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Pope Advised Hawking Not to Study Origin of Universe

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the chewbacca-defense dept.

864

BlueCup submits a link to an Associated Press article running in the Northwest Florida Daily News which begins "Famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said Thursday that the late Pope John Paul II once told scientists they should not study the beginning of the universe because it was the work of God. The British author, who wrote the best-seller 'A Brief History of Time,' said that the pope made the comments at a cosmology conference at the Vatican." According to the article, "The scientist then joked during a lecture in Hong Kong, 'I was glad he didn't realize I had presented a paper at the conference suggesting how the universe began. I didn't fancy the thought of being handed over to the Inquisition like Galileo.'"

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Hardly news (5, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539122)

He wrote that anecdote himself in "A Brief History of Time". So, this *really* is old news.

Re:Hardly news (5, Funny)

Tx (96709) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539178)

You got there before me. Well, Hawking once believed that time would reverse when the universe started contracting towards the big crunch, so this would have been news on the way back down the timeline ;).

Re:Hardly news (5, Funny)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539220)

Ah, that is why lots of drops of coffee from my computer screen just magically jumped in my mouth! ;-)

Re:Hardly news (5, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539188)

Agreed The real news is that the Inquisition finally caught up with Galileo. I'll submit the story right away!

Re:Hardly news (0, Redundant)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539302)

And it will be really old news when it get posted again next week...

Flawed Logic (5, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539125)

If you love God, why not read up on his work?

Re:Flawed Logic (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539141)

George W. Bush says that God did it. Good enough for me.

-Eric

One word (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539258)

Truthiness [wikipedia.org]

Re:Flawed Logic (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539175)

If you love God, why not read up on his work?

I know a couple of scientists who are religious (Christian) and none of them understand what the deal is with the fundamentalists who insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible. As far as they're concerned, they're using their God given brain to study how God does His thing. A very classic way of thinking about science. IIRC, Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, etc... all thought of their scientific work as a way to worship Him.

Re:Flawed Logic (5, Funny)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539266)

As far as they're concerned, they're using their God given brain to study how God does His thing.

A biology professor I once met was fond of saying that if you study biology in long enough, you will find not only that God exists, but He has a sense of humor.

Re:Flawed Logic (5, Funny)

larkost (79011) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539376)

You don't have to study very much, just have a good long look at your own reproductive organs. After all, as the joke goes: "God must be a civil engineer, who else but a civil engineer would put a waste water outlet through a recreational facility?".

Re:Flawed Logic (1, Flamebait)

RsG (809189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539195)

Because then the people who make a living telling people what God(TM) is will be out of a job?

Re:Flawed Logic (1)

binkzz (779594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539248)

Well, as a Christian, I agree. The Bible teaches us to wonder about things; why not the origins of the universe? It's not the most important thing in a Christna's diet, but I don't see why it can't be looked into.

Incidentally, nice ID.

Indeed (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539287)

Just to set the record straight, Christians do not agree with what this looney says. God has nothing against science or discovery. If the pope says this, he might as well say "Don't study virii, because they were the work of sin and the fall." Both arguments are utterly rediculous non-sequitors.

Next up... (5, Funny)

evileyetmc (977519) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539129)

Pope Palpatine will advocate not studying conception...since it is an act of God. Great. Guess my girlfriend won't be putting out.

Re:Next up... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539160)

Please, you're here on Slashdot, you don't have a Girlfriend....unless your blowup doll puts out

Not news (-1, Redundant)

seanmeister (156224) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539130)

Hawking himself wrote about this incident in ABHoT.

The Inquisition (5, Funny)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539132)

The Inquisition can't come for Hawking now: he's expecting it!

Re:The Inquisition (3, Funny)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539163)

No one EVER expects the Inquisition, even Hawking.

Re:The Inquisition (1)

jcenters (570494) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539187)

Not to mention the logistics of trying to get him in the Comfy Chair.

