Some of you no doubt find South Park to be a bit crude and maybe even offensive. But I am constantly amazed at how often their satires run so true to real life. Case in point: Stephen Hawking. In a recent interview with the Guardian Stephen Hawking had this to say:
The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can’t solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those societies most likely to survive. We assign them higher value.
This caused Carl Olson to quip that Hawking “does, in fact, believe in and worship a god—the name of which is ‘Science'”.
That brought to mind the two-part episode from season ten where Cartman travels into the future and discovers an Earth where everyone is now an atheist (content warning). Exclamations of “Science help us!” escape from everyone’s lips in times of trouble.
I’m not going to read too much into the South Park episodes, but they hint at a larger truth. Even atheists cannot escape religion. Near our house is something called the Washington Ethical Society. We used to drive by this place when we went to Mass in the city, and they hold weekly meetings every Sunday. Yes, it is essentially a Church for atheists. Frankly, one would think that one of the “benefits” of being an atheist is not having to go to Church on Sunday, but for these atheists they can’t escape the Sunday obligation. I don’t know if they sing hymns to science but I’m sure their gatherings are something to behold.
At any rate, there’s more from Olson as well as Msgr. Charles Pope on Hawking’s philosophy. Msgr. Pope is troubled by where Hawking’s philosophy trends (the part in bold is from the article, the rest is Msgr. Pope):
When asked what is the value of knowing why are we here, Hawking replied, “The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can’t solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those societies most likely to survive. We assign them higher value.” This is so limiting. It is also philosophy, not science to say this. Mr Hawking is entitled to have a philosophy, but when he says the world is “governed by science” and then goes on to philosophize, that looks pretty silly and contradictory. Further, Mr. Hawking, if you ask me, is edging dangerously close to eugenics in what he says here. What exactly assigning a “higher value” to certain societies looks like as a practical matter is uncertain in what he says, but I sense a growing darkness here, not light. Margaret Sanger and Adolph Hitler may well be smiling as he says this. BEWARE!
The first commenter objected to Msgr. Pope’s anaology*, but it happens to be spot on. Readings Hawking it is tough not to draw another cultural analogy, this time to C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength. That novel is the third part of Lewis’s space trilogy, and the plot revolves around the British Government’s new scientific institute, the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments (NICE). The institute does some awful stuff in the name of science and progress, and the novel itself serves as a warning against the utopian promises of over-eager rationalists.
Hawking might be a brilliant physicist, but he should leave theology to the grownups.
* On a tangential note, I find myself getting more agitated by a trend in comments sections. Why do people feel that they can completely discard the rules of grammar, capitalization and punctuation when they write comments on blogs? The commenter on Msgr. Pope’s blog – the inaptly named Sophia – decided to take the opportunity to insinuate that atheists were smarter than religious people, all the while failing to capitalize a single word in her screed. Why should I take anyone seriously when they can’t even obey the simple rules of the English language? No, we’re not writing dissertations here, but if you can’t even be bothered to hit the shift key before typing the first letter of the first word of your sentences, then I will automatically discount anything you have to say. I can understand typos as I’m sure there might be one or two above, and I’m not a perfect grammar student. But can you at least make an effort to write properly on a discussion forum?
The cowards at Comedy Central who censored South Park after receiving death threats from Jihadists, as I detailed here and here, now show their “courage” by announcing a new show mocking Christ. My friend Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia gives us the details:
“Fresh off of heavily editing a depiction of Mohammad in “South Park” following threats from practitioners of the “Religion of Peace”, the “edgy” comedy network, Comedy Central, shows its artistic “courage” in announcing a new series blaspheming Jesus Christ:
Comedy Central might censor every image of the Prophet Muhammad on “South Park,” yet the network is developing a whole animated series around Jesus Christ.
Mark Steyn has a good post on National Review Online in regard to the Comedy Central appeasement of the jihadists that I referred to in this post here:
Meanwhile, Comedy Central — you know, the “hip,” “edgy” network with Jon Stewart, from whom “young” Americans under 53 supposedly get most of their news — just caved in to death threats. From a hateful 83-year-old widow who doesn’t like Obamacare? Why, no! It was a chap called Abu Talhah al Amrikee, who put up a video on the Internet explaining why a South Park episode with a rather tame Mohammed joke was likely to lead to the deaths of the show’s creators. Just to underline the point, he showed some pictures of Theo van Gogh, (the picture at the top of this post) the Dutch film director brutally murdered by (oh, my, talk about unfortunate coincidences) a fellow called Mohammed. Mr. al Amrikee helpfully explained that his video incitement of the murder of Matt Stone and Trey Parker wasn’t really “a threat but just the likely outcome.” All he was doing, he added, was “raising awareness” — you know, like folks do on Earth Day. On Earth Day, lame politicians dig a hole and stick a tree in it. But aggrieved Muslims dig a hole and stick a couple of comedy writers in it. Celebrate diversity!
Faced with this explicit threat of violence, what did Comedy Central do? Why, they folded like a Bedouin tent. They censored South Park, not only cutting all the references to Mohammed but, in an exquisitely postmodern touch, also removing the final speech about the need to stand up to intimidation.
Stone and Parker get what was at stake in the Danish-cartoons crisis and many other ostensibly footling concessions: Imperceptibly, incrementally, remorselessly, the free world is sending the message that it is happy to trade core liberties for the transitory security of a quiet life. That is a dangerous signal to give freedom’s enemies. So the South Park episode is an important cultural pushback.
Yet in the end, in a craven culture, even big Hollywood A-listers can’t get their message over. So the brave, transgressive comedy network was intimidated into caving in and censoring a speech about not being intimidated into caving in. That’s what I call “hip,” “edgy,” “cutting-edge” comedy: They’re so edgy they’re curled up in the fetal position, whimpering at the guy with the cutting edge, “Please. Behead me last. And don’t use the rusty scimitar where you have to saw away for 20 minutes to find the spinal column . . . “
I confess that I have never watched South Park. From what I have read about it, the show holds nothing sacred and has had cruel attacks on Christ and other religious figures. Some people have given it a thumbs up for not being politically correct. I guess the latter is true, because in an episode that aired Wednesday the South Park crew went after the ultimate sacred cow in today’s America, the founder of Islam, Mohammed.
Or rather they attempted to. Comedy Central, obviously caving to death threats from Islamic extremists, bleeped out the portions of the broadcast aimed at Mohammed:
Comedy Central bleeped out all references to the Prophet Muhammad in Wednesday night’s episode of the animated show “South Park.”
The episode was a continuation of last week’s episode which depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.
A radical Muslim website threatened the show’s creators following that episode.
Comedy Central confirmed to FoxNews.com that it had censored the show, and that the episode was not available on its website.