Many people will rightly be reminding us of Stephen Hawking’s many achievements and of his great character. I hope we can all admire the way he made the most of his life in spite of, or possibly because of, his terrible illness. I will not go into a lot of detail here about the man or his achievements, as others will do it so much better than I could. However, I do want to comment on one aspect of his life. His atheism.
Stephen Hawking rejected the possibility of there being any kind of Supreme Being
You might expect Christians to sigh with relief at his passing. Some may do so. I do not. I am glad someone set out the case against Christianity – and all religion – so well. His writings, notably The God Delusion, gave us a proper challenge. He forced us to think.
It was a pleasant change from the usual anti-Christian cliches:
I’ve never read the Bible because it’s a load of rubbish
I don’t believe in God because church services are boring
Christians are hypocrites: the vicar never visited me when I was sick
Evolution proves God didn’t create the universe
There are so many religions, they can’t all be right.
You probably know of a few more. Stephen Hawking delved far deeper.
Was that good? Yes. It is true that what does not kill you strengthens you. Faith needs testing. But so does its antithesis.
We Christians owe Stephen Hawking a great debt of gratitude.
By now, he has probably discovered whether he was right or wrong about God. Although he never seemed to give God the benefit of the doubt, let us hope God will be more generous.
Easter is the time of year when many people will be thinking about their faith, or lack of. Perhaps you will be going to church. If not, there may be good reasons, some of which I have written about. Apart from deep theological questions, for some there are more practical concerns. Perhaps you’ve tried church and just couldn’t fit in, or perhaps there were things you didn’t understand and didn’t know who to ask.
How can I help you cope with Easter?
I tried to provide some help in my book How to Cope with the Church. It covers how to pray, how to read the Bible and what if you’re not free on Sundays, and looks at some misleading ideas about God.
What’s my Easter gift?
The e-book version will be free on Kindle from Monday 26th March to Friday 30th, which are the five days leading up to and including Good Friday. What better time to pause and think about your faith and/or your churchgoing?