The great Stephen Hawking died this month. He spent his life understanding the universe, and explaining the secrets of the cosmos through his popular books. He was also an avowed atheist.
There are many great scientists in our world today. Year after year, they discover amazing secrets of the nature that continue to mesmerize us. They win Nobel Prizes. Their science becomes foundation for many groundbreaking technological advances. But only a few scientists draw the attention of entire global population. These scientist-philosophers affect our worldview. While Albert Einstein mystified the last generation, Stephen Hawking fascinated our generation.
He was born in Oxford, England in 1942. In 1963, when he was just 21 years-old graduate student, he was diagnosed with ALS – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. This motor neuron disease left him paralyzed the rest of his life. Thankfully, this disease did not affect his sagacious mind. Out of hundreds of muscles in his body, only a few voluntary muscles retained some function to move his finger or to blink his eye. He was married in 1965 and had three children.
In 1979, Hawking became the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. This chair was once held by such luminaries like Isaac Newton and Paul Dirac. His body was confined to a wheelchair but his mind was roaming the universe. The computer giant Intel made a special speech synthesizer for Hawking. It enabled him to communicate his ideas to the world.
Stephen Hawking explored the universe from the quantum contours of the atoms to the dark caves of the black holes. He mastered general relativity, mathematics and quantum physics. He traveled the world. Gave captivating lectures. Flew in the weightlessness. Acted in TV serials like Simpsons and Big Bang Theory. Shook hands with Presidents and Prime ministers. Wrote best-selling books like A Brief History of Time, which was sold over 10 million copies.
He lived an inspirational life. Often life throws us into unpredictable, shocking and cruel circumstances. Yet, don’t get depressed. There are many exciting things to do, even from a wheelchair. At the time of diagnosis, the doctors gave him only two years to live. Yet, he lived 55 years with ALS, making him the person who lived the longest with this nerve wracking disease.
While I admire all his greatness, I am troubled by his atheism, his insistence that there was no Creator, his belief that there was no God. In one of his books titled The Grand Design, he wrote, ‘It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going’. These words have been enthusiastically received and interpreted as a scientific formula by many atheists all over the world. We got to stop and see whether these words have any scientific merit.
Stephen Hawking went on to say,
“Ignorance of nature’s ways led people in ancient times to invent gods to lord it over every aspect of human life. There were gods of love and war; of the sun, earth, and sky; of the oceans and rivers; of rain and thunderstorms; even of earthquakes and volcanoes. When the gods were pleased, mankind was treated to good weather, peace, and freedom from natural disaster and disease. When they were displeased, there came drought, war, pestilence, and epidemics.”
Hawking is describing the God of the gaps here: In the olden days, people made up all sorts of god to explain natural phenomena. Now, science demystified these natural forces and there is no need to believe in gods or God. But you see, God of the Bible is not limited to natural forces. He was not a sun god, or moon god, or fire god or rain god. He is a God who created the whole universe. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). The Bible introduces us to a God who brought this whole universe into existence. This God is not limited to natural objects or natural phenomena. This God is not against science. In fact, God was central to both inductive and deductive methods of science. Science was born in Christian West. That was not an accident or coincidence. Christianity supplied the philosophical foundations for modern science.The founding fathers of scientific method like Isaac Newton, Leibniz, Descartes, Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, William Herschel, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell etc, they believed in Lord Jesus Christ on one hand and pursued their scientific interests on the other. They did not view theology and science as separate, unrelated entities. They saw theology as special revelation of God while science as His natural revelation. They called their approach Two Books. The first book is the Bible. The second book is the nature. God speaks to us through both books. They embraced both books. Modern atheists like Stephen Hawking say, ‘throw away the first book, we need just one book, the book of science’.
In The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking wrote, “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing”. This is a completely illogical statement. Even if we concede that the the law of gravity brought our universe into existence, the law cannot explain its own existence. No physical law can come into existence by itself. It cannot create itself. The physical law needs physical matter. The law of gravity needs physical matter. It cannot exist before the creation of matter. The physical laws cannot exist before the creation of the universe. You cannot escape the reality of a self-existing, self-sustaining, eternal God at the beginning of the universe. The law of gravity is a very weak substitute to this Creator God.
