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.


Sree said...

nice blog:)

seventh ave said...

Respectfully, I ask, who are you, and how do you know? Your theory is based upon faith. In contrast, Hawking's research has lead him to his opinions.

We try to debate the issue from mutually exclusive perspectives: faith versus the intelectual realities of this existence.

Regarding your Blog’s Christian conservative opinions, for you to rationalize that it is Christian to be conservative extinguishes your credibility. The essence of Christianity and the veiled motives of politics should never be in alliance.

Additionally, it is disingenuous for Christians to sanctify and promote the amoral nature and sinful practices inherent to capitalism.

Lastly, I appreciate your blog and your faith. Blessings.

ChrisB said...

Wow, you're kind of all over the page there.

"Your theory is based upon faith. In contrast, Hawking's research has lead him to his opinions."

I admit my stance is based on faith. Well-grounded faith, but faith for sure.

What of Hawking's research taught him there is no afterlife? His recent work has tried to find a way to have a universe without God, but that does not prove God doesn't exist, and it certainly doesn't prove there is no afterlife. His stance is based on faith, but he's allowed to pass it off as fact.

"...it is Christian to be conservative..."

You're got in backwards. I simply say you can be conservative and Christian. I do believe the conservative approach better aligns with biblical teaching, but that's as far as I would ever go.

Capitalism isn't essentially sinful. It is open to abuse, but so is every other economic system. I think capitalism respects the value of every individual than any other system humans have tried.

seventh ave said...

I now have to read a bit in order to further my Hawking statement but, my thinking is that Mr. Hawking’s research has elicited his intellectual opinion that there is no god or afterlife.

Regarding Capitalism, American capitalism is borne from the use of slaves; capitalism is amoral and ultimately a sinful practice.
In light of the shrinking salaries of the middle class, the burgeoning salaries as well as burgeoning investment returns to the wealthy, and the lower cost international labor forces that replace American workers for American Corporations - something does not add up. The American workforce and taxpayer has been cheated, used, and left behind with limited options. There is nothing fair about our current circumstance. There is nothing fair regarding our economic history. The leverage the rich and powerful have over working people throughout the American experience has been unfair.

ChrisB said...

"my thinking is that Mr. Hawking’s research has elicited his intellectual opinion that there is no god or afterlife."

I've been keeping up with Hawking for a long time. The -- well, maybe a -- goal of his research is to prove his preconceived notion that there is no god.

"American capitalism is borne from the use of slaves"

America didn't invent capitalism. Our past is not our present. And you need to get your news somewhere besides CNN or NPR. American standards of living have gone up up up in the last thirty years.

seventh ave said...

Agreed, America did not invent capitalism. America chose capitalism and slavery. Capitalism facilitated the immoral choice. Not a Christian value I hope. No matter when in history it occurred.

I do regard NPR as a quality organization, as is the Washington Times the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. I do not own a television.

Statistics may indicate that the American standard of living has gone up in the last thirty years. Analyze your data and you will find a significant shift of wealth. The middle class (average individual salary of 54k annually) as a whole has not benefited from this so called upswing in our standard of living.

Thank you for taking the time to have this exchange with me. I look forward to your response and yield to you closing comment(s). I look forward to future dialogue.

Joseph Pulikotil said...


This is a wonderful post.

Any one who wants to understand Stephen Hawking should first read and understand Christopher Marlove's book Dr.Faustus.

Stephen has sold his soul to the devil for fame.

Best wishes,

ChrisB said...

Thanks, Joseph.

I don't know if it's about fame or not, but I know he's not the first scientist -- or person, for that matter -- to begin with a desire to prove there is no god and then see what shape they can fold the data into.

Some of Hawking's fellows are actually very open about their desire to remove a "beginning" from cosmology because it opens the door for theism.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hawking is an Atheist. It is not easy to convince an Atheist. He doesn't know that we have a physical body that is corruptible and a soul which is incorruptible. It is the soul which goes to heaven or hell depending upon what we do here.

Stephen wants to see heaven with his physical body which is not possible. He must die to see heaven or hell. I am sure he will go to hell because as I said he has sold his soul for the sake of earthly fame to satan who is just waiting in the corner to carry his soul to hell. He will also be doubly punished for misusing his position as an eminent scientist and misleading people by his preposterous views.We should pray for this man.

Best wishes,

seventh ave said...

Vilifying Mr. Hawking accomplishes nothing.

I believe there are new arguments that support your position. The challenge, as I see it, is - are these evolving scientific arguments aligned with a specific religion? The slight exposure that I have had indicates a legitimate argument against Hawking, in that at minimum, one can not claim that there is no god.

My understanding is that quantum mechanics has expounded upon the big bang theory to the degree that we need to rethink the premise. Some who apply Quantum Mechanics say that the big bang was our beginning not the beginning. Some say that big bangs occur every moment.