Re:The Inquisition (1)

Loquax (921849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539189)

HA! Python rules! I also remeber the famous Mel Brooks "History of the World" movie routine where the Vegas Styled show has the chorus "The Inquisition, what a show. The Inquisition, here we go!"

One thought though, Hawkings is already int the comfey chair, so they'd have to cut right to the pillows.

Re:The Inquisition (5, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539225)

Ah, but he knows they can't come, becasue they're expected so they're unexpected. Which means they can come. Except Hawking obviouslyt expects them to know they're expected and therefore unexpected, so he should probably expect this.

Re:The Inquisition (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539349)

So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me!

Re:The Inquisition (-1, Offtopic)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539227)

No, that's the SPANISH Inquisition. Hawking is an American.

-Eric

Re:The Inquisition (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539238)

Hawking is an American.

!!!

Re:The Inquisition (1)

binkzz (779594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539269)

"Hawking is an American."

Then why doesn't he have an American accent!

Actually he does (1)

algerath (955721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539312)

have an American accent. I have read a quote from him in which he stated that the only complaint he had about his computer/voice synthesizer was that he sounded american. I believe a California company built it for him.

Maybe you should tell Hawking that... (1)

algerath (955721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539276)

he is an American. I think he is under the impression that he was born and works and lives in England. I am sure he will appreciate you clearing this up for him.

Algerath

Re:The Inquisition (3, Informative)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539279)

> Hawking is an American.
Um, no. He's British. Born, raised and lives there. See here [wikipedia.org]

This is news? (-1, Redundant)

Beowulf_Boy (239340) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539134)

This is in a brief history of time. Thats been out for well over 10 years.

Publication Date (1)

bsd4me (759597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539184)

It was originally published in 1988, though there have been other editions.

So? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539140)

Being it's the work of God, it should be okay to study his work and know how he goes about things. Sure would be cool to know the recipe to making a universe.

Re:So? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539176)

Being it's the work of God, it should be okay to study his work and know how he goes about things. Sure would be cool to know the recipe to making a universe.

One tiny flaw...'God' doesn't exist and the Church knows that.

Re:So? (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539198)

That's my thought. Why shouldn't we study everything so we can bask in the full glory of God's work?

of course with knowledge comes the fact that most religions are just social engineering scams designed to control the population and make people feel better about themselves at the expense of others^H^H non-believers.

Oh well I have my beliefs and I don't care if no one else believes what I do. A good life involves giving to others, for in the end only kindness matters.

Re:So? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539250)

Dear Mr. Peragrin: I regret to inform you that while we have received your "virtual hug e-card", we cannot accept this as a form of payment. If we do not receive (in legal tender) the balance of the past due amount within the next 10 days, we will be forced to foreclose on your property. As always, we appreciate your business! Your Bank

Re:So? (2, Funny)

John Nowak (872479) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539252)

in the end only kindness matters.

Thanks Jewel.

Re:So? (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539340)

Because in our pride we might fly too close to the sun and be struck down. I'm not up on my sects of Christianity but I'd think that in general they'd want that to happen since it'd mean that Jesus would come down and take all the devout Christians to heaven and the rest of us godless pagans to hell. Of course, we're still infringing pretty heavily on His territory -- pretty much every aspect of our lives these days would be considered miraculous 2000 years ago.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539244)

Is that a fact? And how long do you think it'd be before the U.S. weaponized such a "recipe?"

Re:So? (1)

trigeek (662294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539378)

Consider if the pope had given the same advice 300 years ago. Should we have obeyed it? Then we would still think the universe was about 6000 years old. We would be in denial about early civilizations, Earth's geological history, even dinosaurs.

I know I'm going to Hell for this... (-1, Troll)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539142)

But I have to wonder if the source of that anecdote predates his development of ALS? Nazis melt when they look into the Ark of the Covenant, theoretical physicists get degenerative neurological diseases when they look for God's maker's mark on the universe.

From TFA: (5, Funny)

blackbeaktux (525688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539147)

[FROM TFA]...he had one more great ambition: "I would also like to understand women."

