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Monday, May 16, 2011

Stephen Hawking & the Science Delusion

I apologise for some of the formatting errors, especially spacing in this post. Blogger is really playing up today, and I have already spent way too much time trying to correct this...

It’s now official. Heaven is a fairy story believed by people who are afraid of the dark, says famed physicist Stephen Hawking, in an interview with Ian Sample in The Guardian. The article already has some 2000 comments posted. I haven’t read a single one, but I already know that they will consist of religious enthusiasts and scientifically minded skeptics beating each other over the head with very blunt objects. In today’s post I am going to skirt round the projections of minds violently seeking to affirm their worldviews, and move directly to addressing the truth claims of Hawking from the first person perspective of a mystic.

That is, me.

I will simply take Hawking’s individual claims one at a time and relate what I have discovered at a personal level. Feel free to ignore everything written here if you prefer.

Firstly, about truth claims. The ways of knowing – cognitive processes – which we use in attempting to understand these big questions about God, the universe and everything are crucial in determining the answers we find. From my perspective, I have come to see that a rational mind employing verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical intelligence is inherently limited in what it can understand about first causes– the fundamental nature of things. This is because left brained processes operate is a state of agitated separation from the things being examined. The scientific method is inherently limited for this reason. The ‘rational’ is fantastic for describing things from the surface, but poor at perceiving depth – the fundamental causes which underpin the existence of phenomena. The refusal to acknowledge this in dominant science is one of the great problems of our times.

I have spent two decades working with intuitive ways of knowing in deeply relaxed states. In these states of consciousness brain physiology changes, and the deep connections between and amongst things becomes clearer. It is also the realm of spiritual guidance and direct knowing. Spiritual guidance comes directly from spiritual entities which exist in some other dimensions. I don’t know much about the specifics of such dimensions. I just know that they exist, and that information is sometimes received from those dimensions (there is also utter nonsense relayed from other dimensions, but I won’t go into that here).

The physical universe that we detect with our senses and the instruments of science and mathematics is only a small component of reality.

This truth claim – that intuitive ways of knowing are valid ways of understanding the cosmos - is unprovable, and I am not going to try to validate it beyond what I have written. I will just point out that my claim is no less provable than the claim that by breaking things down into component parts we can divulge the intimate meaning and purpose of things, and not just say, some very important and interesting descriptions about the way things function. The confusion of function with cause and/or purpose is one of the prime delusions of modern science. The selfish gene theory is the perfect example. That genes exist and the system works towards their preservation and reproduction is purely descriptive. The reproduction of consciousness (carried within a physical form) can just as readily be ascribed as the raison d'ĂȘtre of evolution. It is no less - and no more - provable.

The important point is that Stephen Hawking knows none of this simply because his physical disability creates a disembodied condition which effectively retards spiritual perception; and even beyond this he has not done the required work necessary to understand it. He has not developed his mind in the way required to perceive deeply. His mind exists in a state of extreme dissociation from body and also from his intuitive faculties. Of course this is not his fault, due the nature of his physical condition. Embodiment is crucial to be fully present, which in turn opens doorways to expanded perception (the idea that the physical world is an illusion and not important is a false spiritual teaching).

In a sense Stephen Hawking is simply not qualified to make pronouncements about first causes because is using a rational way of knowing in an attempt to comprehend spiritual phenomena. That makes about as much sense as walking into an art gallery with a calculator with the aim of appreciating some classical paintings.

Now I turn to some of other things that Hawking has stated. My aim is not to win any friends here, but simply to tell the truth as I understand it. Apologies in advance for those who may be offended.

"What could define God [is a conception of divinity] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God," Hawking told Sawyer. "They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible."

The most obvious error that Hawking demonstrates is a fundamental lack of sophistication regarding the concept of God. He begins with the false premise that God is a human like deity who controls things from afar, and hands out reward and punishment according to a predefined set of rules. This is the erroneous teaching that most religions put forward. This fundamental confusion is what leads Hawking astray from the word go, and most of the conclusions which follow are thus inaccurate.

Hawking then attempts to define God as the laws of nature, which is really just a semantic game. Einstein, by the way, used the word ‘God’ in the same sense. He did not believe in a personal God.

If we change the concept of God to being a background intelligence which lies at the heart of all things, and that religions have simply confused this teachings by attempting to understand it through the mind, then things start to fall into place more easily. In fact that background consciousness is accessible, but only when the mind is brought into deep stillness. It cannot be accessed through the ‘rational’ mind. That ‘God’ does possess qualities which are consistent with many religious representations: compassion, love, forgiveness; and is experienced as an overwhelming sense of light. It’s just that it isn’t anthropomorphic.

The limits of reason are perhaps best demonstrated with Hawking’s attempt to develop a "theory of everything" – a set of equations that describe every particle and force in the entire universe. "It would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God," Hawking wrote in A Brief History of Time. Here Hawking has reached the precise boundary where reason has exhausts its potential. No equation will ever allow one to know the mind of God. Mathematics is processed – at least in part - via the angular gyrus, which is situated near the superior edge of the temporal lobe of the brain (although other brain regions are activated, depending upon the problem or the way we go about solving it). No amount of number crunching will ever bridge the gap between the knower and the known. Staring at an equation simply embeds consciousness within the left brain and its delimited neural processing.

