Eleven year old college student wants to prove “scientifically” that God exists

April 27, 2018 • 12:00 pm

Reader Vera called my attention to this video of a great mind gone bad. Here is an eleven-year old student at a community college who was hosted for this video at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (HCHC), an Orthodox Christian liberal arts college and seminary in BrooklineMassachusetts.

“There is nothing unusual about seeing college students and children on our campus, but HCHC recently hosted a most unusual visitor who is both a college student and a child. Eleven-year-old William (Vasilios) Maillis is one of the youngest people ever to graduate from a public high school–at the ripe old age of nine–and will soon have his associate’s degree from St. Petersburg College in Florida. His long-term goal is to earn a doctorate in astrophysics and ultimately prove scientifically that God exists.
“On February 22, the HCHC community had the opportunity to hear William and his father, Fr. Peter (Panteleimon) Maillis, a graduate of both Hellenic College and Holy Cross, converse with Fr. Christopher Metropulos, HCHC President, onstage at the Maliotis Cultural Center. The conversation was the latest in a series of Presidential Encounters themed “Answering the Call” in which, Fr. Christopher explains, “We invite Orthodox Christians who are doing extraordinary things in their lives to share their experiences with us.”

h/t: Vera

64 thoughts on “Eleven year old college student wants to prove “scientifically” that God exists

    1. Yeah, I don’t really have any negative feelings about this case. Really really smart young theist kid wants to investigate religious claims via astrophysics? More power to him. I hope he keeps his love of science as he grows older. And to his church, I say: you should support him, and help him get that greater education at a top-flight university. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

    2. I agree that this possibility is real. As the kid learns science, he may very well come to different conclusions from what he now holds. Generally speaking, I ignore the opining of children of this age on “big issues.”

      1. He will either become an atheist, give up and claim Big Science is against him, receive a ton of Templeton money to produce inconclusive results, or burn out as many young prodigies do because they peaked early.

    3. I dunno. Being both scientific and religious didn’t stop Guy Consolmagno, the official Vatican astronomer. I’m afraid this kid is already damaged goods, smarts or no smarts. Of course, I’d love to be proven wrong…

    4. It would be just desserts, but it really could go either way. Plenty of super smart people believe in crazy things. They just formulate super convoluted reasoning to fool themselves.

    5. I see this backfiring too. He’s saying things where his logic isn’t quite right. Several statements too he’s just repeating Christian memes, such as it takes more faith to believe there’s no God than there’s a god. As he studies further and becomes more independent in his thought, this will change.

      “God created science,” he said, so they should work together. He’ll soon learn that in science, you have to assume there’s no god.

    6. I’m also optimistic that as his critical faculties develop he will come to realise the god stuff is nonsense. As society becomes less religious kids like this will have more opportunity to break free from their religious indoctrination. This will be especially true if he studies Astrophysics at a top university. One thing is for sure – if he does actually become an Astrophysicist he will look back on this with groans of embarrassment.

  1. Clicked randomly and heard the audience question regarding aliens. The kid’s response was fairly incoherent. Perhaps he’s a really smart kid but I worry that the adults are pushing him beyond where he ought to be in his development.

    1. I agree. He’s obvious;y smart, but he’s not THAT smart. Even with his vocabulary of “big words, he can’t express himself well. He resorts to parroting what he’s heard.

  2. This is what happens when you study a subject with the intention of reaching a preconceived conclusion. Dreadful stuff:

    “Black holes are an absence of space-time”

    “some atheists say the universe should have no age, it should be infinitely old – it’s not, it’s 13.8 billion years old. And something can’t come from nothing…”

    I can listen no more. The Milky Bar Kid is pulling his simplistic distortions off various apologetics scripts – all of which have been debunked many times over the years.

    1. Exactly, I had to turn it off too. He really doesn’t know much about astrophysics at all, but that’s fine and no surprise – he’s an 11-year-old kid. What grates me is the fact that the adults are holding him up as some sort of physics genius with Einstein-like insight. He strings misconceptions together with simplistic reasoning and decides he’s outwitted Steven Hawking and reformed our understanding of general relativity! That’s perfectly forgivable for a child (I used to have similar ideas myself – I’m sure a lot of us did), but the adults must surely realise that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t fit their narrative so instead they sit there slack jawed and feigning awe. The adults should be challenging his ideas, engaging him in critical thinking. I really feel sorry for this boy – he’s obviously super smart but the adults who should help him are simply using him to support their agenda. It’s contemptible and I find it sickening.

  3. This kid need a good dose of evolutionary biology. Sadly, it may be too late – the religious brainwashing may be terminal.

    1. It’s child abuse to brainwash from a young age. Disgusting. Hopefully he figures it out, but I’m not hopeful.

  4. I only made it through about half of this but his goal sounds like a lost cause. Even before becoming an astrophysics professor he says the Universe did not begin from nothing. And he believes therefore, g*d must have done it. How many times have we heard this one? So now that you have your degrees and diplomas – who then created g*d?

  5. Nothing new here. I received my advanced degree in Biochemistry and Genetics, rather than Astrophysics, and then engaged in some personal, scientific experiments with peyote.
    With the help of the magic cactus, I was able to prove that little invisible, furry creatures called Eenie Weenies not only exist, but liked to visit me.

  6. Sure he sounds shallow, immature and ignorant but maybe he just knows what his audience wants to hear and is willing to give it to them.

