“Greatest Theologian Since Aquinas”: Pope on Hawking

September 7th proclaimed Feast Day; new book added to Bible

At a private conclave with key members of the Curia, Pope Benedict XVI praised the recent announcement by Professor Stephen Hawking that “God was not needed for the creation of the universe.” The conclusions are outlined in Hawking’s recently published book, The Grand Design


Speaking in Italian, the pontiff announced that the full theological implications of Hawking’s judgement were still being reviewed, “But our first impression is that Professor Hawking continues in the tradition of his famous Cambridge predecessors, the Nominalists.”

Head of the Vatican Observatory, Father José Gabriel Funes, also praised Hawking’s discovery. “The early theologians spoke in a manner appropriate for their time,” He said,”but Professor Hawking has actually given a name to what—in traditional language—we have been calling God: Gravity. This now helps us solve the problems of universals and particulars that stretched from Plato to Roscellinus. What Professor Hawking has revealed (if that is not too strong a word) is that universals do exist and that we call these the laws of physics.”

There was no immediate response from senior protestant theologians on Hawking’s statement. The Reverend Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelical preacher Billy Graham, claimed never to have heard of Hawking or Roscellinus. “I’ll have our staffers look into it,” Graham is reported to have said.

Universals, only guessed at before

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, reached for comment in his London office, said “Of course the Jews have known this for along time, the name-thing I mean, but we weren’t supposed to tell.”

“We have puzzled for centuries over why there is something rather than nothing,” Father Funes continued. “Now thanks to Professor Hawking, we know. Why am I not surprised that we’ve been standing on it all this time? That’s how God operates. Whether you say God is good or Gravity is good amounts to the same thing. Keeps things from flying off in all directions. And I include morality in that”

In London, Lord Sacks agreed, “Funny: I just preached a sermon called “G-d doesn’t expect us to get it right all the time.”

Asked whether the discovery would have any impact on Catholic faith or teaching the head of the Vatican Congregation for the Faith, Bishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer said “I can’t imagine why it should. We may have to tweak a few translations, but key beliefs like “He came down from heaven,” or the Ascension will remain virtually untouched. We are also appointing a commission to investigate the relevance of Professor Hawking’s finding for doctrines such as the virgin birth and the salvation of mankind. These are small matters compared to the fact that we now know what God is,” he said.

Islamic reaction was cautious. Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i, Iran’s grand ayatollah, speaking through an interpreter, speculated that الجاذبية (gravity) might be an additional name of God, raising the traditional number of 99 to an even 100. “In this case. his revelation in falling buildings on September 11, 2001 was especially significant.” Khameni’s views were immediately rejected by Muslims around the world as “unrepresentative of what Muslims really think.”

In Rome, the pope ended the conclave with an announcement that Professor Hawking would receive the Vatican’s highest honor, “Doctor of the Church” a distinction normally reserved for saints, and that his book, The Grand Design, would be incorporated as the first book of a revised Bible, just ahead of Genesis.

In a final tribute, the Conclave agreed unanimously that September 7th, the official date of the book’s release, would be instituted as “The Feast of Holy Gravity” to commemorate the discovery of God’s name. “It places it nicely within proximity to a number of feasts where Gravity is commemorated, notably the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin on August 15,” Father Funes said.

17 thoughts on ““Greatest Theologian Since Aquinas”: Pope on Hawking

  1. In “The Grand Design” Stephen Hawking postulates that the M-theory may be the Holy Grail of physics…the Grand Unified Theory which Einstein had tried to formulate and later abandoned. It expands on quantum mechanics and string theories.

    In my e-book on comparative mysticism is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

    Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (fx raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

    • An extract from The Mind of God by Paul Davies, Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Adelaide in Australia. The title was inspired by the last phrases of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time which reads in part: “If we discover a complete theory – – it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we would truly know the mind of God.”

      “All (complete theories) are founded on the assumption of human rationality: that we truly understand something only when it is “explained”. Yet it has to be admitted that our concept of rational explanation probably derives from our observations of the world and our evolutionary inheritance. Is it clear that this provides adequate guidance when we are tangling with ultimate questions? Might it not be the case that the reason for existence has no explanation in the usual sense? This does not mean that the universe is absurd or meaningless, only that an explanation of its existence and properties lies outside the usual categories of rational human thought. There will always be truth that lies beyond,that cannot be reached from a finite collection of axioms.
      Is their a route to knowledge — even “ultimate knowledge” — that lies outside the road of rational scientific inquiry and logical reasoning? Many people claim there is. It is called mysticism. Most scientists (and many theologians) have a deep mistrust of mysticism. This is not surprising as mystical thought lies at the opposite extreme to rational thought, which is the basis of the scientific method. In fact, many of the world’s finest thinkers, including some notable scientists such as Einstein, Pauli, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Eddington,and Jeans, have espoused mysticism. Mysticism is no substitute for scientific inquiry and logical reasoning so long as this approachm can be consistently applied. It is only in dealing with ultimate questions that science and logic may fail us.” More later.

