No Intellectual Boot-Straps Allowed: The Problem of Intellect and Stephen Hawking


Propelled through time and space, eons upon eons of centuries past, we gaze into the infinite unknown.

Past comets, proto-planets, and clusters of distant stars, this inconceivability large universe—with all of its’ energy and matter—suddenly emerged with a big bang. God had nothing to do with it.

At least this is what Stephen Hawking would have us believe.

The internet was lit aflame by news of Hawking’s claim that God is not needed to explain the creation of the universe.

The Grand Design, his new book slated to release this week, contains Hawking’s new theory within. He asserts that “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself 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.”

God is not needed.

You are dismissed God. We no longer need you. We finally understand that you did not create us, we created you.

Hawking is a brilliant man. More so than perhaps anyone else on earth. His credentials speak for themselves and is the Einstein of our time.

But what happens when the most brilliant man alive, to whom no one can stand against in cerebral comparison, gets it wrong?

Clearly if I were ever to meet this man, I could not convince him of God’s providence and creation of humanity, let alone the universe. In a debate, Hawking would win. In fact he would crush me. No qualms about it. His intellect is so beyond me, that I would scarcely understand his questions and points of view, let alone challenge them. And I would like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent man (hopefully at least, after nine years of education). I could never prove to him by use of intellect the realities that I know to be true—that God created both us and this universe.

With all human reason, logic, and understanding—man does not see God. Man cannot see God. Not with all the knowledge and information available. If the most intellectual man on earth gets it wrong, what good is intellect. This is not some anti-intellectual diatribe. I believe in learning. I read and have more books than anyone I know. But the intellect is not the sole source of meeting God. We cannot see him through a pure intellectual pursuit.

God is only revealed when he reveals himself. He is only understood, in the infinitesimal amount that we can, when he makes himself understandable to us. In sheer comparison God is infinitely beyond us as we are above bacteria. And we are those tiny, near invisible speaks screaming out to God, “you are not needed.”

A dear friend of mine, cerebral in ways that I cannot understand, struggles with scientists such as Hawking and Richard Dawkins. He is looking for evidence and proof. Intellectual answers to demonstrate the quality of his creator in order to quell his own doubts and give answers to atheists and agnostics alike. He is not alone. Christians across the western world have put their faith in intellectualism.

Forget spiritual formation or rooting-out sin in our hearts, the true path to relationship is through learning and education. Following Christ is not a heart thing, it’s a head thing.

But God is so much more beyond that. He is ultra-intellectual. The nature of God defies our understanding and transcends us to degrees that we cannot fathom.  He cannot be seen or understood by pulling ourselves up by our intellectual bootstraps. No amount of learning can bring us to the face of God. He is inexplicable. He is beyond us and beyond Hawking.

It is fine time that we, like in the days of old, crush our intellectual idols and alters of stone  inscribed with the words “reason” and “logic.” Let them crumble into the rubble that they are and not linger over their bits in desperate attempt to piece back together our god called “intellect.”

We need no longer bow down to that god.

God has always been clear on his transcendence of reason.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” 1 Corinthians 1: 18-25 (emphasis is my own)

He is beyond us and beyond our attempts to bottle Him with logic and human learning. He is ultra-intellectual—beyond anything that you, I, or Hawking can understand or fathom. And while I pay credence to the incredible mind of this brilliant man, I must politely disagree with Mr. Hawking. God, you were very much-needed in creating the universe.

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  • In "The Grand Design" Stephen Hawking postulates that the M-theory may be the Holy Grail of physics…the Grand Unified Theory which Einstein had tried to formulate and later abandoned. It expands on quantum mechanics and string theories.

    In my e-book on comparative mysticism is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

    Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (fx raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

  • I'm not really surprised by Hawking's quote. Though he very often uses the term God, it takes on a more symbolic meaning. I don't think Hawking was ever really a believer. Even his "Brief History of Time" took steps to show that God was not necessary for the creation of the universe. This isn't really anything new from Hawking and, if I were to venture a guess, I imagine its more about publicity for his new book than anything else.

    As for the rest of your post, I agree with a great deal of it. There is no denying that we are only able to find God if He finds us first. No amount of intelligence will reach the point of proving God's necessity.

    That being said, I think that discarding intelligence, or even de-emphasizing it, is going too far. Don't forget that Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt 22:37).

    If we only focus on the importance of loving God with our heart and soul, I think that God will look on us and say, just as he did to the Pharisees, that we should have practiced one without neglecting the other.

  • Andy Scott

    Alright Mr. Keck, just to lay the groundwork here I am not writing in order to persuade you that my believes about this issue are correct (although I do believe this because because if I did not then I would adopt different beliefs). The purpose of my response is just to get you to think a little harder about the position that you have asserted because it seems to contain a contradiction. Here are two statements that you made within the same article: "I could never prove to him [Stephen Hawking] by use of intellect the realities that I know to be true—that God created both us and this universe" and "The nature of God defies our understanding and transcends us to degrees that we cannot fathom". So you what you have just said is this: I know something about God (i.e. that He exists) yet it is impossible to know things about God. My guess though is that this is not what you meant. I assume that what you were trying to say is that one can know some things about God and not others. If this is what you meant then I agree. Where we would disagree is that I think that humanity can know more about God than you would like to grant. However, I think that when it comes to knowing God your "beef" with intellectualism is spurred by comments that one makes about God's nature (e.g omnipotence, omniscience, etc.), not about his existence (you obviously believe that God exists). The funny thing is that Stephen Hawking's sole comment about God pertains to His existence (or non-existence), something that you yourself said you know about. So no matter what your reasons (sociological, philosophical, psychological, etc.), you must have reasons for believing in the existence of God. So now the question is who has better reasons: you or Stephen Hawking? As a final note, it would be intellectually dishonest to try and use the "divine trump card" here–God personally revealed to me that he exists, because Romans 1:19 says "that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them". The Bible does not say that no one can know whether or not God exists, in fact it says the opposite. What the Bible does say is that many are appalled by the gospel and will not put their faith in Christ. So when it comes to the question of God's existence, you are going to have to look at the merits of Stephen Hawing's argument.

  • In short Andy, and thank you for reading and commenting, I believe that contradictions are no much of a problem. I believe that I know something. But in reality I can really know nothing by shear intellectual will power. It is only through the Holy Spirit that gives us the mind of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that reveals the mind and heart of God. I firmly believe that I can not trust my mind or my logic. No man can. Human wisdom is foolishness to God. 1 Corinthians 1-2.

  • AaronBarton

    Psalm 14:1 – The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good…

    Revelation 4:11 – “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

    If only Stephen Hawking knew that the One he adamantly denies could raise him up out of that wheelchair. Let's pray that Mr. Hawking meets the "foolishness of God" before he dies in his own finite wisdom.

  • Jonathandkeck

    AMEN. So true. He transcends all. And God can and will raise Hawking if he would but turn to his creator. Instead of the body of Christ angerly foaming at the mouth over his disagreeing words, we should pray fervently for the work of the Holy Spirit. Thanks for your words.

  • carol

    I think you forgot the ” chapter 1″ in front of 18-25 in your 1 Corinthians reference. Thanks for the words!

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