Discoveroids Say Stephen Hawking Was a Fool

Once more, dear reader, we visit the creationist website of the Discovery Institute, and there we find wisdom we never dreamed of before. Their stunning new post is titled Rabbi Moshe Averick Takes on Stephen Hawking’s Nonsense of a High Order, and it has no author’s by-line. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

On a classic episode of ID the Future [Ooooooooooooh! A Discoveroid podcast!], guest host Ira Berkowitz interviewed Rabbi Moshe Averick, author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused World of Modern Atheism, about Stephen Hawking’s comments on God and religion in Hawking’s posthumously published Brief Answers to the Big Questions..

That was a stunning paragraph, so we have to pause for a moment to make sure that everyone understands what the Discoveroids just told us. Their podcast features a rabbi who is criticizing Stephen Hawking. It’s a happy coincidence that the rabbi’s book — Nonsense of a High Order, was the subject of an earlier post at our humble blog — see Discoveroids Praise Self-Published Genius #125.

Now that we’re all together, lets continue with the Discoveroids’ post. They say:

Averick describes the work [Hawking’s book] as “superficial,” “convenient,” and marked by “a glaring lack of profundity.” Or as the rabbi puts it, “If he did physics that way his university would have fired him.”

Shocking. Absolutely shocking. Then, at the end of their brief post, the Discoveroids tell us:

Listen in to hear why Averick has such a problem with the book. Download the podcast or listen to it here. [Link omitted!]

Well, dear reader, do you have the courage to view the Discoveroids’ podcast? If so, tell us about the experience.

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

23 responses to “Discoveroids Say Stephen Hawking Was a Fool

  1. Real Hawking quote:
    “Nowadays, science provides better and more consistent answers, but people will always cling to religion, because it gives comfort, and they do not trust or understand science.”

    DI podcast version of quote:
    “People cling to religion because they do not understand or trust science.”

    DI podcast version of quote a few seconds later:
    “People cling to religion because they don’t understand science.”

  2. Amazon gives the book’s (paperback) publication date as 2016, but (2013) refers tothe book

  3. People cling to their religious toys cuz they are terrified of the horror of death that the religious LIARs4money tell them about with absolutely no evidence!! & the conned roobs just swallow it whole.

  4. chris schilling

    The rabbi makes for painful listening: jabbering and stammering; losing his train of thought; having to ask: “What was the question?” But basically, Averick’s beef is that Hawking overstepped his bounds as a physicist and encroached on the rabbi’s sacred ground of theology.

    (There are some — but not I, perish the thought! — who might very well contend theology itself is Nonsense of a High Order).

  5. Charley Horse X

    The Xian creationist seek allies among Muslims, Jews and the Retaliban Party…once known as the Republican Party. A more fun question to the Rabbi would of been why the Jews crucified the god that Xians worship. That has been used by Xians to slaughter Jews and oppress Jews for centuries.

  6. Why would he say it’s nonsense when everything is invisible and the only thing we have to go by are legends and the voices in his head. “Nonsense” is a bit hyperbolical IMO.

  7. Full disclosure: I’m a biologist, not a physicist, but I suspect Moshe knows less about physics than I do. I’d trust the views of a Nobel Laureate in physics about how the world works over Moshe’s hypothesis. More disclosure: I’ve read several of Hawking’s books and they are definitely not nonsense.

  8. Creationists always know more than those foolish scientists. Their old book has all the answers. Probably not vaccinated either.

  9. EVN: “On a classic episode of ID the Future, guest host Ira Berkowitz interviewed Rabbi Moshe Averick, author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused World of Modern Atheism, about Stephen Hawking’s comments on God and religion in Hawking’s posthumously published Brief Answers to the Big Questions.”

    Speaking of posthumous, Ira Berkowitz died like three months ago
    What’s he doing interviewing Rabbi Averick nowadays?
    Has Berkowitz’s estate been properly remunerated?

  10. Dave Luckett

    Well, here we go again. “Rabbi Averick is not afraid to take on Stephen Hawking…”, Hawking being dead. Gasp! What raw courage!

    “People cling to religion because they do not understand or trust science.” As richard points out, this is in itself a perversion of Hawking’s original, but Averick perverts it further: Isaac Newton, Gregor Mendel and Ernst Chain, be says, were great scientists who were religious… and therefore… Um. See the clench? Some people can manage to accept science and reconcile it with religion, so therefore it’s not a problem. No, Rabbi. Doesn’t follow. Some people can’t, because it is a real problem.

    He says he loves “an intellectual battle”. We’ll see.

    Superficial, trite statements now: “Many people cling to religion because they understand science,” says the Rabbi. Sure. And many don’t. But those words are not a superficial statement because… uh, Rabbi, help me out here.

    But all we get is “I don’t even know how to react to a statement like that.” No, apparently not. So Berkowitz gives up on it, and ploughs on.

    4:30. Eclipses are predictable. We know when they are going to happen. They are therefore not a sign, a portent, a punishment. What, then, are we to make of an ordered Universe in which the rules that govern it seem immutable, unvarying? Averick’s response?

