I recently listened to a portion of an interview with renowned physicist Stephen Hawking regarding his new book, The Grand Design. Hawking claims that the universe was not created by God, but that the laws of physics were behind the Big Bang. He feels that the universe can create itself from nothing and that is why the universe exists and why we exist. In essence, he believes that God is unnecessary for creation.
While I definitely disagree with Hawking’s claim, I certainly do not have the knowledge and understanding to debate Hawking’s conclusions. I barely know how to spell the term physics, much less understand or debate the principles that Hawking uses to support his theories. After listening to Hawking’s comments, however, I felt a strange type of sadness for him and others like him who do not know the God I know. Yet I also struggled to think about how you could help someone like him come to know the true God of the universe.
If I had an opportunity to talk to Stephen Hawking about God, what would I say? While he sits paralyzed in a wheelchair and can only talk through a voice synthesizer, what would I say to help him know that God loves him? As he relays scientific theories that explain how the universe creates itself, what would I say to help him know my God whom I believe spoke the universe into existence? What could I say to all the Stephen Hawking’s out there to convince them God truly exists?
The truth is that I cannot explain my God. I can learn about Him in the Bible. Numerous Scriptures and stories help me to have a better understanding of God and His ways. Following are a few of the attributes of God that the Bible expounds: God is incomparable (2 Samuel 7:22), unchangeable (Numbers 23:19), unequaled (Isaiah 40:13-25; all powerful (Jeremiah 32:17,27), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12), all knowing (1 John 3:20), wise (acts 15:18), holy (Revelations 4:8), just (Psalm 89:14), loving (1 John 4:8,16), truthful (Psalm 117:2), merciful (Lamentations 3:22,23), and eternal (Isaiah 57:15). Yet, in all honesty, Scriptures such as these help me to know my God better, a God I already believe in and trust. I’m doubtful they could be used to convince a doubting unbeliever.
So what do we do? I think I know. You see, no where in Scripture are we told to debate what we believe. In fact, Paul’s instructions to Timothy read: “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:23-26). But we are also instructed to know what we believe and be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15a).
In other words, we do not have to debate what we believe. We just need to be able to tell others what we believe. It is our responsibility to state our argument, not necessarily convince our opponent. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict and work in the hearts and lives of all people.
So how would I answer Stephen Hawking? If I had the opportunity I would simply tell him about the God I believe in and the difference He has made in my life. While I cannot fully fathom or explain the works of my infinite God, I accept by faith what the Bible teaches about Him. As Paul exclaimed in Romans 11:33-36: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” Through faith I believe that God is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, working to accomplish His will in the world. As Revelations 22:13 states: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
But even more than that I would want to tell him about how God loved me and sent Jesus. You see I was lost and in sin, but God sent a Savior. “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7) There was nothing I could do to save myself. I couldn’t be good enough, smart enough, or possess any ability that could deliver me from my sin. Only God could send a Savior. This is what I want Stephen Hawking and everyone else in the world to know. No matter what we believe about the necessity of God for creation, He is absolutely essential for our redemption. And what we believe about Jesus and how we respond to Him can make all the difference in the world – an eternal difference.