The Vatican was unavailable for comment.

Re:From TFA: (2, Funny)

dargon (105684) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539271)

[FROM TFA]...he had one more great ambition: "I would also like to understand women."

Him and every other man on the planet

Re:From TFA: (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539281)

Next in TFA: Where did we come from?

Annnd, it's back to the women again...

Nevertheless, it inflates (4, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539153)

Church versus Science. Not exactly a new story.

But, I'm surprised to hear the Pope said this. I'd thought the Catholic church was relatively progressive in terms of creationism. A few hundred years ago, it might have made a difference what they thought.

These days, this kind of comment makes the church look archaic rather than actually discouraging scientists. At least in Europe.

Re:Nevertheless, it inflates (2, Insightful)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539223)

I think your're pretty confused, this isn't about evolution vs creationism, this isn't even about the origin of life (Abiogenesis), this is cosmology and about the origin of the universe itself.

Re:Nevertheless, it inflates (3, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539260)

It is about creationism, just not young Earth creationism.

The Catholic Church has accepted Evolution and the Big Bang, but they still need some kind of mystery involved in creation so that their God has a role to play. The don't want scientists producing results which might imply the Universe did not need some outside force to get it started.

Re:Nevertheless, it inflates (3, Informative)

jokell82 (536447) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539373)

The don't want scientists producing results which might imply the Universe did not need some outside force to get it started.
Even if they were able to scientifically prove that fact it would not disprove the existence of God. Science does not work to disprove religion...

Re:Nevertheless, it inflates (5, Interesting)

Jboost (960475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539226)

Well, Pope Pius XII approved of the Big Bang theory in 1951 and Pope John Paul II said "that it is acceptable for Catholics to believe and teach evolutionism."

The Vatican also has some fine astronomers (and one of the oldest astronomical research institutions).
http://vaticanobservatory.org/ [vaticanobservatory.org]

The Vatican isn't as backwards as those fundamental christian creationists that take everything the bible says literally.

If studying the work of God isn't allowed.... (2, Insightful)

drwtsn32 (674346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539157)

...then shouldn't the Pope be against all science? Funny how they only do this with the sciences that threaten their beliefs. I find this interesting since this same Pope embraced evolution.

The Catholic Church is all PR. (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539180)

They drag their heels on silly beliefs until it is apparant that the whole world is against them and they might lose new converts.

Like the loopholes they are introducing for contraception use.

I'm always amazed at how otherwise rational and intelligent people can be pulled in to this system of self-deception.

Re:The Catholic Church is all PR. (1)

Creedo (548980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539216)

Loopholes for contraception? Do tell.

Re:If studying the work of God isn't allowed.... (1, Interesting)

Mayhem178 (920970) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539194)

This is one thing I still don't quite understand. Why must the concepts of "creationism" and "evolution" be mutually exclusive? Who's to say that life wasn't created by some greater power, then that greater power sat back and said, "Okay, let's see what happens now."

You know, kinda like the Xel'Naga did for the Protoss. Except in the end, the Protoss screwed up. And a bunch of bugs assimilated the Xel'Naga. Hmm, yeah, bad example, I suppose.....

Re:If studying the work of God isn't allowed.... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539309)

This is one thing I still don't quite understand. Why must the concepts of "creationism" and "evolution" be mutually exclusive? Who's to say that life wasn't created by some greater power, then that greater power sat back and said, "Okay, let's see what happens now."

Sure, that works. But "creationism" is often used to specifically mean "Life as we see it today was created by an intelligent designer" - that's the meaning that millions of Americans believe, and what's meant when you hear about creationism being taught in schools, and this belief is incompatible with evolution.

Re:If studying the work of God isn't allowed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539358)

My main problem with creationism is: If humans were made in the image of God, then why do humanity continue to evolve?

To examples:

* A friend of mine has an extra pair of muscles and tendons in her forearms, making her fingers more flexible.

