Culture

Stephen Hawking: Provocateur

Culture

Stephen Hawking: Provocateur

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Stephen Hawking is a bit like Christopher Hitchens’ runner-up in the ever raging, super-publicized god v. no god battle. Hawking is a throwback figure–a scientist and yet a romantic, a romantic and yet an anti-theist.

He’s also one of the most widely caricatured figures in British comedy.

After an interview in The Guardian Sunday, he’s getting heat for saying that religious doctrine is false, or at least lightly contradicting it–the same thing most scientists and intellectuals have been doing since Galileo. All of a sudden it’s news.

But is Hawking calling Heaven a ‘fairy tale’ really a far departure from the rest of his theories, since they first became widely known in 1988 with the publication of A Brief History of Time? But then if Hawking’s greater function, outside of the publicity he’s given to science and the bank of brilliantly insensitive parodies he’s inspired, is he reminds us of how the most distinct trait of theists is their ability to be continually shocked when people disagree with them.