In less than one month two human giants have passed into timeless eternity. The subjects of their achievements could not have been more dissimilar. Notwithstanding, for different reasons, the focus of their instruction for humanity was equally consequential. Evangelist Billy Graham passed into eternity on February 21 while physicist/cosmologist Stephen Hawking began his eternal journey on March 14, 2018.
Both giants possessed an influential worldview: each worldview was vastly disparate from the other in focus, but not in importance. One might say that one contrast in their world views revolved around the creation and the Creator. For Graham, the reality of an omnipotent Creator, His provision for our spiritual welfare within the sphere of this life, and His gift of redemption in this life and the life to follow, was paramount. Hawking, in contrast, saw the wonders of physical reality as a sort of “god.”
In several of his popular writings Hawking referenced “God.” In A Brief History of Time (1988) he dealt with the question of why the universe exists. He stated, “If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God.” That quote and others like it excited some readers. At other times, in attempting to explain his statement, Hawking disavowed God, claiming to be an atheist. He made many pronouncements such as, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.” (Blue touch paper is a kind of igniting fuse for fireworks.) In other words, God did not create our universe. This brilliant scientist proposed many scenarios in which the universe created itself. The universe, we all acknowledge, is full of wonder and fascination.
Hawking’s A Brief History of Time discusses many elements of time, including imaginary time which might apply to God’s time dimension which is different from our time. Chapter 9 discusses several arrows of time,—the thermodynamic arrow of time, the psychological arrow of time, and the cosmological arrow of time, all appropriate for contemplation of our experience in this universe. I have made use of some of Hawking’s insights on the subject of time in previous blog posts.
Scientists and laypersons alike understood Hawking’s scientific brilliance and humor. No doubt many understood his humor better than his provocative science. With respect to the beginning and end of the universe, many of Hawking’s pronouncements resemble scripture’s discussions about the beginning and end of our universe’s time dimension. He claimed Einstein’s general theory of relativity implies space and time would have had a beginning at the Big Bang and an end in black holes. Dennis Overbye, science writer for the New York Times, wrote in a March 14, 2018 obituary for Hawking that, “…black holes—those mythical avatars of cosmic doom—were not really black at all. In fact, he found, they would eventually fizzle, leaking radiation and particles, and finally explode and disappear over the eons.”
Lately Hawking had expanded on his predictions of Earth’s demise. He claimed that the Earth is becoming too small for us. In November 2017 he warned that within 600 years overpopulation of the planet would cause it to become a blazing ball of fire. For that reason we should move away from Earth and look to occupy another planet. World observers of the Stephen Hawking phenomenon have devoted more credence to his observations and advice than to the truths of Scripture. Genesis uses the phrase “In the beginning.” This implies that our universe had a beginning. Decades ago the Steady State Theory posited that time had no beginning and would have no end. This belief, called the “perfect cosmological principle,” is contrary to Scripture.
In support of the concept of a beginning of time, we quote four of our favorite New Testament passages inspirationally penned by the Apostle Paul. I Corinthians 2:7, II Timothy 1:9, and Titus 1:2 use the terms before the beginning of time. Ephesians 1:4 cites the concept of before the creation of the world. At the conclusion of the existence of this universe, II Peter 3:10 posits that the elements will be destroyed by fire. We see events at the beginning and the end of time in these verses. In these cases, Stephen Hawking became an intensely prescient scientist.
We give thanks to God for the mind of Stephen Hawking. For over 50 years he battled MND, motor neurone disease, frequently manifesting as ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, during which time he manifested personal gifts which have helped humanity reveal the secrets of the universe.