[In 2018], two of the most influential men in the past 100 years died. Stephen Hawking and Billy Graham have both left their mark around the world. Both of these men came from what seems to be lowly situations to have a profound impact in the world. Billy Graham was raised on a dairy farm in North Carolina and would become a man who would preach his message to over 200 million people. Stephen Hawking lived with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for over 50 years. He was paralyzed and completely dependent on others or technology for everything – except for his mind. Even with these physical limitations, he has sold more than 10 million books dealing with life and science.
Hawking’s book “A Brief History of Time” is considered by many to be one of the most important books written in modern times. He has inspired and shaped the thinking of millions of people. There is no doubt that he was a brilliant mind. Billy Graham is known for his message of helping people see God’s love for them and inviting them to place their personal faith in Jesus Christ.
These men are both very well respected around the world, but their view of life (and death) could not be more different.
Stephen Hawking’s words about death:
“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. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Billy Graham’s words about death:
“I have a tremendous amount of hope, because I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead. And I believe he’s alive right now. My wife is already in heaven, I look forward to seeing her, definitely in the near future. I have tremendous hope in the fact that I’ll be in the future life, and I’ll be there based on what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross and by the resurrection. This gives me a great deal of hope.”
I am struck by the distinct difference in thinking and teaching between these two men. To Hawking, you are just a computer. One day, it will fail and then … you just cease to exist. To Graham, you have value to God and there is hope for so much more life beyond this life. One view is plain depressing, and one is filled with joyful anticipation.
Hawking & Graham: The End
Both of these men have experienced what every human will experience. We will all die. The question is – what then?
I struggle with understanding the value and purpose of human existence in Hawking’s view of the world. In a world where life can be depressing enough, his view adds layers of confusion and uncertainty. Graham’s view is much more hope filled. I wonder which story you may believe about your life? Personally, I choose hope, purpose, meaning, and value for my life. I believe that your life and my life is more than just a computer.
We are about to enter the season of Easter. It is this perspective of life through Jesus Christ that Billy Graham lived for and died with. If you could use a little more hope in your life, I would encourage you to visit a local church this Easter. They can help you understand the great story of hope that comes from Jesus Christ.
If you would like to look more at the evidence for God, I would encourage you to check out the following resources: