stephen hawking

Very smart people sometimes fall prey to very bad ideas.

One of those bad ideas is the notion that the Earth as we know it is about to come to a cataclysmic end. Our sins have finally caught up with us, and humans will be subjected to unbearable wrath. To some religious devotees, the wrath comes from God; to some environmentalists, it comes from Earth. In the end, we're all flambé; the only question is who gets the honor of lighting the kitchen torch.

A somewhat recent convert to the secular version of such doomsday prophesying is famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

Dr. Hawking has made the news twice this week for comments he made at two different conferences. At one, he said that, due to...

There's no doubt that Stephen Hawking is one of the most brilliant scientists to have ever lived. There's also no doubt that he enjoys giving his opinion on topics of which he knows absolutely nothing.

A few years ago, Dr. Hawking got into trouble for claiming, "Philosophy is dead." It was a strange thing for a theoretical physicist to assert, not only because theoretical physics has direct implications for philosophy but because the entire scientific enterprise is predicated upon epistemology. (That's the philosophical discipline that seeks to answer one of the most important questions humanity has ever asked: How do we know what we claim to know?)

Dr. Hawking has also...