Reading a recent interview of Stephen Hawking (viewable at http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/may/15/stephen-hawking-interview-there-is-no-heaven), I was struck by the progression of his logic:
“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.” – Stephen Hawking
Premise 1: There is no supernatural (and consequently no God). (my observation based on Hawking’s statement)
Q (The Guardian): What is the value in knowing “Why are we here?”
A (Hawking):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.
Premise 2: We determine what is valuable. (my observation based on Hawking’s statement)
Q (The Guardian): So here we are. What should we do?
A (Hawking): We should seek the greatest value of our action.
Premise 3: We have an ethical responsibility to seek that which is most valuable. (my observation based on Hawking’s statement)
Conclusion: Since there is no higher authority than us, whatever we determine to be of moral value is of moral value, and any course of action pursuing that is justified. (my observation based on Hawking’s statements)
If this is a fair assessment of his comments and a reasonable conclusion from them, I wonder how he would answer a few questions:
Question 1: Hawking uses the word “should” based on what authority?
Question 2: Where there is ethical disagreement, who wins (e.g., Hitler vs. Jewry – Hitler thought Genocide to be warranted by nature, the Jewish population of the world did not)?
Question 3: If natural selection is the standard, and if we are part of nature is there anything we can do that is unnatural (can nature [us] be unnatural: why is committing murder “wrong” if the strong is eliminating the weak)?