      • Ed, I agree with you. Theories and rational thought have many limitations. Direct experience and suprarational consciousness move beyond both. The latter are broader in scope, but are usually temporary. Living in constant awareness of the oneness of all life may be called “the greatest achievement in life.” But then…these are just words.

      • Ron,
        This comes after your reply but here it is.
        No I have not but I welcome your contributions on this strange site. Your blog is superior.
        There is an interesting review of The Greand Design by Roger Penrose the Oxford mathematicism who adopts Platonism. He writes in the context of an experience at a dinner party in California in early 1970. He writes in part: “Sitting at the head of my table intent on getting a rise out of those present, Hawking made three remarkable (bold) assertertions” seeming to suggest unsettling behavior from a responsible scientiest. Penrose sees the M-theory as a “fundamentally incomplete development”- illustrating Hawking’s stange sounding philosophical standoint of theory-dependent realism.” Penrose’s concluding statement: “M-theory enjoys no observational support whatever”. The site is FT.com The Grand Design.

    • Ron – “when you assume you make an ass out of me” was made famous by Oscar Wilde, who although very witty, was strictly speaking Irish from Dublin, and not “a British comedian'”.

      • Oscar Wilde once said: “People fashion their God after their own understanding. They make their God first and worship him afterwards.”

        Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Nobel physicist, in 1959 invited me to the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory. He introduced me to mysticism and the universality of the Universe. Chandra once said “God is man’s greatest creation.” He wasn’t questioning God just people who shape God to their preferred image.

  2. Sensational satire, this is hilarious. If only it could be true – the Vatican embrace it!! Humilitation for Hawking (or rather Dr [St]Hawking of the Church- serve him right for being so hasty – ‘no need for God’ indeed. Nominalist? Ha! As you suggest elsewhere, let us be devoted to the ‘Great God Gravity (G3?, or in Catholic, Deo Gravitas)’. I’ve always wondered how to pronounce ‘G-d’ by the way. Whatever we call ‘God’ amounts to the same thing. Keeps things from flying off in all directions. They just go down. ‘We now know what God is’. G3. How on earth can G3 have anything to do with the virgin birth? The seed descends into Mary of course. Iran’s grand ayatollah’s response is ingenious – and wicked. Anyway I wonder if it is Hawking who is not needed. But then we wouldn’t have had this article. And surely that makes it all worthwhile…

    …although from Tigger’s perspective, as the tree flew past him and he crashed to the ground, the tree fell up.


  3. The simple fact is that Professor Hawking should return to the black hole that god made for him since he advances no argument beyond those offered many years ago by the fakers Laplace and Lagrange. For the uninformed mathematical physicists, those who don’t know up from down (and these are the vast majority), “god” is the nickname among mathematicians for one Kurt Gödel .
    (See discussion on “Is it possible that black holes do not exist? ” on Physics Forums
    http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=421491 for relevant citations.)
    In any case all rational scientific discourse has been effectively banned since the illegal shutdown of the first international scientific association and journal in 1837 by the Duke of Clarence, Ernest Augustus. See Percy Byssh Shelley’s Mask of Anarchy for a pertinent depiction of the Duke of Clarence, the face behind Castlereagh. A simple google search for “(“magnetic union” OR “Magnetischer Verein”) AND (“Göttingen Seven” OR “Göttinger Sieben”) gauss weber” shows that there has been no serious discussion of that action on the subsequent development of scientific practice.
    We must assume therefore that the concurrent and congruent Augustin-Louis Cauchy scientific method of theft, assassination, plagiarize at leisure remains hegemonic. Chuck Stevens 571-252-0451 stevens_c@yahoo.com

  4. More of my September 13 comment:
    “If we wish to progress beyond, we have to embrace a different concept of “understanding” from that of rational explanation. Possibly the mystical path is a way to such understanding. I have never had a mystical experience myself, but I keep an open mind about the value of such exxperiencs. Maybe they provide the only route beyond the limits to which science and philosophy can take us, the only possible path to the Ultimate. We, who are chilldren of the same universe — animated stardust — can nevertheless reflect on the nature of that same universe, even to the extent of glimpsing the rules on which it runs. What does it mean? I cannot believe that our exoixtence in this universe ia a mere quirk of fate, an accident of history, an incidental blip in the great cosmic drama. Our involvment is too intimate. The physical species Homo may count for nothing, but the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the uiverse has generated self-consciousness. This can be no trival, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are tru;y meant to be here.”

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