Stephen Hawking has joined with some other interesting people such as Richard Dawkins, who assert that the concepts of God and Heaven are “fairy stories” or worse. Hawking concludes that because he hasn’t seen something that is physical; hasn’t experienced a force; or hasn’t been able to model it mathematically, that it must not be real.
I have a close friend in Tianjin who has never seen Iceland. He has never felt an earthquake; and has never convincingly modeled the process by which an island can emerge from a fissure in the earth’s surface. For those of us who have physically experienced each of these things, we are certain that Iceland, earthquakes and the emergence of islands exist. The only things that we would enable my friend in Tianjin to assert is that
a) I know people who have been there, saw, felt and modeled. I believe that these exist because I trust these people; or
b) I just don’t know if these things exist, because I have not personally experienced them with my own logic and my own senses, and I don’t trust what any other people tells me about these things are true; or
c) I don’t trust my own logic or my own senses or the logic and senses of others; and I therefore cannot know anything for certain.
It is disappointing that a scientist of Hawking’s repute would take a position that because he hasn’t personally seen or experienced God, that God is not necessary or does not exist. If Hawking believes in a), b) or c), then he cannot be a scientist, either.
There is no conflict between a belief in true science and a belief in the true God. If there is an apparent conflict, then science is wrong; the concept of God is wrong; or both are wrong or are incomplete. Truth cannot be incompatible with truth.
For centuries, the concept of God lost ground to the progress of science. The reason is that Christianity went on a mergers and acquisitions binge in the centuries after Christ died. The result is that by the 4th century AD, the original God of the New Testament had been morphed into a concept that was very different than the God that Christ taught us to worship. As we learned more and more about science, this false concept of God became less and less plausible. Hence, the inconsistency between science and religion gained currency. But the true God, as taught by Christ and his disciples, is not incompatible with science. I will repeat my conviction that if there is an apparent conflict, then science is wrong; the concept of God is wrong; or both are wrong or are incomplete. Truth cannot be incompatible with truth.
Note: these opinions are my own, and do not represent the positions of the Harvard Business School or of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am a member.
Clayton Christensen | May 19, 2011 4:46 PM