Hawking and MacArthur Explain the Universe

Hawking and MacArthur Explain the Universe

In the age of religion, science was viewed as heresy, if ever its discoveries or theories conflicted with scripture.  In the age of science, religion is irrelevant.  Or so it seems.

In a recent Huffington Post article, “Stephen Hawking: Big Bang Didn’t Need God,” Hawking asks, “Why are we here?”

To me, this question is a deeply spiritual question.  Religious?  I suppose it could be construed that way.  Had Hawking asked how or when or in what manner we are here, then his question would not pack the spiritual punch that it does.  WHY implies purpose.  For what purpose do we exist?  This question moves beyond the realm of repeatable experiments, sensory observations, data analysis, and the like.

The article doesn’t indicate that Hawking spent much time on attempting to answer WHY. He does, however, ask, “What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?”

Great question, Hawking.  Too bad so many people look to religion to find an answer.  One of the main points of contention I see between science and religion, is that religion, particularly Christianity, allows the Bible to be more influential in the understanding of Who God is and what God does than the actual Word of God.  Let me explain, borrowing the words of Ian Barbour (in context below):


Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 8.30.13 PM

Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues (Ian G. Barbour)


The Bible – A witness or record of redemptive events in which God is revealed

The Word of God – God’s love and forgiveness, mediated to us in Jesus Christ, confirmed in us by the Holy Spirit

Do you see the difference?  God’s heart is not leather-bound ink and paper.  When people try to limit the majesty and wonder of creation to the book, they lose sight of the wonder and majesty of creation.  Likewise, when people try to limit their understanding of WHY creation exists to science, they lose not only the answer to the question, but the question itself.

Regarding origins, Hawking ditches earlier theories that have since proven to be impossible and proposes that “time began at the moment of singularity, and this has likely occurred only once” and “multiple universes are created out of nothing.”  This sounds remarkably like the Bible.


Herbert Spencer, a non-Christian scientist, hailed as one worthy of many prizes in science, died in 1903. His greatest achievement, Herbert Spencer, was that he discovered the categories of the knowable. That is to say he determined that everything that exists fits into one of five categories. This was hailed as a massive, massive cataloging of realities. Spencer said, “Everything fits into one of these categories, time, force, action, space, matter,” and was hailed by the scientific community.

Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning,” that’s time, “God,” that’s force, “created,” that’s action, “the heavens,” that’s space, “the earth,” that’s matter. Everything that Herbert Spencer discovered in 1903, or before that, was in the first verse of Scripture.

Unfortunately, MacArthur mixes really cool observations like this, that have the potential to reveal how interdependent scientific and spiritual concepts really are, with other ridiculous nonsense like the following:

If we want to understand creation, if we want to understand origins, if we want to understand how the universe came into existence and everything that is in it, we have to look at theology, not science. And the source of theology is the Word of God in which God speaks. The Bible is not theory, the Bible is fact. The Bible is reality. The Bible is truth no matter what subject it addresses, but particularly with regard to origins since no one was here when God created, we have only His eyewitness account.

Theology literally means “study of God.”  Although scripture surely is included as “a” source of the “study of God,” it definitely is not “the” source.  Yes, God is revealed in scripture.  But so is genocide and slavery and a lot of other bizarre, unholy, disgusting, UNGODLY God-stuff.  The source of the “study of God” is the Word of God, that is, God’s love and forgiveness, mediated to us in Jesus Christ, confirmed in us by the Holy Spirit.

Do you see how MacArthur interchanges “the Word of God” and “the Bible”?  I’ve done the same thing myself.  But I’m making a conscious effort these days to differentiate between the two, because Christianity as a religion has exalted a book and their interpretation of it over Jesus Christ, Himself.

We must be able to understand the difference between:

A. The inspired truth in the book – the spirit of the law

B. The book itself – the word of the law

One way to make progress in this understanding is to stop labeling the two concepts with interchangeable names.  The spirit of the law is demonstrated to us in Jesus Christ.  The letter of the law is demonstrated to us by the words on the page.  The former trumps the latter, as is evidenced in the parable Jesus told about the Good Samaritan, which Jesus tells when an expert in the law tries to lead Jesus into a verbal trap – to openly contradict the law of Moses and justify the hostility of the all the other law-worshipping religious experts.  In this parable, the law-breaker, the guy who does not subscribe to a strict, wooden, literal interpretation of the words on the page, is the hero.  But is he really a law-breaker?  I guess how you answer this depends on whether you interpret the Bible as MacArthur does or as Jesus does.

