Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking passed on Wednesday, March 14, at the age of 76. His fascinating life story and battle with a rare form of motor neuron disease is told in the film The Theory of Everything. He was without argument a brilliant scientist, and the world is less fortunate for his passing.
But unfortunately, like many scientists, he occasionally stepped beyond the area of physical science and began to make pronouncements about the metaphysical realm as well:
“We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is; there is no god. No one created our universe, and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that I am extremely grateful.”
I saw this quote from Hawking posted on a meme featuring his distinctive image, sitting in a wheelchair. He talks of a “grand design” in this statement which is meant to cast doubt on the existence of God.
Has anyone noticed the irony here?
Let’s imagine that I once had the pleasure of meeting Stephen in person. What if I walked up to him and said, “Amazing wheelchair you have there. It’s wonderful how you can steer and control it with just your mouth. What workmanship and design!”
And then I go on, “But what’s even more amazing is that no one created that wheelchair. It just happened. Oh sure, it sounds crazy, but absolutely anything can happen accidentally over billions and billions of years worth of evolution, right?”
Wrong. Order does not come from chaos. Intricate design, like Stephen’s wheelchair, or like the universe, must come from a Designer.
And that’s the second and greatest irony here. Stephen’s quote mentions a “grand design” that he’s extremely grateful for.
Wait a minute. You can’t have a “grand design”’without a “designer,” can you? Design doesn’t happen by accident. It is part of a strategic intelligent plan, or else it’s no design at all.
This is where I throw a flag on many of my skeptical friends. They’ll say they are scientific and only interested in facts. That’s why they have trouble believing in God, they say. It’s not that they have anything against the idea of God, but they just don’t see any facts pointing toward his existence.
Fine. Then why speak to the subject…repeatedly, and without fail? Any truly unbiased scientist would say simply, “I see no proof of God” and leave it at that.
Yet they seriously cannot leave this idea of God alone. They must continually pick at it, like a troublesome scab that keeps reoccurring. Last time I checked, church attendance is not mandatory! And just the same way I can vote my Christian conscience, they can vote their non-Christian conscience. Sounds fair to me.
If I could have talked to Stephen, here’s what I believe I would have said to him…
I believe you are more offended at the idea of God than you might like to admit. And it might be valuable to ask yourself why.
No one is forcing him on you. God is really not bothering you at all, at least that I can see. So you might ask yourself why you’re so bothered by him?
If you’re truly convinced God doesn’t exist, why are you so invested in attacking what you consider a moot point, a done-deal, a given?
It’s as if a scientist were still looking for a cure for polio, when one was already found a century ago.
What I do know for sure is this: whether God exists or not, Stephen Hawking no longer exists. At least in this present world, that’s a certainty. He is gone, and I am by no means happy about that, for our sake or for his.
Today, he no longer needs that intricately-designed wheelchair. And he finally knows for sure the answer to his questions about God’s existence. But if he discovered he was wrong after all, it really won’t matter now. It’s too late for him.
Today, the only question that still matters is this: Why are you running so hard and far away from someone you say doesn’t exist and doesn’t matter to you?
Stephen’s time to answer that question is up. If he ever heard the calling of a Father from that undiscovered country, it is too late for him to respond.
Does God exist?
Good question. But all that really matters now is this…how much time do you have left to answer it?