Philosophers and theologians are constantly told that they need to “learn the science” before commenting on quantum mechanics, relativity, or evolution. And rightly so. Yet too many scientists refuse to “learn the philosophy” before pontificating on the subject. The results are predictably sophomoric. Yet the reaction from clueless editors is: “Gee, he’s a scientist! He’s good at math and stuff. He must know what he’s talking about!”
Contemporary philosophers are certainly not guilty of ignorance of science, especially where science touches on their areas of philosophical specialization. Hawking and Mlodinow are guilty of just the sort of ignorance of which they falsely accuse philosophers. But they are unlikely ever to know it. Until this childishness is universally treated with the sort of contempt it deserves, we will not have a sane intellectual culture, one in which the deepest philosophical, theological – and, indeed, scientific – questions can be fruitfully debated.