WorldNetDaily Scorns Stephen Hawking’s Book

Buffoon Award

Once again we visit WorldNetDaily (WND), the flamingly creationist, absolutely execrable, moronic, and incurably crazed journalistic organ that believes in and enthusiastically promotes every conspiracy theory that ever existed. WND was an early winner of our Buffoon Award, thus that jolly logo displayed above this post.

We know that they have a special treat for us today, because they’re flying their “Evolution Watch” banner above the title of today’s article. To the creationists at WND, that’s equivalent to the Terrorism Watch maintained by Homeland Security. Today’s article is: Stephen Hawking takes on God.

WND is dismissive of Stephen Hawking — and why not? After all, he’s one of those satanic scientists on the National Center for Science Education’s List of Steves who support the theory of evolution. Here are some excerpts from today’s WND article, with bold added by us:

With his new book “The Grand Design,” retired Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking appears to have further bolstered his reputation as a latter-day Charles Darwin, but some in the scientific community are not impressed.

Who’s not impressed with Hawking? Let’s read on:

The book “is a vehicle for putting across lightweight speculation that anybody could imagine,” asserts MIT-educated physicist Thomas P. Sheahen in a paper provided to WND.

We don’t know who Sheahen is, but we’ll continue:

“If the author names [Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow] were reversed, Mlodinow first, everyone would ignore this book,” Sheahen writes in “A Physicist Looks at The Grand Design.'” “Only Hawking’s fame boosts it to totally undeserved prominence.”

Maybe. At least in the opinion of Sheahen and WND. Here’s more:

“The folly of Hawkings’ claim is pretty obvious,” E. Calvin Beisner, national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation in suburban Washington, D.C., told WND. “The law of gravity is, of course, not nothing, and consequently the universe’s spontaneous self-creation wouldn’t be a creation from nothing anyway.”

Ah, yet another world-class authority challenges Hawking. Moving along:

“Just as Darwin and Alfred Wallace explained how the apparently miraculous design of living forms could appear without intervention by a supreme being, the multiverse concept can explain the fine tuning of physical law without the need for a benevolent creator who made the Universe for our benefit,” the authors [Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow] contend.

Personally, we don’t care for the “multiverse” idea because it’s inherently untestable — but we won’t argue with Hawking. Another excerpt:

Prominent physicists such as Albert Einstein, however, did not rule out the involvement of a higher being in the creation of the universe. Sir Isaac Newton, who developed the theory of gravity, insisted that science could only explain the universe’s behavior, not its origin.

Einstein didn’t rule it out — so what? As for Newton, he was certainly great in his day, but it’s well-known that he had some wildly unconventional pseudo-scientific ideas, and whatever he said about the origin of the universe was opinion only. Besides, he wrote Principia Mathematica in 1686. and a great deal his been learned since then. One final excerpt from the WND article:

Sheahen maintains that Hawking’s book “has carried speculation too far.”

Perhaps so. But compared to WND’s creationism, Hawking’s work looks rather solid. You decide, dear reader.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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25 responses to “WorldNetDaily Scorns Stephen Hawking’s Book

  1. You admit that Hawkings multiverse theory is “inherently untestable”. This is another way of saying that it isn’t science. It is sheer speculation, which is exactly what the person quoted in the WND article says. You seem to agree with them so why does the tone of your post make it seem as though you don’t?

  2. Jordan, SC is quoting creationists who are paraphrasing Hawking’s argument. My guess is that the paraphrase is at least somewhat incorrect.

    The ‘could arise out of nothing’ argument, for instance, has nothing to do with the idea of a multiverse but is derived from the observed properties of our universe. So at best they are inter-mixing several different Hawking arguments.

  3. As you know I often mention that even Discoveroid Michael Medved is not a fan of WND. This time I googled to find a reference. I have not yet found one with Medved’s own words, but here’s one with WND’s spin on the “feud”. Funny how Joseph Farah conveniently omits the part about how Medved thinks YEC is nonsense (Medved favors the old-earth “Big Bang is a sign of God” that his father wrote a book about, and raves about Behe, common descent and all). Even though Farah replied to me personally around that time that he thought ID and OEC were “wrong too.”

