Hawking’s Heaven

Hawking’s Heaven

by Bob Burridge ©2011

In his now famous interview published in The Guardian, Physicist Stephen Hawking makes a rather odd statement for someone of his reputation in the field of science. He said that the idea of heaven and the afterlife is “a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,”

His reasoning is based upon some assumptions which are taken as reliable first principles. He reasons that since the brain deteriorates after death, and since he believes that all we are is a function of our brains, therefore we simply cease to be thinking and conscious beings once we meet our demise.

Of course in the field of science we admit the logical impossibility of proving a negative. It is possible to show the failure of an hypothesis by assuming something to be true, then by demonstrating that if the hypothesis were true, certain contradictions appear. We also admit that in the field of quantum physics the idea of “contradictions” takes on a meaning unlike our common understanding of the term.

What Dr. Hawking has proven is his own inability to conceive of any aspect of human life beyond the mere physical. We gladly concede this, that Dr. Hawking is unable to conceive such a thing. This does not prove that his assumptions are true. It only shows that his is true to his assumptions.

Presuming that we are mere bio-chemical organisms with nothing corresponding to what we call the “soul” or the “spirit nature,” is not an issue which can be taken into the science lab. It is not something we can measure quantitatively and plug into mathematical structures. It is purely an assumption.

Those of us who accept the premise of non-physical aspects of the universe are not all followers of Middle Age’s fears and superstitions. The idea that we humans invented the idea of God or the concept of heaven to hide from our fears of the dark is naive and uninformed.

Dr. Hawking was a bit more careful in his interview with the German publication Der Speigel in 1988. There he explained that recent advances in theoretical physics have ruled out the “something out of nothing” problem which had been a challenge to purely materialistic thinking in the past. He is quote to have said, “… it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began.” … “This doesn’t prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary.”

Given his presumptions, Dr. Hawking has merely demonstrated that no contradictions to his assumptions have arisen which are measurable or testable by physical means. To arrive at that conclusion the investigator must close his eyes to the origin of his assumptions. Perhaps while accusing others of inventing ideas for fear of the dark, Dr. Hawking has invented his own structures out of a fear that there is a God to whom he and the rest of us must answer.

Given the presumed universe of this celebrated and admittedly gifted physicist, there is no need for God, and no provable state corresponding to what is called “heaven”. To be scientifically accurate, this does not prove there is no God because that was the starting assumption. It does not prove that there is no after-life or heaven. It just shows that such things do not stand well upon the foundation of these materialistic assumptions.

If Dr. Hawking’s assumptions are not true, then his entire reasoning falls into a pit with a more tenacious grip than the classic concept of black holes in the physical universe. There are no virtual particle pairs dividing and radiating evidences of the energy well that generated them. The theories that rule things out on the basis of a deficit ability to conceive of something else, will cease to exist except in the memories of those who once read about them.

One day Dr. Hawking will stand before the Creator he has not only doubted but also denied. He will discover that darkness is not the greatest terror. He will discover that assumptions that come from the imaginations of human minds are a shifting sand upon which we build doomed buildings. He will see that fundamental truth comes into our experience from outside of us, from the one who made all things, and who gifted Dr. Hawking with his amazing abilities and tenacity.

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About Bob Burridge

I've taught Science, Bible, Math, Computer Programming and served 25 years as Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Pinellas Park, Florida. I'm now Executive Director of the ministry of the Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies

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