Darrow Miller and Friends

Stephen Hawking Hits the Ceiling

British scientist Steven Hawking is reported to have recently said that heaven is “a fairy story” for people afraid of the dark. As those who believe in heaven, we can either respond with indignation, or we can engage the discussion thoughtfully with transformed minds (Romans 12:2). And when we do, we see that maybe he has actually hit the nail on the head and just doesn’t realize it.

If one is operating from a naturalistic perspective, Hawking has spoken the truth. Humans are just another animal with no reason to expect any existence beyond physical death. But consider another set of assumptions, one with room for the infinite and the eternal. From this framework, “fairy story,” rather than meaning something that is not real, serves as a decent synonym for transcendent reality, a legitimate metaphor for what lies beyond our daily experience.

Hawking uses the term to dismiss what he cannot see. After all, no one operating from an atheistic worldview can account for anything outside the boundaries of that perspective. In other words, his atheistic doctrine, by definition, denies transcendence. He has bumped into the ceiling of his perceptions. His worldview box renders him oblivious to what is outside that box. As Darrow Miller says in a forthcoming book, Atheism … denies God. Nature is all that exists. Man is the center of the universe. There is no revelation, only reason. 

But just because your worldview can’t explain a phenomenon doesn’t mean it isn’t real. A blind man may dispute the appearance of rainbows, but what court would admit his testimony?

Hawking’s brilliance deserves our respect. Yet he could be the 21st century equivalent of those Jesus called “the wise and learned.” At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. (Matthew 11:25, NIV)

Jesus didn’t tell fairy stories, but he did use parables to disguise the truth from foes while disclosing it to friends. The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.” (Luke 8:10 NIV, emphasis added)

– Gary Brumbelow


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Gary is the Disciple Nations Alliance editorial manager. He manages Darrow Miller and Friends and serves as editor and co-writer on various book projects. For eight years Gary served as a cross-cultural church planting missionary among First Nations people of Canada. His career also includes 14 years as executive director of InterAct Ministries, an Oregon-based church-planting organization in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Gary is a graduate of Grace University, earned an MA from Wheaton College and a Graduate Studies Diploma from Western Seminary. He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife, Valerie. They have two married sons and twelve grandchildren. In addition to his work with the DNA, Gary serves as the pastor of Troutdale Community Church.


  1. NotAScientist

    August 4, 2011 - 6:44 am

    “But just because your worldview can’t explain a phenomenon doesn’t mean it isn’t real”

    But it can explain those phenomenon. Just because you don’t like the explanation doesn’t mean it isn’t one.

    • disciplenations

      August 4, 2011 - 10:48 am

      Thanks, NotAScientist, for reading and responding.

      I don’t see how “fairy story” can be considered an explanation. It seems more dismissive than contributory.

  2. Joan Brauning

    August 4, 2011 - 8:18 am

    While I wouldn’t want to call biblical truth a “fairy tale,” I agree with him about being “afraid of the dark.” I’m deathly afraid of the kingdom of darkness!

    • disciplenations

      August 4, 2011 - 10:15 am

      Joan, I agree that trivializing the reality of the darkness is unhealthy. The Bible indicts those who “are not afraid to slander celestial beings” (2Pe 2:10-11 NIV). Yet in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ we have assurance of victory over the enemy. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1Jo 4:4 NIV)