How not to argue with Hawking

Man, I am so jealous. I say stuff like this all the time, but all Stephen Hawking has to do is plainly state the obvious that “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” and it’s NEWS. I think half the email I got this morning was all about people reacting to that one simple comment.

This one was promising: Michael Wenham objects, and one point he makes is fair enough. He says he isn’t afraid of the dark, which I’m willing to accept — he would know best what scares him. But then, like all the critics, he announces that he has evidence! Yes! Just what I’m looking for!

Strangely enough, my theory that there is a form of life after we die is not some sort of wishful thinking. It’s based on evidence. If the brain is a computer, then, when I was studying where Stephen Hawking now teaches, I came on a mass of data of which the most convincing, the neatest, explanation was that death is not the end of life.

Data? For life after death? I was anticipating something pathetic, like near-death experiences, but wouldn’t you know it, Mr Wenham comes up with “evidence” that is even more pitiful.

His evidence for an afterlife is…Jesus.

It wasn’t the most comfortable nor most obvious of conclusions, but the forensic case was forceful and beautiful, providing “simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations”. The best exposition I found was by the then director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London, Professor Sir Norman Anderson, in The Evidence for the Resurrection (later republished as part of Jesus Christ: The Witness of History). My disturbing conclusion was that, if it happened once, as seemed beyond reasonable doubt, then I needed to revise my whole world view. What you see is not all you get.

Uh, yeah.

Then the new Thor movie is evidence for Valhalla, the Cottingley Fairies are evidence for sprites, pixies, and elves, and the ruins of Troy speak for the reality of the Greek pantheon.