From Beyond the Pulpit – On the Death of Stephen Hawking

by Stan Hudson who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

On March 14th the famed English astrophysicist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76. Hawking had been diagnosed more than fifty years ago with ALS, called “Lou Gehrig’s disease” in the U.S. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis robs the body of muscle control; the image of him in his wheelchair propelled him into an icon of pop culture.

His book A Brief History of Time, though well written and extremely popular, was not easily understood, dealing with such things as black holes in space and cosmology. But as time rolled on, his Methodist background disappeared into his past and he became a popular spokesman for atheism. Some of his statements about his worldview (cosmology) show this:

There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.

We are each free to believe what we want, and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe, and no one directs our fate.

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.

The lack of logic in these and others of his statements, plus the energy behind them, shows that empirical science and personal philosophy sometimes blur, especially when that science touches origins.

We don’t know what moved Hawking in the direction of atheism. Like Darwin’s wife Emma, Hawking’s wife Jane remained a steadfast Christian their married life. And like Darwin he experienced great personal loss. Was he bitter towards God?

In terms of IQ, Hawking was a brilliant physicist. But we are reminded of the Scriptural warning that “knowledge puffs up.” We hope in his last days he came to a humble trust in the Creator God; if he didn’t, our mourning is deeper.

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