I’ll close with this, from the Hawking article:

In another observation of modern religion, Hawking noted that in the 1980s, around the time he released a paper discussing the moment the universe was born, Pope John Paul II admonished the scientific establishment against studying the moment of creation, as it was holy.

“I was glad not to be thrown into an inquisition,” Hawking joked.

It’s time for believers to recognize the great service science has done and, God willing, will continue to do – revealing the absurdities and incongruities inherent in the letter-of-the-law worldview.

I disagree with Hawking regularly.  I disagree with MacArthur regularly.  The Word of God helps us to “test everything” these men say and “hold on to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  To ensure that when I write “Word of God,” readers know what I mean, I’ll reiterate:

God’s love and forgiveness, mediated to us in Jesus Christ, confirmed in us by the Holy Spirit helps us to “test everything” these men say and “hold on to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Related: Those Who See May Become BlindTen Observations from Athiests (Part One)Ten More Observations from Atheists (Part Two)Five Final Observations from Atheists (Part Three)

  • Mary Vanderplas May 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    While I agree that the Bible is not to be equated with the Word of God, I don’t share your view that the Bible is one among many equally valid and authoritative sources by which we come to know God. The church historically has affirmed that the Bible is uniquely the witness to who God is and what God does, that it is in the scriptures in a way unlike any other book that God speaks to make his will and ways known. That not everything in the Bible is reflective of God’s will, that the biases and worldviews of the human authors (and of the cultures in which they lived) are reflected in their writings, does not invalidate these writings as vehicles by which God’s word comes to us. (I would say, too, that while some traditions deify the Bible, there others – mainline Protestants, particularly – that distinguish between the Bible as the word of God and Jesus Christ as the Word of God.)

    I like what you say about Jesus demonstrating and embodying the spirit of the law, and agree that to follow him is not to adhere rigidly to a legal code but to align our lives to the vision of God’s reign – to compassion and justice and wholeness for all.

    I agree that Hawking’s question has to do with meaning and purpose and thus moves beyond science, with its interest in factual knowledge attained by scientific investigation. I agree, too, with your assessment of MacArthur’s assertion that the Bible is a source of both scientific and theological knowledge – an assertion based on a literal reading that fails to distinguish between the form in which a message is communicated and the message itself. I like what you say about science and spirituality being connected, and I share your excitement in scientific discoveries that are suggestive of spiritual realities. While I don’t think that the two ways of understanding the world can or should be melded, I do think that there are significant points of contact between current science and spirituality. I think, too, as you suggest, that dialogue between the two is beneficial to both: to science, because it is invited to consider important issues of meaning and purpose, and to spirituality, because it is challenged to a more coherent and credible articulation of spiritual truth.

    • admin May 2, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      Thank you (and Mom) for the awesome card, devotional, and graduation gift!

      Regarding this portion of your comments: “I don’t share your view that the Bible is one among many equally valid and authoritative sources by which we come to know God.” If a person knows God, but never had access to or knowledge of scripture, then that knowledge had to have happened via some source other than scripture. To name a few off the top of my head: The Spirit of God, creation (science), dreams, fulfilled prophecy, testimonies of others, etc.

      • Mary Vanderplas May 3, 2013 at 5:37 am

        I don’t think that scripture is the only way God speaks to reveal God’s self to us. Indeed, the Bible itself speaks of God communicating himself in a variety of ways “by the prophets,” meaning, I think, that God chose and chooses a variety of human vehicles to speak his word (Hebrews 1:1). But neither do I think that the Bible is just one among many sources by which humanity hears God’s word, bearing no greater authority than any other. I think, rather, that it has an intrinsic authority as the written word of God by which we come to know the Word of God in person – that, supremely in the scriptures, God still speaks his word of saving love and life.

        You’re welcome. Again, congratulations!

