Associate Minister's February 2015 Letter

The Theory of Everything

 

Very rarely do I get to see a film before the Oscars give it their ‘over the top hype’! Yesterday I went to see ‘The Theory of Everything’ – the true story of a young couple meeting at Cambridge and deciding to get married in spite of Stephen Hawking’s diagnosis with motor neuron disease.  In those days – the mid sixties - the condition had a life expectancy of only two years.

 

We are so used to Stephen Hawking in his wheelchair with his artificial voice that it is good to see him portrayed by Eddie Redmayne as a young man with wit, charm and a stubborn refusal to conform. It is remarkable how Eddie changes his movements and even the shape of his face to portray the progression of Stephen’s disease.

 

The heart of the film is the question: Does God exist?  Jane, Stephen’ wife, cannot imagine a world without God.  Stephen’s ambition, on the other hand, has been to produce a theory of everything to make the notion of God redundant.  Jane longs to see Stephen admit that his great theory demands a creator God.  We see him develop from making fun of the existence of God to treating it as a serious question.

 

One of the most powerful aspects of the story is the strength of Jane’s commitment to Stephen in spite of knowing the cost to herself.  It spoke to me of how such love can only be explained by God’s abiding presence in our lives.

 

Just near the end of the film something strange happens.  Stephen is answering questions in a huge auditorium full of people and he sees a girl at the front whose pen has fallen on the floor.  He is shown getting up out of his wheelchair and picking up the pen and then going back to his chair.  I’ve been wondering what this is supposed to mean – do let me know if I’ve missed something  - it seems to me to be his imagination playing out what he would do if he could still walk.  A hint of something more to this world than just the things we can test and measure.

 

As Stephen says in one of his famous quotes:  ‘We are each free to believe what we want . . We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that I am extremely grateful.’

 

For me it is the presence of a God who cares about each one of us and is intimately involved with our lives that makes the universe such a wonderful and awe inspiring creation.

 

Christopher Cant


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