Cleric rapped for Hawking jibes

The Humanist Union of Greece (HUG) yesterday lashed out at the bishop of Piraeus, Seraphim, for the cleric’s stinging criticism of «The Grand Design,» a book co-authored by the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking which concludes that God is unnecessary as physics can explain a universe that could come into being and exist without him. HUG expressed outrage at a long commentary written by the bishop which describes Hawking as «confused» and suggests that the scientist, who is a paraplegic, is benefiting from a sympathetic audience due to his disability. In a press release issued in response to the cleric’s statement, the union calls on Greek academics and government officials to condemn Seraphim for «giving the message to his flock that eminent scientists who happen to suffer from severe physical disabilities can be ridiculed and taunted if their beliefs do not correspond to those of a naive bishop.» HUG added that Seraphim «should only venture to take a position on scientific theory and quantum physics once he has studied the methodology that has led to the current body of scientific and technological knowledge.» In his commentary, Seraphim repeatedly refers to Hawking as «the paraplegic British scientist» and suggests that his debilitated physical state, a result of neuro-muscular dystrophy, breeds tolerance for his writings. An extract from the cleric’s letter says, «The paraplegic British scientist in question is a very sympathetic figure, particularly due to the dramatic state of his health – totally wheelchair-bound and using an electronic voice synthesizer.» Seraphim condemned Hawking for joining the ranks of «reckless materialists who attribute the world’s boundless power and wisdom to soulless electronic particles.» In their press release, the humanists call on the government, which pays the salaries of clerics using taxpayer money, «to ensure that these civil servants do not overstep the bounds of their authority and do not offend members of social groups with health problems.»