        • Lanny A. Eichert May 4, 2013 at 6:46 am

          Mary, Hebrew 1: 1 is PAST tense. God is done using Prophets and has been done with them for two thousand years. He made a clear SHIFT in His speaking two thousand years ago.

          God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; {Hebrews 1: 1 – 3}

          • Mary Vanderplas May 5, 2013 at 6:44 am

            Who says that God is done using human vehicles to speak his truth? Yes, the decisive revelation of God’s self has been given – in Jesus, the Son. But this doesn’t mean that God has stopped using people to communicate his will. The God who spoke still speaks – and he uses a variety of vehicles to do so.

  • Lanny A. Eichert May 3, 2013 at 3:45 am

    Alice, God’s love and forgiveness, mediated to us in Jesus Christ, confirmed in us by the Holy Spirit CANNOT be known without the literal perfect Holy Bible as source material. A person CANNOT know God never having access to or knowledge of Scripture. The Spirit of God, creation (science), dreams, fulfilled prophecy, testimonies of others, etc. can only be validated as truth by Scripture. Demons have and are able to produce all of these false witnesses. All witnesses must be evaluated by the perfect literal Holy Bible or else you have no ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

    You attempt to build a foundation without ABSOLUTE TRUTH, can’t you see that? How do you know that which you think is the Spirit of God isn’t really a Satanic spirit? How do you know your creation (science) view is honest? How do you know your fulfilled prophecy is not a scam? How do you know the testimonies of others are not distorted? I hope you know the majority rule is not a proof of truth or all the Jews that died under Hitler died in vain at the approval of the German majority.

    I have warned you time and time again that you have no ABSOLUTE TRUTH, so please stop promoting foolishness.

    • admin May 4, 2013 at 1:08 am

      I used to believe the same, Lanny. Now, I believe Christ is the absolute Truth, and whatever I may happen to have wrong will prove to be wrong in the light of His glory and love, when He sees fit.

      • Lanny A. Eichert May 4, 2013 at 6:39 am

        But Alice, Christ is revealled only by Scripture and since your scripture is not absolute truth your christ can never be absolute truth.

        God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; {Hebrews 1: 1 – 3}

        will prove to be wrong … when He sees fit.
        He saw fit to give you His perfect literal Holy Bible for you to judge yourself wrong. He is NOT going to accommodate you any other way, especially your way. It is His way or the highway, Alice; He makes the rules, not you. Since when are you sovereign?

        • admin May 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

          God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son

          When Jesus refers to the law and prophets, He refers to scripture. In this verse, the prophets are referenced as one way God speaks, and this is expounded upon by a NEW way God speaks – His Son. The very scripture you use to reject and condemn my view actually lends strong support to my view. Oh, the irony.

          • Lanny A. Eichert May 4, 2013 at 5:34 pm

            Alice, AGAIN what you need to know of Christ is only knowable by means of the literal perfect Holy Bible which God wrote and preserved its integrity thoughout the centuries. You would know His name is Jesus of Nazareth only by finding that name in the Book. Everything knowable about Jesus is sourced therein.

            • admin May 5, 2013 at 12:30 am

              The Talmud mentions Jesus of Nazareth. Everything knowable about Jesus is NOT sourced therein. What about relationship? Knowing about a person and knowing a person are two different concepts. What you are talking about is the former. What I am talking about is the latter.

            • Lanny A. Eichert May 5, 2013 at 10:34 am

              Alice, subjective relationship must be built on objective fact. You still want to build on human evaluation instead of Absolute Truth. Please forsake doctrines of men for divine truth. There is only one source of divine truth: the Book that God wrote called the Holy Bible. Since God wrote it, its authority is equal to God’s. Please stop minimizing it to exalt something else above it.

              • admin May 5, 2013 at 10:35 pm

                You write, “Please stop minimizing it to exalt something else above it.” That SOMETHING ELSE is Jesus Christ. I’m exalting Jesus Christ over the book. Consider, when I put this in context, how ridiculous it sounds: “Please stop minimizing the book to exalt Jesus Christ above it.” Are you really thinking this through, Lanny?

