Tuesday, May 17, 2011

(Fail) Quote of the Day: Hawking, faith and death

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Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking

We have a double-header today, with sense and reason followed by some pandering tripe about faith. First, here’s the latest wonderfully blunt declaration by Stephen Hawking, destroyer of gods, on the subject of death and afterlife:

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

Clear and concise, and with that touch of reality behind it. Perfect Memorable Quotes material.

Stephen Green, Director of Christian Voice
Stephen Green

And then, of course, we have the obligatory Fail Quote where some religious goober takes offense at such a decidedly godless pronouncement and offers this trenchant rebuke:

Stephen Green, director of lobby group Christian Voice, said: "The comparison to a computer switching off shows a man who is only able to think of things in a materialistic way.

"It is a dim viewpoint of a man trying to understand something he is spiritually unable to do. People who believe in the afterlife don't do so because they are afraid of death.

"Belief in God dispels a fear of the dark - of death. I don't see why Hawking finds it such a struggle to comprehend the spiritual dimension."

Well, that sure showed him! Silly professor, thinking his decades of cutting-edge research and genius insight into the physical world makes him more qualified to speak about the nature of reality than some random Christian and his Bible.

Alternatively, here’s a hint, Stephen Green: Hawking perfectly understands the “spiritual dimension”. More precisely, he knows that it is a fairy tale that most people latch onto because they can’t stand the bleak reality of an existence that won’t lead to another consciousness once they’re cold in the ground. It’s only natural that people want to live longer, but it’s irrational to make up silly fables about an imaginary world – for which the only evidence we’re presented comes from ancient texts that have zero bearing on our modern world – and then presume to lecture one of the most brilliant minds of our age when all you’ve got to offer are hopes and dreams with zero substance or evidence to back them up.

Dispelling a fear of the dark is a comfortable thought, but hardly good enough to validate believing in something that you don’t – and can’t – know to be true, especially when it flies in the face of all logic and common sense.

(via @ProjectReason)