This morning we awoke to the news that Professor Stephen Hawking, the famous British theoretical physicist had died at the age of 76. Dr. Hawking is best remembered as a man who made it his mission to explain the great mysteries of the universe. From black holes to Space-Time to the origin of the universe, Dr. Hawking had a theory on most everything in the cosmos. Diagnosed at 21 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he was given only a few years to live. Going against the odds and doctor’s diagnosis he spent 52 years perfecting his craft. Recognized by his physical condition, Hawking was confined to a wheelchair in 1974, and in 1986 he lost the ability to speak and began using a machine to communicate. It has been said that he had a great sense of humor. He once joked that he was so well known that he could not go out in public any longer wearing a wig and dark glasses as a disguise because the wheelchair gave him away.
Stephen Hawking was sought out to explain some of the most complicated questions of life. He met with world leaders, business leaders and religious leaders. He had an audience with the last three Popes. But with all the exposure and influence Hawking could not come to a satisfactory conclusion on God. Early on in his writings he spoke of the possibility of God. In his 1988 book A Brief History of Time, he wrote that achieving a "theory of everything" would be "the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we should know the mind of God." In an interview with Reuters in 2007, Hawking said “I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science,” conceding that “the laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws.” Then in his 2010 book The Great Design, he said that the idea of God was "not necessary" to explain the origin of the universe as the laws of physics offer enough of an explanation. And then in 2014 he described himself as an atheist to El Mundo by declaring, "In the past, before we understood science, it was logical to believe God created the Universe. Now, however, science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant when I said we would know God's mind was that we would know everything that God would understand if he existed. But there are no Gods."
Hawking was often asked about God because I believe so many people wanted him to believe in God (me being one of those people). The truth is that God really wasn’t on the mind of Hawking. He was obsessed with coming up with new ways to explain what he and other scientist could observe in space. He spent a great deal of time formulating explanations for what everyone already knew to be true, but had no term for it. It is fitting that he was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, the same position held by Isaac Newton who is credited with the theory of gravity. Both Hawking and Newton spent their lives in theory, explaining things that anyone can observe but not having a full understanding of origin or purpose. “Theory,” a long way from fact, but most of what Hawking said, just because he said it, is taken as fact. It’s too bad that a man this brilliant could never make peace with the Creator.
Paul rejects the intellectual argument of theory in the first chapter of Romans. In verse 20 he reminds us, For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Hawking, with all of his wisdom and all of the resources at his disposal, in the end appears to have exchanged the truth of God for what his human mind could theorize. Maybe God gave him the extra 52 years to decide? How much time have we been promised before we have to come our own conclusion on the Creator?
If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15:19
Serving the Savior
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