Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Grand Design

Stephen Hawking's latest book in which he argues for an eternal universe (or universes) and against the need for God as Creator has received the usual notice from press and theologians.  Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is one who has weighed in. (Don't you like that metaphor, like two fighters weighing in before the fight.) Link

Mohler's critique of Hawking's deficient understanding of God - a sort of God of the gaps" deity who only has a role when more rational and scientific based explanations fail - is well taken. His caution for Christians to avoid the "God of the gaps" trap in doing apologetics is also wise.  But Mohler does not go far enough. He fails to suggest a positive response.

So what is the response?  One logical response is that an eternal universe is logically illogical. I think it is fairly well agreed that an infinite series of real things (things that are matter or energy, such as are the physical stuff of the universe) is not possible. And that is what there must be for the universe to be eternal. It does not make any difference how many other prior universes might exist or have existed, as Hawking speculates, there still must be an infinite progression of real things if his hypothesis is to be correct. 

The other response is simply this. Who cares what Hawking speculates.  He has limited himself to matter and energy, to the merely physical. He  denies what is the universal apprehension of the human heart, that there is more to this existence than mere matter.  (Ironically, it is this very universal quest to find out what is really real that seems to energize him. But it leads him to a dead end because he fails to consider all the evidence.)  As most neo-atheists, he relegates everything spiritual to the pre-rational stone-age  or explains it away by evolutionary sleight of hand. All such is whistling in the dark. It is making believe that what is intuitively so is not.

St. Augustine had the answer: "Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee." Though I enjoy the repartee of a good apologetic debate, the fact is that God reveals himself to the human heart that is receptive to Him, and no argument to the contrary can speak more powerfully or persuasively than the still small voice of God. No argument can bring the satisfaction or peace that God speaks to us in His presence. So Hawking can hide in his self-created darkness and embrace his nihilistic speculations, but he does not persuade the one who has sat in the presence of God.  

 But God is gracious.  Hawking may yet see his need for more than his speculations provide. May God help him.

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