I’ve been seeing lots of mentions of Stephen Hawking’s posthumously-published book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, and thought I would comment. Getting particular attention is Hawking’s more direct statement of his atheism in comparison with earlier publications. Hemant Mehta and Rob Picheta shared brief quotations:
We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is that there is no God.
It flies in the face of everything we know in science. I think that when we die we return to dust.
But there is a sense we live on, in our influence, and in the genes we pass to our children.
For centuries, it was believed that disabled people like me were living under a curse that was inflicted by God. I prefer to think that everything can be explained another way, by the laws of nature.
It will be a pity if the focus of attention is on Hawking’s view of religion, and not the scientific work that he was engaging in right up until the end. But his view as someone who experienced the unfairness of the universe, the reality of human suffering, as well as studying its mysteries in depth and detail, is deserving of consideration, even when he opines about theology.
If the options were to believe that those who suffer are cursed by God, or that the term “God” does not denote anything meaningful, then the latter would indeed be the way to go. But there is a much wider array of theological options, just as there are multiple possible understandings of the origin and history of the cosmos.