* I myself have a very effective heart; it only beats 30 times per minute when I'm resting.

I'm sure there are many more (and better) examples of evolutionary progress in the world, showing that humans of today are NOT the peak of creation.

Re:If studying the work of God isn't allowed.... (5, Insightful)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539196)

Funny how they only do this with the sciences that threaten their beliefs.

Huh? What? Threatens their beliefs? The Big Bang? Are you reading the same theory I am? The Big Bang is litterally a religious persons DREAM scientific theory. They couldn't have written it any better themselves. Not only is it the perfect theory explaining the moment of creation, but it also predicts that not only does everything happen, all of creation, in a single moment, at a single point, but it even predicts that our laws and rules and science cannot touch anything that happened before it. It, literally, points to a single moment/point and says the entire universe came from this point, at this time, and we can never hope to know what happened before that.

If that's not "biblical" in it's details, then nothing is.

Re:If studying the work of God isn't allowed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539353)

I belive in the Big Bang theory, God Spoke and "Bang" it was.

Re:If studying the work of God isn't allowed.... (1)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539256)

Whether it is science of the bible; religion takes whatever favours their beliefs and discards the rest as hericy

During the meeting (5, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539164)

Pope, speaking in bad Italian accent: Yeah, you see, it's like this Mr. Hawking... the beginning of everything... that's God's work... he wouldn't be too pleased if you found out too much about what he did... he's very private that way... he tends to get upset easily... and we wouldn't want anything to say, happen to you... you wouldn't want to end up in a wheelchair or nothin'... oh wait...

The Church makes you an offer you cannot refuse. (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539205)

It's almost comical in light of your post...but if you don't follow their brand of faith, eternal pain and suffering is your reward.

Re:During the meeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539212)

No, no, no. You got it all wrong. There would be no physical force involved, per se. God would just cite the DMCA and then sic the lawyers on Hawking for reverse engineering Creation. And then there would some statement to the effect of "Creation is known to the State of California and the Vatican to have only originated with God (tm)(c)(r)(patent pending)."

Re:During the meeting (2, Insightful)

Paladine97 (467512) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539224)

Too bad John Paul was Polish, not Italian.

Re:During the meeting (1)

bohemian72 (898284) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539237)

Once again, someone forgot Poland.
When will we learn?!? When will he head President Bush's warning?

Don't Forget Poland!

Inquisition? (1)

extintor (826864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539167)

No one expects the spanish inquisition!

OFN (-1, Redundant)

jtilak (596402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539173)

Hawking states this in his book, A Brief History of Time. duh.

Re:OFN (1)

jtilak (596402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539236)

here is proof page 120 [imageshack.us] (middle of the first paragraph) sorry for replying to my own post :D

ask any person of "faith" (4, Funny)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539179)

It's turtles all the way down.

Re: ask any person of "faith" (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539368)

> It's turtles all the way down.

Yes, but there's still room for meaningful debate about what kind of turtles.

That wan't Galileo's problem (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539192)

Galileo got into trouble for asking the authorities to keep their adopted word (which it turns out was Pagan Aristotlean astronomy) rather than for any clash between science itself and church. This wasn't a case of science vs religion (n fact, the science in question clashes quite loudly with most modern science), it was a case of social politics within a large political organisation.

Many of the "scientific" disagreements which have happened recently are of a similar political or business-oriented nature, and typically have naff-all to do with any hint of genuine scientific principle.

I guess it's an almost-inevitable blame-shifting aspect of human nature.

Re:That wan't Galileo's problem (1)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539261)

Galileo got in trouble for saying that the earth moves... in a book that irreverently satirized the current pope.

The earth moving does not clash at all with most modern science.

Re:That wan't Galileo's problem (1)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539284)

Mod parent up. Galileo is always trotted out as an example of religion vs. science, but the reality is very different.

