In an interview last week, Stephen Hawking, the world’s foremost physicist, stated his belief that there is no God. He said, “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.”
I was one of the nine million who read Hawking’s popular book, “A Brief History of Time.” I took heart when he referred to God as the force that could fully explain the creation of the universe. Either I misunderstood what he meant, which is highly possible, or Hawking changed his mind.
Either way, Hawking’s latest confession of non-faith saddens me. It is difficult for me to comprehend how such a brilliant mind can reach the conclusion that all we observe in the universe is an accident, that there is no intelligent force or design behind our existence. It seems as illogical to me as finding a Swiss watch in the desert and concluding its intricate pieces just accidentally fell together from nowhere.
I went back and watched the movie, “Contact,” a science fiction story that wrestles with science, empirical evidence and faith. As the story points out, a lot of religion is messed up. At the same time, science and empirical evidence can only take us so far. The question Hawking is dealing with is bigger than any religion or denominational expression. It is also bigger than science. It is a question we all must face and answer. How we answer it makes a great deal of difference in how we live and how meaningful our lives are.
Hawking concluded that since there is no God, humans should seek to live the most valuable lives they can while on Earth. This too, makes no sense to me. If there is no God, where is the motive to live responsible and valuable lives? We are sucked into a black hole of non-existence and non-meaning. What does it matter?
If we argue that love matters then, it seems to me, we are thrown back into the very lap of God. Love is the greatest and most mysterious reality in our existence, eclipsing all other discoveries. Who wants to live in a world of technological perfection and scientific achievement without love? A loveless world would leave us shallow, fragmented, lonely, isolated, fearful, and miserable.
Here lies the greatest truth: “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16).
Ultimately, I suppose, faith or non-faith is a choice. We can choose to believe that our world is the result of a creative God who desired and designed our existence from the tiniest molecule to the most distant star or we can choose not to believe.
I am not as brilliant as Stephen Hawking. He is a genius by anyone’s standard. But the idea that human beings are no more than computers that will one day crash and be discarded as junk leads nowhere. For my part, I will choose to believe. It is the only conclusion that seems to make any sense.