Egnor: Stephen Hawking Is “Sophomoric”

The Discovery Institute’s creationist blog has an amazing little essay by Michael Egnor — that’s his writeup at the Encyclopedia of American Loons. Egnor’s hatred of science is virulent. Our last post about one of his rants was Egnor: Hatred of the Material World.

Like Ben Carson, about whom we just wrote Ben Carson Is Unfit To Be President, Egnor is a neurosurgeon. What is it with those guys? Perhaps they’re overwhelmed by the mind–body problem, which causes them to believe in the literal reality of a non-material realm of existence.

Egnor’s essay is titled Stephen Hawking: “Philosophy Is Dead”, in which he ruthlessly attacks the thinking of Stephen Hawking. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

He begins by linking to an article in the Telegraph, Stephen Hawking tells Google ‘philosophy is dead’, which says:

Speaking to Google’s Zeitgeist Conference in Hertfordshire, the author of ‘A Brief History of Time’ said that fundamental questions about the nature of the universe could not be resolved without hard data such as that currently being derived from the Large Hadron Collider and space research. “Most of us don’t worry about these questions most of the time. But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead,” he said. “Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics.”

Egnor is enraged. He declares:

Hawking’s assertion is philosophy, so he refutes himself.

Aha — Hawking is a babbling fool! Let’s read on:

His philosophical musings are notoriously sophomoric, so it’s not clear exactly what he means. To properly refute himself, he would have to muster sufficient philosophical rigor to make a proposition that can be true or false. Such rigor seems to be beyond Hawking’s intellectual powers.

Yes, what is Hawking, compared to a Discoveroid like Egnor? He continues:

Perhaps what he means is that metaphysics has not kept up with science, which is just a conceptual jumble. The metaphysics of Aristotle and Aquinas is far and away the most successful framework on which to understand modern science, especially quantum mechanics.

Really? Here’s more:

Aristotelian final causation remains the only coherent way to understand evolutionary change — the most dramatic example of final causation in biology is convergent evolution.

Uh huh. Everything happens for a purpose. It’s so obvious! If you want to know more about Aristotelian causality, Wikipedia has a write up on his Four causes. Moving along:

The Big Bang was foreseen by medieval philosophers (who argued that the universe could not be infinite in the past) and of course by theologians.

That’s news to us. We assume Egnor is thinking of divine creation, which isn’t quite what the Big Bang theory is all about. Another excerpt:

In quantum mechanics, cosmology, and evolutionary biology, scientists are just catching up to over two thousand years of philosophical and theological insight.

Why — oh why! — don’t scientists pay attention to the theologians? On with the article:

Scientists understand the philosophical framework of their technical labor. Technicians crunch numbers and tinker with instruments, with little insight into the philosophical basis for their calculations.

Scientists are like children, unthinkingly tinkering with their gadgets. Egnor elaborates on that point:

Atheist technicians like Hawking are poor imitations of the great scientists of the scientific enlightenment and the great pioneers in modern physics — vanishingly few of whom were atheists. Real scientists do more than play with equations and tinker with instruments.

Egnor goes on like that for a while. He never gets around to telling us what his way has given us, but we already know that, don’t we? Yes, it’s the wondrous “theory” of intelligent design. Now we’ll skip to the end:

Atheists like Hawking believe that the universe ultimately makes no sense and has no purpose. Why should we ascribe purpose or sense to their own half-educated musings?

So there you are. The only true scientists are the Discoveroids, who know that there is an intelligent designer of the universe. So pay no attention to those bumbling, second-rate minds like Hawking. Compared to the theologians and philosophers of the past, and their intellectual heirs, the Discoveroids, scientists like Hawking know nothing!

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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23 responses to “Egnor: Stephen Hawking Is “Sophomoric”

  1. This is like reading that Gomer Pyle has declared Albert Einstein to be a moron…

  2. Hawking’s conference speech that has provoked Egnor’s ire took place in May 2011.

    But I guess it’s no surprise that it took Egnor, for whom Aristotle and Aquinas are the leading exponents of modern science, over four years to notice Hawking’s remarks…

  3. Richard Bond

    Dunning-Kruger strikes again: nobody understands quantum mechanics. All that we can do is calculate, and philosophers cannot even do that.

  4. It’s understandable why the Intelligent Design philosophers at the Discovery Institute would be so upset with Hawking for saying “Philosophy is dead.”

    Philosophy is all that the Discoverrhoids have. 0% science; 100% philosophy. It’s right that they should call themselves a “Think Tank.” That’s all they do — sit around and think. No research; no experimentation; no observation of reality — just sitting around, thinking of ways to somehow de-legitimatize science.

  5. For a moment you got me, SC. Egnor’s start was pretty good. Indeed I’m not impressed by the philosophical qualities of Hawking. Late Victor Stenger for instance seemed to disagree and think highly of Keith Parsons.
    But then we get this.

    “The metaphysics of Aristotle and Aquinas is far and away the most successful framework on which to understand modern science, especially quantum mechanics.”
    BWAHAHAHAHA! Aristoteles and Aquinas understood hardly anything about probability, the foundation of all interpretations of QM bar one.

    “two thousand years of philosophical and theological insight”
    BWAHAHAHAHA! Aristoteles’ philosophical insight did not extend to the role played by empirical evidence. As Bertrand Russell pointed out:

    “Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives’ mouths.”

    “Real scientists do …..”
    Ah, the No Real Scientist fallacy. Mr. Egnorance can’t do without.

  6. Is there any chance we can get an all neurosurgeon Republican ticket?
    Carson-Egnor 2016:
    We’ll repair your brain after we give you that aneurysm!

