Stephen Hawking and Haman; Kindred Spirits


He taketh the wise in their own craftiness…

Who is Stephen Hawking? A prominent physicist, very famous, referred to by some as a modern-day Einstein. Stephen Hawking is one of the most famous scientists in the area of cosmology. In his book, “The Grand Design”, Stephen Hawking writes:

“as recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch-paper and set the universe going.” (Emphasis mine)

Let me tell you a story about two fellows in the Bible named Haman and Mordecai. Their story can be found in the book of Esther, which is a really good read and doesn’t take much time, if you are so inclined. Haman had been promoted to a very high position in the king’s court, while Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, held some type of functionary position. Haman enjoyed having the people bow and scrape before him, but to his great displeasure Mordecai refused to do so.

And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. (Esther 3:2)

You would think that Haman would have been satisfied with his position and the respect he got from everyone save one old Jew, but of course he was not. He just couldn’t let it go.

Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made. (Esther 5:9-14)

That very night, by an amazing coincidence, the king couldn’t sleep a wink. So he had the royal chronicles brought to him and read them out of boredom. It happened that prior to all of these events, Mordecai had foiled an assassination attempt on the king’s life, but was never recognized or rewarded. So just about the time Haman comes be-bopping into his chambers to ask the king to hang Mordecai, the king asks him:

So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself? (Esther 6:6)

So Haman, thinking the king wants to honor him, says:

…For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour. (Esther 6:7-9)

It turns out the king thought this was a capital idea, and commanded Haman to do that very thing for Mordecai. Can you imagine Haman’s surprise when he found out the king was talking about Mordecai? Can you imagine how Haman felt as he led Mordecai through town to the adulation of the king’s subjects? Not only that, but Haman (and his family) ended up being hung on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai. This is known, in today’s parlance, as receiving “come-uppance.” There are, it turns out, some very applicable Bible teachings on this situation:

The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. (Palms 9:15-16) He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong. (Job 5:13)

Now, you are asking, what does all this have to do with Stephen Hawking? Here’s the thing: Stephen Hawking, by ruling out God as the creator of the universe, has wedded himself to “Scientific Determinism.” Simply put, everything that happens is the result of particles (atoms, molecules, etc.) interacting with physics. Just like a in long chain of dominoes falling, each individual domino falls in accordance with the physics of the previous domino striking it. The individual dominoes have no choice to stand or fall, nor can they choose where and how to fall. You, my friend, and I, are just dominoes in the line (according to Hawking).

“It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion. ” (Emphasis mine)

What are the consequences of this view? Well, here are a few. If Hawking is right, and it’s all just dominoes, then he had no choice to write his book, and had no control over the things he wrote. He has no way or even ability to know if the things he has written are true. Anything he wrote has no more meaning than if a monkey had banged it out on a typewriter. Do you think Stephen Hawking really believes that? I don’t believe it, and I don’t think Hawking does either. How about you, dear reader?

If Hawking is right, then I have no choice but to believe the way I do, just as he has none (and you either!). The people who bought his book were determined (by the laws of physics and chemistry) to do so. However, if he wrote the book because he made a choice to do so (an act of free will), then he has just negated what he has said in his book. Stephen Hawking has “hung” his book in a gallows he made to hang another (God, in this case).

He taketh the wise in their own craftiness…

Over all, it looks like Mr. Hawking needs to go back to the drawing board. Somehow he needs to come up with a model of the origin of the universe that allows for free will. I have an idea, Mr. Hawking… read the first chapter of Genesis.

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

I’d love to discuss these things with you. Any questions and comments that are in line with this page’s Commenting Policy will be published and responded to (to the best of my ability).

For more information on how I keep my worldview informed please go to Cross Roads Church.

P.S. Of course I realize that Stephen Hawking has forgotten more science than I will ever know. This article is not about knowledge of science, or intelligence, and is in no way meant to be derogatory to Mr. Hawking. At issue is his acceptance of Scientific Determinism. Let’s discuss that in your comments!

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