The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge. -Stephen Hawking
In one of those interesting examples of Cosmic Timing, Stephen Hawking has died on Pi Day. I have been a Hawking fan for pretty much as long as I can remember. I’ve always been something of a nerd and grew up on science fiction, whether in books, television or the movies, and the idea of black holes, the Big Bang, and an infinite universe have always fascinated me. I have always appreciated Dr. Hawking’s ability to explain complex cosmological concepts in ways that we all could understand. Maybe that has something to do with my current career, in which I make my living in part by explaining complex technological concepts to large audiences.
I recall reading A Brief History of Time when it came out and I’ll admit that I had to look up what year that was. I was surprised to see that it came out in 1988 because I would have sworn that I read it in high school (which was quite a few years before 1988). Perhaps if I had read it in high school I may have become a physicist – although having peaked in my math abilities with differential equations and electromagnetic waves, perhaps not a very good one. As it is, I’ll have to be content having my biggest personal contribution to the field of Physics be my son, who is a Physics major in college.
Stephen Hawking died today, being a confirmed atheist. He has said that the Universe does not disprove the existence of God, but he believes that it proves God is unnecessary. Given that he also showed how the smallest change in the values of different physical constants, or of the speed at which the early universe expanded would have made our lives impossible, I’m not sure how he got to that conclusion. Perhaps even Stephen Hawking fell prey to the “illusion of knowledge” when it came to the true origin of the Universe.