March 14, 2018

The Day the Science Died

March 14, 2018. On this day, world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76. I admired the man’s brilliance, especially with regard to astrophysics and cosmology, though I hold a significantly different worldview than the openly atheist Dr. Hawking.

His passing will naturally be mourned by the scientific community, as he was arguably the greatest scientific mind of this generation. Some might say his was the greatest scientific mind which humanity has ever produced. The news of Hawking’s death might be likened unto the passing of rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, who were killed in a plane crash. Their deaths left a void in the American music industry so profound that February 3rd, 1959, became known as “The Day the Music Died.”

Likewise, many might consider referring to today as “The Day the Science Died.”

But of course, music didn’t die in 1959, nor has science died today. Just as the universal need to express oneself in music lived on after Holly, Valens, and Richardson passed, so too will science continue to move forward without Stephen Hawking. I am reasonably certain that all four of these men would have wanted it to be so.

I know that there are many Christians out there who viewed Stephen Hawking, and science in general, as an adversary. This should not be so. While we may not share the same beliefs about God, the universe, and everything, we ought not be threatened by our differences. I will in fact take a moment to applaud those, like Dr. Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and even Albert Einstein, who question the validity of our faith.


They force us, if we are strong enough to accept the challenge, to examine what it is we believe. There is a phrase which I often use when teaching from scripture: “Do we really believe what we say we believe?”

It’s a very important question.

There is no doubt that Stephen Hawking was an atheist. He had this to say in response to some who suggested that he might believe in a “god,” though not the one of Christianity:

“Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation,” he said. “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.”

Hawking was resolved and firm in his beliefs. We who call ourselves Christians must be equally committed to our own, though I fear we fall short much of the time, especially when it comes to spreading our message to those who do not believe.  Jesus even said in a parable, “…the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” (Luke 16:8 NKJV )

Does this mean we should go on the attack against scientists who refute Christianity? Not at all. Doing so can actually result in more harm than good, especially if you’re not at least somewhat well-versed in science. It is never a good idea to speak on a topic about which you are uninformed, yet many well-meaning Christians attempt to “win” the argument against science with inaccurate information and/or anti-science rhetoric. When this happens, the entire Church comes off looking both uneducated and unreasonable, and we place another barrier between Christ and those who need Him.

This is exactly the reason I applaud the Stephen Hawkings of the world. We can, if we are willing, learn a lot from them. Why do they believe what they believe? How can I reach out to them? Is there a way to persuade them to reconsider what they think about God?

And yes, we can and should learn some science from them.

I pray that God will place his hand upon the family, friends, and fans of Stephen Hawking, comfort them, and reveal His presence to them.

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