Why Stephen Hawking Needs a Wheelchair


The pulpit of a new kind of religion.


The theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is probably the most respected living scientist, as his pantheon of medals indicates. What makes this recognition of Hawking even more impressive is that nobody has ever known what the hell he’s talking about.

Hawking’s first book that popularized his ideas, A Brief History of Time, was too brief. He tried to fit the entire history of time into 256 pages. The only place I’ve seen more restriction is in a pair of skinny jeans worn by Amber Riley.

So Hawking dumbed it down for his next book in which he restricted his discussion to Black Holes and Baby Universes. Nobody understood this book either though everybody said they did. Twin Peaks was the new hit show at the time, and the complexity of the universe pales in comparison to the muddiness of David Lynch’s mind. Also, black holes seem cool, so people will pretend to understand them even though they don’t, like modern art. Seriously, “event” and “horizon” aren’t the coolest words, but if you put them together, they may as well be the name of the cool kid who just moved to your town from California.

Next, to further dumb down the material for us Joe Sixpacks, Hawking released The Universe in a Nutshell, which was a picture book about the universe complete with moveable tabs and pop-ups. It turned out that the pictures were even more confusing than the words. The only thing more difficult than describing time is drawing it.

He gave it a good effort, but throughout his career of trying to disseminate the complexities of theoretical physics to the masses, Hawking only succeeded in giving dads everywhere one more thing to claim they know something about even though they don’t.

The problem isn’t that Stephen Hawking is smarter than everyone, or that it’s impossible to explain theoretical physics in layman terms. The problem is that everyone assumes Hawking’s theories are scientific theories. The ideas are overly complex for one, simple reason: to distract people from the fact that they have no basis in reality. It’s like how Lady Gaga wears 6-inch, leather heels to distract attention away from her nose.


One of the adopted mind babies of Hawking is String theory. To give a little background on this, in the beginning of the 20th century, physicist were looking for a way to explain all matter in terms of a few, elementary particles. As they explored the subatomic world, however, they became increasingly discouraged by its complexity. Because they were more intent on making the subatomic world simple as opposed to looking at it for what it is, physicists posited that all sub atomic elements are made of strings, which doesn’t make sense and doesn’t hold up to observation unless you invent seven extra dimensions. “The math totally works out,” we are told, “in an 11-dimensional universe.” It’s like when a girl doesn’t want to have sex with you, you just create another universe with ketamine in which she does.


When String Theory is read about by most people, you know, people who need to be in touch with reality in order to keep their job and feed their family, they assume Stephen Hawking must have some reality-based explanation for why String theory is correct. Since Hawking doesn’t give a explanation, it’s assumed the explanation must be too intelligent for someone like an HR rep to understand because he never went to Cambridge.

Perhaps what’s more threatening is that Stephen Hawking is in a wheelchair. Disagreeing with him feels like making fun of a retarded kid. If the handicap aspect doesn’t affect you, then his robot voice will. How can you legitimately disagree with a robot? The way he communicates in that mechanical voice makes him seem right about everything.

What Stephen Hawking, and his fellow postmodern physicists have done, in effect, is turn physics into a religion. Their rationalism has left them more in love with creating an elegant system beholden to only itself than a theory beholden to reality. After all, a reality-based theory is messy and complicated. “Eww, icky,” they must say behind closed Cambridge doors (that are probably older than Westminster Abbey). It’s the same methodology behind the invention of God, the magical thoughts of The Secret, abstinence in all its forms, and any other idea that revs up soccer moms. Rationalistic ideas have enough basis in reality, or at least reference, to convince us they may be right, but not enough basis in reality to make us think too hard. Thus we end up “creating” our own reality, which is decidedly more fun than sticking to it.


When comparing them to Stephen Hawkings, however, soccer moms get a pass. The physics department at Cambridge may be more selective than motherhood, but being a mom is probably more demanding, which leaves them more prone to make epistemological short cuts. And, as a theoretical physicist, if Hawkings isn’t thinking in reality, then probably no one is.


What I don’t understand is if you’re going to create a religion with blind followers, like postmodern physics does, why wouldn’t you go the next step and use it to guilt people and increase your mating opportunities? This, after all, is the common thread, the String theory, if you will, of all religions. Maybe this says something good about the moral mind of Hawking, even if his scientific mind is no more useful than his nervous system. He could tell us to tithe to the “something from nothing” of the Big Bang and claim that girls need to take their clothes off to appease the almighty Strings, but he doesn’t.

Maybe this says more about how far humanity has come since being introduced to Judaism, Christianity, and then Islam. As opposed to a few thousand years ago, even a few hundred years ago, if you’re going to start a religion now, you better offer something more substantial than baseless commandments. You need to at least offer evidence (even if that evidence is nonsensical) and sound smart about everything. Blind faith in and of itself is only around now because it’s a remnant of our meme pool’s past, and it’s being selected for extinction.

No matter how wrong Stephen Hawking may be, and no matter how similar his ideas are to religion, at least it means that religion is becoming more similar to science. It’s a step in the right, epistemological direction, and it’s a demonstration that humanity is progressing.

Of course, if this point, and indeed the whole article, doesn’t make any sense, that’s just because you’re reading it from a three-dimensional worldview. When you assume my ideas exist in seven dimensions, the math totally works itself out.

PhilosophyMark Derian