Monday, May 16, 2011

Heaven Is a “Fairy Story”

Famed British Scientist Stephen Hawking believes heaven is a “fairy story.” And he has it half right.

Today’s fairy stories involve supernatural elements, a monarchy, romance, a struggle between good and evil, and – ultimately – a happily-ever-ending marriage.

Broken down into this basic formula, the Christian worldview certainly sounds like a fairytale. After all, it involves angels and demons, and a God with phenomenal abilities … all elements that we, today, do not directly and physically experience.

God does not walk among us in such a way that we can see Him, hold His hand and hear His voice. It might make things a lot easier if we could, but that isn’t how He operates right now. According to the Christian perspective, He is the author of this story we call life and we cannot control the larger picture to the extent we often try to.

That struggle to do as we wish: Therein lies the classic case of good vs. evil. Though, of course, good triumphs in the end and evil is vanquished for eternity, as the King of kings claims what is rightfully His – His bride – and leads her into eternal wedded bliss.

Seeing Is Believing… or Is It Really?

To our “rational” 21st century minds, those details sound like the makings of the next Disney movie. We want proof for everything, especially our religions. If we can’t see it, touch it, feel it or read about somebody who did, we have a hard time believing it.

To a large degree, that skepticism is healthy. But – and here’s where Stephen Hawking gets it entirely wrong – we are not merely “computer[s] which will stop working when its components fail.” He himself disproves that analogy in going on to say: “I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”

Problem is, computers don’t “want.” They don’t care if they die. And they certainly have no complex moral code that causes them to dislike when other computers – halfway around the world and wholly unconnected to their continuing existence – get hurt.

But human beings do. We desire more than what our physical selves need. We crave excitement, love, power, attention and acceptance, among other entirely intangible goals. We want happy endings where good triumphs over evil and we don’t have to worry about being hurt anymore.

In accidentally debunking his own theory that we humans are so easily defined, Hawking opens up a host of questions: Why do we “want” more than immediate creature comforts? Could it be that we were made for more? That we have more in store for us than what we can immediately, physically sense?

Sure, it may sound like a fairytale. But it certainly sounds more logical than believing human beings are so finite and predictable as mere computers.

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