The Pope (4, Insightful)

Goody (23843) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539193)

The Pope doesn't represent all of Chistianity or religion for that matter. Hawkings should study and theorize the origin of the universe as much as he wants. He probably will never determine if a higher being actually flipped the switch that made it happen, though. Science explains how, what, where, and when. Religion explains who and why.

Re:The Pope (5, Insightful)

haluness (219661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539243)

Religion explains who and why.

Just to nitpick (since I have nothing else to do right now) but religion states who and why, rather than explains

Re:The Pope (2, Insightful)

un1xl0ser (575642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539257)

And that is the bigest problem with religion. The questions that science answers (How, What, Where and When) are all basic concepts describing what is around us.

The idea of a "who" makes the assumption that there is a responsible, sentient entity and "why" makes the assumption that there is an entity, and there was reasoning and a purpose in mind. Most religions claim to "know" not only that "who" and "why" exist, but that they know the only answer to both.

The Article Is More Appropriate Now (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539199)


Since the current Pope used to be head of the Office of the Inquisition.

They renamed it in the late 19th Century, IIRC, due to the bad PR, but it's the same office.

What about all the other acts of god? (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539200)

Aren't things like hurricanes, lightning, and tornados all called 'acts of god', at least by courts and insurance companies?

Should we not study electricity? My god, what have we done? Maybe we should have asked the great spider queen for permission before all this studying of gods natural phenomenon...

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539203)

RIAA Advised People Not to download Music that sucks.
MPAA Advised People Not to download Movies that suck.
Slashdot Advised Readers Not to prefer Digg.
PS3-fanboys Advised N-fanboys Not to buy Wii. ..etc.

Many people have grown incapable of making their own decisions, let alone forming their own opinions.

That's why news are still not considered just being a cheap form of entertaiment. Which they are.

you could get burned alive back then (1)

urbieta (212354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539204)

Here is a little background about being burned alive

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition [wikipedia.org]

I guess we all should be proud of the fact that all of us /..org readers could have been burned alive at a certain point in history.

Im glad that it is not likely that this kind of history would ever repeat itself. I don't like pain :)

Re:you could get burned alive back then (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539230)

Come to one of my code reviews.

Wow. This is really, really old. (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539207)

So, if I read a ten, fifteen, maybe thirty-year-old book, can I submit quotes from it as news, too?

Heck, tomorrow I think I'll submit a story about Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity.

Re:Wow. This is really, really old. (2, Funny)

Mayhem178 (920970) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539347)

What are you talking about? Sir Isaac Newton didn't discover gravity. Al Gore did.

Re:Wow. This is really, really old. (2, Funny)

oni (41625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539380)

So, if I read a ten, fifteen, maybe thirty-year-old book, can I submit quotes from it as news, too?

Well, maybe Hawking himself submitted this, and it just took him this long to... type... it... with... his... little... clicker... thing...

Blah (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539209)

I can't think of anything more scientific than wanting to understand something onesself rather than having it shoved down one's throat by "people closer to <insert deity>." Religion explains what science cannot. Science theorizes what religion explains too vaguely for human interests.

Joining in the fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539247)

This is already in A Brief History of Time, I'm better than all of you. This is in A Brief History of Time, morans. I saw this in A Brief History of Time 10 years ago! He mentioned this in A Brief History of Time already. I'm better than everyone because I already read this in A Brief History of Time (ie I'm not getting laid). This was in A Brief History of Time, which was published nearly 10 years ago!!1 This was already talked about in A Brief History of Time!

Why science and religion don't mix (1, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539259)

Regardless of when the Pope said this (as some have pointed out), this once again shows the stifling effect that religion can have on science.

We are curious animals by nature. If we weren't curious we wouldn't have been able to develop the societies we have and everything that goes with them. Why shouldn't we explore how the universe began? If by exploring how things got started we can gain some insight into a better, more efficient form of energy, why not explore?

Maybe what it comes down to is that by discovering that illnesses aren't caused by evil spirits or that mentally deranged people aren't possessed by the devil then the reason for religion ceases to exist. After all, if everything can be reasonably explained to come from natural sources then why have gods and goddesses?

