If you think about it, God isn’t really very pretty. Virtually every war since the beginning of time has some religious component to the struggle. And while science is no spring chicken either, you can’t put that fact past Stephen Hawking. The controversial physicist and lecturer has long asserted that there is no evidence of God in the world; now he’s gone as far to say that there’s no reason for God at all. According to reports on MSNBC.com, Hawking “…is already making waves with his observation that science can explain the universe’s origin without invoking God.
“Because there is a law such as gravity,” write Hawking and co-author, Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow, “The universe can and will create itself from nothing.”
The religious folks may not be glad to hear about it but, according to the pair’s new text, “The Grand Design,” “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”
Unsurprisingly, the religious folks are all up in arms over these claims and this forthcoming book. “Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said to The Jewish Chronicle in response, ‘There is more to wisdom than science. It cannot tell us why we are here or how we should live.'”
While that’s a pretty glib response to a pretty incisive comment, the fact remains that facts are facts. If Hawking can prove what he’s said on a smaller scale, of course, than the formation of the Universe, then it stands to reason that reason and logic should win out the day. Of course the religious folks would argue that our perfect universe was created by God with that in mind.
Other attacks on Hawking have not been nearly as kind. According to reports on colombiareports.com, “Colombia’s inspector general asked the government to declare British scientist Stephen Hawking persona non grata, due to the scientist’s ‘malicious distortion of the Divine Truth.'”
The report continues: “Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez, Rome’s unofficial representative in Bogota and favorite for the national ‘Defender of Catholic Interests’ award, said he considers Hawking’s statement that ‘God didn’t create the universe – it was actually a result of the inevitable laws of physics’ is ‘an insult to the virtue and faith of the Colombian people. For 200 years the Colombian people have endured repression, hunger, injustice and violence, only because of their solid faith that once in heaven everything will be alright. Without this loyalty to God and His one and only representative on earth, the Church, Colombians may not be able to put up with what they are made to endure.'”
It seems what the Inspector General is saying strikes a larger chord in this debate. For many, God and their chance for eternal salvation in Heaven and their absolute fear of eternal damnation in Hell is their only reason to go on living. They may be poverty-stricken, they may be starving, they may not have anything or anyone to give them any hope for the possibility of a better tomorrow, so they hope for a better forever. If people want to believe in God or Heaven or the Devil or Hell, then let them. In the end, we as people — east coast/west coast, Fenway or Bronx, paper or plastic, regular of decaf, believers and atheists — will always find something to disagree over. If religion can teach people to think first of what’s right and not what feels good for the moment, I’ve got an ear for that. War, strife, greed, crime, abuse, violation; all that other stuff; that’s what I want free from my life.