"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

This is an incorrect conclusion because the premise if false. The brain may metaphorically share similarities with a computer, but consciousness is not confined to the brain. It merely functions through the brain while the body is alive. When the brain and body die, consciousness leaves the body and moves into another plane. In fact consciousness often leaks from, or vacates the body even while the body is alive. There are projections of thought which affect others around us, and other’s thoughts affect us in turn. I explain all this in detail in Discover Your Soul Template. Out of body experiences are also real, although most involve ‘travel’ to other dimensions, not to physical places in our world.

Hawking is correct when he says that there is no Heaven in the way Christians think of it, but he is incorrect when he states that there is no afterlife. When you die your consciousness continues, but it continues at precisely the same level of spiritual evolution as the moment you left the body. All the essential psychological and spiritual issues which remain unresolved are taken with you. This is quite clear to me. I am continually aware of projections from many relatives who have died, for example. I have observed my late father’s consciousness on many occasions, and he retains all the guilt, self-rejection and anger that he carried with him when he was alive in his body. I cannot say much about the after-life dimension. All I know is that it is no Happy Happy Land. I can say that just like here on earth, we continue to interact with others, and there are probably opportunities to learn and grow, just as there are on Earth. And just like on earth, most people on the other side probably don’t learn much.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to ... set the Universe going…”

This explains very little, and is simply poor logic by Hawking. One might ask where the laws came from? The logic is circular, because he makes the fundamental nonprovable claim that there is spontaneous creation and then goes on to say that this is the reason why the cosmos exists (it creates itself therefore it exists to create itself). Certainly it is not necessary to invoke a Biblical God here. But then again, one can just as easily and validly do so. Either case is simply a guess.

So if everyone is destined to power-down like computers at the end of their lives, what should humans do to lend meaning to their experience?

"We should seek the greatest value of our action," Hawking told the paper.

Certainly this is so, but the problem is that there is no fundamental value structure. How are we to separate Al Quaida’s values from that of the Tele Tubbies’? In fact there are universal values, and they can be directly experienced in silent meditation. Love, compassion, forgiveness, live and let live, surrender… all these are inherent qualities of a conscious universe. They are experienced in communion with “God." There is a fundamental evolutionary thrust of consciousness, and for humans that involves ‘correcting’ the delusions of the human ego. To make that as simple as I can, it is coming to a deeper understanding of the abuse of power and control (evil) and correcting the misconception of what love is (finding goodness). This sounds an awful lot like something a few religions have been saying for several millennia.

The problem is that modern science, education and society make little room for the silent presence where the understandings I mention can be directly perceived. Science has made all discussion of God and spiritual experience a taboo. Education has followed suit and prefers to focus upon filling brains with information and making students work towards tests. And society is increasingly teaching us how to consume, accumulate stuff and fiddle with gadgets. We are now a species of zombies, cut off from our spirits. Society compounds the problem by promoting the most dissociated of individuals to the top of the pile (How else did Richard Dawkins become Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford?) , and silencing those who have a deeper understanding of the fundamental basis of life and consciousness.

The result is what I call the zombie delusion, and most of us are living it.


  1. One thing I've often wanted to ask the Hawking-Dawkins brigade is what they make of experiences such as love. (Both of them, for what it's worth, have been married twice, their second wives being considerably younger than them.)

    Or even harder to 'explain', the sense of peace and transcendence one gets from landscapes, or from great art. Reducing them to neuro-biology simply trivializes them.

  2. I suspect they'd say it is an accidental bi-product of random evolutionary processes - the same treatment anything meaningful gets with heavily reductionist thinking.

  3. thanks for such a thought-provoking response to the hawking interview - while i cannot speak to all issues raised i can speak to those of my own experiences which include those out of body, in particular, to the existence of an afterlife as i have witnessed - and to my own sense of spirituality which exists for me in this realm and in others - in any event, thanks again for a great post -

  4. Ugh...I appreciate your "mystic" desires but your arguement eats itself. You claim a broken body, such as Hawking's, cannot reach certain spiritual states/perceptions. I would argue being dead is a WORSE physical state so that would imply there is no after life or consciousness outside one's body...if staying with your arguement. Stephen Hawking is perhaps one of our time's greatest thinkers, and while the average Joe might not understand what he says as a reknowned scientist, you cannot deny he has been pondering the cosmos and the reason for human existence a lot more than most. To discount him due to his illness is also quite offensive to anyone stuck in a wheelchair. Just sayin.

  5. If there was an "argument" which could grant the knowing I would use it anonymous. But the knowing comes via silence and surrender, not "thinking". So all I can do is thank you for your comment. Hawking is actually not much different from
    Ost people today - disembodiment is the norm. Feel fee to write more. Marcus

  6. Re: "His [Hawking's] mind exists in a state of extreme dissociation from body and spirit. Of course this is not exactly his fault, due the nature of his physical condition. Embodiment is crucial to be fully present..."

    Gosh, could you be a little more presumptuous? I thought not. I know Rupert Sheldrake is absolutely frantic with brains but he's a religiopathic whiner. You must, sooner or later, tire of humping his leg.

  7. I appreciate your anger, Geo. However it's not an assumption. And I do admire Rupert Sheldrake professionally, but we are not romantically linked. ;-)