Wisdom, Children and the Dark
Stephen Hawking turned 70 on Jan.8, 2012. This man is considered to be "...one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein."(Calgary Sun-Jan.9) He has led an extraordinary life. Almost 20 years after his birth, he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig`s disease. He was not expected to live past his twenties.
Since that time he has been confined to a wheelchair and can only communicate via an electronic voice synthesiser; however, he "...has broken frontiers in research into theories of time, space, relativity and black holes."(Calgary Sun- Jan.9) In 1988, he published an international bestseller "A Brief History of Time" which was no small feat for a book about physics. He is currently a Cambridge University professor and researcher.
In May 2011, Mr. Hawking was reported to have made comments concerning Heaven in a newspaper interview. He maintains that " ...there is no heaven or afterlife...That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark...".(Calgary Sun-Jan.8) The implication is that people who believe in an afterlife have the intellectual maturity of a small child.
As a Christian, I am one of those people who believe in the existence of Heaven and Hell. I admit that I was tempted to respond to Mr. Hawking`s comment with indignation. I started to feel angry that this man considered me to be a simpleton for my belief; however, I was reminded of several Bible passages concerning wisdom, children and the dark.
The Bible offers a warning to those who will find themselves to be the object of someone`s disdain. In 2 Peter 3:3, 5a the writer states:
First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions ... They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago...
Romans 1:19-22(in part) states:
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse...but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools...
I am not quoting these passages in an attempt to insult scientists. I am grateful for science. It is a blessing from God. The pursuit of knowledge leads to the truth; however, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 8:1, knowledge can also lead to arrogance. This is something that can afflict anyone including Christians. This sport of hurling contempt at each other does not lead to a full understanding of the truth.
As for children, they are often afraid of the dark. They are rarely afraid of learning. At first every concept is welcomed and accepted as being the truth. As we grow older we process all this information along with reality and find that not all things are true. Another thing that seems to happen as we get older is that we lose that enthusiasm for knowledge. We get, as is said, stuck in our ways and refuse to budge out of our ruts. In Matthew 18:1-4 Jesus responds to a question that was asked by His disciples:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?" And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.
Did Jesus mean that we should remain ignorant as children? No. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about giving up "childish ways" in order to mature in the Christian faith. He also admitted that, at that time, he only knew "...in part."(1 Corinthians 13:11). The key word to both these passages is "humble". As Christians we are not to have the brain of a child but the heart of one.
Concerning the dark, it is unnatural to be always in the dark- physically and metaphorically. All life needs some amount of light in order to grow. A person who does not have a lot of knowledge is said to be in the dark. Also to be experiencing hardships in one`s life is described as having dark days. The dark is a scary place but having knowledge of the truth will help one navigate through the shadowy landscape. Jesus taught His believers in John 8:31-32(in part):
Jesus then said..."If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."