Fairy Tale or Someone Too Big For Their Own Britches?
Stephen Hawking, famed cosmologist was gravely ill in 2009. He was later asked whether during that time he feared death. His response caused an outcry, as well it should have. He said “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” In his bestselling 1988 book “A Brief History of Time”, Hawking had written about what a great accomplishment it would be if scientists could come up with a theory of everything, “for then we should know the mind of God”.
Hawking is a smart guy alright but I found his thinking in this area is surprisingly empty, self serving and even sophomoric. First of all the fact is he does have a religion and the name of that religion is “Science”. There are plenty of great and even just regular scientists who have a faith in God and in eternal life. Scientists are as varied in their thinking about religion and faith as theologians are. It’s a matter that every one of us has to decide for ourselves. I think Stephen Hawking may just be a little big for his britches.
I won’t waste my time on what Hawking does or doesn’t believe, does or doesn’t find meaning in. I can’t be responsible for that and can’t really speak to what anyone else does or doesn’t believe. I will speak to what I believe. I find the human being is much more than just a “brain” (lesson # 1 for Hawking and ilk). “Man” is much more than a computer. Human beings are more than just a machine. We have soul. We have something within us that is born from the creator and is from the creator and will return to the creator. We are not just a collection of bones and flesh or neurons firing off in the brain and sending messages back and forth from one receptor to another. One of the great episodes of the old science fiction series “Star Trek” was when Data wanted to be more than just an Android and so he tried to prove before a panel of distinguished thinkers that he was “human”. What “human” meant was the first challenge to establish. Human is much more than just “brain” or “intelligence” or “body”, which much is certain in my mind and should be in a great mind like Hawkings.
I believe we never find peace or real peace until we discover the divine within us and until we root ourselves in the love of God. I believe we do in fact have life beyond this one. I can’t say exactly how it looks or how it shapes out but I believe we live forever in some form or shape and trust that to the creator who created me in the first place. I find comfort and meaning and direction in my life, in my faith, in a God who created me and in whom I find place, meaning and being, not just in this world but in whatever worlds there are to come. No, it’s a not a fairy tale at all; what is a fairy tale is Hawking’s need to elevate the brain and science in general to the status of God and religion. My faith in God will serve me a lot better than Hawking’s faith in himself and in science. You make your own decision.