THE THEORY OF SOMETHING

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz was an 18th century mathematical genius who first posed the timeless question “Why is there something instead of nothing?” In 1710 he wrote Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil in which he concluded that our universe was the best of all possible worlds that God could have created. His belief in God was ridiculed by the infidels of his day like Voltaire, René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza. Leibniz’s accomplishments however would surpass that of even our best modern thinkers, like Stephen Hawking, by a long measure. He is probably not a household name because it is far too hard to pronounce. Leibniz was a childhood prodigy who became fluent in Latin and studied works of Greek scholars when he was only twelve. At fourteen he entered university and studied  philosophy, mathematics, and law. As an adult he was one of history’s greatest minds in physics, technology, philosophy, probability theory, biology, medicine, geology, psychology, linguistics, politics, law, ethics, theology, history, and philology to name a few. He published his discovery of calculus three years before Isaac Newton. I suspect he may have also been in a heavy metal band and was the inspiration for Guns and Roses guitarist Slash’s hair style.

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In one of Hollywood’s latest offerings, The Theory of Everything, the subject of the film is the personal life of renowned physicist Steven Hawking. It is based on a book by Hawking’s former wife, Jane Wilde Hawking entitled Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. It of course touches on his extraordinary career but has more to do with their life together and dealing with his debilitating motor neuron disease ALS.  Actor Eddie Redmayne was particularly convincing as Hawking and won the Best Actor Oscar for his efforts. Although the movie lagged in the last half hour and fizzled to an end, it still packed a highly emotional punch as it recreated the palpable sense of pain the family faced as they dealt with Stephen’s ever diminishing health. For me, the highlight of the film was the faith conflict between Jane and Stephen. This was very much part of their journey and may have been the catalyst that in the end doomed their marriage. The real life Jane has always been a person of faith, whereas Stephen has always prided himself as a rational man of science with no need for a celestial dictator. Jane claimed that he regularly mocked her faith, even as she in return showed him undying care and devotion. The title of the movie is based on Stephen’s oft quoted search for “one simple elegant equation to explain everything.” This so called theory of everything has eluded Hawking his entire life, and I believe always will, because it is based on a flawed premise. Hawking is determined to prove that the universe had the ability to create itself and that there is no need for a creator.

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In his earlier work, A Brief History of Time, which is a fascinating and enjoyable read, he begins with this statement. “However, if we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just by a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.” Many, including his wife Jane, took this as a nod to the possibility of a Creator. Hawking has, for the most part, now hinted that what he meant by that was that one day we would know as much as God… if there actually was one. It was far more backhanded then most of us realized.

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In his most recent book, The Grand Design, he has made this audacious claim. “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. 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.” In other words, he claims that gravity created the universe and not God. He has explained this further in interviews by saying, “One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but science makes God unnecessary.” What makes this a false, and frankly ridiculous statement, is the fact that science actually demands the opposite. Without getting bogged down in the science of it, every probable model of the universe requires some sort of ‘first cause’. Most notably Hawking has failed to answer the critical and scientific and philosophical question posed by Leibniz 300 years ago,’Why is there something instead of nothing?’ Although in The Grand Design he references the question and even claims to answer it he really only succeeds in re-asking it. If gravity created the universe, then who created gravity?

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As Kathy and I watched The Theory of Everything something jumped off the screen at me so powerfully that I said it out loud. As Stephen became more ardent in his atheism, the existence of God grew ever more evident. The two Christians in the movie, his wife Jane and the church choir director Jonathon Hellyer Jones , demonstrated uncommon selfless love towards an increasingly helpless Stephen. “Those two are more proof of the existence of God than anyone could ever ask for,” were the words that came out of my mouth. 1 John 4:12 says, No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. The only way our world is really going to see God is through the love of Jesus that we demonstrate by our Christian walk. Whether that was the intent of the movie, I am not sure, but it became so clear to me that I think it would be the perfect movie to watch with a skeptic and then engage them in the big questions of God and creation.

By the way, one inaccuracy of the movie was leaving the impression that Jane left Stephen and married Jonathon. The real story was that Stephen left Jane for his nurse in 1990, marrying her in 1995, and Jane did not marry Jonathon until 1997.

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13 Responses to THE THEORY OF SOMETHING

  1. Disciple says:

    My uncle is a devout Buddhist, he gave up one of his lungs for a complete stranger after beating cancer.
    Should Buddhist use this story to proselytize non Buddhist.
    Perhaps this “revelation” you had is for you yourself, perhaps we should all love a little more, not profit from using Jesus’ name in vain, and, as Jesus stated in the scriptures ” NO man comes to Me less The Father draw him”, let the sovereign will of God call those who’m He will have mercy on.
    Or you can keep making proselytes, who in turn go out and make more proselytes, I’m sure this keeps your pay cheque steady.
    I can’t believe people pay people to read them a book, give them their personal interpretations of a book and then sit there and listen to a person pontificate on how they should lives according to a mans interpretations of a book. Do people really need to be remind d every week that they should lie good?
    Sucker born every minute I guess.

  2. Mark Hughes says:

    Your uncle sounds like a very kind human being. Our world needs more people that live like him. Beyond that, I am guessing you never saw the movie and kind of missed my point. We can chose scientific logic and possibly miss out on the higher aspirations of faith, family, love and the purpose of life itself.

