The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
Today the world has awakened to news that British physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking has written a new book claiming that God is no longer necessary to explain the existence of the universe, “Because there is such a law as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing,” Hawking is reported to have written.
Before all the Christian theologians, pastors, and evangelists surrender to Hawking and ask for his pardon for preaching the gospel of Christ, it would be wise to first ask a few questions. It was only in 1988 that Hawking wrote about the possibility of God in his book A Brief History of Time. So now, during these intermittent 22 years, Hawking has discovered reasons for God not to be necessary. What has changed since then? Can we believe him now, since he is correcting himself from what he had previously written? If he lives another 22 years, will he correct himself again? And the great question is really about the very nature of creation – is it only matter that should be considered creation or does creation extend to the laws that govern the universe – laws such as gravity and the existence of time?
Hawking has come to his position by excluding the laws of physics from what he considers and what he calls the “Universe,” and what we call the material or physical creation. As recently as ten years ago scores of world-renown physicists and scientists said that the law of gravity was not strong enough to draw the planets, stars, and matter of the universe back into some centralized composite. The expanding universe theory or “Big Bang” theory, based upon scientific rational observation, Newtonian and Einsteinian physics, simply says that the stars and galaxies of the universe are moving away from one another and gravity, weakened by distance, is not a sufficient force to bring them back together. Hawking now says that gravity explains everything. In the midst of the scientific debate it is essential for us to recognize that among scientists themselves is considerable debate on these subjects. Our question to Hawking is simply, Who then created gravity?
The Biblical perspective presents us with the question of faith: will we believe in the witness of Scripture? We must always go beyond the modern interpretations of Scripture and return to its actual pages, to testing it through faith, and to see what the eternal word from the Eternal God will mean for every generation. The biblical affirmation, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), has not been disproven. As brilliant as Hawking is, or is reported to be, he does not have the capacity to peer into the mind of God. Though I am almost as old as Hawking himself, I fully expect to live to see the day when many of his notions are overturned by scientists – just as he overturned his own statements of just twenty-two years earlier.
The scripture says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible” (Hebrews 11:3). This also applies in scientific research and theories – that the mysteries of the universe and its creation always lay beyond our powers of observation, whether we speak of observing with the eye or with scientific theories and experiments. A scientist such as Hawking may postulate how gravity alone explains the existence of the universe, but he does not explain how gravity itself came to be. This is somewhat like a child who after living for several years in that mystery of how he came to be, learns about human procreation. But the knowledge of human sexual reproduction still does not remove the mystery of life, of personality, of identity, and certainly not of all the mysteries of the relationships between men and women.
But there is another realm of reality that this issue of gravity and the physical universe does not even begin to deal with, namely the mystery of the human soul, of morality, of compassion, of profound thoughts that flood our souls. The thoughts of humanity are not all dismal and dark, many are lofty and profound, thoughts that only the existence of a benevolent Creator could explain. Love and mercy and sacrifice among people on the earth are equally profound witnesses and proofs of the existence of God. The biblical record, that we are made in the image of God, scarred and marred as this image may be, is evidenced daily in the common conversations between people. And these are all matters that gravity does not explain.
I admit that Hawking speaks a scientific language that I am unfamiliar with – that we are almost all unfamiliar with – but there seems to be a greater lack of knowledge in his own soul of the reality of God. There is an arrogance among some scientists today, an expectation that they will discover the final deep secrets of our existence, but actually this has been the case for every generation of humanity, that they were to be the ones who have resolved these matters. It is this arrogance that is most disturbing, for we have often said, that the more we learn the more we realize we do not know. Learning and knowledge should lead to a greater realization of our ignorance and lack of knowledge. This is, after all, precisely what the Savior said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to the little children … come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:25-29).
No matter how many books Hawking writes, or how many other theories are espoused by scientists too earth bound or universe bound to notice the mysterious world of the spirit, I still find no satisfactory explanation for my existence other than a loving God called my soul into existence. This is a truth in which my soul finds rest.
Lord, we praise You and trust you are the Creator of the ends of the universe. Let our hearts through faith be unburdened and joyful. Amen.