Scientist Stephen Hawking has taken a lot of heat for saying that Heaven is a fairy tale for those afraid of the Dark. Why is Heaven such a strong attraction point for people? Is Heaven on earth possible? Is the fairy tale of heaven anything different to Santa Claus?
There are two primary concerns regarding a human being; one’s life and what happens in the “afterlife.” The doctrines of Heaven and Hell are bound up within corresponding ideas of good and evil, and reward and punishment, revenge and redemption. Also implicit within these concerns that one’s life has a greater meaning than one realizes, and this greater meaning has everything to do with one’s life containing meaning that exists beyond reason and death. Heaven, according to various religions around the world, must exist in the sky, while Hell, the abode of eternal suffering, must exist deep below the earth.
The ideas of Heaven and Hell have been transmitted down through the centuries from the distant past as folk legends, cultural myths that were later turned into theology by priests.
Heaven is thought to be synonymous with being in the “presence of God.” This notion of being within the presence of God for eternity has been a great comfort for countless millions in a world that has always been closer to Hell than anything “divine.”
Some say that Heaven is just a projection of the mind’s desire to escape self-responsibility for this world through casting that self-responsibility towards something outside of self which is greater, wiser and stronger than a mere human being. This also implies great fear in the hearts of men. Has anyone ever wondered why God would need to distance Himself away from His most monumental creation called Man to disappear into the void beyond Man’s reach?
Stephen Hawking has. Hawking compares the human being to a computer. And he thinks that the fate of an obsolete, unwanted computer is that which is shared by Man. “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers,” Hawking says, “That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” There is no need to create a God to explain Creation, Hawking says. In an interview with the Guardian UK, Hawking claims that “science” governs the universe and it was by “chance” that we find ourselves here. Hawking is quick to point out that this is no proof for god’s non-existence, but it does open up the question of whether Hawking is just taking “science” and “chance” and making these concepts as placeholders for “God,” thus committing the same offense he accuses the religionists? Of course, atheists are not going to recognize that their non-belief in God is as theological as any Sunday-going-church-person. They like to believe that they are ‘anti-religion.” Hawking once told Television host Diane Sawyer that religious philosophy has not kept up with science, and the science “will win” because “it works.”
Camping Failed Prophecy Post-Mortem
In a marginally related story, Harold Camping finally came out of hiding, claiming that he was “flabbergasted” that his doomsday prediction fell flat. Undeterred, Camping has set a new Doomsday date of October 21, 2011. Perhaps ironically, Camping’s latest prediction comes a day earlier than his false-prophet predecessor, the Baptist minister, William Miller, who claimed that October 22, 1844 would be the date of Jesus’ return.
Obviously Jesus did not return, but thousands of Americans who had quit their fields and jobs as virtuous acts of faith were shattered. Perhaps Miller and Camping were to beholden to the belief that the Bible is infallible to extricate themselves from the devastation of their lives. As I predicted in the May 21, 2011 P:S-H blog , Camping claimed that the apocalypse did indeed occur “on a spiritual” level.*
Camping explained to the media that, “when May 21 came and went it was a very difficult time for me, a very difficult time,” I was truly wondering what is going on. In my mind, I went back through all of the promises God has made, all of the proofs, all of the signs and everything was fitting perfectly, so what in the world happened? I really was praying and praying and praying, oh Lord, what happened?”
“What happened,” Mr. Camping, is that your “Lord” was originally a Late Bronze Age nature god created by superstitious desert-dwellers on a speck of rock that’s been fought over for the past 2000 years. “What happened” is that you placed your belief in a book that has lied to you. “What happened” is that maybe this was the time for you to realize that 2000 years is too long for a prophecy to be considered “true” anymore. “What happened” is that you’ve been wrong about the apocalypse twice and you’re going to be wrong again on October 21, 2011. What will you say then is anybody’s guess. Maybe Hawking has a point about science as generrally being more reliable.
So the question is this: what would it be like to suspend the belief that there is a great being that lives in Heaven who is charge of everything? Because, isn’t it true that people wish for a God to exist so we won’t have to do the required heavy lifting here? And isn’t Heaven just a wish to escape Hell on Earth? Take that all away and you’re just here with yourself, and responsible. Doesn’t that sound like a better way to live? It sure would help clean up this mess we have here in the world.