    To change the subject. Of course eclipses are not divine signs in the heavens. They are manifestations of the laws of orbital mechanics. But rather than concede the obvious point, Averick retreats into humbug. Did Hawking actually say or write, as Averick says he did, “These laws may or may not have been decreed by God, but He cannot intervene to break these laws”. On form, I doubt it, and I suspect a quote mine. But it doesn’t matter. The Rabbi’s response is to quibble about the meaning of the word “law”, a human innovation. “Law” in science means something else entirely.

    Yes, Rabbi, it does. How about you engage with what it means in science, and explain why what science calls “law” means something observationally immutable, operating indifferent to our weal or woe, with no intervention by an engaged, let alone a loving God. What does that imply?

    Averick can only splutter about how that question is not to be taken seriously. Why not, Rabbi? And answer came there none. We go back to eclipses. Ignorant savages, barbarians like the Vikings, believed they were signs or portents or the end of the world, and it is superficial, and (Berkowitz interjects) “convenient” to reduce religious thinking to the Vikings. Sure it is, but that’s as arrant a projection as anything I’ve ever heard. That’s what they’re doing. The question they carefully avoid is not in the least superficial. The apparent indifference of God is, in fact, imponderable. They don’t even consider it, and dissolve into giggles instead. If I were a theist, it would be embarrassing.

    Imponderable, so we retreat to an axiom, “God is sovereign over natural law; His existence is therefore not subject to it”. Axiom? That’s a simple begging of the question. God’s existence is the question, not His attributes, if He exists. Begging the question – that is, assuming what is to be demonstrated – is superficiality in spades.

    And, blow me down, the next thing is Hawking’s atheism actually being called a religion called “scientific naturalism”. Oh, please tell me Averick is not going there… No, he so is going there. We’ve been around the block so many times on that tired old schtick that I bailed. There are limits.

    More projection follows. Hawking is a “true believer” in science. Belief is fine, says Averick, but it’s not an intellectual exercise. Sure it isn’t. But on the other hand, your belief, Rabbi, really is an intellectual exercise. Suuuure it is.

    We then become actively insulting. Hawking attributes his crushing disability to “the laws of nature”, and not to God. What, are they going to argue, that it really is down to God? No, they’re not even going to consider the problem. There’s no logical connection between Hawking’s ALS and God. Yes, Rabbi, that’s the bleeding point, Rabbi, there’s no logical connection to God, you utter klutz. Hawking’s courage – real courage, in his case – is perverted into an insult to the man. I admit that I lost it at that moment, and had to go away to cool off.

    But to return. We consider the macroscopic argument against a personal God: the Universe is vast beyond all comprehension, and human life so insignificant within it, that it’s difficult to accept such a God. One might add, especially in the face of His apparent indifference. Averick handles this competently enough, with the usual argument: an appeal to the infinity of God. Yes, sure. If there is such a Being, But that’s a big “if”

    “I have to back my beliefs up with reason, logic and evidence,” says Averick, criticising Hawking. Yes, Rabbi, that you do. Better be about it, then.

    He cites Hawking saying the only question religion can now legitimately answer is “Why did it all begin”, but caps him by saying that there are several others, like, “how did life begin?”, “where did human consciousness come from?” “why do we even think about such things?” IF – I say if – Hawking ever said such a thing, and IF the Rabbi is not again perverting his meaning, then we have the classic argument from ignorance. We don’t know in detail the answers to those questions. At most, that provides a niche for God. But as we come closer and closer to the explanations, and find them natural, the niche shrinks. It has been steadily shrinking during all of human history. What are we to make of this? Averick does not enlighten us. What a surprise.

    Finally, Berkowitz quotes Hawking directly, two simple inspirational appeals to wonder, and an injunction never to be cowed by obstacles. Coming from such a source, nobody could fail to acknowledge their truth and nobility. Er… not quite nobody. Averick’s response is mixed, at best. Grudging acknowledgement followed by a description of their source as “a schizoid view of reality”. Hawking says he is grateful; he uses the word “design” of the Universe. Averick, true to his calling, leaps upon both words with indecent glee. After quibbling and belittling to his personal satisfaction, he sums up by saying that Hawking is not the person to go to for theology. Maybe not. But even less would I go to Rabbi Averick for wisdom or charity.

  11. How could there be a person to go to for theology when nobody even knows what the right theology is. How are we even supposed to know who to ask who the right theology person is? Who you gonna call?

  12. My chief problem with Hawking’s opinions on religion is that, to paraphrase a better writer than me, while he claims he doesn’t believe in God, it’s very clear that it’s a Christian god that he doesn’t believe in. I can understand why he wraps up all religion in Christianity, I really can, but he seems to think that by showing that an all-powerful, all-knowing God is unprovable and illogical, he has proved that deity is impossible.

  13. There seems to be no agreement on what is the positive content of atheism. I’ve heard some saying that atheism merely is the lack of belief in gods, “a-theism”, whatever a “god” might be.

