Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

C: The Universe

Discovery-Channel-LogoNight before last I watched the Discovery channel’s opening episode of their “Curiosity” series.  If there was ever a curious person (in more ways than one!), it is I. 


If the adage “curiosity kills the cat” were true and I were a cat, I’d long be dead.


The pilot episode was presented by Stephen Hawking, the great British physicist/cosmologist who has become a celebrity brain, of sorts. 

By the way, I have learned that a cosmologist is one who studies the origin and structure of the universe and time/space relationships.  The universe is defined by Wikipedia as “the totality of everything that exists”.  Hmmmmm.  Hmmmm.  Big topic.hawking

I am sure you have seen Stephen Hawking.  He has written several books for mass publication—for us lesser minds—seeking to open the world of physics and cosmology to those of us with more pedestrian IQs.  He is made even more remarkable by the fact that he is wheel-chair bound, almost entirely paralyzed by ALS, and is among the longest-living victims of this awful disease.  He speaks only through computer-generated means.  A tiny sensor attached to his cheek uses those movements to generate his words and voice.  His voice is totally synthetic.

His subject for the series:  Did God create the universe? 

I was intrigued by this great mind and by the topic, in general.  Son and I tuned in, ready to learn.

Now, let me say that I am a Christian,having been raised nominally a Christian and some thirty years ago having come to a much deeper faith through a rather remarkable event…another post, maybe.  My faith has formed the cornerstone of my life for thirty years.  Because of the “curious” turn of mind that God gave me, I’m rather an expansive, flexible Christian (I know, I know…sounds like an oxymoron to some), which I believe is wholly-endorsed by my Creator.  I dearly love to hear opposite points of view, dearly love it, especially from persons I believe to have credible intellectual standing.  In other words, I love to have my mind and my faith challenged.

My openness to the views of others has never shaken my faith, although it has honed it.  One thing I do not doubt—for a second, even in my darkest moments—is the existence of God.

So, Son and I settled down, ready for this great mind to ‘splain things to us.  We listened through his fascinating discussion of stars and suns and galaxies and black holes.  Mind-boggling and intriguing.  Then we moved on into the nature of time—bending it, for example, (black holes apparently benuniversed time—who knew?) which I must admit totally loses me.  I, for one, would like to know how to stretch it…

On he talked about  the probable beginning of the universe—the “big bang” and on and on.  There was a sense of “See!  I’ve proven this!” as we progressed.

And I’m sitting here thinking: “Okay, so if the big bang theory is correct, then why did it bang in the first place?  And what caused the bang?  And what was there before the bang?”  In other words, what is the answer to the question of “first origin?”  (is that a redundancy?).  I realize I am not the first person to ask this question; still…

According to Hawking, there was nothing before the big bang.  Nothing.  Not even a bunch of space because, you see, there was no space before the big bang.  There was no matter, no energy, no time, no space.  And then the Big Bang occurred and there was suddenly matter, energy, time and space, where there had been none of these ever before (but then, “ever” did not exist back then because there was no time). Hmmmm.  Hmmmm.  Hmmmm. 

Okay, I was spellbound, sitting on the edge of my chair, really understanding only that big bang I was in over my head with this whole physics thing and waiting to learn.  I was waiting on Hawking to prove this, as he promised.

But I am a lawyer.  And while recognizing that I do not have a scientific mind, one thing I am used to doing is building cases.  And in the instance of the opposition’s case, I am used to finding the holes.  I can follow chain of logic and spot a gap in that chain.

I’m afraid that Stephen never clinched it for me.  Notwithstanding his proclamation (a bit smugly) that “See, I’ve shown you that something can spontaneously come from nothing—Nothing certainly did not need a God to become something,” he just failed to do that. 

A little disappointing, but not surprising.  Maybe he tried to cram too much (as in the whole universe) into one hour…minds like mine need a lot more time to get there, I suppose.

And then he said something truly remarkable.  As the show ended, he said something like this (and this is a paraphrase):  “So, there is no need for a God.  And I don’t believe there is a God, which means that there is no afterlife—no Heaven, no Hell.  We have only this one life, for which I am eternally grateful.”

Really?  Grateful?  This man who can do nothing for himself, who can speak only so long as computers still have the ability to pick up and translate his feeble cheek moves to generate a “voice” for him—this man is grateful?

Now, that is a wonder of the universe if I ever heard of one.

And it set me to thinking.  Here I’ve been moping about the house over my finances and othgratefuler “poor me” matters.  But Hawking is grateful?

