Posted tagged ‘God’

Reflections on the Influence of Stephen Hawking

March 19, 2018

Lets all go to Mars, sculpture by Stephen Hawking (Depositphotos Photography ID: 169212920 Copyright: irisphoto11 Editorial use only)

Stephen Hawking recently passed away after living a remarkably full life in spite of being stricken by Lou Gehrig’s Disease at an early age. He was one of the most influential people of his time, not because of his condition, but because of his mind. He was brilliant and pioneered new understandings of the universe through applied mathematics in the field of cosmology.

Hawking is a voice that people listened to, not only in science, but in the application of science to such things as philosophy and the origin of the universe. Hawking may have toyed once with the idea of God, but he became an atheist. He chose, as have many a modern scientist has chosen since the 19th century, to view the world without reference to God.

In this article, I explore some comments made by Hawking’s colleague, John Lennox, who begins a recent interview by extolling the brilliance of Stephen Hawking and his scientific achievements. I also introduce two very young geniuses who have different takes on the subject o God.

The context of the article is this: when Hawking went beyond the science that he knew so well, he stumbled into a realm of philosophy as to which he was wasn’t as well informed. This is not because of any lack in intelligence, of course. John Lennox quotes Martin Rees, a cosmologist and astrophysicist and 40 year colleague of Stephen Hawking, who points out that Hawking is not well read in the areas of philosophy and theology:



This unfamiliarity with the sophistication of philosophy and theology led Hawking to make some very unsophisticated statements, like “philosophy is dead” (which is, itself, a philosophical statement which, if true, undermines the very statement Hawking made). Without diminishing Stephen Hawkins’ contributions to science, we need to view philosophical comments for what they are worth and consider the influence of these unsophisticated statements on how we do science in the future

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God’s Special Purpose

January 11, 2018


God reminds us who He is because we are creatures, the product of His creation, and we could not understand God without Him revealing Himself to us. We also could not understand purpose in our lives apart from the God who made us. And it turns out that He made us for a special purpose.

Among the various revelations that can be read in the various books that we consider Scripture is the revelation of a God who created humankind in His own image. We reflect many of the characteristics of the God who fashioned us. Perhaps of greatest significance is the ability He has given us to direct our own wills.

We can choose to see and relate to God for who He is. We can choose to be the captains of our own souls. We can either commit ourselves to our God and Maker, or we can choose to go our own ways. If we choose to go our own ways, however, we go it alone, without the blessing or sustaining grace of the God who made us.

“Return to me, for I have redeemed you,” says God through Isaiah. (Is. 44:22) The God who gave us this capacity to accept or reject Him, calls us to Himself.

In the end, God is all that we could want, all that we are made for and all that we need. In Him is love and peace and eternal life. He is reminding us who He is. Our destiny rests on our willingness to grasp this reality and to submit ourselves to it.

We will not need to be told to “sing for joy….” (Is. 44:23) when we do submit and yield to our Maker because in Him is our joy. It is the natural expression of the child returning home to her Father. God is who He says, and God reminds us who He is in His lovingkindness.

Conflating God with People

February 7, 2017

ed-sheeran-concert


I have an old friend who is “disgusted” that many Christians supported Donald Trump and were a significant factor in Trump winning the election. She, like many women (and men), cannot get past the infamous words that Trump spoke how about a woman reporter. I won’t repeat them here. They are too vulgar for polite company.

My friend has been so turned off of Christians and “the” Church by the fact that many Christians voted for Trump and were a factor in electing him, that she no longer goes to church at all after decades of being a church-goer.

I don’t want to get into politics here. That isn’t the issue I’m focused on.

I have family and friends who say that they can’t believe in God, or can’t believe in the Christian God, because Christians are hypocrites. This is what leads me to write this piece.

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Between 2016 and Eternity: Candid Hope

December 29, 2016
Photo by Amanda Leutenberg

Photo by Amanda Leutenberg

A rather candid article, 2016 Is Not Killing People, got me thinking today. The article picked up on the various social media comments ruing the celebrities we have lost in 2016, looking forward to 2017, as if 2017 will be any better. Being equally as candid as the article – It won’t be.