Stephen Hawking also wrote, ‘philosophy is dead’. I was flabbergasted to read this statement. Philosophy is dead? How could a great scientist like Hawking make such a silly statement? As a pure materialist, Stephen Hawking was never comfortable around philosophers. Philosophy, beside material world, relies on the existence of non-material realities of human existence like logic, mathematics, morality and ethics. But once you accept the existence of non-material realities, you cannot be a pure materialist or atheist. So, Hawking said, philosophy is dead. But you see, he was contradicting himself. You need philosophy to pronounce the death of philosophy. You need philosophy to become the pallbearer of philosophy. You need philosophy to bury the philosophy.
Science was born out of logic. Logic was born out of philosophy. So, science was like a grandchild of philosophy. Philosophy will be around as long as we last because science cannot answer all the questions of our existence. Let me illustrate: Why did you buy your car? A car mechanic cannot answer that question. He could dismantle the car, he could name all the parts of the car, he could explain the inner mechanisms of a car, he could teach you how to drive a car, but he could not answer the question, ‘why did you buy your car?’. What was your purpose in buying this car? For your job? for your family? for your vacations? as a gift to your spouse? The car mechanic would not know the purpose of your car. Similarly, a physicist could explain all the parts of our universe. He could explain all the mechanisms of universe. But he could not explain, ‘why the universe is here?’, ‘what is the purpose of this universe?’ ‘why are you in this universe?’ ‘Why am I in this universe?’ Those questions belong to philosophy, not science.
Stephen Hawking’s atheism is also against logic and science. Let me explain. Consider Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity. In 1905, Einstein published his Special Theory of Relativity and in 1916, he published his General Theory of Relativity. The Special Theory posits that no object can travel faster than the speed of light. According to General Theory of Relativity, time, energy, matter, space are interdependent; they are not separate entities. We all heard about Einstein’s most famous equation, E = MC². This equation shows that energy, matter, light, and time are connected to each other. Einstein’s other equations show us the curvature of spacetime. Eminent cosmologist John Wheeler said, ‘Spacetime tells matter how to move and matter tells spacetime how to curve’. That is a beautiful summary of relativity. You cannot separate gravity from spacetime and matter. You cannot isolate gravity and keep it before the creation of matter, space and time. True, Gravity is the king of the universe, but it is not the mother of the universe. Space cannot exist without energy. Matter cannot exist without energy. Time cannot exist without space and matter. Gravity cannot exist without matter. The laws of nature, space, matter, energy, gravity and time they all go together, they cannot be separated. They have been codependent since the creation of the universe. So, according to general theory of relativity, the laws of nature cannot exist without universe. By framing gravity and the universe into cause and effect relationship, Stephen Hawking contradicted the general theory of relativity, the most empirically attested physical theory of the universe in the last hundred years.
If you look closely, the General Theory of Relativity supports the Book of Genesis. In the 6 Day Creation Week described in Genesis chapter 1, we see God creating four things on Day 1: Light, Time, Space and Matter (Earth). God created all of them on Day 1 of Creation, which is consistent with the General Theory of Relativity. So, Stephen Hawking’s atheism is against science. You cannot substitute temporary gravity in the place of an eternal God. You cannot say gravity created the universe, because gravity cannot exist without the universe. It’s like saying, ‘I brought air into existence’. That would be impossible because I cannot exist without air. My lungs need a constant supply of air. I cannot exist before the creation of air. In the same way, gravity cannot exist before the creation of the universe because gravity needs a constant supply of matter. It’s a classic chicken-and-egg problem. An atheist can believe it, but he should not call it science or logic.
Einstein’s General Theory of relativity also predicted the existence of black holes. Stephen Hawking made astounding discoveries about the black holes. For many years, there was a scientific rivalry between Hawking and Jacob Bekenstein, an Israeli-American physicist. We all know about the laws of thermodynamics. For many years, scientists thought black holes would be an exception to the laws of thermodynamics. Stephen Hawking believed that black holes were empty spaces devoid of any entropy. But, Jacob Bekenstein did not follow that line of thinking. He made very interesting observations. He said, the laws of thermodynamics indeed influence the black holes, like everything else in this universe. If you look at a black hole, there is singularity at its center, and event horizon at its periphery. Bekenstein wrote that a black hole’s entropy is proportional to the area of its event horizon. Stephen Hawking was shocked at Bekenstein’s assertion. He continued his research on black holes. He found out that black holes indeed have entropy. He formulated equations on black hole radiation, which we now call Hawking radiation.