    1. He has been force-fed nonsense, and has trouble regurgitating it. My son is bright, but no genius, but at the age of nine he impressed adults with his fluent conversion, vastly more impressive than this poor exploited child.

          1. What’s the gray matter with you? It’s just some innocent wordplay about the flavor of the cerebral corcex.

            1. Yes, but when you get together you’ll be relying on the motor function capacities of your respective cerebellums, and perhaps even your medulla oblongatas.

  7. I’ll cut the kid some slack since he’s only eleven. It sounds like he is going down the old God of the gaps route. Except he is seeing gaps that aren’t there. Nothing to see here, folks.

  8. I confess I couldn’t be bothered to watch the video. Which god is he intending to prove. I hope it’s not Zeus. He’s a git.

    Somebody get the kid a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend. Or a box of tissues.

  9. At one point I thought I could “prove” that god *doesn’t* exist. I’ve learned since then that science doesn’t “prove” anything. I wouldn’t set out to do that anymore. As someone pointed out above about Zeus, which god is the kid talking about? What was I thinking of? So many people have different erroneous perceptions of “god” for different reasons that it is impossible and irrelevant to explore anyway. I think it’s wonderful that he is thinking about those types of questions. It is especially important as he was raised in a certain religion and probably is struggling to figure out why religion and science have conflicting information. I’d be a mentor to him if that was a thing people did. He might be interested in the following article: What Came Before the Big Bang?
    The physics and metaphysics of the creation of the universe

      1. Yes. Definitely. It took me about an hour or so (maybe closer to two) to read but I’m not a speed reader. It’s perfect, though.

  10. My random click was atheists are silly because it takes more faith to not believe in god than to believe in god.

  11. This is actually a really good thing. If he’s as smart as claimed then there’s an excellent chance he’ll fail in this quest and end up deconverting himself. That would make him a very good spokesperson for rationalism. If he doesn’t deconvert he will render himself irrelevant.

    1. I have not watched the video, but none of those who have seems convinced that the boy is exceptionally smart. I suppose the only exceptional thing he has is a pair of abusive, pushy, over-ambitious parents.

  12. Oddly, this boy is Greek Orthodox, and classically that group has minimal to no interest in arguments or “proofs” of the existence of God- largely a preoccupation of Western Christians since Anselm in the 11th century (who started the enterprise with IMO the very worst ever- the ontological argument).
    Indeed, some Greek Orthodox just poo-poo such an enterprise.

    Well, a lot of very bright 11 year olds have fairly silly ideas, and he is in little danger of becoming either a creationist (the Orthodox church has no official position on evolution and its main figures are split) or someone who believes America was founded as a Christian country. Indeed, “Supernanny” cites a study saying gifted children often have weirder sillier ideas at a young age than ordinary children.

    1. Ah, the ontological argument. Getting a GPA of 4.3 is the maximally greatest outcome. Wouldn’t it be great if I got a GPA of 4.3? Therefore my GPA is 4.3.

      The power of wishful thinking!

  13. I listened to hear what his basic argument was. When I heard the singularity had to be created by god because something can’t come from nothing I stopped listening. The god of the gaps is no argument at all.

    If this kid continues with an education in astrophysics he will either ignore the scientific evidence or conclude there is no evidence for the existence of any one of the hundreds of gods people invented.

    1. They do. Or not. Depending on which of the numerous definitions of ‘cooties’ you adopt.

      Of course, guys have just as many.


    2. Fortunately, “cooties”never crossed the pond (I presume because they are not great swimmers): here in Britain, we have the “lurgy” which came from a fairly surrealist BBC Radio comedy series in the 1960’s (The Goons). It entered the language (still used) as a non-specific ailment with arbitrary symptoms often described as the ‘dreaded lurgy’.
      The epidemic spread amused panic around the country with zero lethality and a number of actually diagnosed cases remarkably close to 0% of the population.
      Brass instrument makers would boast that “None of our customers has ever died of the lurgy”.

    3. It is an interesting idea that the kid will lose interest in religion and go atheist after puberty. It makes a certain amount of sense. His sense of independence will undoubtedly grow, but his ability to think rationally may be impacted. LOL. Most of it probably hinges on whether he is really a smart kid after all.

  14. He has his priorities wrong! At his age, he should be thinking about proving that Santa Klaus exists,and then progressing upwards.
    I have been trying for years: I keep checking the chimney.

  15. On one hand, I’m just facepalming myself, seeing this kid as nothing but a poster child for theologists taking advantage of his intellect.

    Then again, I see myself in him as well. When I was his age, I was a strident Catholic who was homophobic and anti-abortion, but didn’t know any better until I came of age where I decided that all of the supernatural woo my parents fed me were incompatible with paleontology, evolution, and other natural sciences.

  16. I really wish folks would stop doing this to these poor kids. I can’t imagine the profound sense of disappointment he’s going to experience when he learns more about science and realizes the myriad flaws in his theory here. (i.e. he says there “must be” an absence of space time outside of the universe. No. There doesn’t necessarily have to be. It might just be different in ways our current technology can’t measure.)
    There was another teen a few years back being given the same credit for saying there must be a God if there are an infinite number of universes representing all possibilities. The problem with that, of course, is that there is no law saying an infinite number of universes represent all possibilities. I actually came up with the same theory about a decade before that kid was even born and a good friend pointed out my mistake while that kid was still in his diapers.
    But he was led to believe he was “the first genius to ever think of it”.
    These poor kids are in for one hell of a surprise when they discover all the hype over their ideas was for nothing.

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