Pharyngula

Hawking on King

Stephen Hawking was on Larry King Friday night, and here’s a little video of the event. Through no fault of his own, Hawking isn’t exactly a dynamic stage presence — he’s a bag of bones in a wheelchair with a computer voice speaking for him — and Larry King is…well, King is a genuinely dumb interviewer whose weak-minded talents are better suited to celebrity airheads.

That isn’t the whole thing. There’s also part 2 and part 3, which includes Leonard Mlodinow (who’s good, but sucks up too much to the other panelists), and a couple of people whose intelligence is a better match to King’s: Deepak Chopra, who is so far out of his depth in a discussion of physics that he feels the need to overcompensate by babbling buzzwords, and Robert Spitzer. Spitzer? Who? He’s a Catholic apologist, and even more annoying than Chopra.

This is the gist of his argument: it’s the tiresome old first cause claim.

Father Robert J. Spitzer, president and founder of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith in Irvine, says he believes that both physics and philosophy offer proofs of the existence of God.

“No metaphysician I know of believes that nothing can give rise to something,” Spitzer, a philosophical metaphysician and a Jesuit priest, said in an interview Thursday. “Nothing can only come from nothing. If it was nothing, it didn’t bring itself out of nothing.”

He hasn’t been following along, apparently. Something does emerge out of nothing all the time, and even if you did need some specific causal event, it is neither necessary nor sensible to invoke a supernatural intelligence. Hawking’s whole point seems to be that natural causes, all that stuff physics is good at examining, seems to be sufficient for all.

I think I’ll trust a physicist over a Jesuit any day, especially when the subject is physics.