The article focuses on the notorious drug use of some iconic celebrities that we lost in 2016. Prince. George Michael. Princess Leia (I mean Carrie Fisher). They all had issues with drug addiction that likely played a key role in their relatively early deaths.

I say relatively early death because just one hundred years ago, and for hundreds of centuries before that, people didn’t live as long, on average, as we do today. Death has always, faithfully done its job. Our experience with death may not be what it was in years gone by, but the inevitably of death has never been more (or less) present.

We not only live longer, but we have more distractions from the stark realities of life than ever before. Drugs, ironically, are among those ubiquitous distractions that characterize our modern lives, the same drugs that led to the early demise of many notable celebrities in 2016.

Not all distractions shorten our lives, of course. Some of them, like fitness, running and similar crazes are likely to prolong our lives. We might squeeze another 10, 20 or more years out of our lives. Maybe, if we have the right distractions, we might live to be 100. Maybe even slightly older.

For what?

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Atoms, Empty Space and Opinion

August 28, 2016

N. Dakota Sunset - Alex Fleming 2


I am a follower of Christ, and a believer in truth. Not that I have a monopoly on truth. Truth is truth, I like to say. Facets of it are available to everyone at all times.

Truth might be overrated. I say that only partially tongue in cheek.  Jesus says He is the way, the truth and the life, so truth is only part of the equation to that extent.

This is also a truth: there is nothing new under the sun. to “prove” that statement I offer Democritus, who lived centuries before Christ and millennia before “modern” scientific discoveries.

He might have been a typical modernist, eschewing any reality but matter and energy, but for the fact that he were born in another era, and he believed in gods.

Iron age ignorance is what moderns call it now. That fits into the opinion part, between atoms and empty space.

I think we take comfort, or try to, in the vastness of time and space. It leaves a lot of room to stretch out. We don’t like being hemmed in. Me included.

But, there is this nagging small voice. (more…)

The Music of love

June 22, 2014

Silhouette of Couple Playing Guitar at Sunset


Music is a powerful thing. Perhaps, nothing captures human emotion like music. The theme of love runs through music, as it does with all forms of art. The intimate love of a couple is one of the most powerful and life changing emotions a person can experience.The intensity of being in love may be unmatched by any other human emotion, even the love of a parent for a child.

I muse on this as I listen to music this morning. One of the most intimate of modern musical muses is Johnny Swim. The kitschy and unlikely name belies a husband and wife combination making some of the best music today. They also seem madly in love with each other. Beautiful voices. Smooth harmonies. Palpable emotions. Powerful songs. It is catchy music, but it is not pop. I would call it indie, but folksy.

Their story is as compelling as their music. She is the daughter of Donna Summer, the disco queen. Her first CD as young girl was Vince Gil. He is Cuban. His father was a preacher. They saw each other for the first time across a room in college. She pegged him as a ladies man, out of her league. She avoided him for four years. He saw her and said to himself, “That is the woman I am going to marry.”

Take some time to listen to their music: Diamonds and Live While We’re Young are anthems of youth and passion and love.

  • “We are the fire from the sun. We are the light when the day is done. We are the brave, the chosen ones. We are the diamonds rising out of the dust.”
  • “Make no mistake. Live while we’re young. Chase down the sun. Hands off the brake. We can die when we’re done. Let’s live while we’re young.”

They portray that intimate, heady love that is the thing dreams are made of, the happily ever after feeling that books and movies attempt to capture on the screen and poets captured in words. It is a love that everyone yearns for, but often seems just out of reach. Listen to Take the World and You and I:

  • [T]hey can write stories
    They can sing songs
    But they don’t make fairy tales
    Sweeter than ours
  • Tell me where we’re gonna plant these seeds
    I come climbing up your apple tree
    Can you take me to your garden please

Then there is the song, Over. It is as beautiful as it is haunting. “Wake me up the dream I had is over”.

The truth is that the Disney kind of love really does not exist.

It is too good to be true. It is an illusion. It cannot be sustained, at least not in the passionate, head over heels kind of way. “[Y]our love is on fire on mountain tops not down with me….” is recognition of the illusion that many people fall for. They want to stay on the mountain top forever, but nothing really grows on mountain top, as beautiful as it is there. It is not a place a person can live indefinitely, even if you manage to reach its heights.

