In memoriam of Stephen Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018).
At a conference at the Vatican in October 2008, Pope Benedict XVI and Stephen Hawking met, where the pope described science as the pursuit of knowledge about God’s creation.
The Pope stated: “There is no opposition between faith’s understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences.” The church accepts evolution as scientific theory. Defending proponents of theistic evolution, who see no reason why God could not have used an evolutionary process in forming the human species, the pope stated: “To ‘evolve’ literally means ‘to unroll a scroll’, that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists.”
At the conference, Hawking stated he was “not religious in the normal sense.” “I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science,” he said. “The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws.”
In an interview with the Guardian in 2011, Hawking was asked by the interviewer: “Is our existence all down to luck?… So here we are. What should we do?” The physicist responded: “We should seek the greatest value of our action.” When asked: “…What, if anything, do you fear about death?” Hawking responded: “I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”
On Wednesday morning (14 March), the Pontifical Academy of Sciences tweeted:
Following up with several remembrances:
—“Address of his Holiness Benedict XVI to Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the Occasion of their Plenary Assembly.” Clementine Hall Friday. 31 October 2008. © Copyright 2008 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
—Persio, Sophia Lotto. “Did Stephen Hawking Believe in God? What the Physicist Said about About the Creation of the Universe.” Newsweek. 14 March 2018.