I looked him up on the web and read about his personal life.  It’s a mess.  He was born in 1942, came up through college enjoying athletics (one source said the physical activity “relieved the boredom of university life…”)  He was diagnosed with ALS early and given a couple of years to life.  He’s been married twice.  One source said that he “reconciled” with his family from his first marriage in 2006…suggests a bit of rockiness, there. 

So, great mind or no, we’re all subject to the travails of life. 

If ever there was a person who had some excuse to rail against God, it is Hawking.  Here is a man of unquestionable intellect who has been robbed of any semblence of independent living and of physical activity that he clearly once loved.  It would be expected that he would be bitter about his circumstances.  Heck, if I’m upset over my late bills, then surely he has excuse!

But he professes otherwise.  He doesn’t shake his fists at God—he’s just erased God right out of the universe.  And that’s one way to come to terms with things, isn’t it?  Why even acknowledge One who has placed you in such an untenable position? 

This is an unwarrantedly presumptive analysis by me, I admit, but it’s the thought I had.

In fact, this inspired a lot more questions/analyses concerning the Nature of God, my own view of Him, of suffering on earth, and on and on and on. (you all know how I love to overthink).   But those thoughts are for other posts.    Maybe.apples to oranges

I’ll keep watching.  Maybe Hawking will one day be able to prove to me  that God does not exist.  But not yet. 

My own take on this particular challenge is that trying to explain spiritual things in scientific terms is using apples for oranges…they are just different realms.  I, frankly, doubt that God will let us “prove” or “disprove” Him.  In some instances He “proves” Himself to us, as He has to me.  So I don’t look for scientific proof to decide this question, ever.

But I sure love the exercise.  C


KathyB. said...

You and I think alike here. It is sad to realize Hawking has chosen to erase God from his life. Hawking is like us all in one important way, he needs Him, desperately.

TexWisGirl said...

i also view myself as a very open-minded (almost quasi-) christian. i believe in a lot of non-christian concepts too, but do not doubt we are all part of one spirit.

Suzanne said...

I watched the show also and I agree with you, Hawking did not disprove the existence of God. This type of thing drives scientists crazy because, by nature they must dissect land test everything. The word "faith" does not exist for most scientific minds, and I'm not talking just religious faith, I'm talking about taking any idea just on faith.

If you every get a chance to watch something called "Beyond Belief" you will be asounded! A group of scientists got together in a conference to discuss how stupid we all are for believing..... Christians, Jews, Muslims, all faiths lumped together. They were seeking ideas for ways to enlighten the whole world to their scientific truth. It was, as I said, astounding!! Finally, an anthropologist took the podium and gave them a tongue lashing of sorts.....did they not realize that faith and God has been an aspect of culture since the beginning of time? Did they not realize the importance of faith in the lives of millions of people? Were they brilliant yet dumb enough to think they could enlightin the world to their way of thinking.

Please, please come back and tell us about the remarkable event that deepened your faith. Talk about being curious..... I want to KNOW!! HA.

A bird in the hand said...

Perhaps the Nothing that produced the Big Bang is the Great Spirit we call God.

I'm disappointed with Hawking...I assumed he was spiritual precisely because of his life and work...

Vickie said...

Good post, C. I'm with ya. Never will be convinced that there is no God. I've lived long enough to have been able to see Him and His intervention in the lives of those around me and even in my own life. I'm sorry for Hawking. With his knowledge combined with knowledge of the Lord, he could be a wonderful witness. How sad it is to know that he doesn't claim Christ. He could have such an impact on others with his attitude of gratitude in the face of such an illness...

I wanna hear about your "event"...

Vee said...

Interesting. I enjoyed the read. What I find intriguing, if it's a direct quote is his use of the word "eternally." Eternally grateful...hmmm.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

YES, that caught my attention immediately--his use of the word "eternally". I thought that was a very strange word to use due to his beliefs. Of course, the word means something totally unique to those of us who believe in eternal life. So what is "eternal" for him--his nonexistence after death? Interesting. Good post, C!

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tn

I missed it...sounds interesting but it would have been sad for me to think he thinks this is it. Soooo thankful that for what Jesus Christ did for me, I will have an "eternal" home in God's timing. Still have so much to learn though about scripture and I'm already old....I need to get on the ball for sure!

Sandra said...

The problem with many scientific types is that they think everything can be proven, or it's not so. They have trouble with the concept of faith. And that is exactly what is required of us -- faith. If God could be proven then everyone would have to believe in Him. He wants us to believe in Him because of our faith, not because scientists confirm His existence.

I noticed the "eternal" too. But what really caught my attention was that he is "grateful". To whom, if he doesn't believe in God?

A very interesting post, C.

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