  3. Disciple says:

    I have no interest in watching movies. I do get your point and that’s why i responded as I did. Perhaps you missed the point I was trying to make. If people fail to see The hand of God in their life, all the talks and sermons in the world will not reveal God to them if God does not reveal Himself to them. As a matter of fact, it will probably distance them from God. Making religious proselytes is not making disciples.
    So, what is the purpose of Life?

  4. Barb. Gerhard says:

    The really pathetic thing about this is the blindness of a man who is dying, and is so disabled, he has hardened, instead of softening. when if he was to repent and believe he could go to be with Jesus in Heaven, and be healed, as it is he is Hell bound and after suffering in this life will suffe worse in the next,

    And its not as if he didn’t have a chance, and just because he is disabled doesn’t exempt him from judgment, he has wilfully rejected God, God is not concerned as much about our physical condition, as much as He is concerned about our spiritual condition.

    So just being in a wheel chair dopesn’t make a person special or exempt from God’s coming wrath and judgment, as some might think.

    Stephen is blessed to have a Christian wife who was there to help and love him, as he diminished in health, many people are not so fortunate. he is accountable for his wilful rejection of God and all the sins he committed in his life including adultry. he needs prayers and i will pray for him to get saved befor its too late. he is still alive isn’t he?

    I have a family member who is an athiest, and he is adamit in it, I believe prayer is the answer when all else fails thats all we can do as believers. pray for my nephew to turn from his unbelief who ever reads this post, that would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Gerry says:

    Barb, maybe you will pray for the nephew who disrespected the hard-working and great Pastor Mark.
    Stephen Hawking gets more than enough prayers and I will pray for Stephen to live to the age of atleast 130 years old so that Mr. Hawking can finally figure out that God kept him alive this long with the presence of gravity.

  6. Karen says:

    I marvel everyday at the blessings God has given me. I think that if you take the Creator out of Creation, there really isn’t a reason to celebrate life at all. Science is having a hard time keeping up with God. He does so many amazing, unexplainable things every single day. Just because you supposedly have a wonderful scientific mind that assumes it can explain every little thing on this earth, you really have missed the point. We have the earth and every thing in it is a gift from God. We shouldn’t be looking to examine the gift, but enjoy it in all its abundance.

  7. Gerry says:

    Thanks Karen and Mark
    Amen

  8. Jack says:

    I’ve read and viewed a lot of debate regarding whether the universe has a creator or not. Everything from a universe about 6000 years old that was created in 7 literal days (implausible) to a universe that was created by a creator as science understands it (ie “let there be light”) but not literally as the bible states. If there was a creator, then why the Christian one? Why not the Jewish one? Or the Muslim one? Or one of Hindus many?

  9. Mark Hughes says:

    Jack
    Nothing wrong with that question. The Christian God and Jewish one are actually the same. Allah, the Muslim one, was supposed to be the same one as well since Muhammad was merely attempting to rewrite the biblical story in the 7th century. He got it all confused, but the Koran was never intended to replace the bible story, only correct it. The Hindu gods, at 330 million strong. (no joke) would likely not be able to get together a consensus to build a sandcastle.

    The fascinating thing about science is that the more advanced it becomes, the more it begins to point to a ‘singularity’ that could only be fulfilled by the God of the Judeo-christian Bible. Read Francis Collin’s The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. He was physician-geneticist who lead the International Human Genome Project. This project, which had as its primary goal the sequencing of the three thousand million base pairs that make up human genome, was successfully completed in April 2003. The first thing he did when he finished was to sit down and write a book on how the whole thing points to the God of the Bible.

    • jay says:

      If Hawkins work on theorectical physics and his growing atheism should not, in your view, incline people to believe as he does then why attach any credence to Francis Collins’ book?

      Francis Collins did some amazing scientific work then wrote a book about God….ok
      Tyson, Krauss, Hawkins and Dawkins have done great scientific work and all profess atheism – but that obviously doesnt impress you….so why should Collins?

  10. Wil Graham says:

    After cutting the grass one day for the umptheenth time, and having a chance to contemplate the concempt of creation, I looked to the simple dandelion for a simple explanation of its intelect. yes intelect. While working with a graduate of horticulture i was introduced to the concept that the dandelion has some kind of built in intelligence. When the dandelion first grows in the spring it can grow as high as a couple of feet. But as my horticulture graduate companion duly noted to me, that once the dandelion is cut down, it will now flower below the height of cut. below the height of the mower blades. Now, he noted this as some kind of intelligence. But i noted that the dandelion has no brain, so therefore the intelligence must have been introduced into its marching orders in its original blueprint. So i asked him, who on earth gave the dandelion its intelligence, so he said, “i don’t know, why don’t you ask the dandelion.” so i did, and you know what? well the dandelion aint talkin. so i asked god, and well, you know what, well he aint talking either. and now that i think of it,, well , sometimes i just think that old dandelion just has a mind of His own!!! Wil Graham.

  11. agnes says:

    Pastor Mark, i love how you preach, you are humorous @ times & yet you are still able to preach the word in a simple layman’s language that everybody can understand.You are humble,honest,down to earth & bless with good look!Keep on Preaching.GOD BLESS YOU & your beautiful Family!

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