Jacob Bekenstein connected entropy in the black holes with the loss of information. He was amazed by the transformability of information, how information can transform into different forms in nature. He saw black holes as the creation of God. We read in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork”.
Bekenstein said, “I look at the world as a product of God, He set very specific laws and we delight in discovering them through scientific work”. Jacob Bekenstein, the scientist who exposed the flaws in Hawking’s black hole dynamics, saw the glory of God in the black holes. But Hawking took a different approach. Bekenstein said God made universe, God made the laws like the law of gravity. But, Hawking said gravity made the universe; there was no God, there was no Creator.
We have billions of black holes in the universe today. Most of the entropy in our universe reside in the black holes. According to the second law of thermodynamics, entropy was low at the beginning of the universe. In other words, there were no black holes when the universe was created. So, like the laws of thermodynamics, black holes are a testament to a universe with a finite beginning in the past. If the universe has a finite past, it must have been created. Atheists cannot hide even inside a multiverse. Universe or multiverse, everything that has a beginning must have been created. There is no other alternative.Every black hole we see points us to the Creator God. Ironically, Stephen Hawking’s whole research on black holes prove the existence of God.
This irony does not stop there. They are now making preparations to bury Hawking’s mortal remains in a Christian church. I am saying these words with pain in my heart. The great Stephen Hawking, the most celebrated scientist of our time, the most popular cosmologist of our time died as a lost man. He died as an unrepentant sinner. Lord Jesus asked in Mark chapter 8, ‘For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’
How terrible that you became the most popular scientist of our time, but lost your soul!
How terrible that you became so rich, but lost your soul!
How terrible that you became so influential, but lost your soul!
How terrible that you became the best-selling author, but lost your soul!
How terrible that you became a friend of the Presidents, but lost your soul!
President Barack Obama tweeted after the death of Stephen Hawking. He wrote, ‘Have fun out there among the stars’. Barack Obama claims to be a Christian. But going by these words, I can say he does not know much about Christian faith. Hawking did not go to live among the stars. He went to spend his eternity in damnation and perdition. Hebrews 9:27,28 says,
“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the Judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many”
When a person dies without salvation, he or she will face the judgment of God. They are not going to live among the stars and galaxies. There is no fun out there. They are going to live among the damned and lost. As Jesus said, ‘there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ in hell.
Lord Jesus warned us in Matthew chapter 10: 28
“And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”
Human beings can kill our body but they cannot kill our soul.
Satan can kill our body but they cannot kill our soul.
Angels can kill our body but they cannot kill our soul.
Only God can destroy both body and soul in hell.
Jesus warned humanity in this poignant verse: Fear God who can destroy both your body and soul in hell. There is no fear of God in our generation. Many atheists proclaimed open rebellion against God. Sadly, Stephen Hawking committed the same rebellion against God, the Creator. He lived without fear of God. He died without being saved.
They are making funeral arrangements for Hawking. The funeral will take place at Great St.Mary’s Church in Cambridge. The founders of Cambridge University prayed in this church and established that famous university. Today, this famous church stands as a silent witness to the departure of the Western world from Christian faith to agnosticism and atheism.
Later, Hawking’s ashes will be interred at Westminster Abbey in London. He will be buried near the graves of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
A self-proclaimed atheist having a funeral at a church during Easter weekend.
Easter, which proclaims the death, resurrection and divinity of Lord Jesus Christ.
A church, a place that honors the faith of Christians.
A man who rejected God and Christ will be buried in this church. But it does not help.
If you are lost, it does not help which church you will be buried.
If you are lost, it does not help which pastor will pray over your dead body.
If you are lost, it does not help getting buried during easter.
While you are still alive, you should come to Lord Jesus Christ, confess your sins, ask him for forgiveness, receive Him into your life, honor Him as your Lord and Savior and live for Him.
PRAYER: “Lord Jesus, our hearts are aching as we contemplate the life of Stephen Hawking. He was a great scientist, but he rejected you. He inspired our generation with his discoveries, but he died in his sins. He would never be able to correct that mistake. We pray for all lost men and women who are listening to these words. Help them come to you, understand their lostness in their sins, and accept you as their God and Savior, In your precious name, we pray. Amen”
–The Grand Design By Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow