Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hawking and Heaven

Once again Steven Hawking, the renowned British cosmologist, has made the news — this time by stating there is no afterlife, calling it "a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

How do we respond when famous scientists says these kinds of things? How do we answer the people who throw these things in our faces either in response to evangelism or as evangelistic skeptics?

Who are you?
The first thing we should say to these kinds of statements is, "Who are you to say that?" Too often people who are authorities on one topic (in this case, cosmology) try to use that authority to speak on topics outside their specialty (in this case, metaphysics).

I'm not saying Professor Hawking isn't a smart man. He's brilliant. But he has no more authority on the topic of heaven than I have on the topic of string theory (which is zilch).

I know intelligent, accomplished physicians who can barely tie their shoes. Intelligence in one area does not always transfer. Even when it does, intelligence is not education. Professor Hawking has spent his entire adult life studying cosmology; how much time has he spent studying metaphysics, philosophy, logic, or theology? Has anyone even asked him? Someone should.

How do you know?
Besides the question of authority, since we're talking about something that is alleged to be a scientific fact, the immediate follow-up question should be, "How do you know?" Or to be more precise: "What experiments have brought you to this conclusion?"

Professor Hawking could no doubt list in excruciating detail the tests and data to support his belief in general relativity, quantum mechanics, and string theory. But I doubt he could name one such experiment that proves heaven doesn't exist.

And because of his perceived authority (as discussed above), no one asks.

The press should ask. We should ask. And we shouldn't let people misuse their fame to attack the gospel.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Teachable Moment

Driving home from work after a storm, I saw a beautiful, crisp double rainbow (not the one pictured). I was wishing my kids were with me because rainbows provide a great moment to teach or reinforce some biblical truth:

"What does the rainbow remind us?"

"That God won't flood the world again."

True, and I expect my older child to know that, but if it stops there, I'll be missing out on an opportunity to teach them about the gospel:

"God said he wouldn't destroy the world with water, but he is going to destroy it with fire. Do you know why?"

I don't expect a yes here.

"It's because of our sin. People insist on living by their own rules, on trying to be God instead of obeying him. So he says one day he will destroy the world — saving the people who belong to him and punishing those who won't."

And hopefully this will lead to questions like "who belongs to him" and "when?"

At least that's how I hope it goes.

(photo of rainbow by miri695 via Flickr)

Monday, May 2, 2011

On the Passing of Osama bin Laden

Osama's dead. US forces found and killed him. The crowds are going wild. Many Christians are too.

I'm not.

I'm caught between satisfaction — even gladness — that justice has been done and the recognition that a human being died and went to hell.

An enemy of Christianity and western civilization, one who orchestrated the murder of thousands, is gone. That's a good thing.

The truth is, he deserved what he got and what he's now getting. And so do I. So do you.

That's why it says,
"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord."
So don't crow. Don't gloat. Don't celebrate. A son of Adam and of Abraham is gone. It was necessary. It was just. But it was not good.