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.
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 bend 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 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.
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.
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