The renowned theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking died on 14 March aged 76 and his ashes are to be interred next to the grave of Sir Isaac Newton at Westminster Abbey. How ironic! Sir Isaac Newton, appointed Lucasian professor of Mathematics in Cambridge University in 1669, who many think was the greatest scientist of all time, was a Christian whose belief in the Creator God was his driving force to study science. Professor Hawking who was appointed to the same chair in 1979 and became the most famous scientist of our time was a renowned atheist.
Despite this The Dean of Westminster, Dr John Hall is quoted by the BBC as saying: “It is entirely fitting that the remains of Professor Stephen Hawking are to be buried in the Abbey, near those of distinguished fellow scientists … We believe it to be vital that science and religion work together to seek to answer the great questions of the mystery of life and of the universe.”
Stephen Hawking famously said, “I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate.” Contrast Isaac Newton who said, “He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God; but he who really thinks has to believe in God.” Hard therefore to see why it is “entirely fitting” to place Stephen Hawking next to Isaac Newton in a Christian Church. We should reflect on what this says about the state of modern Christianity?
Oxford Professor of Mathematics, John Lennox has pointed out that Hawking’s rejection of God is a rejection of the concept on the primitive god of the gaps, a god needed to explain what the primitive mind cannot, such as thunder and lightning, and a god to be renounced every time scientific progress is made . But the God of the Bible is not a “god of the gaps”. The God of the Bible is the Creator of Science and Mathematics, the Reason why Stephen Hawking had something to study in the first place.
Lord Martin Rees – astronomer royal, former president of the Royal Society, and master of Trinity College, Cambridge – commented on Stephen Hawking’s pronouncements about God, so beloved of the poplar media: “I know Stephen Hawking well enough to know that he has read very little philosophy and even less theology, so I don’t think his views should be taken with any special weight “. This is an important point. Just because a famous scientist makes a pronouncement about the Big Questions it does not mean what is said is either scientific or correct – even if the media take it that way.
On the other hand Sir Isaac Newton was an ardent student of the Bible and especially of Bible Prophecy. He believed in the Unitary God and not the triune God, that man was mortal, that the Jews must return to the land of Israel before Christ returns, and that there will be a resurrection and the kingdom of God on earth. Indeed Isaac Newton’s answers to the Big Questions are very similar indeed to those of Christadelphians. See https://isaac-newton.org.