There is no God but there are forms of intelligent life out there: Stephen Hawking’s final book reveals his answers to the ‘big questions’.
Hawking died earlier this year. He was undoubtedly a brilliant scientist with a stunning intellectual capacity to imagine, analyse and communicate abstract concepts.
Shortly before his death, Professor Hawking began compiling the answers to ten ‘fundamental questions’ he was constantly being asked, including whether God exists.
His answer in the new book was that “We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is that there is no God… no one created the universe, and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realisation: there is probably no heaven and afterlife either. I think belief in the afterlife is just wishful thinking.”
However, elsewhere he has stated, in a bizarre leap of faith, that he believes in intelligent life out there! This seems to be a convenient way of providing some possible explanation for the our existence, yet without moral consequences.
Lacking in evidence
Even accepting that it is impossible to prove a negative (“There is no God”), it is disappointing that such a highly intelligent man did not engage with the philosophical arguments in favour of God and at least make an attempt to refute them. In fact, for a scientist, his assertions are highly unscientific.
From what I can gather, he provides little or no evidence. He did not disprove the existence of God. As he worked to discover how things operate at the very edge of the observable universe, around black holes and at the beginning of time and space, there were signs for him to see; the sheer vastness of the universe and our relative ignorance should have been an indicator. He once said, “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” He never achieved his goal.
Another argument he failed to address is the remarkable fact of our human nature. Hawking said, “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special.” Agreed! But why are we special, and why do we have this capacity to understand and the curiosity to explore?
There was another sign he should have interpreted: Some of his work provided a mathematical explanation for the singularity, a huge mass in infinitely small space which some scientists believe gave birth to the universe. This points to the fact that space and time had a beginning; Hawking and others have no explanation for how, or why, this should be. Where did the matter and the energy come from? How did the first atom come into existence? Who made the laws of physics as we see them in action in the universe. Who created gravity? Who created light? Who determined how fast light would travel? The evidence points at the very least to a purposeful designer.
We know that “In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1). There was not a compressed, black hole but a Personal Being – a loving, caring, infinitely good, wise and powerful God. He speaks to us, not in a science book but in the Bible; not in obscure words that we need a doctorate to understand but in plain words spoken by God himself, and fully and finally revealed in Jesus Christ, his Son.
Psalm 14 tell us, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” Professor Hawking was intelligent, but in God’s eyes he would be categorised as a fool – not for his lack of intellect, but for his lack of the spiritual understanding necessary to accept the revelation that comes from God through our material world and through the Bible.
Probably the saddest thing about this book and the publicity surrounding it is that it is profoundly hopeless. The only hope that Hawking (and his family who published the book) have is the vague idea that we live on through our DNA or through our influence and effect on other people. Is that it? And if so, what is the point of anything? Most of us will not be remembered for more than a generation or two and our effect on the universe will be nil. As film director Woody Allen once said, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying.”
Hawking offers no hope of that. In a sense he speaks from the dead, but really it’s just what he wrote before he died. Jesus Christ however came back from the dead so I would rather trust his authority on these things. He definitely believed in God as he was God. He offers real hope, and his family have published some books as well which are definitely worth reading.