Lit Crit

Stephen Hawking: The Gimp Who Would Be God

September 12, 2010

Allegations regarding Hawking’s second marriage to his nurse, Elaine Mason, paint a huger black hole on an even emptier canvas. Elaine was accused of fracturing Hawking’s wrist, slashing his cheek with a razor, denying him his urine bottle and thus forcing him to wet himself, nearly allowing him to drown in the bathtub, leaving him unattended in the garden to get a severe sunburn, publicly bullying and berating him as an invalid, and beating, bruising, and bashing him so frequently that it led to multiple hospital visits and a subsequent police inquiry. Hawking always denied such allegations and police never charged Elaine, but the two finally divorced in 2006. While still married, someone asked Hawking why he tolerated the abuse. Hawking reportedly responded that he found any human relationship preferable to none.

Stephen Hawking may be the world’s smartest man, but he may also be the loneliest. It’s possible he’s bitter at the very concept of a personal God who willed Hawking’s unimaginably sad condition into existence.

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, has welcomed Hawking’s most recent pronunciamentos. Dawkins also frames the controversy in intriguingly aggressive terms. He claims that Darwin “kicked God out of biology” and that Hawking “is now administering the coup de grace” to God’s carcass via physics. Such borderline-violent terminology suggests that Dawkins has some emotion invested in his side being vindicated.

I’m not sure whether or not the universe needs God in order to exist, but I’m certain that we don’t need God for human folly to exist.

The Dawk and The Hawk are a formidable atheistic tag-team duo, but they both seem a wee bit too cocksure for me to trust them. Their statements are definitive rather than speculative, peppered with an underlying hubris and arrogance. I realize that darkness and nothingness and meaninglessness can be sexy. But are they logical? Ultimately, don’t atheists demand a confidence in the reliability of human cognition that resembles blind religious faith?

The staunch theists and the hardcore atheists are merely a pair of buttocks surrounding the same asshole. Perhaps the defining factor of being alive is having no idea how we got here or why we exist, so increasingly it seems as if agnostics are the only honest ones. It’s gotten to the point where I distrust anyone who claims they’ve personally seen God or the Void.

I have my own Theory of Everything, which doesn’t take a whole book to explain: Everything sucks.

If there’s a personal God, he apparently likes to hide. It may be that God merely enjoys watching us stumble around the basement without a flashlight. I don’t believe in miracles, only a vast amount of phenomena we may all be too stupid to ultimately understand.

In an increasingly secular world, atheism has become fashionable and isn’t nearly as “edgy” or provocative as it once was. And Hawking, who seems nearly certain that extraterrestrial life exists, made a statement earlier this year that is far more offensive to modern sensibilities than denying God’s existence.

“If aliens ever visit us,” Hawking warned, “I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

By making the point that aliens may be far more advanced than us, he was also implying that Columbus and his crew were far smarter than the Injuns. Now that’s the sort of heresy that can get you burned at the stake these days.

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