Fri | Jan 18, 2019

A sermon you’ll never get at church

Published:Sunday | April 5, 2015 | 12:00 AMGordon Robinson
Stephen Hawking

Let's take a dispassionate look at two contending theories.

1. "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." (Genesis1:1-2)

2. "This argument about whether or not the universe had a beginning ... was conducted mainly on the basis of theology and philosophy with little consideration of observational evidence ... . In fact, the theory that the universe has existed forever is in serious difficulty with the Second Law of Thermodynamics ... that disorder always increases with time ... . It indicates that there must have been a beginning ... ." (Professor Stephen Hawking in a 1996 lecture).

Are they saying anything different?

1. "And God said, 'Let there be light': and there was light.

"And God saw the light ... and God divided the light from the darkness.

"And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night ... ." (Genesis 1:3-5)"

2. "... Otherwise, the universe would be in a state of complete disorder by now and everything would be at the same temperature. In an infinite and everlasting universe, every line of sight would end on the surface of a star. This would mean the night sky would've been as bright as the surface of the sun. The only way of avoiding this problem would be if, for some reason, the stars didn't shine before a certain time." (Professor Hawking)

How're we doing so far? Any points of conflict worth mentioning?

1. "And God said, 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.'

"And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament:

"And God called the firmament Heaven." (Genesis 1:6-8)

Seems everything was together, Heaven, Earth, waters, firmament, EVERYTHING. God "divided" them.

2. "In a universe that was essentially static, there wouldn't have been any dynamical reason why the stars should've suddenly turned on at some time. Any such 'lighting up time' would have to be imposed by an intervention from outside the universe. The situation was different, however, when it was realised that the universe isn't static, but expanding. Galaxies are moving steadily apart from each other. This means they were closer together in the past. One can plot the separation of two galaxies, as a function of time ... the time of zero separation, would've been less than 20 billion years ago.

At this time, the Big Bang, all matter in the universe would've been on top of itself. The density would've been infinite. It would've been what is called a singularity." (Professor Hawking)


Division of singularity


The Bible theorises (the authors weren't eyewitnesses) that God divided that which was previously together, one on top of the other: "The waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament." Stephen Hawking calls this "a singularity". It sounds pretty much like they're talking about the same phenomenon. Hawking continues:

"At a singularity, all the laws of physics would've broken down. This means the state of the universe, after the Big Bang, won't depend on anything that may have happened before, because the deterministic laws that govern the universe will break down in the Big Bang. The universe will evolve from the Big Bang, completely independently of what it was like before.

"Sounds a lot like the following evolutions "completely independently of what it was like before ...":

1. "And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb-yielding seed, and the fruit tree-yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so" (Genesis 1:11). or "And God said, 'Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth." (Genesis 1:20).

I suspect the everlasting tension between science and religion regarding Creation is another example of the inexorable effect of Goodman's Law. Remember Goodman's Law? Don't ask if it's about the money. It's ALWAYS about the money. This stubborn insistence that one theory is right and the other wrong is all about controlling people's minds and thereby getting sticky fingers into people's pockets.

But what if BOTH are correct? What if apparent differences are simply different perspectives (or languages)? What if the awesome power we call 'God' is nothing more or less than what quantum physicists call 'the universe'? What if the universe IS God and God is the universe? This isn't meant as some secret signal to lodge brothers. Readers can rest assured I'm not a member of any lodge, brotherhood, club or association. I'm just pondering aloud in the languages of spirituality, religion, philosophy and quantum physics. What if EVERYTHING in the universe, including us, is just a piece of 'God' experiencing all that His/Her creation has to offer?

We're ALL God's children, aren't we?

"You are a child of the universe.

No less than the trees and the stars,

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

Jesus repeatedly denied He was God, insisting, instead, 'the Father' was in him and He in the Father. What did He mean? Was Jesus saying that, if a surgeon opened Him up, he'd find a grey-bearded old man living in His gut? Bah, humbug! What if Jesus was referring to the universe's symbiotic nature and that we're all part of the cosmic diaspora (movement away from singularity) and it a part of us? If true, this would have revolutionary implications. There'd be no point in hating anybody because we'd all have identical origins; be essentially the same; and have identical divine destinations.

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they, too, have their story."

Recently, President Obama delivered an awe-inspiring speech at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the celebrated Selma march's 50th anniversary. He evoked the horror of that distant day and emphasised the effectiveness of the protesters' non-violent response. Then he returned to Washington to continue the war against ISIS; the war against al-Qaida; the war against drugs; and the war against terrorism.

USA still doesn't get it. War NEVER solves any problem. War ensures the problem becomes inflamed and chronic.

"Therefore, be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labours and aspirations,

In the noisy confusion of life

keep peace with your soul."

Jesus died so we'd understand how committed He was to The Word. And The Word was Love. Love the Lord. Love your neighbour as yourself. Don't declare war on science. Science explains and strengthens not conflicts with spiritual belief. Your purpose here is educational, not subservient. No matter how dire your circumstances, they serve the cosmic purpose. Once you love the Lord, EVERYTHING works together for good.

"You are a child of the universe.

No less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

It's generally believed the Desiderata poem was found in 1692 in a Baltimore church and is centuries old; of unknown origin. That's a myth. It was written in the early 20th century and copyrighted in 1927 by Indiana lawyer, Max Ehrmann. The myth began when, in 1959, the Reverend Frederick Kates reproduced the poem (with other inspirational works) for his congregation on church notepaper, innocently headed 'The Old St Paul's Church, Baltimore, AD 1692' (the year the church was founded).

Copies of the Desiderata page were circulated among friends and the myth grew exponentially. When a copy was found at deceased former US presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson's bedside in 1965, the myth became legend.

The Desiderata's origin is immaterial; its inspirational quality irrefutable. So, enjoy your Easter - the most important event on the religious calendar. Be happy. Never give in to despair. You're important. Your life counts. You're in the right place at the right time.

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to