Image – © Rogelio A. Galaviz C. via flickr
In my last blog, I gave thanks for the grace of God that was extended to Stephen Hawking. I was not speaking about the grace of salvation, but rather the common grace extended to all human beings. I spoke of Christ’s words in which He affirmed that God causes the rain to fall on the field of both the just and on the unjust. And I spoke of God’s grace, that allowed Stephen Hawking to endure through a debilitating illness, and His grace in providing Him with an exceedingly bright mind.
As to Dr. Hawking’s eternal salvation, I make no comment. Since I do not know whether he might have cried out to Christ at the very end, it is always bad form for Christians to speak to the eternal state of any human being. Sometimes Christians have made foolish and hateful comments about his eternity. To those who have done so, please repent. And please, repent as openly as the comments you have made. You are harming the cause of Christ, and you are pretending to speak for God. You do not know what he might or might not have done at the very end, or whether God may have extended saving grace to him like the thief on the cross. After all, Hawking had been exposed to the Gospel on numerous occasions.
But, that being said, and while I celebrated Hawking’s intellectual prowess as a gift of God, I think it necessary to speak about his errors. As one commentator observed, “Hawking didn’t stay in his lane.” That is to say, while Hawking offered brilliant insights into the nature of the physical universe, he also offered insights into the nature of metaphysics. If you don’t know, metaphysics deals with concepts such as being, knowing, substance and cause. These are philosophical concepts for which science can have no insights. But Hawking spoke authoritatively to things in which he had no specialized training.
As an example, Hawking was heard to say, “The scientific account is complete. Theology is unnecessary.” I do not think Hawking is able to speak with any authority about the nature and impact of theology. Another example: Hawking believed there could be nothing before the Big Bang. His reasoning for that, based on a geographical analogy, was that there was nothing south of the South Pole. That seems simplistic at best, and childish at worst. Nonetheless, this was Hawking’s attempt to answer how something can come from nothing. Wouldn’t it be better for him to have said nothing at all on that theme? Wouldn’t it have been better to say, “That question is outside of my area of expertise”?
But the real point is this: science simply does not have the tools to deal with God. By His very nature, God is supernatural, that is, apart from nature. Science, since it’s designed to study nature, has no tools to study a Being who is independent of nature, and whose being is spirit. To argue that one does not believe in God is one thing; to argue that one’s study of nature and physics allows one to form conclusions on the being of God is quite something else. What Hawking said about God is foolishness.
For this reason, it is entirely appropriate to say that the incredibly bright Stephen Hawking was really walking in spiritual foolishness. He was dead in trespasses and sins. Having been created by God, he failed to comprehend that his Creator had entered into the creation in order to redeem people unto Himself. Hawking stumbled along in moral darkness, clouded by his own sin.
In that sense, he was exactly like every other human being. In the realm of the spirit, no human being has an advantage over another. There are no spiritual geniuses. There are, however, men and women who have received the grace of eternal life.