On May 15th, The Guardian newspaper had an exclusive interview with renowned physicist Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University. Hawking grandly announced — without surprising anyone who knows his views — that heaven was a “fairy story” for people afraid of death.
Why did The Guardian even report such trivia? In asking a question about heaven, the paper might just as well have asked Madonna or even a sleeping baby, whose knowledge of the matter is certainly the equal of Hawking’s. Just because someone sits in the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics does not mean they have a view of heaven out the office window — or the laboratory window for that matter.
I’m glad to say that Lord Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the Commonwealth, countered some of Hawking’s earlier nonsense by saying: “There is more to wisdom than science. It cannot tell us why we are here or how we should live. Science masquerading as religion is as unseemly as religion masquerading as science.”
Hawking is undeniably intelligent, and his story of endurance in the face of crippling disease (ALS) is amazing. But his fame largely rests on scientific publications about black holes, quantum gravity and cosmology — all things that are highly technical and probably beyond experimental verification. After all, Hawking is among that large group of such scientists who only learned in the last ten years that all off their science to this point has been based on just four percent of the material that makes up the universe. They have no idea what “dark energy” and “dark matter” might be, and those things are reported to make up 96 percent of everything. Who knew? Not Stephen Hawking.
On a rare trip to New York City some years ago, I was riding the subway when I saw a poster on the inner wall. The top line said, “‘God is dead.’ — Nietzsche.” This had a single stroke drawn through it. The line that replaced it said, “‘Nietzsche is dead.’ — God.”
Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.