                Let me put it this way. If someone were to say that Lanny’s blog comments are the only way one can know Lanny, I would have to disagree. That would be to elevate the testament of Lanny above Lanny himself.

              • Lanny A. Eichert May 6, 2013 at 12:44 am

                Alice, Psalm 138: 2 thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Remembering the date and historical context, what is herein said? God had magnified the Holy Scriptures above His character. You want to undo what God has done. That’s an evil work, dear Alice.

                “Please stop minimizing the Holy Bible to exalt Jesus Christ above it.” That is exactly what I mean to say to you about your fake jesus christ.

                Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. {Matthew 24: 35} spoke Jesus of Nazareth who died. Jesus magnified Scripture. Scripture reveals Christ from cover to cover. You have no Jesus WITHOUT the Holy Bible.

                • admin May 6, 2013 at 2:16 am

                  “thy word” = the Bible? That’s a wooden, literal, dead interpretation of this verse, Lanny. God’s word is what brought the universe into existence. Did the Bible bring the universe into existence? The point of this verse isn’t to champion the Bible, it is to glorify what God does. Look at it in context:

                  Psalm 138

                  Of David.

                  1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
                  before the “gods”(A) I will sing(B) your praise.
                  2 I will bow down toward your holy temple(C)
                  and will praise your name(D)
                  for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,(E)
                  for you have so exalted your solemn decree
                  that it surpasses your fame.(F)
                  3 When I called,(G) you answered me;(H)
                  you greatly emboldened(I) me.
                  4 May all the kings of the earth(J) praise you, Lord,
                  when they hear what you have decreed.
                  5 May they sing(K) of the ways of the Lord,
                  for the glory of the Lord(L) is great.
                  6 Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;(M)
                  though lofty, he sees them(N) from afar.
                  7 Though I walk(O) in the midst of trouble,
                  you preserve my life.(P)
                  You stretch out your hand(Q) against the anger of my foes;(R)
                  with your right hand(S) you save me.(T)
                  8 The Lord will vindicate(U) me;
                  your love, Lord, endures forever(V)—
                  do not abandon(W) the works of your hands.(X)

                  What is this? It is how David views God according to His “solemn decree” or literally translated, His “saying.” David describes the actions of God, Whose love endures forever, Who does not abandon the works of His hands. If this passage is meant to magnify the Holy Scriptures, then David has failed miserably.

                • Lanny A. Eichert May 6, 2013 at 5:59 am

                  Alice, God’s solemn decree is His word found authoritatively only in the perfect literal Holy Bible. You’ll not find it first anywhere else.

                  • admin May 6, 2013 at 11:05 am

                    You have two ideas here. 1. God’s solemn decree. 2. The record of God’s solemn decree. #1 is NOT #2 and #2 is NOT #1. When you see the difference between these two, then you’ll understand how your statement, “God had magnified the Holy Scriptures above His character,” is wrong in so many ways. God’s solemn decree can be communicated in many ways. It can scratched onto a wooden surface. It can be read and recorded digitally. It can be smeared into fingerpaint. The message itself remains true, even if its record is burned, lost in cyberspace, or torn to shreds. Even if it is miscommunicated or mistranslated or completely rewritten so that it no longer resembles the original message – the original message, the actual solemn decree, the words/actions/intentions of God remain exactly what they are. Do you believe #1 = #2?

                  • Lanny A. Eichert May 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm

                    Alice, your notions are fantasy driven from the idea that God can do whatever He chooses and what you imagine He chooses. God has choosen only one sure way to communicate to humanity and that is by the Book He wrote, the perfect literal Holy Bible. Even though His creation itself testifies of His power and holiness {that we are responsible to Him}, yet the interpretation of creation’s testimony is only known surely by what the Bible says it means. Again all your supposed notions must be evaluated by the Holy Bible. They cannot stand on their own authority, because who’s to say your notions are God’s word above somebody else’s notions? All your supposings have absolutely no authority, not even in their origin, which is unproveable by any means.

                    You have no Absolute Authority. Only the Holy Bible provides Absolute Authority. Its transmission through the ages has proven its worth: just the fact of its accuracy to the original manuscripts. No other book can boast such accuracy.

