Image via WikipediaI'm pretty sure Steven Hawking's publisher or promotions people were the ones who decided to promote his new book "Grand Designs" by proclaiming "God Did Not Create the Universe!" I mean, if anything is going to get attention, especially in these times of religious warring (has there ever NOT been a religious war going on?), it's that phrase.
The predictable has happened...religious leaders are already up-in-arms (is that not an oxymoron?) fighting for headlines to dispute, refute and protest their outrage at any such notion. And so it begins again, this age old "I am RIGHT and you are WRONG" argument. Haven't we, as human beings, figured this out yet? Just because I prefer the red shirt, doesn't mean you have to wear it too.
Years ago, I used to think that one day science might prove the existence of God in some way...maybe not the man in the beard God, sitting on some kind of throne or however you visualize it, but some evidence of a form of energy that was the beginning of our universe. There is even something in physics called the Higgs boson, or the God Particle that is considered to be a singular elementary particle, possibly predating every other known particle. What I visualized was a coming together of two very separate trains of thought, science and religion, eventually merging onto the same track. Since then I have come to the conclusion that even if it was possible and there were people out there willing to explore this potential fusion in that way, it ain't gonna happen anytime soon. Too many people are threatened by anything outside of their belief to listen to something different. And too many others are hell bent (sorry for the pun) on convincing the rest of the world to believe what they do. Religion, and ironically also the lack of it, is killing us all!
There are many, many people of different religions, and atheists and agnostics in the world who are perfectly willing to peacefully accept those of other religions or non-religious thought, with no feeling of threat to their own beliefs. But we don't hear those stories because they aren't tabloid enough I guess. I personally know Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists who would not for a moment attempt to convert me or anyone else around them. And I know there are regular meetings between religious heads, and even organizations like the World Council of Religious Leaders, who are trying to mend fences and work together to end all of this religious conflict. But their calls for peace are like whispers in a thunderstorm.
There's a point you reach when studying Buddhist teachings, when you realize that most people on this planet have as long a road to inner peace (never mind world peace) as you do. Many have not even recognized their need for self examination yet, so how are we ever going to get "there"? It's overwhelming.
So as much as I admire Steven Hawking's amazing knowledge and understanding of the workings of the universe, by reducing his book to a phrase that only adds fuel to an already blazing fire of disagreement, he is doing more to separate us than pull us together. And that is truly a disappointment.