Stephen Hawking, Faith, and Heaven

In his best-selling science book of all time, Stephen Hawking explains that no human is content until he or she has complete answers to the following three questions:

What is the nature of the universe?
Why is it the way it is?
What is our place in it and where did it and we come from?

I agree with him 100%!

In 2010, in his book “The Grand Design” Hawking said, “a deity no longer has any place in theories on the creation of the universe.” Monday, May 16th, 2011, in an interview with The Guardian, the British scientist Hawking branded heaven a “fairy story” for people afraid of the dark.

Some might say that Mr. Hawking is not a man of faith. I would strongly disagree! He has great faith in his remarkable intellect and its ability to rationally lead him to the truth as he defines it.

What is faith? Some people talk about “blind” faith and dismiss the fact that facts are the crucial foundation for meaningful faith. God commands us to  believe based on objective evidence. Biblical faith is really the exact kind of  faith exercised by scientists. In both cases, faith must be “informed”  faith, belief rooted in testable facts and logic. What many people  misunderstand is that no faith, even in science, is based on absolute truth.

God tells us (Romans) that he holds every human being  accountable to discern fact from fiction, truth from tale, in the stories we  are taught from childhood. At some point for each of us we figure out that the  story of Santa Claus departs from the realm of plausibility, or even  possibility, and enters the realm of fantasy.

God expects us to test every “story” or “answer to life’s big questions” we hear. In fact, He commands us to test them (prove them). C. S. Lewis wrote: “I’m not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of evidence is against it.” Lewis believed that there was enough evidence for Christ to lead to the psychological exclusion of doubt, but not the logical exclusion of dispute.

The Bible alone among the scriptures or “holy books” of the religions of the world strongly exhorts readers to test before they believe. “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Testing before believing is at the heart of the biblical concept of faith. The Hebrew word for faith, emend, means a strongly held conviction that something or someone is certainly existing, firmly established, constant, and dependable. The Greek word for faith, pistils, means a strong and welcome conviction of the truth of anything or anyone to the degree that one places complete trust and confidence in that thing or person.

In every instance in the Bible, faith connotes the acting upon specific established truth. Everyone functions on faith. Faith is the biblical response to truth. Faith is something you decide to do, not something you feel like doing. Believing the truth doesn’t make it true; it’s true, so we believe it! Many today believe that we create reality through what we believe. We cannot create reality with our minds—we face reality; it is what or whom we believe in that counts. Everybody believes in something.

I cringe when Stephen Hawkins tries to assert absolutely that “there is no God,” which is a universal negative statement. How would anyone go about proving that something does not exist? Proof of a negative statement is difficult to pull off. For example, how would you prove the negative assertion “There is no gold in Alaska”? You would have to determine the limits of Alaska, its borders and depth and height, then dig up every cubic inch of Alaska. If there was one cubic inch you did not dig, there still might be gold there. On the other hand, how would you prove the positive assertion, “There is gold in Alaska”? Easy—you need find only find one piece.

Similarly, what would you have to know In order to know for sure that there is no God? You would have to know everything. If there was one thing you did not know, that one thing might be God. We are so far from knowing everything that there is to be known, that the dogmatic assertion “There is no God” is not only not provable, it is also arrogant.

Jerry Root once asked the famous atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, “How much of that which there is to be known do you claim to know, 10%?” She laughed and said, “Okay, 10%.” He asked, “Is it possible that God might exist and be part of that 90% of reality that you admittedly do not know?” She paused and was silent for about a minute, then she said, “A qualified no” and quickly moved on to another question.

In this most recent interview, Stephen Hawking said, “I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,” he told the newspaper. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

Though I am not anywhere near as “smart” as Mr. Hawking, I must disagree. I do believe in heaven and I’m not afraid of the dark. I believe what God has revealed to us from His Word, and what Hugh Ross (who is also a scientist) speaks of in his book Beyond the Cosmos,  that there is a time coming when God’s plan for this universe that He created  – through Christ – has been accomplished, this universe will have fulfilled its purposes. At that time, God will conquer evil and remove this universe from existence.  The new creation that will follow will be the perfect creation in which God can lavish His love upon those humans who have accepted, by His grace, the offer of redemption from sin.

As it is written, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

I believe that the beginning of faith is faith in the beginning. In other words, what we believe concerning how people and this universe came into existence will ultimately determine who or what we put our faith in. “This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:2-3).

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal human beings and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1:18-23).

God has given every human being sufficient visual-aids to logically and confidently come to the conclusion that an intelligent, transcendent (outside of the universe) being created us and everything we see that is not man-made. And because of that, no one will be able to get away with saying to God anything along this line: “At times I thought You might be there, but I really never had enough evidence.”

I’m truly saddened that Steven Hawking does not believe in God as the creator of this universe or believe in God’s heaven, for if he did, his future throughout eternity would look much different… much, much, much different. I will pray for him.

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