  7. Mark Germano hits the mark!

    Except, I suspect that an all-neurosurgeon GOP ticket would be a carefully crafted ‘dog whistle’ to the Zombie demographic and its insatiable appetite for snacking on fresh brains…

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

  9. Charles Deetz ;)

    CS, my first cut/paste failed. It can disappear. I had to post a meme because I just don’t even know where to start.

  10. Hans-Richard Grümm

    Quite a few of the “great pioneers in modern physics” were atheists. I’m thinking of Lagrange, Lavoisier, Laplace, Boltzmann etc,

  11. Mister Barnabas

    “Egnor is a neurosurgeon. What is it with those guys?”

    My professor explained it to us as training for many years to do what is a cliché for a very difficult task: brain surgery. As in American expression “It’s not like ___ is brain surgery.” Also “That guy is no brain surgeon.” So it’s like ultimate smart guy.

    And eventually you are trained on your own and doing brain surgery every day while entire families and many relatives are waiting for you to save the life of their loved one. Before and after surgery they listen closely to every world. When you walk into the waiting room they all stand up to hear you pronounce the verdict. Will he or she die or live? It must be like having the power of a judge. Not only to say the verdict but to personally save or destroy who that person was.

  12. Mister Barnabas

    My wife has wife has close friend who is surgical nurse. She told her the brain surgeons can be the worst in surgery. Many are very bossy. Nasty. All surgeons are the total boss in the room but neurosurgeons are working on the personality center of the body. If the procedure runs one minute too long, it may mean patient will never talk again. Or some failures mean they never do better than be a vegetable. One brain surgeon yelled at a nurse after she gave him wrong instrument during delicate procedure “You may have just sentenced him to life in a wheelchair and he will never play football with his kids.” Some call it a god complex.

    A 40 something years career of that must make a person very sure of themselves. And maybe expecting to always be the boss in every situation as the smartest person in the room. They are used to the power of life and death. They probably assume that their mastery of neurosurgery means they are expert in anything even what they casually research.

    Doctor Carson may have better manners and nicer than the stereotype. But I will bet that the overconfidence and thoughts that he is smartest guy in the room on every subject is inside him.

  13. Neurosurgery requires good eye-hand coordination. The rest of the central nervous system circuits don’t much matter, as Egnor’s diatribe demonstrates. And to paraphrase the cliché Mister Barabas pointed out, it’s not like Nobel Prize work!

  14. Mary L. Mand

    It’s well-known in the medical field that surgeons are generally pr*cks, and neurosurgeons are the biggest ones.

  15. Mister Barnabas

    I’m surprised Discovery Institute doesn’t have an editor paid to clean up their writing. Look at this:

    “No atheist scientist in the public spotlight today would pass a freshman philosophy class.”

    Of course a bunch of PhDs could pass a freshman philosophy class. They must mean:

    “No atheist scientist in the public spotlight today would pass a freshman philosophy class final exam.” Or maybe:
    “No atheist scientist in the public spotlight today knows even what is learned in a freshman philosophy class.” Or this is much better because there is no such thing at any university as a freshman philosophy class:

    “No atheist scientist in the public spotlight today knows even as much about philosophy as what students learn in a first semester philosophy class.”

    That would make sense. But I would leave the comedy as it is now:

    “Our 21st-century scientific priesthood … is dominated by half-educated technicians with publicists.”

    I like that. But it needs to continue like this:

    On the other hand, the Intelligent Design priesthood at the Discovery Institute is dominated by under-educated philosophers paid to pretend they are scientists while doing the work of publicists.

    Isn’t that better?

  16. Thank you, Dr. Egnor! Now I know why the ancient Greeks were able to develop solid-state electronics and navigate the Agean Sea using their constellation of GPS satellites.

  17. Hilarious post! Hawking has a valid point that astrophysics and physics is changing our view of the universe. As to whether or not philosophers or theologists can add to this changing view, that’s a matter for them to address or risk becoming irrelevant. With the closing of more Catholic chruches in NYC the handwriting is on the wall. But to suggest that 3,000 year old philosophers still hold the keys to the kingdom, that’s not just laughable but BWAHAHAHAHA worthy! But what would you expect from a surgeon, for some reason they all think should be going on double dates with god!

  18. They did it. I didn’t think the DI could sink to a new low, but they are actively insulting the intelligence of Stephen Hawking. I am beginning to think they can truly sink forever.

  19. That’s a safe bet, Justin.

  20. … Aristotelian final causation remains the only coherent way to understand evolutionary change — the most dramatic example of final causation in biology is convergent evolution.

    Egad! Igor, that is, Egnor, admits that there is evolutionary change?

    Atheist technicians like Hawking are poor imitations of the great scientists of the scientific enlightenment and the great pioneers in modern physics — vanishingly few of whom were atheists. Real scientists do more than play with equations and tinker with instruments.

    Right. They try to turn the Bible into an oracle and philosophers (the ones they approve of, anyway) into prophets of the Lord. (Even Aristotle, who was a heathen polytheist.)

  21. Justin opines, “I am beginning to think they [the DI] can truly sink forever.”

    Oh, one can only hope!

  22. The whole truth

    Why is an organization (the discotute) that claims to have a scientific (LMAO!) non-religious (ROFLMAO!) agenda so constantly bent out of shape about atheists?

    Hmm, let’s see, I’ve got it! They’re NOT a scientific, non-religious organization! They’re lying about their agenda, which is actually a theocratic agenda! Duh.

  23. Tom Rowland

    @Megalonyx:

    This is like reading that Gomer Pyle has declared Albert Einstein to be a moron…

    I guess the creatards have never heard the old saying “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”