Stephen Hawking’s Heaven

CNN’s Belief Blog, apparently open to contributions only by “successful” (i.e., university employed) religion scholars, nevertheless occasionally comes up with a thoughtful story. One of yesterday’s posts focuses on the fact that Stephen Hawking says Heaven is a “fairy story.” First of all, I have admit being surprised to see that Hawking is still in Cambridge—I could have sworn he was working in the Princeton public parking garage because it is his voice that comes out of the ticket machine. (Times being what they are for academics, I figured he might have needed a second job.) Ah, but appearances can be deceiving! I have had great respect for Stephen Hawking for many years. My own scientific interests must be relegated to a decidedly lay position among the collegiums of scientists, but Hawking writes books that people like me can (mostly) comprehend. Echoing an idea I stressed earlier—we came to the same conclusion independently—Hawking noted in a recent interview that Heaven is an idea devised to cope with fear.

Cosmologists, such as Hawking, speak with authority on the literal heavens. Ironically, the word “heavens” continues to retain its usefulness, even among scientists, for describing everything that is out there. Humans are assuredly small and our place in the universe is miniscule. In our heads, however, we conceive lofty ideas that seem to place our own consciousness outside the unlimited bounds of this universe. Is it any wonder that we can concoct gods? As deeply as they peer into the cold, dark recesses of outer space, astronomers and cosmologists find no room for Heaven. This cosmic inn, no matter how many aliens there may be, is largely empty.

What I find interesting is that journalists of religion find skepticism among scientists newsworthy. While being a rational thinker, as science demands, does not necessarily forego divine entities, using gods as explanations and having trans-dimensional heavens tucked away behind some far asteroid does somehow devalue the power and majesty of our eternal home. We expect our scientists to be skeptical—we wouldn’t often visit a doctor who sacrificed a goat on every office visit to consult its entrails concerning our health. And yet it is newsworthy when a scientist says in a forthright statement that Heaven does not exist. It would be like an evangelical preacher saying evolution never happened. The biggest miracle of all may be that whether it is Dr. Hawking’s doing or not, I actually manage to find parking in Princeton.

Billions and billions, but no angels with harps...

4 thoughts on “Stephen Hawking’s Heaven

  1. It took god seven days to create the earth, scripture says and all that goes with it. And the concept of the heavens were born, so to speak. Where do we go at the end of life is a question the brightest minds on earth have contemplated for ages. It is amazing how the most brilliant of minds can so simply deconstruct our belief systems that have lead the world over the last thousands of ages. Fear is that factor that rules our lives, in one way or another. Fear of having, or having not, fear is a necessary evil.

    Heaven is a concept that most major religions believe in. It is the focal point of our life’s endeavors. I guess these men of scientific minds have no fear hence, heaven is a non-issue for them. But if this notion came to bear in society as a whole, I think there would be major mayhem with people’s belief systems coming under fire. Most people would not pay attention to people like Hawking, because they cannot think at the same level that he does.

    Hawking has come up with some pretty strong statements about the earth, aliens and the heavens. But really, is anyone except students of the sciences paying attention? I think not.

    I don’t think we should worry about being divorced from our belief systems any time soon. People need something to hold on to, to believe in, and to trust. The massive sheep population is not easily led astray when it comes to certain beliefs. Birth, Life, Death, Reincarnation, Nirvana, they all share a common thread about the afterlife. I for one believe that there is something that happens when we die, and a place we all go to either astrally exist or return to learn something that we missed the last time around.

    I’ve got years of education in religion and tons of books in my personal library that tell me that there is something out there and that I can take that to the bank. That heaven is a “fairy tale” we use to deal with our fear of death is quite laughable. That fairy tale is the necessary glue that holds the worlds religions together. There would be no religion without the concept of the hereafter. It is part of our way of life – the final celebration to send off the dead to something more. What would come of society if we took away the final rites of death? Once again, I think there would be mayhem and disbelief.

    One wonders where Hawking is heading in his late life and what will happen to him and his family if there is no end, and that their fairy tale was believable, hence, we would not celebrate his life like regular human society.

    I think that the sciences has begun the task of disproving much of what has been “belief” for centuries. If you deconstruct what has been construction for centuries you run the risk of alienating the general public en masse.

    Live and Let Live they tell me. Hawking can have his fairy tale and I can have my beliefs. I can read what he writes and says and decide what portion of those words one can take with a grain of salt.

    Just a couple more days and the rapture is supposed to be upon us, I think we will get a front row seat on heaven in just hours. Do you believe???

    Jeremy

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  2. Denny Hibbard

    Ahh but heaven does exist and it is a parallel dimension and once a portal is opened the armies will pour through and slay all that resist them to set up a new kingdom on earth. Doubt me then check out the book of Enoch as to the opening of these portals. Angels? Demons? Aliens? or transdimensional biengs. Also check out Ray-el, as his goal is an embasy to heaven as he says he is the messiah. Forget your savings, loyalty to country, and everything else and prepare to bow or bleed. heven shouldn’t kill too many billions of earthies, but will destroy every goverment and army. cource this is like some doctor who stuff but I just want you to think.

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