Stephen Hawking is back in the news, this time with a book that, according to press reports, provides scientific evidence that God did not create the Universe. It's likely to spark outrage among Christians -- or anyone else who believes in God (Muslims, Jews ...) -- and will cause many people to want to rise up and argue vociferously against the professor's points.
My advice: don't take the bait.
Don't succumb to what was, essentially, The First Temptation of Christ: to dispute the point that began, "if thou be the Son of God ....". For Jesus, even responding to the Devil's statement would be to admit that there was the slightest possibility that He wasn't the Son of God. Instead, Jesus simply said, "it is written ...." No debate. No discussion. Stand on the Word of God and do not waver.
For us, that's important, because that is the very weapon we have at our disposal as believers, and that's all we need.
So no matter how tempting it is to stew on the concept and think of a well-constructed, rational argument, all that does is play into the devil's hands and take the fight onto his turf. Rational thinking cannot withstand faith, and as the Apostle Paul says, anyone who believes in God has to begin by accepting that He exists, and since no one has seen God, that's a matter of faith.
A little while ago, I blogged about another statement of Hawking's, that mankind had to make plans to colonize other parts of the galaxy(ies), or else we'd become extinct. That might have been taken as a wake-up call to the situation on Earth, but his theory that the Universe could have come to be without God runs deeper than simply promoting science over religion.
If God did not create the Universe, then to whom are we accountable. The idea of our accountability is based in that fundamental statement in Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth". If for some reason we reject that, then what good is a God at all? Why should we be accountable to Him? Why should we follow commandments? Why should we love Jesus and love our neighbour as ourselves and lay down our lives for others, whatever the cost or level of inconvenience?
Take God out of the picture, and we're left alone with our own intellect to get us through life. What many think of as freedom of thought is really aimless direction. What is the foundation of any kind of morality? Laws by governments that can be changed the instant a party ticks off enough of the electorate? Being "nice" or "tolerant" towards someone? If my intellect is as good as it gets, I'm in big trouble. I need God, through His Holy Spirit, to show me what to do and how to do it, and if this God didn't even create the Heavens and the Earth, then He's really not much better than I am so why should I owe Him any obedience at all?
Worse -- take God out of the picture and you take Love out of the picture. God is Love, and Love cannot be explained by any kind of reason. Take Love out of the picture and the concept of laying down one's life for someone else can only happen if it's convenient for someone: if it makes them look good or saves someone's life because the person laying down his or her life would miss them. For that very reason, Man could never have conceived of unconditional Love.
But as Christians, we know that, and because we know it -- it's not a theory for scientists to debate, publish and peer-review -- there's absolutely no point in debating Hawking's theory or giving it the time of day; even if we think that we've come up with the perfect slam-dunk to shut it down.
Consider Eve. In her zeal to defend her right standing with God, she embellished on God's instructions regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil -- saying God had said not even to touch it -- and, by essentially lying about God's word, giving the devil an opening.
Consider Hezekiah's troops (II Kings 18), faced with the Assyrian envoy not just trash-talking their military abilities but trash-talking the God of Israel Himself. Every soldier kept his mouth shut, having been being ordered not to respond to the envoy's increasingly blasphemous rantings. That's how we have to be.
Besides, to respond would be to judge Prof. Hawking, himself. It's possible to be "sincerely wrong" about something, and we are only called on to pray for those who are misguided. I believe God is using Hawking as a means of dragging the atheists to the brink of the abyss and then, in a glorious revelation of His own, showing Himself to Hawking in a way so brilliant, so glorious and so incontrovertible, that Hawking will have no choice but to repent and retract his statements ... and in the process, bring other atheists into the Kingdom with him.
That is, in effect, what happened to the Apostle Paul. He was by no means the last person to be knocked off his horse and become one of the Lord's greatest supporters, and I believe Stephen Hawking is a prime candidate for a shaft of light, himself.