My first two sections of Mythology class met yesterday, and my post on Stephen Hawking was still fresh in my mind. As predictable as clockwork, religious leaders have begun to respond the Hawking’s new book, not yet released. Theodicy in overdrive.
I am not qualified to assess Hawking’s scientific findings. As much as I daydream about having followed my childhood ambition to be a scientist, I find myself in religionist garb teaching university courses among the humanities. What is ironic is that theologians feel that they have to answer Hawking’s conclusions. An article on CNN has the rebuffs of a number of British clerics, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. The main thrust of their comments is that the God Hawking dismisses had already left the theological classroom (the God-of-the-gaps) while the God the major monotheistic religions serve is less of an explanation of the universe and more of a method of determining what it means. So, I guess, this God of meaning may or may not have created the universe, but let God be God and mathematics and physics be damned.
Unless the theologians are better trained than most, the intricacies of M-theory are far too complex to be understood by workaday religious practitioners. The theory is backed by mathematical formulas that are far more frightening than Tiamat, Ahriman, and Azazel bunched up in a cosmic tag-team match against the nice world theologians have created. For my part, I am happy to let the physicists deal with the numbers and symbol systems while I sit by trying to explain what mythology really is to my undergraduate audiences.