Hawking's Audience with Pope

(Was the audience only a conversation?)


On the following page: http://stmaryvalleybloom.org/hawking.html It is written; "A more serious question is whether the pope even made the statement. I've had a few people throw Hawking's version of it in my face as an example of Catholic obscurantism, but none were able to come up with the original statement."

Of course they could not find a reference for the original statement. On your website, you have removed part of the quote's context---a somewhat dishonest tactic used to bolster one's own beliefs. With more context (emphasis mine): "At the end of the conference the participants were granted an audience with the Pope. He told us that is was all right to study the evolution of the universe after the big bang, but we should not inquire into the big bang itself because that was the moment of Creation and therefore the work of God."

If we're having a conversation, and neither of us are recording it, there will be no evidence of anything we have said (or not said). Only our memories, as fallible as they may be, will remain as evidence that the conversation ever happened---much less for what was discussed. According to the Catholic Church, they have documented what actually was said. Note that on the following page, they do not give a source for the material, either: http://www.catholicleague.org/catalyst.php?year=2006&month=July-August&read=2078

This becomes a "Hawking's word" versus the "Pope's word". Given that Popes have ordered church-sanctioned secret protection of child rapists, child molesters, and other assorted child abusers for hundreds of years, I am more inclined to believe the word of a cosmologist than that of a Pope.

If you care for truth, you will either remove your page, provide the full context, or state that the real truth of the situation can never be known either way.

I rather doubt you will do anything, though.

Dave Jarvis


Dear Dave,

Thank you for taking the time to write the email. I have duly posted it on my website.

I see where you are coming from, Dave, since I did not express myself very exactly when I mentioned that no one could come up with the “original statement.” By original statement I was referring to Hawking’s claim that the pope told scientists to “not inquire into the big bang itself.”

Before examining the claim can we both agree that it would be dumb, even laughable, for the pope to make such a demand?

The “audience” was not a private conversation between the pope and Hawking. Nor was it an off the record discussion between Pope John Paul and a small group of scientists. It was what is referred to as a “Solemn Audience.” The pope’s discourse on that occasion can be found here. That was the document that Bill Donohue quoted from in the link you provided.

This whole issue is discussed from multiple perspectives at this website. No one there claims Hawking was referring to a private, off-the-record remark. That would be double dumb, don’t you think? Can you picture Pope John Paul taking Professor Hawking aside, shaking his finger at him and saying, “now, don’t you go inquiring into the big bang!”?

Let me know, Dave, if you have any further information or clarification. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,
Fr. Bloom

P.S. Dave, I do have to note that you were using a “kitchen sink” argument. You know, rather than focusing on the issue at hand, throwing in everything including the kitchen sink. In a marriage or a friendship that kind of argumentation is disastrous. And, along with taunts, it is not so great in an email.

reply from Dave