The popes comment leads me to believe it was one designed to undercut the scientific realm so those in a position of power within religious circles could continue their search for new members. After all, we know for a fact that the Vatican has in its possession books which contradict portions of the modern bible as well as some which were written by others which provide a different perspective on what things were like way back when. But one cannot read these books, even if they know the title, because to do so would set off a firestorm of consternation at the hypocrisy of modern Catholicism and Christianity in general. Instead, they are held simply so others cannot expand their knowledge of the past. So long as these works remain hidden, the power of the Church cannot be questioned.

Is it any wonder then that the Pope, the keeper of the gate so to speak, would want to dissuade an eminent scientist from exploring the mysteries of the universe? Religion, as a whole, has become nothing but a quest for power. Not giving hope to the unwashed masses, not giving comfort in time of need. Power, pure and simple.

I seriously doubt he said it (5, Insightful)

Creedo (548980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539265)

If you look at all of the other statements that JPII made regarding science and faith, this would immediately strike you as out of character. Add that to the fact that I've never seen someone actually produce proof that he ever said it, like a transcription or something. So, I think Hawking either misquoted, misunderstood(given JPII's accent, understandable) or made up the quote. After all, it makes a good joke, right?

Re:I seriously doubt he said it (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539351)

JPII made some nods towards science (saying that evolution *could* be accurate in the physical sense, but that God made the human soul, etc.) He was also "demanded" that science not contradict Christianity. Exactly what this means is up for interpretation, but if you read enough of the theology of the RCC, you'll find it puts a lot of limitation on physical science, which is why Teilhard de Chardin and others have been shut up in recent years...

The RCC is sadly still anti-science on balance. They admit error in backhanded and deceptive ways only when things are so far gone that they cannot maintain any credibility without doing it. Like with Galileo and evolution.

Science and Religion (2, Interesting)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539273)

Science is to religion as truth is to politics. Incompatible and irrelevant. Honestly, when you consider the history of the Catholic Church, or most other religions and religious institutions, how can you believe anything they say? Of course they oppose science as science keeps exposing them for the phonies that they are. As more and more of their "truth" is exposed as fraud they lose power and influence. Take anything that anyone ever asks or demands that you accept "on faith" without ever backing it up with evidence with one giant fucking grain of salt. One a side note wouldn't John Paul II's time have been better spent trying to weed out and punish the child molesters in his own church? That, ladies and gentleman, tells you all you need to know about the church and its priorities. What a sick joke.

Latest (old?) news from God (1)

gerald626 (197224) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539285)

"If you want to know my works... Pick up a good science book!" - God

This must be a really old quote, especially since God had supposedly disappeared into a puff of logic.

Old news (1)

Nicodemus101 (960204) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539286)

Guess old news is better than no news...

But I hope we will not forget that... (2, Informative)

No. 24601 (657888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539290)

There are priests who have done science too (maybe even scientists who became priests :)

Take for example, Lemaitre who is credited with proposing the none too unsignificant Big Bang theory. He was a Belgian Roman Catholic priest. He convinced Hubble and Einstein of the expanding universe model using Hubble's experimental work and Einstein's theories.

Jokingly, I would say the Pope advised Hawking not to study the origin of the universe because the Vatican wanted to beat him to publishing the first paper :)

what a pathetic religion (4, Insightful)

m874t232 (973431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539295)

Just think about what a pathetic concept of divinity that is: a supposedly almighty God who dislikes it when his creation looks at his works. That's in addition to all the smighting, shame, pain, and torture that Catholicism says God inflicts on the world.

I'm agnostic about whether there is some higher power. But a world created and ruled by the kind of schizophrenic and conflicted being that the Catholic church postulates makes no sense to me, and my faith tells me that they are wrong; no omnipotent being could sensibly be as petty and hateful towards mankind as the Catholic church claims God is.

Lord Forbid... (1)

v3xt0r (799856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539303)

that the real truth be discovered.

