NT Wright Responds to Stephen Hawking on Heaven

What Stephen Hawking doesn’t understand about heaven.

It’s in the Washington Post:

It’s depressing to see Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant minds in his field, trying to speak as an expert on things he sadly seems to know rather less about than many averagely intelligent Christians. Of course there are people who think of ‘heaven’ as a kind of pie-in-the-sky dream of an afterlife to make the thought of dying less awful. No doubt that’s a problem as old as the human race. But in the Bible ‘heaven’ isn’t ‘the place where people go when they die.’ In the Bible heaven is God’s space while earth (or, if you like, ‘the cosmos’ or ‘creation’) is our space. And the Bible makes it clear that the two overlap and interlock. For the ancient Jews, the place where this happened was the temple; for the Christians, the place where this happened was Jesus himself, and then, astonishingly, the persons of Christians because they, too, were ‘temples’ of God’s own spirit.

Hawking is working with a very low-grade and sub-biblical view of ‘going to heaven.’ Of course, if faced with the fully Christian two-stage view of what happens after death — first, a time ‘with Christ’ in ‘heaven’ or ‘paradise,’and then, when God renews the whole creation, bodily resurrection — he would no doubt dismiss that as incredible. But I wonder if he has ever even stopped to look properly, with his high-octane intellect, at the evidence for Jesus and the resurrection? I doubt it — most people in England haven’t. Until he has, his opinion about all this is worth about the same as mine on nuclear physics, i.e. not much.

As for the creation being self-caused: I wonder if he realises that he is simply repeating a version of ancient Epicureanism? i.e. the gods are out of the picture, a long way away, so the world/human life/etc has to get on under its own steam. This is hardly a ‘conclusion’ from his study of the evidence; it’s simply a well known worldview shared by most post-Enlightenment westerners. It is the worldview which enables secular democracy to consider itself an absolute, despite its numerous and rather obvious failings right now. The depressing thing is that Hawking doesn’t seem to realize this and so hasn’t even stopped to think that there might be quite sophisticated critiques of Epicureanism, ancient and modern, which he should work through. Not least the Christian one, which again focusses on Jesus.

Of course, the old set-up of the ‘science and religion’ debate was itself deeply influenced by this same worldview, and needs realigning. In fact, the ancient Christians would have been shocked to see their worldview labelled as a ‘religion.’ It was a philosophy, a politics, a culture, a vocation… the category of ‘religion’ is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

5 thoughts on “NT Wright Responds to Stephen Hawking on Heaven

  1. Where does the soul go when it dies?

    I was given to understand that there were three heavens spoken of in Scripture. The third heaven (to which Paul ascended (2 Cor 12:2) being the ‘dwelling place’ of God).

    What am I not understanding?

  2. Science has been explained by Stephen Hawking to be so great that it could create universe. However, the nature of this universe does support that this world is the creation of God and it’s creation is never by chance.

    Stephen Hawking supported that this universe was created spontaneously. Charles Darwin supported that human beings were evolved from apes. However, science could not explain why human beings could speak various types of languages. Not only that, you could never find apes speak in human languages. As apes could never speak in human languages, how could human beings be evolved from apes? Even if Stephen Hawking supported spontaneous creation, how could it by luck that all human beings were created to speak in various languages? This can never be by chance or by luck. Even if Stephen Hawking would use quantum theory or gravity to support the creation of the universe, there could not be such a co-incidence that human beings were created with diversified languages, such as, Germany and Arab languages are entirely different.

    The Bible has the explanation on how the languages to be diversified. The following is the extract:

    Genesis 11:9, “Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

    Without God, there is no way for human beings to speak various kind of languages.

  3. What is Big Bang Theory? The following is the definition of Big Bang theory that has been extracted from the third paragraph of the website address,, under the sub-title of ‘Big Bang’:
    ‘The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, THE UNIVERSE WAS ONCE IN AN EXTREMELY HOT AND DENSE STATE which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the Universe to cool and resulted in its present continuously expanding state. According to the most recent measurements and observations, the Big Bang occurred approximately 13.75 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the Universe. After its initial expansion from a SINGULARITY, the Universe cooled sufficiently to allow energy to be converted into various subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons, and electrons.’
    As the phrase, the universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state, is mentioned in the definition of the Big Bang theory, it implies that something would have caused that universe to be once in an extremely hot and dense state. If nothing would have caused the universe to be extremely hot and dense state, how could the universe be in hot and dense condition? Or in other words, there must be something that would have caused the universe to be hot in order that Big Bang theory could be triggered off. This certainly contradicts Stephen Hawking’s theory that supports that something could be generated from nothing. This is by virtue of Big Bang theory requires heat and dense state instead of nothing in order to trigger off Big Bang theory and yet the phrase, something could be generated from nothing as suggested by Stephen Hawking, implies the absence of anything and this includes also heat and dense condition.
    The phrase, After its initial expansion from a singularity, as mentioned in the same paragraph in the website address above gives us the impression that Big Bang theory is the continuation theory of General Relativity.
    The following is the extract from the first paragraph under the sub-title of ‘Timeline of the Big Bang’:
    ‘Extrapolation of the expansion of the Universe backwards in time using GENERAL RELATIVITY yields an infinite density and temperature at a finite time in the past. This singularity signals the breakdown of general relativity. How closely we can extrapolate towards the singularity is debated—certainly no closer than the end of the Planck epoch. THIS SINGULARITY IS SOMETIMES CALLED “THE BIG BANG”, but the term can also refer to the early hot, dense phase itself, which can be considered the “birth” of our Universe.’
    Both phrases, general relativity, and , singularity is sometimes called “the Big Bang”, as extracted above give us the idea that Big Bang theory is meant for general relativity.
    What is General Relativity? The following is the definition of General Relativity as extracted from the second paragraph under the sub-title, Introduction to General Relativity, in the website address,
    ‘General relativity (GR) is a theory of gravitation that was developed by Albert Eistein between 1907 and 1915. According to general relativity, the observed gravitational attraction between masses results from their warping of space and time.’
    The phrase, gravitational attraction between masses results from their warping of space and time, as mentioned in this definition gives the implication that the general relativity has their derivation from three elements and there are masses, space and time. It is only at the existence of masses that has been coordinated with the warping of space and time that these would contribute the gravitational attraction.
    As mentioned early that Big Bang theory has to deal with General Relativity and yet the General Relativity is only at work among masses, space and time. As masses have to be needed to be in existence in order to have the creation of General Relativity and yet Big Bang theory has to deal with General Relativity, it gives the implication that the masses of substances have to be present in order to generate Big Bang theory. As the existence of masses of substances would then generate Big Bang theory, Stephen Hawking’s theory that Big Bang theory would create something out of nothing would be wrong. This is by virtue of it is the must to have masses of substances to interact with time and space so as to generate Big Bang theory.
    Now a question has to be raised. As it is a must to have masses of substances in order to generate Big Bang theory that would result from their warping of space of time and yet Big Bang theory requires nothing to generate something, all these point to the fact that the Big Bang theory itself is unscientific and contradictorily and cannot be reliable.

  4. Stephen Hawking is just another celebrity scientist who spouts nonsense that just sounds smart! Boo! He’s a contributing factor to the problem of people who think they know everything just because they watch the Discovery Channel! Boo!

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