Many people chase a mirage that always seems to evaporate, and then they chase it again in a new direction – it seems always just out of reach.   Poets and lovers have been trying to capture the essence of that elusive pot of gold for thousands of years. Even when love is found, it is fleeting, “like a shooting star” as the Bad Company tune goes.

Maybe that is because “we are all just dust in the wind” as Kansas sang. From dust to dust we live. Even the strong, lifelong love that precious few are able to sustain with any degree of conviction and earnestness cannot maintain the original intensity. The 50, 60 70 years it lasts, is like the bloom of a single flower in the field of human history. It is a brief glory.

Is there a love that does not fade like a shooting star? Is there a love that rises above the dust? Is there a flower that does not lose its bloom?

We instinctively “know” there is something more. Musicians and poets have written about it for centuries. The longing is real.

Would we have any sense of “it” if there was no essence of “it” to be sensed? And if the essence that we sense is real, it must exist in some other realm than this human existence; it must grow out of a different soil.

Jeremiah the prophet said, “Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.” (Jer. 17:13) He also predicted that one day “living water would flow out of Jerusalem.” (Jer. 14: 8) He also said that, without God, we are like broken cisterns that cannot hold water, the living water that God offers to us. (Jer. 2:13) Jesus was/is that living water. (John 4:10) Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38) In Revelations John saw a vision in which he was told that God will lead the people who follow him to streams of living water and wipe every tear away. (Rev. 7:17)

I believe this living water is the love that we sense and that we long for. This is love that is available to us from God. It is love that we only see through a glass darkly in this mortal coil we inhabit, but it is a love that grows in intensity rather than fading. It is a love that, indeed, lasts forever and quenches the thirst so that one will never thirst again. All real love is a subset of this Great Love, and divorced from it no love can be sustained. God is this Love. (1 John 4:8)

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C.S. Lewis famously said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we are made for another world.”

God Simply Is

March 5, 2014

“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Exodus 33:19)

13-6 Sugarloaf View 3


Did you ever stop and think, “If God is God, He can whatever He wants”? Somehow it seems politically incorrect to think like that. Should we not love all people? Should we not wish everyone well? Should we not be judgmental? Should not God be like that?

If you think about it without preconceived notions and with a little rational thought, is not God the one who decides those things? I can see why people would want to believe there is no God. “He is not a tame lion” as my favorite author has said. If God is God, we do not control Him. We have no say in the order of the universe or the laws that He put in place. There is no question of right or wrong when it comes to God; God simply IS!

As God instructed Moses when he sent Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, tell them, “”I am who I  am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ”I am has sent me to you.”” (Exodus 3:14) God simply is.

We did not make God. He made us. We did not create the rules for the operation of the universe. God made those rules. We do not define how God must relate to us. God defines how we relate to Him.

God made us like Him. “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) I suppose there should be no wonder that we would be like Him in wanting to control the universe and define it. The thing is, though, it is not our province to establish the rules or define how they work. We may want to control things, but we do not control them.

We are here today and gone tomorrow. God simply is. God always is. God defines the rules. God has mercy and compassion on whom He will.

I consider from time to time the possibility that things might be different. God might be a tyrant. God might be cruel and unmerciful. Some even think He is that way. If it were true, God would not be wrong. God is.

I am thankful God is not that way. God assures us that we will find Him if we seek Him with all of our hearts and souls. (Deuteronomy 4:29)

In the context of God is, however, we do evil when our hearts are not set on seeking God. (2 Chronicles 12:14) Still, even if we have followed after false gods, have worshiped idols and have sinned in the sight of God, if we humble ourselves, pray and seek God, He will hear; He will forgive the sin; He will heal. (2 Chronicles 7:14) I, for one, am very thankful that God is that way … because He does not need to be that way. God is, and He defines the way it is.

The ultimate evil is in not seeking God. We do not think of evil in that way, but it is not for us to define evil. In the context of God is, evil is not acknowledging Him, not recognizing Him for who He is, not seeking Him. Evil is ultimately being separated from the God who made us.


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