A few years ago, Stephen Hawking claimed that not only is there no evidence for God’s existence, but that “even the concept of a ‘god’ is totally incompatible with science.” Hawking’s argument boils down to this: Time did not exist before the “big bang.” Since time did not exist, neither did anything else. Thus, if nothing existed before the beginning of time, God obviously cannot exist.
Friends, though Hawking is a brilliant physicist, he is not necessarily a very good philosopher. For centuries, Christians have spoken of “God’s timelessness.” This phrase means that God exists outside of time and certainly existed before time began. Whether or not these assertions about God are true is, of course, debatable. What is clear, however, is that Hawking’s assertion that it is not possible to conceive of a way which God might have existed before the beginning of time is simply incorrect. Various theologians and philosophers have done just what Hawking says cannot be done. Simply asserting that nothing existed before the beginning of time is not proof that God does not exist. To even begin to do that, one must demonstrate that the concept of a “timeless” God is somehow impossible.
Hawking’s argument reminds me of a statement made by the Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gargarin. After orbiting the earth in 1961, he supposedly said, “When I was I was in space I did not see God. I looked and looked but did not see God.” If Gargarin was expecting to find God a few miles above the earth’s atmosphere, he was looking in the wrong place. If Stephen Hawking is expecting to find God who fits within our concept of time, he is likely looking in the wrong place.
Friends, “science” is not capable of proving whether or not God exists. The focus of science is to examine and explain whatever is within the natural universe. God, at least from a Christian perspective, exists outside of that realm. Christians believe God is the creator of the universe and is, by definition, “supernatural.” Nor, do I believe, is it possible for philosophy to prove or disprove God’s existence. I am convinced philosophy reveals that belief in God is more reasonable and warranted than atheism, but that does not provide logical certainty.
So how can we know whether or not there really is a God? I would suggest that the place to start is in first century Israel, with a man known as Jesus of Nazareth, often called Jesus Christ. Not only did He claim to know with certainty that God exists, but He said He was the Son of God, actually God in human form. Without question, it is an extraordinary claim. Yet I believe the historical evidence points to its truthfulness. The way Jesus lived, how He taught, the miracles He performed, and most importantly His resurrection from the dead, all support the veracity of His claim. One of the many questions I have for Dr. Hawking and other atheists is “what about Jesus?” If God does not exist, Jesus must either be someone deluded enough to think He was God or someone deceptive enough to try to convince others this was true even though He knew it was not. The evidence indicates that neither of these scenarios is very plausible. Far more likely is that Jesus is indeed who He claimed to be, the eternal Son of God. If that is the case, then it is up to each of us to deal with the implications of this reality.
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church