  14. *nods* Similar to the argument I’ve made that an atheist is someone who just believes in one less God than most Americans. As a progressive sort of theist, I’ve been on the receiving end of gatekeeping behaviour from both atheists and Christians, and there honestly isn’t much of a difference.

  15. An atheist is a person who does not believe in Dog because they are dyslexic.

  16. Honestly, not believing in dog makes me sadder than someone not believing in God, because I am 100% certain that dogs exist, and they believe in you.

  17. Yet again, the creationists haven’t inspired me today.

  18. Dave Luckett

    Some of the difficulty with atheism is caused by the difference between knowledge and belief. It’s possible not to know there is a God or gods, but to believe in Him, or them, anyway, from faith. Me, I don’t know, but take the line that it’s dangerous to believe in something you don’t know to be true. Which does rather lead to the wilds of outer epistemology – how do you know what you think you know?

    Nevertheless, in the face of what faith has wrought, I think it is best only to accept what you have reasonable evidence to accept, and require that it be potentially testable at least. So I do not know of God’s existence – ie, I am agnostic – but I do not believe what I do not know on reasonable evidence, so I don’t believe in a God or gods – ie, I am atheist. Thus, I am an atheist agnostic.

    The problem is complicated by the fact that if you were to ask me what evidence I would accept for the existence of God or gods, I would be stumped. I have no idea what evidence there could be.

    Story, take it as you will. My sister, a trained theatre nurse, and a person I would trust with my life, was taking a patient on a gurney from the recovery room back to the ward, with another nurse, after routine bypass surgery. In the corridor she saw the Angel of Death, who had come for the patient. She said to the other nurse, “He’s going”, and I heard that person confirm that she had said that, a minute before the patient arrested and could not be revived.

    Had she really met the Angel? There are natural explanations. She was an experienced nurse who had seen cardiac arrests before. She could have subconsciously noted the signs of one coming, and her subconscious mind provided a vivid image. That is, the Angel was an hallucination.

    Or perhaps she is just fabulating. She didn’t really see it, but it seemed like such a good story… I don’t think so, but it’s possible.

    But see, every supposed manifestation of the divine, the supernatural, can and is dismissed under one of those heads. It’s either hallucination or fabulation. Fraud is also possible, and as well there are often entirely natural effects that are mistaken for supernatural events. Hallucination, fable, fraud or mistake, take your pick. All such claims can be dismissed under one head or another.

    If there’s no evidence possible, I look a ripe charley insisting on it, don’t I? But where do I go from here? I don’t know. I just don’t know. There seems to be a lot of that about.

  19. If there’s no evidence possible, I look a ripe charley insisting on it, don’t I?

    Not really because even if no good-enough evidence is possible, how come there still is no okay-try-and-impress-me evidence?

  20. Didn’t I cite some, richard?

  21. Jerry Coyne, author of Faith vs Fact (spoiler: it’s Fact) a book that goes into the “other ways of knowledge” argument, was criticized by so-called “sophisticated” theologians for not reading “sophisticated theology” that would undoubtedly lead him to understanding Other Ways of Knowing ™. After bringing back the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West, Coyne was then excoriated for not reading the tomes closely enough.

    (How many times have we heard that from creationists like Meyer, Behe, Dumbski and Wells that we didn’t read their dreck closely enough!)

    Well, it turns out that if you rip off the “sophisticated” label what you find is bog standard generic theology and a jar of navel lint. For giggles, look up the YouTubes of cosmologist and all-round schmart guy Sean Carroll sparring with “sophisticated theologist,” schpiel-meister and guy who can definitely help you extend you car’s expired warranty, Willie Laine Craig. Whenever Craig hoists himself petard-wise he simply ignores Carroll’s argument or changes the subject. Church of the Pivot, I guess.

  22. @Dave Luckett I mean personally. Something along the lines of okay gods impress me with some amazing stuff, I’ll be impressed but I still can’t say for sure you’re a god, but man that was some impressive feats that make me think twice.

  23. Personal revelation, you mean, richard? Yes, perhaps it would be more, I don’t know, efficacious if God or the gods were to manifest to each individual, at least once in a lifetime. But see, if that were a rule, it would be a rule God obeyed. You see the problem with that?

    That’s what Job is about: God doesn’t have rules. It’s not that what He does is good or bad, like Socrates thought. The Euthyphro problem does not occur. As (I keep saying) Mae West had it: “Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.” God does what God does because He’s God, get it?

    The rest follows. You and I can’t demand revelation from God. Can we demand anything of Him? Uh, it appears not. Not fairness, not justice – on Earth at least. Not mercy – His rules operate with complete indifference to us.

    So why should we worship Him? Good question. For the thinking theist, though, the answer is simple. Same reason as above: We worship Him because He’s God, dumbass.

    Uh-huh. Well, let me know when you come up with something that isn’t circular. I’ll be right here, unless I’ve died. But, hey, I’d either know then that I was wrong, or I wouldn’t know anything. There’s a chance of improvement, anyway.