Kirk Cameron vs. Stephen Hawking

This is just too good.

Stephen Hawking, Lucasian Chair of Mathematics for 30 years and world-renown theoretical physicist, ruffled the feathers of some believers recently when he said in a recent interview,
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.
Well yes, I certainly agree, and not least for the fact that the very concept of the afterlife is completely incoherent. But Hawking is simply expressing his personal belief, and he pretty much leaves it at that. Kirk Cameron, apprentice to Master Stooge Ray Comfort, grabbed a few headlines with his "rebuttal", published by TMZ:
Cameron tells us, "Professor Hawking is heralded as 'the genius of Britain,' yet he believes in the scientific impossibility that nothing created everything and that life sprang from non-life."

He adds, "Why should anyone believe Mr. Hawking's writings if he cannot provide evidence for his unscientific belief that out of nothing, everything came?"
A couple of things to say here. First, you gotta love a washed up actor-cum-evangelical lecturing one of the world's most renown scientists on what science is.

But more importantly, Cameron is basically doing what a lot of believers do, and frankly it's exactly what more "sophisticated" theologians do when they talk about the idea that the universe had to have come from something else: he's taking his everyday intuitions about what seems plausible and true, and then extrapolating them into areas where they've never been tested – and, in fact, in principle cannot be tested. It's like when William Lane Craig asks us to consider what the probability is of the universe coming into existence with it's exact features: it's a stupid question, because "probability" is something which we only know to exist as an outcome of the properties of the universe. It's meaningless to talk about the probability of the universe possessing certain features, because it's those features that make our concept of probability possible in the first place. Asking what "caused" the universe is no different: "causality" is a concept derived from the observable universe, so it doesn't make any sense to say the universe itself required a cause.

I was actually listening to this little bit of Dan Dennett last night, and he nicely summarizes the problems with this kind of thinking:

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