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Hawking to Appear on the Discovery Channel

August 4, 2011

Sean Carroll writes in Discover:

imageLast week I got to spend time in the NBC studio where they record Meet The Press — re-decorated for this occasion in a cosmic theme, with beautiful images of galaxies and large-scale-structure simulations in the background. The occasion was a special panel discussion to follow a Stephen Hawking special that will air on the Discovery Channel this Sunday, August 7. David Gregory, who usually hosts MTP, was the moderator. I played the role of the hard-boiled atheist; Paul Davies played the physicist who was willing to entertain the possibility of “God” if defined with sufficient abstraction, while John Haught played the Catholic theologian who is sympathetic to science.

The Hawking special is the kick-off episode to a major new Discovery program, called simply Curiosity. I predict it will make something of a splash. The reason is simple: although most of the episode is about science, Hawking clearly goes all-in with “God does not exist.” It’s not a message we often hear on American TV.

. . .

Besides, people find it interesting, and rightfully so. Professional scientists are sometimes irritated by the tendency of the public to dwell on what scientists think are the “wrong” questions. Most people are fascinated by questions about God, life after death, life on other worlds, and other issues that touch on what it means to be human. These might not be fruitful research projects for most professional scientists, but part of our job should be to occasionally step back and look at the bigger picture. That’s exactly what Hawking is doing here, and more power to him. (In terms of his actual argument, I’m sympathetic to the general idea, but would take issue with some of the particulars.)

Nevertheless, there was no way that Discovery was going to feature an hour of rah-rah atheism without a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. Thus, our panel discussion, which will air immediately after the debut of Curiosity (i.e., 9pm Eastern/Pacific). The four of us had fun, and I think the result will be an interesting program — and hopefully I did the side proud, as the only legit atheist participating. Gregory seemed to enjoy himself, and joked that he might have to give up politics to do a weekly show about cosmology. (A guy can dream…) But we all agreed that it was incredibly frustrating to have so little time to talk about such big issues.

Check local schedules: Hawking and God on the Discovery Channel | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine

Categories: Science, Video
  1. AnnieCee
    August 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I get daily email devotionals from Joni, another person who is a quadrapalegic and is, therefore, severely handicapped. Not that the handicaps of Joni or Hawkins qualifies them as an authority on God, but I find the contrast between these two personalities to be stark and opposite to the extreme. Joni is just as convinced of God’s existance as Hawkins is convinced of the opposite. Her daily messages not only encourage faith in God but they also strongly encourage Discipleship, which is the discipline of making your actions line up with the example of Christ. Joni is a hard-core Believer, just as Hawkins is a hard-core Unbeliever. Both people are famous. Both are respected. So, which one is right?

    IMO, I think it’s very sad that Hawkins has had to endure all these years of suffering without God’s help and comfort. I wonder if there is some bitterness that feeds his denial of God? Is there some resentment, is this how he lashes out at a God who so confined him to such an awful disease?

    I can’t help but wonder, because why does Hawkins need to bring it into the discussion at all? What does it MATTER, if God does not exist? Keep God out of it, if THAT is what you believe. It’s interesting, to me, that athiests seem to enjoy talking about God and the Bible even more than Christians do.

    I really doubt Hawkins is as dedicated to athiesm as he thinks, or he would not feel compelled to convince himself so often and so vehemently.

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