Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

Full post here.  (link may not last)

Perhaps Hawking is guilty of a little hubris in weighing in with such certitude on the God question?

Here’s a quote of his Hawking’s posted previously:

“His [Kant’s}argument for the thesis was that if the universe did not have a beginning, there would be an infinite period of time before any event, which he considered absurd.  The argument for the antithesis was that if the universe had a beginning, there would be an infinite period of time before it, so why should the universe begin at any one particular time?  In fact, his cases for both the thesis and the antithesis are really the same argument.  They are both based on his unspoken assumption that time continues back forever, whether or not the universe had existed forever.

-Stephen Hawking-A Brief History of Time

Not so much that time continues back forever, but that it’s impossible to conceive of a point outside of time.  Kant wished to argue that both time and space are not necessarily inherent characteristics of the universe (or any object at all…especially those objects with which we have no direct experience, like a black hole, though according to Kant we can have knowledge of objects) but rather time and space are part of our onboard apparatus, and preconditions for us have intelligible experience in the first place (unlike as is assumed in calculus, for example).  He constructed a vast metaphysics to make his point in the hopes of putting metaphysics on the same ground as the sciences (the Enlightenment was going strong around him, and he latched onto Newton’s laws especially).  It’s questionable as to whether or not he succeeded, but fascinating to think about nonetheless.

Also On This Site:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To JudgmentFrom YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Via The University Of British Colombia: Kant-Summary Of Essential PointsFrom Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantSunday Quotation: From Jonathan Bennett On Kant

From The Times Higher Education: Simon Blackburn On The The Atheist/Believer DebateFrom Bloggingheads: Adam Frank And Eliezer Yudkowsky Discuss The Epistemology

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2 thoughts on “Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

  1. Concerning Roger Scruton:

    I haven’t read any of his books, but I did hear him give a talk back in the 1980s. This was a restricted-entry, invited audience, not open to the general public. During his talk, he quite clearly said that
    religion was clearly nonsense on a rational level, but we should pretend that it’s true because it helps to control the masses. Those weren’t his exact words, but convey what he said.

    I thought that sounded exactly what you might expect from an aristocratic conservative philosopher, who no doubt longed for something much like Plato’s Republic.

    As part of the reality based community, I thought you all deserved to know the truth about this charlatan.

  2. Jocasta, thanks for reading and commenting.

    After Kant, I’m left with his agnosticism, and as I understand it, the inability to declare (unless I make the case otherwise) that I can either prove or disprove the existence of God or a transcendent being within the bounds of reason as Kant laid these bounds down in his vast metaphysics (he may simply be wrong about those boundaries). So, how the earthly authority of the Church is left as an absolute authority for social arrangement in Scruton’s conservatism is problematic, though he traces it back to Kant in the article.

    Yet, this problem, or the problem of rationality (or scientific knowledge as the best, and for many, the only form of knowledge which many will take from Hawking’s article) is also quite problematic, and potentially a threat to individual freedom, clear thinking, and political freedom as well, to say nothing of political and cultural traditions which can help maintain that freedom. There are lots of open questions.

    Socrates, as you might take note, upset nearly everyone in Athens and the Agora, including the aristocracy, and whomever was “conservative” at the time. The people chose to put him to death, and he took the opportunity. So the Republic raises questions to my mind which are much deeper, and of lasting importance.

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