ChrisB said...

Seventh ave said: "Vilifying Mr. Hawking accomplishes nothing."

I don't vilify. I argue. Disagreement isn't vilifying.

seventh ave said...

Thank you for posting my comments. Please pardon me, my vilify comment is in response to Joseph's post - I am interested in a true argument which can legitimately contrast the Hawking perspective. I believe Hawking can be challenged about faith and god within quantum mechanics. No need to discuss who owns his soul.

There is a professor (not a christian that I am aware)who argues "what if faith [in God] dictates matter?"

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello seventh ave,

I am not vilifying Hawking. He is one the few people who is looking for a short cut to fame and fortune. After all what he is propounding is only a theory and not a fact. Heaven is for the soul and not for the physical body. A man with a physical body with a limited brain cannot see heaven. God's ways are are inscrutable. When man thinks he has reached one boundary another boundary appears. There is no limit to knowledge. There is a famous saying in Tamil language --- What we know is only a handful and what we don't know is as much as the universe.If Hawking thinks he knows everything there is to know and the collective wisdom of mankind from early stages of life is false, then his theories are preposterous He is misleading youngsters who have no proper grounding in religious faith and turning them away from God.

seventh ave said...

Merriam – Webster Definition of VILIFY
transitive verb
1:to lower in estimation or importance
2:to utter slanderous and abusive statements against:defame

Christianity is valid because you and many others like you believe Christianity to be valid - there is no argument because either I have faith and I believe what the bible tells me or I do not.

My intent is to attempt an honest, objective approach to arguing the validity of Christianity because for my lifetime I have not been able to conjure the faith.

I wish that I could have faith in God. If I had faith in God I believe that I would have lived a much more productive and healthier life. I believe it would have been a happier life. The previous being said, does not validate Christianity as being truth.

I think that Stephen Hawking's condition has relevance to our exchanges. Did God intend to bind [arguably] the most influential mind since Albert Einstein to a wheel chair? Did God intend to stifle Stephen Hawking due to Lou Gehrig's disease? Or, is Mr. Hawking's condition an act of sterile nature?

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello seventh ave,

I am talking about Hawking's misguided view on God. When I say God I don't only mean Christianity but also Hinduism,Islam and many innumerable religions in this world which billions and billions follow and worship God in some form or the other. You should see the devotion and faith of these followers of God. Come to India and visit some holy places here and you will get first hand experience. So don't think I am restricting my opinion of Hawking only from the Christian point of view but I am talking from the point of view of all believers of God.Man believed in God from time immemorial and there are always some Atheists like Stephen who live in the darkness of fatality without any hope of salvation, redemption or eternal life.

If Hawking wants to be an atheist that is his business. No one is criticizing him. But when he makes unwanted statements over things over which he has no mastery other than a layman's idea, he is being mischievous and misusing his eminent position to draw some cheap attention to himself.

As regards his physical condition, it is self inflicted because he has sold his soul to satan and satan is not waiting for him die to take away is soul. Satan is slowly and steadily extracting his pound of flesh in this worldly life of Stephen. This has nothing to with God.When a person wants favors from satan such things will happen because satan will not give anything without a quid pro quo.

Best wishes,

seventh ave said...

Dear Joseph,

Your views are stated eloquently and with fortitude. I respect your beliefs but my inherent [maybe god given] sense cannot accept your premise. We can object to Hawking's comments but we do not know his motivation other than his life's work. Who are we to say he has made a deal with the devil?

When we accuse each other of evil without truly understanding one another, I believe we have lost our religion.

Respectfully, and best wishes Joseph

ChrisB thank you.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello seventh ave,

According to Wikipedia only 2.5 percent of the worlds population are Atheists and 12.7 percent are non religious. Stephen belongs to the 2.5 percent. No one wants to convince Atheists about God but it is always atheists who are attacking God and indirectly ridiculing God believers. You might enjoy this joke about an Atheist professor.I found this on the internet.

If you don't know God watch what you say ...... A United States Marine was taking some college courses between assignments. He had completed 20 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan . One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist, and a member of the ACLU.

One day the professor shocked the class when he came in. He looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, "GOD, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform... I'll give you exactly 15 min."

The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, "Here I am GOD, I'm still waiting." It got down to the last couple of minutes when a Marine got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and hit him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold.

The Marine went back to his seat and sat there, silently.

The other students were shocked and stunned, and sat there looking on in silence. The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the Marine and asked, "What in the world is the matter with you? Why did you do that?"

The Marine calmly replied, "GOD was too busy today protecting soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid stuff and act like an idiot. So He sent me."

The classroom erupted in cheers.

I am not trying to convince you or Stephen or any of the Atheists. God has given us the common sense and freedom to think and say and do what we want. So we will agree to disagree my friend.

Wish you all the best,