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Stephen Hawking Meets God

There is plenty of debate whether Stephen Hawking believed in God or not. He used the word ‘God’ and spoke about explaining the universe as glimpsing ‘the mind of God’. But he didn’t use the word ‘God’ in the sense of a ‘guy in the sky’ – which is the way a lot of religious people sound when they talk about God, and the way a lot of atheists sound when they deny God.

As far as we can tell, God didn’t exist before the universe because there wasn’t a ‘before‘. Time began at the start of the universe – and even St Augustine figured this much out: time is created by God. Stephen Hawking was clear God didn’t light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Even the word ‘exist’ must be used differently of God than of created objects. Let’s not forget that the early Christians were called atheists by everyone else.

We live in a goldilocks universe – with the strong and weak nuclear forces and the gravitational constant and so forth set just right for thinking beings to evolve. Postulating that there are other universes was part of Stephen Hawking’s theorising. Having a single, anthropic (seemingly designed to facilitate the evolution of thinking beings) universe is highly inconvenient for atheists. But, I also have to wonder, in what sense they might exist if there is no one to observe them?

Stephen Hawking’s final paper, A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation? has the laws of our universe applying to all the universes of the multiverse – and so, far from applying Occam’s razor to an imagined multiplicity of universes, we are back to the atheists dilemma: how is it that the multiverse is anthropic? Stephen Hawking’s final contribution to science advances the dialogue between faith and science.

There was outrage both from religious and atheistic people that Stephen Hawking’s remains are buried in Westminster Abbey. I’m with The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said, “We believe it to be vital that science and religion work together to seek to answer the great questions of the mystery of life and of the universe.”

You can find the order of service here.

We have entrusted our brother Stephen to God’s mercy, and we now commit his mortal remains to the ground: earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust: in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our frail bodies that they may be conformed to his glorious body, who died, was buried, and rose again for us. To him be glory for ever. Amen.

The ashes are placed in the grave.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for all those whom we love but see no longer. As we remember Stephen in this place, hold before us our beginning and our ending, the dust from which we come and the death to which we move, with a firm hope in your eternal love and purposes for us, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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7 Responses to Stephen Hawking Meets God

  1. There isn’t parrell universe but there are parrell heavens. Our universe is God”s latest creation. There are three, the one containing heavenly bodies, the third heaven and the one in Genesis which a firmament separates us from called outer darkness, the second heaven. The third heaven is what is refresh to, the third one. The issue is God creates creation and our limited intelligence and understand what is before nothing. God was before these operating systems he created for all his creatures to live in

  2. It is interesting to me that folks at large believe that they are in a position to squawk about where Stephen’s remains are interred. It is the family’s decision and they appeared happy to have the remains interred in the abbey with other great people (men!) of UK history. And leave Stephen to meet his maker as he imagined God to be or not to be.

  3. ‘Let’s not forget that the early Christians were called atheists by everyone else.’

    so much for me to think about in this post Bosco. I am currently reading a simple book for a local ‘good church’ book club ‘A Brief Guide to Spiritual Classics: From Dark Night of the Soul to The Power of Now (Brief Histories)’ author James Russell. It’s a wonderful introduction to the history of our faith, and a constant reminder that many of the concepts we accept today were once unorthadox and heretical.

    I feel very strongly that in a country where prominent politicians feel compelled to disseminate their religious viewpoints it’s really important for people to have not only a good knowledge of what’s actually written in the book for their faith but an understanding of the hermeneutics.

    None of this received knowledge or ‘wisdom’ was dropped intact from an angel one day…

    Hawking concluded his Brief History of Time with:

    ‘However, if we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just by a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.’

    That is what ‘The Church’ has grappled with for centuries, who is allowed to have access to knowledge and to openly think and write and teach about it!

    • It is wonderful to find resources like A Brief Guide, Tracy. I encourage people to get a wider picture of the Christian faith and tradition. And reading difficult books like Hawking’s complements our search for truth (and Truth). Blessings.

  4. It is Bosco! As soon as I saw it as their book club pick ( and heard the head minister speaking on local radio ) I felt I needed to learn more from this particular church, though it’s a long drive from my home! In the intro the author says he wants it to be accessible to all, even at the risk of oversimplification. It’s very readable.

    • Thanks for your comment. Please note that the culture of this site means that we use our ordinary name rather than pseudonyms. Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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