Professor Stephen Hawking is telling us his world view in this meme: “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win. Because it works.” Hawking is a theoretical physicist and known to be an atheist. He has declared that God does not exist, nor does the afterlife, and that those who believe in a heaven are “afraid of the dark.” (We are. But that is another post).
What I would like to do is to think through his quote above. Since this meme floats around Twitter and Facebook, it deserves a tad bit of attention. The first thing that we must recognize is that Professor Hawking is right on the basis of religion, all religions are based upon authority of some nature. Now, we as Christians know, that there is only one religion that is based on the Triune God’s authority, and that is Christianity. The rest of the religions of the world, are based upon authority, but not the authority of the Triune God.
When God gives us His word, He is not doing so as a suggestion. He is giving us His word to show us that HE IS THE FINAL AUTHORITY. He is the Creator, the One who gives us life, who sustains us, who holds all things together by His power and for His glory and the One who will finally and ultimately judge all mankind. We can rest assured: judgment is coming. The point is that His word is authoritative. We either believe what it says about us, cling to the Messiah found in the Bible, or reject that authority and pay eternally at the end of all time.
This is what Professor Hawking and his followers do not like. They, like all unbelievers, want nothing to do with the Authority who is. They, like Cain in the Old Testament, want to live their lives as being completely free from the restrictions that God places upon us through His Law. They, like Cain, are in rebellion against God and do not like the idea of authority at all, unless it is their own authority. Given the truths of Christianity, I cannot blame them. If you are going to reject the Christ who is, then you might as well delude yourself into thinking that there is nothing to the claims of a final judgment, heaven or hell.
Please note, I’m not saying that men like Hawking are stupid, uneducated or ignorant. I would hate to go toe-toe with someone like Hawking, because he really is a great intellect. What he lacks is godly wisdom. “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (1 Corinthians 1:19). God has given Hawking a wonderful blessing, a great mind and the ability to ponder the universe in ways not known to man. But, so far, He has not given Him the grace to understand the most needed thing in the universe, the need for a Savior.
The second truth we must realize, and this is a short one, is that the statement by Hawking is a false dichotomy. He is putting forth the premise that you are either with science and against religion, or with religion and left behind by those who believe in science.
Allow me to say that I don’t accept the premise. I am a Christian, which is a religion, and I also appreciate, accept, and am grateful for science. I do not worship at the altar of science. I don’t believe that science can save mankind, the earth, the environment, etc. But science is still a useful tool for living life.
For instance, it is through science that we know that the fetus in the womb of a woman is actually a person. (Those in Christianity knew all along, so give the worshipful science crowd credit for admitting in their biology books that life begins at conception.) It is also through science that we know the genetics of a person can never change. Whatever your genetics are, meaning if you are born a female or male, your sexual identity if fixed. This is because this is how God made you, so once again, science is playing catch up to what we already knew: that we were made male and female (with the image of God) as humans, and that cannot change.
Third, and I confess that this was pointed out by my wife, Hawking cannot use science to support his own statement. He can only back it up using history and it’s only supportable because of his authority. In other words, his statement is self refuting because the science he holds up as the path for victory, fails in it’s ability to verify his statement and requires his authority to declare it’s truthfulness. If he rejects religion because it is based on authority, then we should reject his statement, because it is based on his authority.
Finally, what Hawking also fails to see is that science has become his religion. Science is a wonderful tool for helping us discover things about the universe. But those who practice it like Hawking, take it beyond that which is observable, testable, and verifiable. He is a supporter of the “many-worlds interpretation” which is basically saying that there are other worlds and universes that exist along side our own, so that everything that could possibly have happened in our past, but did not, happened in another universe.
This is just a theory, but I suspect it goes beyond that for those who believe in science, which is merely a tool for knowledge. I suspect that this is where their “faith” comes into play when it comes to exalting scientific research, reasoning and observation because they have no evidence for the many-worlds interpretation, just theory. It is kind of a neat theory, when you give it some thought. We can safely speculate that if it is true, there is a universe somewhere, in which Stephen Hawking did not get sick, and became a preacher of the gospel, and a leading thinker of evangelicals in his world, irritating millions upon millions of atheists everywhere.
But alas, there is no research, reasoning or observation to make even this fanciful statement. In other words, science cannot support this theory.
All this is why Christianity is so vital for modern man. All man can come up with is fanciful theories to give us hope. But in Christianity, the God who is, stepped into history, in order to save man from himself and his silly theories and scientific religions. Mankind has a far greater problem than determining the number of universes that can fit on the head of a pin. We have a sin problem, one for which we cannot find a cure. That sin problem is evident in Hawking’s life through his illness. All sickness and death are historical evidence for the fall of mankind, supporting the claims that mankind fell from the original intent of our Creator.
It is sad that someone so gifted intellectually like Stephen Hawking miss these truths because of pride and conceit. It is sad that he misses the simple false dichotomy in his statement. That too is the sadness of the fall. No matter what the natural gifting a man has, he is blind to the truth of his own sin and it takes a miracle, a movement by the hand of God, to bring about the change necessary for a man to see that. Maybe our loving God will show grace to Stephen Hawking.