In recent months Stephen Hawking has been “fair game” for theologians, philosophers of religion and even some philosophers of science. Basically because of pre-publication publicity around his book (with co-author Leonard Mlodinow) The Grand Design . I suggested this attention will soon switch to Peter Atkins when his new book “On Being: A Scientist’s Exploration of the Great Questions of Existence“ becomes available over the next few months (see On being philosophical about science). Like The Grand Design, Atkins’ book will be unpalatable to theologians and “philosophers of religion. It may also brush some philosophers up the wrong way.
To clear the decks, as it were, for the coming theological onslaught I am responding here to some of the criticisms made of The Grand Design, and Stephen Hawking. Actually, I am sure some of the future flack over Atkins’ book will concentrate on similar issues.
Overall, I think The Grand Design is a very readable book providing a brief overview of current ideas about the origin of the unvierse. It also gives a history of science and the philosophy of science. Don’t expect any details (it’s only 180 pages long) but it is certainly thought provoking. And, yeah, what an inappropriate title – presumably chosen for publicity reasons.
But what about the criticisms of the book? These are mainly around a few issues. Often really just around quotes from the book used for publicity purposes. Inevitably such criticisms lack context. Here are my comments on them: