New Church Life NCL May/June 2018 - Page 84

n e w c h u r c h l i f e : m ay / j u n e 2 0 1 8 is stored in the mind – until you get old and your memory springs a leak, but let’s not belabor the point. Or is it already too late for that? (WEO) happily ever after? When Stephen Hawking, the most renowned and celebrated scientist of our time died in March, his greatest discoveries lay before him – if he had eyes to see. Hawking was enormously popular and respected. He projected a brave, indomitable spirit, triumphing over the Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) that crippled his body but not his spirit. When he was diagnosed at age 21 he was given only a few years to live, but stoically persevered to age 76. Though tethered to a computerized wheelchair, he appeared on prime-time TV shows, was the subject of a popular movie, authored such best-sellers as A Brief History of Time, and was as hailed and recognized throughout his life as Albert Einstein. There was much to admire about him but he was ultimately a flawed hero as well because he believed only in science, completely rejecting God and religion. He said he was not afraid of death but didn’t believe in an afterlife. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail,” he said. “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” Despite his frail, dysfunctional body he inspired many people with his spirit. Talking about the meaning of life, he said: “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult it may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. Where there’s life there’s hope.” He struggled with the image of God as Creator of the universe. “God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom we can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God.” In another interview he said: “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t. I’m an atheist.” He expanded on that by saying: “Religion believes in miracles, but these are not compatible with science.” He added: “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason. 260