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Saturday, January 07, 2012

Stephen Hawking's Nuclear Fears

Timothy Birdnow

Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is now calling for the colonization of space because he believes Mankind is doomed to nuclear armageddon here on Earth.

Hawking has spent his career thinking about black holes and other astronomical phonomena, has grown increasingly, well, odd in recent years; he worries about Global Warming, about manmade viruses, and has returned to the old "Union of Concerned Scientists" saw of nuclear war.

Not that this isn't a good idea; I have always advocated settling the solar system, the sooner the better. There are things that can happen to the Earth that we have no control over, such as asteroidal strikes, another Carrington Event (the Carrington Event was a huge coronal Mass Ejection event that hit the Earth in 1859 and would today blow out all of our electronics worldwide and return our planet to pre-electronic technology - with modern population pressures), a close approach to a small black hole, or any other such astronomical events that could hurt us. And I have practical considerations; we need the resources space offers. Also, I think Mankind needs the sense of purpose and hope that only a frontier can provide. We are cooped up on this claustrophobic planet, surrounded by our own thoughts and our own little worlds of houses and people and made things. Frontiers are places that perhaps few visit, but just the knowledge that they are there and that a man fed-up can pull up stakes and head to an unsettled wilderness offers a psychological safety valve. Lunar colonies, Martian colonies, colonies on Ganymede, Callisto, Titan, Triton, even the asteroids, offer that sense of mystery and that sense of freedom. Without Man's movement into the solar system - and eventually into the galaxy - we will fester in the puss of our own shattered dreams and imprisonment.

But, Hawking is being driven by too many phantom fears. Doubtless his own imprisonment in a wheelchair contributes to a sense of foreboding, especially considering he has been there for decades and now faces death. I would argue that Hawking's problem stems from his move from agnosticism to full-blown atheism; he has convinced himself that the Universe is all, there is no God, and when he is gone all will be lost. So now he jumps at shadows, frightened of a sudden ending for both himself and Mankind.

As has been attributed to Chesterton; "When a man stops believing in God he will believe in anything"; Hawking is now ready to believe in anything, it seems to me.

I suspect his atheism stems from an anger at his situation. He has suffered from ALS, aka Lou Gerig's Disease, and has been trapped in that wheel chair for close to half a century. That would make anyone bitter. There are only two ways to go when one is in such a situation; either one embraces God, hoping for a life to come better than the terrible one here, or one grows angry at God and rejects Him. Few will reject God directly, acknowledging His existence but telling Him to go hang; it's illogical to bait an all-powerful Creator. But one can hedge one's bets, denying His existence. It makes it possible to still keep some hope while spitting in the Divine eye. Many famous atheists have comforted themselves with the notion that they will be able to talk their way out of Hell by claiming an honest mistake, should they find themselves judged before the Most High.

Any way you slice it, Hawking is becoming increasingly buggy of late, yet his prestige is such that any pronouncement from his is treated as if it were coming from the Oracle of Delphi. Hawking isn't omniscient, nor is he to be listened to outside of his field. He is a very smart guy who knows a very lot about the cosmos, but that is as far as it goes.

Liberals worship experts. It's their substitute for Holy Scripture; an expert in one field knows all, and should be obeyed as one would obey the Ten Commandments. When Hawking comes out in favor of national healthcare he is idolized. He knows little about the subject except that he has benefitted from it (would he have been so well treated had he been an unknown guy, say, a farmer rather than a famous scientist?) Yet his expertise in one field automatically grants him expertise in all fields. If he says there is no God he is given credence. When he says "We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star." in Der Spiegel (1988) he is glorified. He will be put on a pedastal - as long as he justifies the Liberal position. Should he have a "come to Jesus" moment and say that he is now convinced that there is a God based on his study of the Universe his expert status will be revoked and he will be called sick, in dementia, and eventually ignored.

But he has given them some good copy. Consider;

"As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth. As citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change... There’s a realization that we are changing our climate for the worse. That would have catastrophic effects. Although the threat is not as dire as that of nuclear weapons right now, in the long term we are looking at a serious threat."


"In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?"


"The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can't believe the whole universe exists for our benefit. That would be like saying that you would disappear if I closed my eyes".


"The life we have on Earth must have spontaneously generated itself. It must therefore be possible for life to exist spontaneously elsewhere in the universe."

Or approving of euthanasia and suicide "The victim should have the right to end his life, if he wants."

And Hawking's tendency to avoid politics make him a favorite, because what he says then is coming from "pure science" as the Left can portray it, rather than from a person's opinion.

At any rate, outside of physics Stephen Hawking holds opinions no better informed than anyone else. Just because somebody is celebrated by the media for accomplishments in one field hardly qualifies them to speak on any subject.

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