“The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can’t understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second. If you like, you can call the laws of science ‘God’, but it wouldn’t be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions.” (Stephen Hawking)
Professor Hawking is one of the most intriguing men of our time. He is known for his work in the field of physics and was popularized by a book, “A Brief History of Time,” that reached a broad audience. He is undoubtedly a brilliant mathematician, he can reconstruct the universe in his mind using numbers and formulas, and has basically proved that the universe (including time) had a definite beginning. But Hawking is agnostic, he sees a big impersonal ‘God’ when he looks into the expanse of space and is probably right about what he sees.
A Small View of God
Many people (religious fundamentalists and atheists especially) subscribe to a small view of God. They confine God to simple ‘black and white’ human moral or logical thinking (theirs) and essentially demand a God on their level. But if God is the creative force behind the entire universe, then God is bigger than the universe and also bigger than any of the concepts of morality or logic in the universe. A big concept of God is a God that transcends universal moral categories and exists above or beyond all human reasoning. A God bigger than scientific law or religion.
Finding God in Our Humility
Picture humanity as an infant, this earth as our playpen and the universe the house over our heads. We can see the room, we can speculate about other rooms and theorize about some sort of reality beyond house. We know house is predictable, the temperatures fall between certain parameters, schedules are somewhat consistent and yet we see through a foggy window that there could possibly be more than the house we are in. God is like the parent who can come and go, lives beyond the playpen and our childish mind.
Finding God Beyond Our Own Dimensionality
But my concept and understanding of God goes beyond that have a celestial parent or personality. I believe Biblical personification of God is simply an attempt to explain what is inexplicable. Still, I do believe God can give himself personality to relate to us and is more than some vague life force or abstraction. I believe God is a spirit or mind, but one that dwells beyond the rules of science that govern the dimensions of this universe. In other words, God sees the Tesseract of our limited dimensionality and exists beyond all dimensionality.
Finding God Beyond Material Reality
I know this might not appeal to those with the materialism perspective who do not feel inclined to accept reality beyond their ability (or the ability of their scientific instruments, mathematics and logic) to see. But science has many limits. We cannot scientifically prove our own consciousness exists and still accept it as reality. Not everything of our reality is provable by experiment or calculations, some things we must just know and accept as reality, the reality of our consciousness one of those things and the idea of greater consciousness another.
Finding God Beyond Cold Calculation
“Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen.” (Stephen Hawking)
Professor Hawking and other theoretical physicists seek a ‘unified theory’ for their science, an explanation for the paradoxical discoveries that upset a simpler idea of the universe, but the day it is found (if these ‘dice’ were left within our reach) there will be more questions unanswerable by science. Questions of why, of purpose and morality are probably beyond math. Why we do not believe it is immoral for a cat to eat a mouse, both sentient beings, the cat remorseless, and yet to kill becomes an issue of morality for us. Why care if the weak are exploited?
A Unified Theory of God
We are sentient, we are also moral creatures and our morality needs to enter the grand equation or we are left with little more than cold calculus that starts with star dust then ends with the heat death of the universe. We know there is something more just as we know we consciously exist and therefore we need a bigger view of God than Hawking’s. We need a God so big he can be personally involved or, in other words, a unified theory of an intimate and big God. Consciousness, morality and science offer us a place to start a pursuit of God, but we need to pursue further…
The Personal and Intimate God
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (John 4:19-26 NIV)
Looking Backwards and Beyond the Universe for God
Many search for God, but do they look in the right place to find God? The religious are like this woman who met Jesus, they seek God in physical objects like places, rituals or books. The scientific mind looks further out, they search the universe for answers down to the tiniest particles and up to the lights of the sky. But both are looking outward to find God and truth. Could it be our mind is the closest possible connection we could ever have to the realities beyond the material, mathematical and time universe?
Finding God in the Moral Mind
If the entire universe can be compressed to the size of a point as small as the period at the end of this sentence, then a God big enough to be simultaneously small is not such a big leap. So perhaps Hawking, like that woman talking to Jesus, is looking in the wrong direction to find the person of God?
10 thoughts on “What is God?”
Nice observations though.
(Btw…is there something more you said?)
One of the truly sad things about Hawking is he doesn’t realize, after all his research, by answering that question about the beginning of the universe as being by a law of science, he actually got the answer correct. He fails to realize, in his own field of interest, that God is the author of the laws of science, and we are the struggling students trying to understand His laws. And by failing to accept that, he misses out on everything else that comes with knowing the One who doesn’t merely have a THEORY of everything, but IS the CREATOR of everything.
I always pray for him when I think of him. He has been given so much by God. Has been kept alive by God long after he really “should”, according to medical experts, have died. I always pray that he will come to see the One he used to search for but somehow missed. Think about the impact of that testimony, if it were to happen!
Given what he has lived through I can imagine it would be easier to blame math than a loving Father. Suffering, even temporary, is hard to reconcile with good and no doubt Hawking has struggled more than most of us with that niggling question of why. I pray God is extra gracious to those who have questioned. One thinks of a man named Job.
Job is a good comparison. But Job, in spite of everything, insisted that God was real and was good.
Pat of my concern with people like Hawking also has to do with where they lead others. How many people have rejected God because of Hawking and people like him?
Questioning is good. It’s important. But at what point does refusal to see the “obvious”, as in
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20 NIV)
Some may ‘externalize’ blame, some may even God, but James 1:13-14 says…
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.”
I suppose I could be the exception, but the work of men like Hawking, their brilliance of mind, has rarely caused me to doubt God. For me it is the lack of faith in the church, the pride without spiritual substance of the self-proclaimed representatives of Jesus and yet do not share the Spirit.
I do believe the enemy within is often more dangerous than the enemy outside the gate.
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I hope you’re not the exception, but after having worked on a university campus for 35 years, I’ve seen far too many examples of people who almost worship people like Hawking, Darwin, and the like.
It’s always seemed to me like they should have known better, with their brilliance of mind and understanding. But they didn’t. And then they end up in the position that James also warned about – being teachers. True – they don’t believe in God, so they would pay no attention to the warning, even if they did know about it.
But that’s little help to the many students who happily follow down that same path, led by these “teachers” – the path that claims there is no God. It’s very sad.
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I think teachers (and other esteemed people) do bear a responsibility for the ideas they promote and potential damage they have done. It is reason to stay humble and be careful ourselves…
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Good thoughts. However, if you want to back out of the traditional definition of God directly based in the Bible, and say that God is something bigger than that or bigger than we understand, then you have no right to also be able to define it, because you have zero proof for anything that you’re saying.
Atheists focus on a specific view of God because that is the view that gets pushed on them and their children tax-free. If you wanna just say God is bigger than that, fine, but then don’t try to legislate Him or tell others what He thinks, what He’s gonna do, or what He doesn’t like.
First, thank you for your response and thoughts. I am perhaps redefining a traditional perspective of God ever so slightly, but I do not believe I am reinventing or doing an injustice to the God of the Bible. I do believe God is provable, but in the same way we know we exist consciously and yet cannot ‘prove’ it through the scientific method. I do not believe one should look in the direction of physical evidence until they have looked inwardly. Is there anything to lose in asking the God of the Spirit in Jesus to reveal himself to you?
Anyhow, I’m sorry you feel a particular religion is being forced on you and your children. I am against public schools indoctrinating young people into ideologies I oppose as well, yet I do realize people promote what they believe and even those who see things differently from me. I was not afraid to argue (respectfully) with teachers who promoted perspectives apart from my own. I believe it can be an opportunity to learn critical thinking.
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