by Warren Nelson | 14 March 2018 |
I’ve spent a lot of time, over the course of my life, thinking about various disasters that could befall my person and how I would react. Oliver Sack’s book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat was probably the most terrifying book I’ve ever read, and it led to numerous nightmares over the years about waking up and not being able to move or communicate.
We just lost one of the world’s most amazing minds who lived in that state for 50 years!
There was no part of Stephen Hawking’s life that he had control over, except his mind. And yet he became one of the most admired scientific minds of our time, traveling widely, speaking (through his American-accented speech synth), writing and debating intensely, the nature of the cosmos. Here is a list his some of his accomplishments—including guest starring on “The Big Bang Theory”!
Which brings us to Hawking’s work. He thought about and studied the universe, what it is, where it is and its future. Much of what he taught and wrote is completely understandable only to the very few minds as brilliant as his. And yet those thoughts inspired us.
And here is something interesting: though he was very clear that his thoughts about the beginning and possible end of the universe did not require a God, they were big enough that they could contain a God.
Imagine that. One of the most brilliant minds (if not the most brilliant) of our time was not troubled by a science vs. religion debate! He wrestled with all kinds of issues: the fate of black holes, the size and shape of the universe, whether the universe had a size and shape and so on.
But at no point was he troubled that there might be a God. And he was equally untroubled at the thought that there wasn’t a God.
How can that be?
The next time you are somewhere where the Milky Way is visible, just sit and stare for awhile. And think about this: knowing what you know about our world, our solar system, our galaxy and our universe (expanding or not), do you need a God to be inspired by its vastness?
Can you simply be blown away because you know you exist in this endless beauty? If you can, even for a minute, then why are we arguing?
Thanks, Dr. Hawking, for your amazing life and work!
Quotations from Stephen Hawking:
- “One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”
- “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist…. Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”
- “People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.”
- “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”
- “Quiet people have the loudest minds.”
- “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”
- “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”
- “For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”
- “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”
- “The victim should have the right to end his life, if he wants. But I think it would be a great mistake. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”
- “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”
- “I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”
- “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win, because it works.”
Warren Nelson is an member of the Adventist Today team. He writes from Vancouver, Washington.