What Stephen Hawking taught me

This morning I woke to sad news. Arguably our generation’s finest scientist has died.

I don’t understand Stephen Hawking’s contribution to science. But the well-known film title captured his life’s goal – a theory of everything.

The film tells the tragic, heroic story of a genius, diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at twenty-one. He was given two years to live.

I’ve never met him. But Hawking’s life highlights three truths about God’s world.

God numbers our days

He shouldn’t have lived until seventy-six. The doctors knew what they were talking about. Theirs was a true word. But it wasn’t the final word.

God is Lord of life and health. He has numbered our days (Job 14:5).

God’s design is beautiful

We often talk about God’s creation being beautiful. But scientists like Hawking show how beautiful is his design.

The universe is beautifully choreographed, dancing to the tune of observable laws. Hawking could see the beauty of these laws in a way most of us can’t.

God reveals himself to the lowly

Hawking had a complicated relationship with God. At times he made religious remarks. Other times he’d call himself an atheist.

In 2011, he said,

No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realisation. There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either.

I don’t know if Hawking believed this until he died. I hope not.

God doesn’t promise to reveal himself to the most intelligent or scientifically impressive (1 Cor 1:20-21). We can’t investigate the universe and find God. 

Rather, to children, the outcast and the humble, he reveals that he is God of the universe (1 Cor 1:26-27), there is an afterlife, and we enter it by placing our faith in Christ.