Hawking, Behar and the theology of the intellect
Two events the past several weeks should remind followers of Jesus Christ that they are residents of an increasingly secularized and sinful world.
The most recent event was the death of physicist and atheist Stephen Hawking.
In a 2014 interview with the Spanish publication, El Mundo, Hawking explained why he does not believe in God.
“In the past, before we understood science, it was logical to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant when I said that we would know ‘the mind of God’ was that we would understand everything that God would be able to understand if it existed. But there is no God. I’m an atheist. Religion believes in miracles, but they are not compatible with science,” he said.
Following the release of his book, “The Grand Design,” Hawking said:
“God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom one can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God.”
A second event was TV personality Joy Behar’s mocking of Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith and suggesting that his religious views made him mentally ill.
Behar, who has since apologized to Pence, said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct, hearing voices.”
Paul, in his first letter to the church at Corinth, addressed sinful man’s understanding of God in 1 Corinthians 1:18--2:16 (ESV).
Paul said through reason human beings may be able to understand what God has revealed in His Word – but the truth of the Word of God can only be understood through His Spirit.
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14, ESV).
Essentially, what Paul was saying is that the unbeliever can understand the Bible, but it’s foolishness in his valuation.
In the previously mentioned incidents, two individuals – one, a brilliant scientist, and the other, a liberal talk show host – through their intellect had no trouble understanding what the Bible says, but they dismissed what it says as foolishness.
Therefore, apart from the Spirit, human beings think the Bible is nonsense and foolishness; but when you have the Spirit, you know that the Bible is the truth of God and the reality of God.
Of course, another issue is the deception of our present age through the mass media – which provides a platform for “thinkers” like Hawking and Behar to influence the hearts of literally millions and millions of people.
The wisdom many people see and hear in mainstream media comes from man and not from God, which Paul also addressed.
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’” (1 Cor. 3:18-20, ESV).
Our mission as Christians is to strive to live lives worthy of the name of Jesus Christ, so we are “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15, ESV).
Tim Yarbrough is editor/executive director of the ABN.