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Film About Stephen Hawking Is 'God-Haunted'

The great British physicist Stephen Hawking has emerged in recent years as a poster boy for atheism, especially in light of his heroic struggles against Lou Gehrig's disease. But the new film about Hawking's life, A Theory of Everything has been called a "God-haunted movie."

In one of the opening scenes, the young Hawking meets Jane, his future wife, and tells her that he is a cosmologist. "What's cosmology?" she asks, and he responds, "Religion for intelligent atheists." "What do cosmologists worship?" she asks. And he replies, "A single unifying equation that explains everything in the universe." In another scene Jane asks, "So, I take it you've never been to church?" When Stephen replies "Once upon a time," she asks, "Tempted to convert?" Stephen replies, "I have a slight problem with the celestial dictatorship premise."

Later on in the film, Jane challenges him: "You've never said why you don't believe in God." Hawking counters, "A physicist can't allow his calculations to be muddled by belief in a supernatural creator," to which she responds, "Sounds less of an argument against God than against physicists." In one of her two published memoirs, the real Jane Hawking argued, "However far-reaching our intellectual achievements … without faith [in God] there is only isolation and despair, and the human race is a lost cause"

This spirited back and forth continues throughout the film as Hawking settles more and more into a secularist view and Jane persists in her Christian beliefs.

Possible Preaching Angles: The movie does not come to any hard and fast conclusions about faith and doubt, but it does provide an interesting way to set up a sermon on worldviews, atheism, secularism, or faith and doubt.

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