Outspoken atheist Stephen Hawking has died

(Danny R. Faulkner – Answers In Genesis) “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universeBut now science offers a more convincing explanationWhat I meant by “we would know the mind of God” is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’tI’m an atheist.” – Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking 1942–2018

Famed British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking died todayInterestingly, Albert Einstein was born on the same date in 1879Furthermore, both men died shortly after their 76th birthdaysThese facts wouldn’t be remarkable if their work and writings were not so intimately related.

At a relatively young age, Einstein developed the theory of general relativity, which for a century has been the dominant theory of space, time, and gravity. Not only was Hawking brilliant, he had good timing. When Hawking was in his 20s, most astrophysicists came to embrace the existence of black holes and the big bang cosmology. General relativity is the mathematical model used to understand both. Using general relativity, Hawking contributed more to the understanding of black holes and the naturalistic big bang model than any other person.

Hawking’s 1988 popular-level book A Brief History of Time was a huge successIt was well written, and it received rave reviewsThe book sold very well, for it offered the hope to millions that they, at last, could understand black holes and cosmologyAlas, a quote attributed to Einstein is that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” (though there is no evidence Einstein said this)This is complicated stuff, so many people who so enthusiastically began reading the book soon found that parts of it were very difficultA Brief History of Time has been described as the “least-read best-selling book of all time.” Hawking also authored the more-recent The Grand DesignMany of the views he presented in his books have been critiqued by AiG in articles such as “Stephen Hawking’s Emphasis on Universe Without God.”

While Hawking is famous for his contributions to astrophysics, his work may have escaped public notice if it weren’t for the diagnosis that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more than a half-century ago while he was in graduate schoolThis condition, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease in the United States for one of its more prominent victims, robs a person of bodily motor control.

Initially, physicians gave Hawking only a couple of years to live, but, obviously, this prognosis proved to be wrongWhile he had early onset of ALS, it proved to progress more slowly than usual in his caseHawking’s speech soon suffered, and as his control of his body continued to slip away, he was confined to a wheel chairAgain, Hawking’s timing was good, because advances in medical care extended his life far beyond what was possible only a few years beforeAnd advances in computer technology made it possible for him to continue communicating his work with others via voice synthesizers that were controlled by what few motor controls he retainedThe picture of Hawking in a wheel chair with a synthesized voice transformed him into an icon and folk hero.

As one might expect, the diagnosis of ALS had a serious impact on HawkingHe initially wanted to give up his graduate studies, thinking that there was no point in continuing, but he soon was convinced to returnIt also had a very negative effect upon his marriageHawking and his first wife, Jane, were married in 1965, shortly after his diagnosis of ALSThey remained married for 30 years, though it became increasingly strained as Hawking’s illness progressed.

After their divorce, Jane wrote her autobiography (1999), which went through an update (2007), and was adapted into the 2014 film The Theory of EverythingIn the books and in interviews, Jane described the ways in which Hawking changed during their marriage and how the Hawking she knew was very different from his public personaMost striking was Jane’s conviction that her Christian faith sustained her in all thisShe contrasted that with Hawking’s atheism.  View article →