SCIENCE & Stephen Hawking ‘pointed theologians towards a God with the universe in the palm of his hand’

by Adam Beckett, The Church Times UK, 3/14/18.

…The Principal of St John’s College, Durham, the Revd Professor David Wilkinson, who is the author of God, Time and Stephen Hawking (Monarch, 2002), said on Wednesday: “There is sadness at his death, admiration for a remarkable life story, admiration for his remarkable works of science, and a thankfulness for some of the things he discovered about the universe.”

Professor Hawking had given the world an “optimism that science can deal with all of its own questions about the universe”, he said.

“[Professor Hawking] thought science should be able to give the reason for the start of the universe, which is a very important thing for people of faith.

“He reminded us who are of faith of the weakness of any ‘God in the gaps’ or deistic view of God, and pointed theologians towards a God with the universe in the palm of his hand.”

Professor Hawking “demolished smaller Gods, and left us with the bigger, biblical God”, Professor Wilkinson said.

Professor Hawking was a “person of great humour, fantastic courage, and brilliant mathematical ability”, and the scientific community would be “sad at losing such a public icon.

“We have lost a prophetic voice, with some of the things he had to say about climate change, the search for aliens, and our role in the universe.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury posted on Twitter: “Professor Stephen Hawking’s contribution to science was as limitless as the universe he devoted his life to understanding. His was a life lived with bravery and passion. As we pray for all those who mourn him, may he rest in peace.”

The Revd Dr Rodney Holder, a member of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, said that Professor Hawking was “a great, towering figure in cosmology, particularly in black holes, which will be his legacy”, and “undoubtedly a great man, battling with a terrible affliction”.

Dr Holder quoted Professor Hawking’s A Brief History of Time (Bantam, 1988), in which he wrote: “What is it that breathes fire into the equations [of the universe]?”. For people of faith, it was God, Dr Holder said.

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