World-famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says flat-out that he doesn’t believe in God, but he does believe that space travel offers the best hope for our species’ immortality.
Those pronouncements came during the buildup to this week’s Starmus Festival at Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where Hawking and other scientific luminaries have gathered for rounds of talks, tours and elbow-rubbing.
The Spanish newspaper El Mundo engineered an exclusive interview with Hawking, and headlined its report with his views on the origins of the universe.
In the past, there’s been a tiny bit of ambiguity: In “A Brief History of Time,” Hawking writes that the discovery of a unifying set of scientific principles known as the theory of everything would enable scientists to “know the mind of God.” But in a follow-up book about the quest for the theory of everything, titled “The Grand Design,” Hawking said the mechanism behind the origin of the universe was becoming so well known that God was no longer necessary.
El Mundo’s Pablo Jauregui asked about those two references to God in one of the questions he prepared for Hawking to answer, and here’s the scientist’s response:
“Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t. I’m an atheist.”
Hawking addressed the issue more delicately several years ago when he told Reuters that he was “not religious in the normal sense,” and said “God does not intervene to break the laws” that He decreed. Since then, however, there’s been a lot more theorizing devoted to the origin of the universe. Hawking now believes that an approach known as M-theory will eventually reveal the grand design of the cosmos.
“In my opinion, there is no aspect of reality beyond the reach of the human mind,” Hawking told El Mundo.
I wish I could get this as a tshirt…
Psychologist Darrel Ray, who was raised in a conservative Christian household, conducted an online survey to determine the impact of religion on sexual satisfaction.
Ray set out to confirm whether his own experience- that his sex life vastly improved when he ditched religion- bore out among others. Ray, who authored the book The God Virus: How God Infects Our Lives and Culture, sought out 14,500 people who had once been religious or raised in a religious environment before becoming atheist or agnostic. What Ray discovered is that guilt seems to heavily influence sexual satisfaction in many specific subsets of Christianity.
The survey did not adhere to social science study guidelines, but Ray reported the results as follows:
Those who had been raised Mormon with their strict views about sex, showed the highest rating among those who had sexual guilt with an average score of 8.19 out of 10. Others with similar responses were Jehovah’s Witness, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist and Baptist.
Catholics, on the other hand, rated their guilt at 6.34 and Lutherans came in at 5.88. Atheists and agnostics were the lowest in guilt at 4.71 and 4.81.
University of Texas at Austin associate professor Mark Regnerus dismissed the survey as biased and said Ray’s methods were “unscientific,” adding:
“It appears that it was a ‘fill it out if you want to’ kind of survey that is not random, not nationally representative, and relies entirely on self-selection,” he said. “In other words, they have data from people who felt like filling out a survey on atheism and sex. As a result, I am not surprised at their findings.”
Regnerus said the results were based on “hearsay or guesswork,” and opined:
“I don’t fault the author for running the survey he did, but it does display research methods which do not meet the standards of most published social science.”
Indeed, the results would have been a bit more interesting even just stacked against responses from religious folk who consider themselves sexually satisfied. Do you agree with Ray’s findings? Does religion or lack thereof significantly affect your view on sex?