35 PM
I stuck my finger in my eye just to prove I could.... by Jim Arnold on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013 at 2:30:34 PM