Stephen Hawking did not believe in life after death and religion was only a fairy tale to him. For decades, the gravely ill astrophysicist from Great Britain could only communicate via his speech computer. But his illness did not stop him from dealing with the complex questions of life, such as whether there is a God. Is the world a product of chance? Is there any other life in the vastness of the universe? Whatever Hawking said about that, there was a lot of discussion. Now the genius died in Cambridge at the age of 76.
Is there a contradiction between faith and science?
Though the church did not agree with him on many issues, this genius scientist challenges us with his curiosity to reflect. It is certainly no coincidence that he was also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. A paradox? Not at all. God intended reason, with which we can recognize the rational structures of the world, just as he wanted faith. That is why the Christian faith demands and promotes (natural) science. Faith is there for the purpose of recognizing things that are not closed to reason but are real beyond reason. Faith reminds science not to sit in the place of God and serve creation (from YOUCAT; question 23). It is not about knowledge about God, but about relationship with God. Faith means to love God, to love God, to call God good, to praise God. Blaise Pascal, the great French mathematician and philosopher once said:”People and human things need to be known in order to love them. God and divine things must be loved to know them.”
What we can learn
To put it in Stephen Hawking’s words: “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking.
[Photo Vatican Media]