                    • admin May 7, 2013 at 12:40 am

                      Have you ever read the notes sections in your Bible? There you will find info regarding manuscript variations and mistranslations.

                    • admin May 7, 2013 at 12:42 am

                      You never answered my question. Do you believe #1 = #2?

                  • Lanny A. Eichert May 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm

                    Alice, you are not able to know what God’s solemn decree is without first finding it in the Record of God’s solemn decree. You can suppose all you want what He has solemnly decreed, but only what is verified by Holy Writ is His solemn decree. You are forced back to the Holy Bible every single time for Absolute Authority.

                    • admin May 7, 2013 at 12:34 am

                      His solemn decree is written in my heart. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts.”

                  • Lanny A. Eichert May 7, 2013 at 5:05 am

                    Alice, your claimed variations and mistranslations are INSIGNIFICANT to the entire Bible, because it changes no major doctrine in any way at all and compared to the size of the whole Bible they are very few, and becoming fewer every day another manuscript is added.

                    What God puts deep in His saints’ hearts is the spirit of His Laws that have already been written by letters in the Holy Bible such that they no longer in failure endeavor to keep an external standard designed to prove all men sinners. So #1 is #2, however #2 preceeds #1 and therefore #2 is also #1.

                    What you claim written in your heart is that which may be known of God is manifest in them {Romans 1: 19} because the Covenant {Hebrews 8: 10 & 10: 16} is made only unto God’s saints.

                    I’ve answered your three May 7 12:34, 40, 42am all in one.

    • Lanny A. Eichert May 6, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      Alice, His “solemn decree or saying” is NOT the same thing as His current working which you describe as possibly scratched wood, fingerpaint, or digital data. They can only be viewed as “possible” examples of God’s historically recorded Scriptures, the words of the Holy Bible.

      He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, … {1 John 5: 10 & 11a}

      The RECORD is the whole Bible, but especially the New Testament portion in accordance with Hebrews 1: 1 & 2a

      God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son

      Now look Alice, 1 John 5: 11 tells you what the record is and you must READ 1 John 5: 11 to know what the record is. What then are you reading to know what His “solemn decree or saying” is? You are reading the Bible, the ONLY place to learn His “solemn decree or saying”.

      God has not seen fit to let you wander in error, but has given you His authoritative perfect literal Holy Bible. What kind of god lets you wander until he sees fit? The god of this world delights in just that and his name is Satan, your christ.

  • Patrick Strickland May 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    A big hearty amen to that post Alice.

    As you know and demonstrated so clearly in your post there is a vast difference between just studying a book and assuming you know Jesus Christ or God, and actually coming to know them through a living vital loving relationship by the spirit of Christ in you. Science and Religion should not be so diametrically opposed to each other as they have been and continue to be in this world. GOD CREATED ALL THINGS AND SCIENCE IS THE STUDY OF HOW EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE WORKS. I Agree science has brought much light to the traditions and interpretations men have placed upon the scriptures, and held unto as the absolute truth.

    Unfortunately because of the traditions of religion, science has literally thrown out God along with the lies they held unto concerning the natural world. The pendulum, with science on one side and traditional religious beliefs on the other has swung to it’s limit and it is now time for the pendulum to return back to the center where the truth actually abides. So I will leave you with this prayer for you and the understanding of what the testimony of Christ that is in you truly is.

    Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the TESTIMONY OF CHRIST was confirmed IN YOU: (1Co 1:3-6 KJV)

    And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS: worship God: for THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY. (Rev 19:10 KJV)

    I truly enjoy the testimony of Christ that I see in your writings.

    Grace and Peace Patrick

    • admin May 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      I’m loving the pendulum analogy.

  • […] As always, I consider the comment section just as valuable, if not more, than the blog content. So, I’ll state as plainly as I know how, what I failed to communicate in part one: Please don’t think that the source of our spiritual strength is a book. But do read and study scriptures. And please do continue to compare notes with other believers. And above all, make sure you’re allowing the book to read you. For more on this, read Organized Bible Study, 25% Truth, Ancient Landmarks, What the Noah Movie Says About God, and Hawking and MacArthur Explain the Universe. […]

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