  4. Eric – The multiverse concept undergirds Hawking’s entire line of reasoning. In the actual WND article they provide this quote from the book;

    “Just as Darwin and Alfred Wallace explained how the apparently miraculous design of living forms could appear without intervention by a supreme being, the multiverse concept can explain the fine tuning of physical law without the need for a benevolent creator who made the Universe for our benefit,”

    SC agrees that the multiverse untestable thus unscientific. It falls into the area of speculation. This is the same argument that the people cited in the WND article made.

  5. The real question remains, which is whether or not the Big Bang and Hawking inspired Hitler. As WND has amply asserted, Darwin most certainly did, despite the lack of any meaningful knowledge of Darwin’s theory in Hitler’s speeches and writings and at least one Nazi proscription of works exhibiting “Darwinismus”–but never mind that, WND exhibits no meaningful knowledge of “Darwinism” either, and it’s pretty clear that their preference would be to ban evolutionary theory in at least textbooks.

    Inquiring minds (seems appropriate to WND) want to know if Hawking and other cosmologists inspired Hitler. If the whole “time” thing is a problem for them (what known parameter do their ideas follow, though?), Hawking could be considered a continuation of evil physicists who inspired Hitler.

  6. jordan says: “SC agrees that the multiverse untestable thus unscientific.”

    So tell us, do you think creationism is testable?

  7. Curmudgeon: “So tell us, do you think creationism is testable?”

    While awaiting Jordan’s answer, here’s mine in case there are new readers who don’t know it: YEC and OEC make many testable, easily falsified claims. But ID is essentially untestable, and at best useless. It accommodates everything from flat-Earthism to Last Thursdayism to Panspermia, to, in Dembski’s own words “all the results of ‘Darwinism’.”

    The irony is that while creationists are hopelessly confused as to whether evolution is falsified or unfalsifiable (and many creationists know darn well that it’s neither), creationism actually is falsified or unfalsifiable, depending on whether one defines it to inlcude ID.

  8. SC – I didn’t bring up creationism at all. The fact that you chose to bring it up leads me to believe that you agree with me regarding the initial subject of conversation, Hawking’s unscientific speculation. As far as creationism being testable, I believe that the term is too broad and subject to such varying interpretations tthat duscissung its testability is a futile exercise.

    I do believe that it is posssible to test a signal to determine if it was the product of intelligence. Researchers at SETI do this on a regular basis with narrow-band radio signals. By applying the same methodology they use to the information within the DNA molecule, we can test to see if this information is the product of intelligence. The results show that it is, in fact, the product of intelligence. Thus DNA based life forms are the product of a non-human intelligence. This obviously tells us nothing about the identity intelligence that designed DNA based life forms, only that such an intelligence does in fact exist.

  9. Researchers at SETI do this on a regular basis with narrow-band radio signals. By applying the same methodology they use to the information within the DNA molecule, we can test to see if this information is the product of intelligence.

    Right, because like narrow-band radio signals we know that life’s reproductive and evolutionary processes aren’t involved with the production and transmission of DNA signals.

    Oh, no, that’s not right at all. It’s just an analogy, and an exceedingly bad one at that.

  10. Glen – It is not an analogy. When SETI researchers recieve signals from space, they perform mathematical tests to determine if the signals contain information and are thus the product of intelligence. By applying these same mathematical standards to DNA codes, we can determine that they too are the product of intelligence. The very same methodology leads to the same conclusion, that the message was the product of intelligence. The only difference is that in the case of SETI, there have been no conclusive signs of intelligent communication from space from space like is with respect to DNA.

  11. Jordan, what you have demonstrated you “know” about SETI wouldn’t fill half of a postage stamp. I have worked on the SETI project and you, Jordan, don’t know what you’re talking about.

    You have demonstrated your equivalent ignorance about the physics and mathematics of modern cosmology by stringing together a meaningless word salad.

    I suggest you put down your Bible and pick up a physics book, learn some differential equations, spend 8 years in graduate school then come back here and I’ll grade you as to whether you’ve learned half a postage stamp more.

  12. Well, I know little if anything about current cosmology. I don’t care about multiverses, and, actually, I could not care less about “fine-tuned constants.” For all I know, the fine-tuning is speculation, and so is the multiverse. But I might be plain and blatantly wrong. So, there. I show my own ignorance. Now, I can’t say those things with much certainty. Maybe the constants are not constant. Maybe there are multiverses. Maybe all of that is actually testable. I don’t know, but those who work on those areas know. What I can’t stand is creationists pretending to know something, referencing cosmologists about fine-tuning, but despise the multiverses. Why buy one speculation and not the other? Because they want fine-tuning to be true, but something that would make this Universe as probable as those with other constants (multiverse), oh no that is not scientific! Heck, accepting one, and not the other is hypocritical.

