C.S. Lewis vs. Stephen Hawking

For the majority of last week, the hottest trending topic on Twitter was Stephen Hawking.  In his new book The Grand Design, Hawking argues that God did not create the universe and the ‘Big Bang’ was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics.  (Here’s a link to the story.)

When I mentioned the popularity of Hawking’s statement to my co-worker AJ, he was surprised.  He said the media has made cotton candy out to be steak and potatoes, and that he’s just one man relying on the limitations of science.  At the same time, I understand how a major thought leader in science would get a lot of attention for his change of opinion on this subject.

Even though AJ and I disagree, the words of the great writer C.S. Lewis sum up the place where we landed.  It brilliantly captures the limits of science when it attempts to contain the wonder of the cosmos in the finite box of our frail and fallen minds.  Here below is an excerpt reformatted to fit your screen.

Cramming the cosmos in a box

“When I accept theology I may find difficulties, at this point or that, in harmonizing it with some particular truths which are embedded in the mythical cosmology derived from science.

But I can get in, or allow for, science as a whole.

Granted that Reason is prior to matter and that the light of that primal Reason illuminates finite minds.

I can understand how men should come, by observation and inference, to know a lot about the universe they live in.

If, on the other hand, I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit in science.

Meaningless minds and wind in the willows

If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees.

And this is to me the final test.

This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking.

Dreaming of dragons

When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world.

I know that there are such things as dreams.  I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner.  I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons.

But while in the nightmare, I could not have fitted it in my waking experience.

The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world; the dreaming world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one.

Science is the dream, theology is the waking

For the same reason, I am certain that in passing from the scientific point of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religious.

The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself.”

C.S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory, “Is Theology Poetry?”  

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Toni Ridgaway is a content editor for the Outreach Web Network, including churchleaders.com and SermonCentral.com.