News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539304)

That anecdote is *in* the Brief History of Time *and* Black Holes and Baby Universes. And this is ... news?

Not quite right (3, Interesting)

LihTox (754597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539321)

While I don't have a reference for this, I seem to recall reading that Hawking misquoted John Paul. The Pope didn't say that scientists *shouldn't* study the beginning of the Universe, but that the scientists *wouldn't* be able to explain the instant of Creation, because that came from God; it was an expression of faith, rather than an admonition.

And as far as I know, the Pope so far is right; cosmologists will talk about t=1e-12 seconds after the Big Bang, and so forth, but few talk about t=0 (or t0) in anything but completely speculative ways. The Big Bang and "Let there be light!" are perfectly compatible if you're not a literalist.

Re:Not quite right (2, Informative)

w0d3h0us3 (966674) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539360)

I agree... it seems highly improbable that the late pontiff would have said such a thing. In Gaudium et Spes (no. 36), the Council Fathers wrote "It has explicitly affirmed the distinction of orders of knowledge between faith and reason; it has recognized the autonomy and independence of science, and has taken up a position in favor of freedom of research."

And what better place... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539348)

...for a conference on cosmology, than the Vatican?

A misunderstanding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15539355)

Can anyone verify independently that the quote (and Hawking's interpretation of it) are accurate, and that the Pope really meant to discourage scientists from studying cosmology? Not only does the full remark-- "It's OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not enquire into the beginning itelf because that was the moment of creation and the work of God"-- not make much sense, as cited by Hawking, but there's no Catholic doctrine that I'm aware of stating that God's work should be exempt from scientific inquiry (if it were, then what would be left to study?). Plus the remark sounds highly uncharacteristic of a Pope who embraced evolution and pardoned Galileo. Given the language differences, and Hawking's obvious interest in creating some sort of religion/science conflict, could there have been a miscommunication?

A likely story, because... (1)

franois-do (547649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539357)

told scientists they should not study the beginning of the universe because it was the work of God

A likely story ! It would really be a scoop if the new trend in religions was now to discourage studying the work of God :-D

Beware also abouth the word "should" : it can as well mean a possibility ("as there are big clouds, it should rain) than a will to do mething ("I should clean my flat"). When Darwin says somewhere that "least adapted leafs of manking should disappear", he mentions a plausible possibility, not an exhortation, as far as I know, to kill them !

We do not know either howJP2 said that. Even a pope is allowed to joke from time to time, and he did more than once :-)

how vs why (4, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539362)

I was raised Baptist but am not religious these days. Many many scientists have a deep spirituality or faith and feel that science just gets you closer to the creation. I've never had a problem with science versus faith: to put it into religious terms, I presume that science is our attempt at explaining "how," and spirituality is our attempt at explaining "why." There's no disconnect here.

The bible doesn't explain how the universe was created, and explicitly says that God's timeline is nothing like man's timeline, so there's no point in parsing "six days" as meaning anything in particular to us. If I feel like parsing it at all, I'd say the seventh day of rest aligns quite nicely with the future era of calmness mentioned in Revelations, so maybe we're still in the sixth day as far as God is concerned. I've subsequently heard some Israeli theologians have put forth the same conjecture. But I don't parse the bible that much, as I already figured out what I want to figure out with regards to my own spirituality: do less harm than good, and the world will be alright.

Major organized religions (aka, Church Inc.) just don't want any explaining of either, as it impacts the bottom line. Come in, drop off your tithe, pat a homeless man on the head, and go watch your kids' soccer game. Questions come pretty close to questioning authority, and they like being the unquestioned authority. I mean, really, condoms in Africa...

Fear (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15539370)

what is the pope afraid of?

Why does it matter that someone like Hawkings studies it? If god is real, then he will discover that.. If god is not real, then that will be discovered. In the end only the truth matters, regardless of which answer is 'found'. ( not that i ever expect that question to really ever be answered, there will ALWAYS be doubt.
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