The Theory of Everything is a 2014 dramatized version of the life of Stephen Hawking—who has one of the most brilliant scientific minds since Einstein—and his wife, Jane (Wilde) Hawking. It’s rare to have a movie produced during a celebrity’s lifetime that is both accurate (not perfectly, but in essence) and approved, but The Theory of Everything was so carefully researched and crafted that Stephen Hawking not only approved the movie, he even allowed the producer to use his actual voice synthesizer, making people feel like they were seeing the real Stephen Hawking act! Furthermore, his wife Jane remarked that Felicity Jones (who played Jane’s part) had done a masterful job of learning even her mannerisms and speech patterns. I definitely recommend The Theory of Everything, although it’s absolutely heart-breaking to watch the struggles of a young couple trying to live a life of triumph in the midst of tragedy. Stephen was first diagnosed with ALS as a young graduate student at Cambridge University, and despite having a prognosis of only 2-3 years to live, Jane Wilde fell in love and married him! In an interview, Jane recalled: “We had this very strong sense at the time that our generation lived anyway under this most awful nuclear cloud—that with a four-minute warning the world itself could likely end. That made us feel above all that we had to do our bit, that we had to follow an idealistic course in life. That may seem naive now, but that was exactly the spirit in which Stephen and I set out in the Sixties – to make the most of whatever gifts were given to us.” I have to confess that by the end of the movie it was really Jane that I most admired…for her faith, her fidelity, and her amazing strength of character for sticking it out as well as she did with a man who was so unable to provide for her physically or even emotionally. At one point, Jane reflected in her memoirs that she was left living in her own “black hole” of loneliness. Hawking always preferred to be regarded as “a scientist first, popular science writer second, and, in all the ways that matter, a normal human being with the same desires, drives, dreams, and ambitions as the next person.” I believe this is utterly true of all humans, regardless of their physical appearance or disabilities. I remember a dear paraplegic friend in college, who once confided that the highest compliment he ever felt (from an emotional standpoint) was the day some of his friends forgot that he wouldn’t be able to dance. Oh, for the grace to see others the way God does, looking on the heart rather than outward appearances (1 Samuel 16:7). The movie’s title refers to Hawking’s endless obsession with trying to find a single equation that could explain all existence by uniting the four fundamental forces of nature (as he sees them): the strong force, the weak force, gravity, and the electromagnetic force. He also tried to find a mathematical way to rewind time and understand the beginning of the universe: “Here, time stops. You’ve reached the true beginning of everything. There is no previous time in which the universe could have had a cause. It spontaneously created itself in the Big Bang…I had controversially shown the laws of nature suggest there is no need for a creator or God. The universe just came into existence all by itself.” I have no clue how he jumps from point A to B in his reasoning, because to me God’s speaking the world into existence coincides perfectly with the Big Bang Theory. However, I know that either believing in a first cause or not believing is a faith principle. Atheists also believe, they just believe there is no God. We all believe something; we just choose what we will believe based on our opinions about the evidence and our personal desire to live by our own direction vs. that of Another.Plagued constantly by the slow but unrelenting progression of his disease, Stephen Hawking wrote in 2006 (more than 40 years after his predicted death): “The victim should have the right to end his life, if he wants. But I think it would be a great mistake. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.” How true, and he is such an inspiring example to the rest of the world in this! I know that Stephen Hawking will never read my blog, but I would like to encourage Stephen in his quest to find—not the illusion of knowledge—but true knowledge, which will answer the riddle of how the universe began and give not only hope while life shall last on this earth, but hope of a glorious future that includes perfect health and an infinity to explore the fascinations of the universe!
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).