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March 14, 2018

Remembering Dr. Stephen Hawking

One of the world's geniuses, Dr. Stephen Hawking, died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, England early this morning. Hawking was a theoretical physicist and cosmologist. His work contributed to our understanding of the fundamental nature of the universe.

Wikipedia's article on Hawking includes his views on religion, "Hawking stated that he was 'not religious in the normal sense' and he believed that 'the universe is governed by the laws of science'. Hawking stated: 'There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.", retrieved March 14, 2018.

While I have tremendous respect for Dr. Hawking's science, I have to differ with his views on religion. Pattern recognition is an intrinsic part of human intelligence. Science is the study of patterns that repeat regularly and can be mathematically modelled. Not all of human experience fits into this category. Faith is the attempt to make sense of the universe of subjective experience and unrepeatable experiences.

When we see the snow fall, we can think practically of shoveling it or going skiing on it. We can think scientifically and discuss crystal structure or meteorological forecasting. And we can appreciate the beauty of trees lined out in dazzling white.

Religion is the language of faith, a language of wonder and love. And there is no inherent contradiction between religion and science, only misapplications of either. There is an old Quaker maxim that all truth is God's truth. I believe this, and I believe that the truth of God's universe is available to us, for the looking, and the seeing, and the hearing, regardless of what language we use.

Lucy Price, Pastoral Minister, Adirondack Friends Meeting, March 14, 2018

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