  13. Gabriel Hanna

    @SC, jordan: Imaginary numbers (and real numbers too) aren’t testable. Do they have no place in science? Electric and gravitational fields aren’t testable either, although almost anyone with a high school level education would be puzzled if you said they aren’t real.

    I’m not convinced of the necessity of multiple universes to our current understanding of physics, but they do represent a parsimonious explanation for some puzzling aspects of physics. In the same way, fields were postulated as a parsimonious explanation for why masses and charges interact at a distance. But you can’t actually measure a “field”, you can only measure forces between masses and charges. A “field” is supposedly produced by one mass or charge, but you can’t detect it without a SECOND one and that point you are measuring a force.

    Testable, no, but they’re not airy speculation either and I don’t see why multiple universes can’t be every bit as scientific as fields.

    @jordan, alone: what are these ‘tests’ that are being run on SETI signals? Are these exactly the same as those you propose for DNA? What are the results of these ‘tests’ and who performed them?

  14. Okay, jordan. That’s enough. Goodbye.

  15. No mathematical analyses make sense of DNA as “intelligently designed.” Actually, the problem for finding “signals” in DNA is darned hard because DNA sequences have loads and loads of noise. This is why it is hard to find genes, and even worse to find regulatory positions. Have you heard that we still don’t know how many genes the human genome contains?

    Finally, that something contains information does not mean it is the product of intelligence.

  16. It has been beat to death how SETI, forensics, archeology etc. are bad analogies for detecting “information” or “design” in biological systems. So much so that anyone who shows up on these boards trying to peddle them can be reasonably suspected of knowing that they are bogus, but pretening otherwise.

    To start with, the methods that do work (or may work someday, in the case of SETI) start with independent evidence of “intelligence” on the order of that which they hope to detect. ID (or whatever advocates what to call “information” pseudoscience) does not. At least if they hope to find a designer who is infinitely more intelligent than H. sapiens, as their fans desperately want.

    More importantly, those who are successful at detecting “design” don’t stop when they claim to have found it. Rather they keep working to determine what the “designer” did, when, where and how. In stark contrast, ID has been claiming to have found biological “design” for ~20 years, and hasn’t taken the first step to determine the whats, wheres and whens, much less the hows. What little they have speculated about it in the past is too close to evolution for those that they are trying to fool, so it’s been mostly “don’t ask, don’t tell” since then.

  17. If Thomas P. Sheahen is this guy he’s a climate change denialist, too.

  18. Those tests, the ones the dearly-departed Jordan was referring to, are no doubt some test of Dembski’s mysterious specified information. Oh yes! The fabulous test, only one of which has been attempted, and was left incomplete. What was it Jordan was saying about “conclusive” signs of intelligence in DNA? I can’t even detect conclusive signs of intelligence form Jordan.

    (Is it wrong to snark at someone who can’t snark back? I hope so, because according to SC’s previous post I’m going to need a stockpile of evil deeds to avoid being stuck with Ken Ham for eternity.)

  19. @Tomato Addict:

    For years I have been using the flip side of your “heaven or hell” joke. I.e. if heaven and hell are like Christians and Jews claim, then many professional creationists (especially IDers) will go to hell for deliberately bearing false witness. The ones, professional or otherwise, who just deceived themselves will go to heaven (if no other sins keep them out), but it will feel like hell with God telling them for eternity that they were wrong about evolution.

  20. @SC:

    Is it an evil deed to mess up the formatting? 😉

  21. @Frank J
    The professionals go to the 8th circle (heresy), but the amateurs might get off easy with the 6th circle (heresy). 😉

    I think messing up HTML formatting is only a 1st circle offense, but if I keep fouling up Curmie is going to kick my anchor.

  22. Doh! 8th circle –> Fraud
    SC: Don’t fix it, I need the credit (and maybe more sleep).

  23. for deliberately bearing false witness

    The problem is that little bit about “against your neighbour.” In many Christian denominations, “your neighbour” is another Christian.

    Risky business, eh?

  24. @SC
    Okay, jordan. That’s enough. Goodbye.

    Hey, was that the (aka Katie Price) we in Britain know so well?